9 hotels to sleep in before you die
Never mind the sub-freezing temperatures on the Arctic Circle.
The magical SnowHotel in Finland forgoes heat as self-preservation, and couples happily choose an ice block over a pillow-top mattress, even on their wedding night.
Enjoy the extraordinary ice sculpture and, possibly, Northern Lights dancing outside at the SnowHotel, which is part of the SnowCastle of Kemi complex that is rebuilt each winter.
From hotels built out of ice to overwater tipis to underwater suites, these nine astonishing places guarantee a night to remember.
Wine barrels in the Black Forest, Sasbachwalden, Germany
That means “To your health” in German.
Toast to a transformative adventure — three parts romance to one part glamping — at this hilltop vineyard’s seven furnished wine-barrel rooms.
Each elevated, private sleeping site is carefully decorated by the host Wild Family. There are two 8,000-liter wine barrels: one with comfortable] mattresses and gingham duvets and the other split between a dining banquette and an eco-toilet with sink.
Settle in for the sunset with three very local wines and a basket including a garlic bierwurst, Black Forest ham, Appenzeller cheese, whole grain bread and chocolate that Mrs. Wild delivers by golf cart. Stars appear.
Awakened by birds, hares or distant paragliders? A breakfast basket with Mrs. Wild’s fruit spreads and a coffee thermos will be outside your door.
Schlafen im Weinfass, Bergstraße 7, DE-77887 Sasbachwalden, Germany; +49 7841 5149
Overwater tipis, Sabrevois, Quebec, Canada
Live off the land like the First Nations of Canada in colorful tipis floating on Quebec province’s Richelieu River.
The small riverside resort of Domaine Pourki rents out three unusual tipieaux or water tipis, in addition to standard lodge rooms and a few thatched huts.
Set on rafts that are anchored close to the shore but accessible only by canoe, each of the waterproof, colorful cones shelters four spartan beds and a chemical toilet. Raft floors, notably, have a removable Plexiglas panel for guests to fish. Outside on the bobbing deck, host Theo Ibba provides a grill and seating in anticipation of a good catch.
Newlyweds may prefer the more stable, riverview VIP Tipi on shore, which has its own kitchenette.
Les Tipieaux Domaine Pourki (also called Pourki Estate), 1631 Rang du Bord de l’Eau, Sabrevois, QC J0J 2G0, Canada; +1 514-529-0222
At home at the movies, Monte Vista, Colorado
Movie buffs will find the Best Western Movie Manor irresistible because the accommodation is built between the screens of a vintage drive-in theater.
After sundown, guests can watch one nightly movie from the privacy of their room. Guests can move to another room or head to the other screen’s parking lot to catch another flick.
For anyone road-tripping between Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park and the Rio Grande National Forest, this cozy place provides an upgraded motel experience. Rooms, each named after a movie star, have a fridge, microwave and TV, plus celluloid-patterned wall trim and Hollywood-themed artwork.
Single rooms have a great view of the screen and surrounding San Juan Mountains from each bed. Family rooms have partial screen views from two queen beds, but they boast a dining area with full view of the screen, allowing for eating a meal or noshing without the worry about getting crumbs in bed while watching.
Call to request the screening schedule; two screens show first run features during the mid-May to mid-September season, so choose your room accordingly.
Best Western Movie Manor, 2830 US Highway 160 W, Monte Vista, Colorado 81144; +1 719-852-5921
Sleep on the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia
Experience stunning undersea life at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef without the crowds by booking a swag above Hardy Reef.
Swags, canvas pods with mattress and viewing windows, are set up nightly on the deck of this pontoon hotel floating 31 miles off Hamilton Island.
Overnight adventurers can take out snorkel gear; join a semi-submersible tour or borrow a SEABOB, a personal propulsion device, to explore on or under the remarkably transparent Coral Sea. (Scuba diving, helicopter rides and massages are available for an additional cost.)
After dark, relax in the pontoon’s submerged chamber, complete with underwater lighting, and watch turtles, a friendly giant Maori wrasse (an endangered thick-lipped fish also known as Humphead wrasse because of the bump on its head) and other nocturnal sea life incognito.
Tour operator Cruise Whitsundays runs ReefSleep, which accommodates 30 adventurers nightly.
Reefsleep, 24 The Cove Road, Airlie Beach (Port of Airlie), QLD 4802 Australia; +61 7 4846 7000. Guests over age 12 only.
Be the night light, Saugerties, New York
To be one with the sea, sign up for a tour of duty in this red brick lightkeeper’s home. The operating beacon has protected sailors from the rocky banks of the Hudson River since 1869.
Rescued from demolition by a non-profit, Saugerties Lighthouse is supported by tours of the square tower, a maritime history museum, gift shop and two classically furnished rental rooms that share a parlor and kitchen.
Tranquil and remote, the nearest road is a half-mile walk, and the small dock only accepts private boats with reservations. For action, guests enjoy climbing the lighthouse steps for panoramic Hudson Valley views.
Since it’s often rented to repeat guests, and only rents rooms from Thursday to Sunday nights year-round, be aware that summer weekends sell out six months to a year in advance.
Good news: Another historic lighthouse at Cedar Point, Long Island mirroring this sustainable development model will open to guests in 2019 .
Saugerties Lighthouse, Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy, P.O. Box 654, Saugerties, New York 12477; +1 845 247-0656
Underwater in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
The enormous pink Atlantis, The Palm rising over The Palm Island Sands may have 1,539 guestrooms, but the two to stay in are hidden below the sea: the underwater Poseidon and Neptune Suites.
A private elevator and air-conditioning service the luxuriously furnished three-story, two-bedroom enclaves for a pretty $8,000 per night. There’s even a dedicated butler and hand soap with 24-karat gold flakes.
But what’s really special is being watched by thousands of sea creatures in the resort’s Ambassador Lagoon through floor-to-ceiling windows.
Atlantis, The Palm boasts a spa, shopping arcades and every amenity imaginable, while all resort guests enjoy nearly a mile of beachfront lounging, 23 bars, restaurants and lounges.
Seagod suites include such special perks as complimentary pool cabanas, entry to the water park and, for those who prefer to commune with the marine life, dolphin swims and an aquarium.
Atlantis, The Palm, Crescent Road, The Palm, Dubai, United Arab Emirates; +971 4 426 2000
Chill at an ice hotel, Kemi, Finland
Need to chill? Check into this frozen Arctic Circle hotel, rebuilt annually to accommodate 48 guests in a slick, sculpted 23F (-5C) environment.
Depending on the design, 10 artisans work on the SnowCastle compound for two weeks to shape about one million cubic feet of snow and 10,000 cubic feet of ice cut from the nearby Gulf of Bothnia.
A translucent beauty pervades the frozen bar, hollowed-ice shot glasses, dining tables and SnowHotel’s ice-block platform beds, romantically draped with sheep skin. Until 9 pm, day visitors can tour each room’s sophisticated ice sculptures, visit the glittering SnowChapel, play with costumed snowball mascots or try a Finnish sauna.
Special attractions include an Arctic Market featuring Lappish reindeer products, an ice carousel and a meal at the highly regarded SnowRestaurant (book in advance).
SnowCastle of Kemi, Kemin LumiLinna, Lumilinnankatu 15, 94100 Kemi, Finland; +358 40 8318273. Projected season is January 19 to April 13, 2019.
A magical grotto, Trout Creek, Montana
Need some quiet time before embarking on a quest with dwarves? There’s nothing quite like this fantasy bunker surrounded by hobbits, trolls, sprites and elves.
Designed by Steve and Chris Michaels as a childlike, adult enclave, the 1,000-square-foot thatch and mud cottage is carved into a forested hillside. Local elk graze on the roof. A small door and window let in as much of the real world as guests choose.
Inside Enchanted Lodging, a wood stove takes the chill off the comfortable king bedroom, tiny guest bedroom and full kitchen. There’s a satellite entertainment system, WiFi and library about C. S. Lewis’ world of hobbits.
Outside the hobbit hole, 20 secluded acres are overrun with little houses and fairy doors, whimsical sculpture, a waterfall and wishing well. Try fishing, hiking and barbecuing say the hosts, but don’t miss the fairies who appear to dance in the trees when the wind blows.
Enchanted Lodging, 9 Hobbit Lane, Trout Creek, Montana 59874; +1 406 827-7200. Open May 1-November 1. Guests over age 12 only.
Sleepless nights not at sea, Long Beach, California
Frequent cruisers rave about the comfort and convenience of sleeping onboard a ship, but few have experienced a stateroom fraught with history like The Queen Mary’s B340.
After King George V launched R.M.S. Queen Mary in 1936, her reign at sea entertaining notables such as Clark Gable and Winston Churchill was short-lived. In 1939 she was recruited as a military transport ship and did not resume leisure cruises until 1947.
The elegantly decorated Art Deco ocean liner retired to southern California in 1971. She became a floating 347-cabin hotel with restaurants, event space and the infamous stateroom B340, known for paranormal activity.
After being closed for 30 years, a restored stateroom B340 opened in April 2018 as a one-bedroom suite. Celebrating its quirky status, the suite features a chest packed with ghost-hunting equipment, a Ouija board, tarot cards and a crystal ball.
Stateroom residents hoping to add more ghostly encounters to the ship’s logs should be sure to join one of the several, guided paranormal tours… or just request a roll-away bed.
The Queen Mary, 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach, California 90802; +1 877 342-0742