Why sleep in a humdrum hotel when you can spend the night in a windmill? If you’re looking for somewhere truly off-the-wall, these 10 extraordinary places offer the holiday of a lifetime. The most extraordinary thing? The surprisingly ordinary prices.
1. A Saharan kasbah in Morocco
Picture yourself riding a camel across Morocco’s golden sands like a seasoned nomad. At Kanz Erremal, you can do just that. This kasbah hotel lies in Merzouga, a desert settlement surrounded by soaring terracotta dunes and little else for miles. There are loads of exhilarating adventures on offer, plus a swimming pool that’s a total godsend in the heat of the day.
The highlight? The overnight camel excursion to a private oasis camp, where you sleep in a Berber tent beneath the stars
Price: From £27 per night
2. A converted windmill in Greece
There’s something strangely appealing about the prospect of being able to sleep in a building that wasn’t designed to be slept in. A converted windmill, perhaps? On the untouched Greek island of Milos, characterful Milos Windmill looks unchanged from the outside, but step through its half door and you’ll discover charming bedrooms connected by precarious ladders, and petite shuttered windows that reveal sumptuous views across the azure ocean. Kids (and big kids) will love it.
The highlight? Watching ruby-red sunsets from the windmill’s private patio
Price: From £53 per night
3. A medieval church in historic Matera
Step into ancient Matera’s fascinating history at L’Hotel in Pietra, a beautiful boutique 13th-century church conversion. You’ll feel like a pampered hermit as you descend through antique arches into caverns which have been transformed into beautifully-designed bedrooms. Outside, there’s an UNESCO-listed town waiting on your doorstep.
The highlight? The huge Jacuzzis in suites 1004 and 1007
Price: From £61 per night
4. A coconut hut in Goa
Hidden among the jungle vegetation at the back of white-sand Ashvem Beach you’ll find a string of shaggy coconut huts that form the marvellous Yab Yum Resort. There’s something truly bohemian about this beachside retreat; lanterns and fairy lights are strung in the palms, breakfasts are organic, and every coconut dome comes with complimentary incense and candles.
The highlight? The gorgeous, near-deserted beach directly in front of your hut
Price: From £61 per night
5. A hidden casita in tropical Mexico
The infamous ‘spring break state’ isn’t all just rowdy beach parties and all-inclusives. In fact, at El Encanto de Cabo Pulmo, you might not see another soul. This homey eco-casa has just 3 suites (two self-catering houses and a separate casita) and is set in a tiny fishing hamlet only accessible by dirt track. There’s no nightlife whatsoever; instead, you come for the watersports (the diving is incredible) and stay for the unspoilt nature.
The highlight? This surrounding area is light-pollution-free, making the stargazing spectacular
Price: From £69 per night
6. A remote cabin in Namibia
There are remote retreats, then there’s KuanguKuangu. This truly far-flung cabin is tucked away in an untouched savannah where the Namib Desert meets the Naukluft Mountains. Isolated yet achingly beautiful, it’s strictly for those seeking absolute seclusion: your neighbours are wildlife, your bathroom is open to the elements and the evening entertainment is a mesmerising light show in the starry night skies.
The highlight? The utter absence of the modern world; civilisation consists of a passing buck or a roaming warthog
Price: From £91 per night
7. A Mongolian yurt in Lanzarote
A cluster of Mongolian yurts hugging the coastline is hardly your typical hotel of choice in Lanzarote, but then Finca de Arrieta is anything but typical. This ultra-eco-friendly resort is almost entirely self-sufficient, with wind turbines and solar panels in the garden. Choose to sleep in a colourful yurt or in a volcanic-stone cottage, then send the kids off to the playground (where there’s a giant chess set!) while you chill by the solar-heated pool.
The highlight? The Tardis-like interiors – some yurts can sleep up to 9 and all are beautifully decorated with Balinese furniture
Price: From £96 per night
8. A stargazing dome in Chile
Lurking in the shadows in a remote Chilean valley is Elqui Domos, a celestial glamp-camp from where you can gaze in wonder at some of the clearest night skies on earth. Your accommodation? A swish geodesic dome with a transparent roof so you can lose yourself in the star-studded heavens.
The highlight? When there’s a new moon, you can watch the night skies transform into an ocean of stars
Price: From £97 per night
9. A whacked-out tree lodge in Costa Rica
Weird and wonderful, Tree House Lodge certainly caters to eccentric tastes. Accommodation options include a Beach Suite containing Costa Rica’s biggest bathroom, a Crystal House that’s created from 5,000 recycled glass bottles, and a good old-fashioned Tree House set 20ft above the jungle floor. The entire resort is built from sustainable materials, is powered by solar electricity, and donates its profits to a green iguana conservation programme. Big green tick from us!
The highlight? The domed, UFO-like bathroom in the Beach Suite that’s bejewelled with colourful glass circles
Price: From £149 per night
10. A floating hotel in Kashmir
Board the Sukoon and float along the serene waters of Dal Lake, passing stilted villages, flower markets and ancient hilltop forts. Your days involve gentle excursions on shikaras (traditional flat-bottomed boats), while your evenings are spent watching kingfishers darting over the waters as you tuck into zingy Kashmiri cuisine.
The highlight? A fascinating overnight camping trip in the Himalayas, where you can visit ruined temples and meet nomadic Gujar tribes
Price: From £149 per night
Looking for more unusual places? See our full collection of quirky hotels