We often consider accommodation just a place. A place where you throw your bags in, a place to take a shower and a place to sleep at while you’re doing the really interesting stuff outside, away from the place. Accommodation often doesn’t particularly contribute to a travel experience.
But what if we told you accommodation itself could become the travel experience? What if it was the main highlight of your trip? What if it contributes to your memories?
That’s right. The places you stay in may actually be the experience! And when we think about cool off-beat places we stayed in, tons of memories start to emerge. Unusual accommodation moving the focus on itself, and you’ll find out why within the following lines. So here are some of the most experiential stays we’ve had around the world.
The salt hotel in Uyuni, Bolivia
After a crazy off-road drive from Chile to Bolivia, including driving around the unbelievable Salar de Uyuni, we crashed for the night at a very cool salt hostel. Basically, everything inside it is made of salt. One thing is for sure – you don’t need spices for the food you carry and cook over there!
The grounded ship in Sibiu, Romania
What happens when a captain who’s been all over the world decides to start a hotel? He grounds the ship, of course. So that’s how it happened with Villa Santa Maria in Sibiu, where you’ll feel like on a cruise ship (without the choppy seas). The captain is always ready to inspire you to visit some hidden around the world treasures!
The clay house in Leshten, Bulgaria
One of the most picturesque villages in Bulgaria is also home to a house, made of clay. It’s like being inside a fairytale – that’s the only way to describe being inside that little house, detached from the modern world, and attached to nature and everything that matters.
The banda house near the Indian Ocean coast, Kenya
Living like locals in Kenya brought us to sleep in a banda. The material for this house is mainly adobe, and its circular shape is the perfect place for a young bat to fly around. True story. We slept very peacefully in the forest, hearing only true sounds of nature and sometimes and the only neighbors – the monkeys, and bats!
If you want to stay with this amazing family, get in touch with us here.
The gasho house in Ainokura, Japan
We’ve loved the gasho house architecture ever since we saw it on a picture. We were lucky to find a Japanese family that hosted us for one night, and we enjoyed some home-made dinner and comfy futons. We can’t say enough about the hospitality of the Japanese! The roofs are really helpful for the mountain conditions in Japan.
Why don’t you stay with our friends at Choyomon? They make the perfect dinner and have musical instruments for a quick jam session!
The open-air living room in Canggu, Bali
We stayed for about two weeks in a nice village villa in Bali. Canggu was not touristy at all, so we could admire tranquility and observe the rice fields every day from our open-air living room. The best part is that that kind of luxury is quite affordable and has nothing to do with fancy hotels and tons of concrete.
The Tyrolean hotel in Sighisoara, Romania
We’ve never felt so Tyrolean during our travels! The hotel is kind of luxury and at the same time combines Tyrolean style with a decent winery! Who’s up for a glass of red?
The chic lobby of Binderbubi hotel in Sighisoara, Romania
The garden yurt in Dobrogled, Bulgaria
We still haven’t made it to the Mongolian yurts, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy sleeping in one in Bulgaria. There’s this amazing family that decided to entertain their friends, and later, guests, with some yurts in their backyard. For those in love with wine – you can sleep in a barrel, too!
The desert tent in Lompoul, Senegal
Staying at desert camp is totally experiential and a bit romantic experience. If you’re not into sand going anywhere, that might not be for you. But desert life in Senegal could be quite enjoyable, especially for a night or two. Get ready for a lot of sand and a lot of wind!
The jungle hut in the jungles of Bolivia
There’s no better way to explore the jungle than to stay in it. The off-beat accommodation here is an ecolodge, where you can sleep like a baby during the night and then hike the jungle trails by day. The most important part would be the mosquito net, and the long sleeves and trousers. Leave no spot of skin available to those nasty creatures!
The cozy lodge in Colca Valley, Peru
We’re so glad we chose to stay in an off-the-beaten-path lodge in Colca Valley, Peru. Peacefulness, unbelievable views, tasty (potato) dishes and fresh hikes in the area – you’re going to love this! And we know that you’re in good hands when you’re in Peru!
The igloo in Pamporovo, Bulgaria
There’s something so polar about sleeping in an igloo. We love how hot it was, and how we could admire the snow outside while staying warm. We even worked in an igloo and slept in the other. Sometimes it’s just hard to believe what amazing experiential stays we have in our home country!
The botel in Amsterdam, Holland
The boat hotel was something wow back in the years. For our first stay in Amsterdam, we chose to stay in a botel. It was not so clean and not so shaky as it was docked, but we had a lot of fun with the staff. They were high most of the time and were hilarious. It was Queen’s Day, so let’s forgive them!
The wooden kingdom in Yoshino, Japan
Sometimes you just have to stop and admire the hard work and will of people! We couldn’t get enough of this ryokan in Yoshino. Everything was made of wood and designed perfectly. We had to take a Kimono photoshoot and just hang in the common areas to admire the piece of art!
The backwater houseboat in Kerala, India
If you’re a honeymooner, or just want to spend time sailing backwaters and watching sunsets behind palms, then Kerala backwaters and staying at a houseboat is just for you! There’s literally nothing to spoil the romance and the pampering staff, catering to all your needs. Well, except for some noisy nasty insects, but that’s nature after all!
Inside the rainforest, Drake Bay, Costa Rica
Have you ever stayed in a room without walls? We have! The room of our hut in the rainforest near Drake Bay was just having one wall and an improvised roof to protect mainly from rain and other people’ eyes. Our neighbors, the monkeys, had no problems sticking to their bananas and not disturbing us, so we remained friends until we left!
The Buddhist temple in Koyasan, Japan
There are things in your life you must do at least once! For example, to stay in a Buddhist temple. If you can follow the simple rules of the monks and respect their lifestyle, you’ll have an amazing time. A highlight of our off-beat stay in Koyasan was the morning prayer, where we sang and felt the vibrations of the whole place, not understanding a single word of them.
On our (almost) own island, San Blas, Panama
You can stay on a private tropical island and not go bankrupt, thankfully. The San Blas islands in Panama are locally owned by the Guna Yala people. So you can rent a tiny wooden beach house and be almost on your own on the island. Everyone deserves a bit of paradise, don’t you think?
So those were some of the most experiential stays we’ve had, on some of the most off-beat places around the world. We highly recommend you to opt for that kind of accommodation, wherever possible, as it brings along amazing experiences!
Have you had an experiential stay? What off-beat accommodation would you recommend? Let us know what we’ve missed so we can correct that mistake!