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10 Spectacular Destination Hotels

Most of my world traveling has been under the weight of a backpack, and thus, most of my accommodations have been hostels, bungalows, and funky cottages, not five-star hotels. Yet even if I could choose where I wanted to stay without concern of cost, I wouldn’t go straight to glitz and glamour. Rather, the places I dream of staying at are destinations in themselves—unique, interesting, and surrounded by rewarding scenery.

  1. Kasbah Du Toubkal, Morocco
    This hotel is located sixty kilometers from Marrakech and sits at the base of Jbel Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa. Perhaps I’d be inspired to climb the 13,655-foot peak, or perhaps I’d be content to lounge around the garden suite. Either way, the scenery surrounding this hotel looks well worth the visit.
  2. Ice Hotel, Sweden
    Because I am stubborn about turning on the heat in my house, sometimes I think I already inhabit an “ice hotel.” So why would I want to visit one? Because this hotel, carved from scratch every year out of 10,000 tons of ice from the Torne River, looks amazing. Sleeping in and on beautiful cuts of ice, visiting an ice art exhibition, and an imbibing at an Absolut ice bar seems like a once in a lifetime experience. If I’m going to freeze, I might as well do it in style.
  3. Sadie Cove Wilderness Resort, Kachemak Bay State Park, Alaska
    Just like the Amazon, Alaska is on my list of “A” places to see before I die. This eco lodge (it uses hydroelectric and solar power to fuel cabins) is located on a remote beach inside Alaska’s Kachemak Bay State Park. A good place to bear, whale, and bird watch, hike and kayak, or just relax.
  4. Elqui Domos,Paihuano, Chile
    Ever since seeing a play about Buckminster Fuller, I’ve been a fan of geodesic domes. I also love to stargaze, making this hotel in the Elqui Valley a perfect combo. The geodesic dome rooms allow you to see the stars from your bed, and the clear skies in the valley allow you to see tons of them. There is a telescope in every room and an outdoor hot tub for nighttime counting constellations. It’s one of seven astronomic hotels in the world.
  5. The Oberoi Vanyavilas, Ranthambhore, India
    Compared to most of the places I’ve stayed in India, this hotel seems like another country, perhaps another world. It’s situated on the edge of the Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve, so you can stumble out of your luxury tent and into the jungle. They also have a spa, dining, and an outdoor pool. Beats bathing in the Ganges.
  6. Kadir’s Tree Houses, Olympos, Turkey
    Okay, maybe backpacking isn’t so bad, especially when you can stay in these cute and funky tree houses for about eight dollars a night. Who needs luxury beds when you’re located right on the Mediterranean coast? You’ll be spending more time hiking, swimming, and climbing than in your room.
  7. Hotel Hackspett, Vasteras, Sweden
    Also known as the Woodpecker Hotel, this little cottage is nestled forty-two feet up in a 130-year-old oak in Vasteras’ central park. You reach the tree house by climbing up a rope ladder, and because a picnic supper and breakfast are waiting, you don’t have to leave until morning. The house was designed by architect Mikeal Genberg, who also crafted the nearby underwater Utter Hotel.
  8. Ariau Amazon Towers Hotel, Manaus, Brazil
    I’ve always wanted to see the Amazon Rainforest, and I can’t imagine a better way than staying in—or above—it. The Ariau Towers are built entirely at the level of the rainforest canopy and the structures are linked together by four miles of wooden catwalks. The hotel is situated on the banks of the Negro River, near the largest fresh water archipelago in the world.
  9. Huvafen Fushi, North Male’ Atoll, Maldives
    I’m not sure how to pronounce the name of this luxury hotel, but say it fast enough and it sounds a bit like heaven and sushi, two things I’m sure you can find at this tropical paradise. Underwater spa; bungalows set 200 meters over the Indian ocean; scuba diving in a private lagoon … I’m never backpacking again.
  10. Bay of Fire Lodge, Tasmania
    Surrounded by National Park, the Bay of Fires Lodge overlooks white sand beaches and has numerous hiking trails for the naturalist. But the beautiful and sustainably-built hotel could be reason enough to visit: there’s a fifteen meter long indoor/outdoor kitchen, floors and cabinets made of Tasmanian hardwood, and pavilions situated on bluffs.

Updated July 2016

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