World's Weirdest Hotels
The digs at these hotels are every bit as strange as the dreams you'll have when you lay your head on their pillows. (Word to the wise: They can be costly to visit, but our slide show is free.)
Meet the giraffes
Without sacrificing its estate-in-the-country dignity—or all of it, anyway—Giraffe Manor in Langata, Kenya, is arranged so that roaming giraffes can poke their heads into any open window or doorway with impunity and lather guests with their sticky, prehensile tongues. Your guesthouse is their guesthouse, so the silly creatures pop up everywhere, including over the breakfast table, in the lobby, and through the curtains of the five guest rooms for adults. Regrettably, as of this writing, the U.S. government had issued a travel warning for Kenya. For the latest info, visit the State Department website. 011-254/20-890-948, off-hours: 011-254/20-891-078, giraffemanor.com.
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The open-sewer experience
Artist Andreas Strauss designed Das Park Hotel to be an elegant exercise in simplicity and recycling: It consists of three unadorned, 10-ton segments of drainage pipe, each 6.5 feet in diameter and barely long enough to accommodate a double bed. Strauss punched the pipes with skylights, added doors with electronic locks, and then laid the trio artfully in the grass by the Danube River, in Ottensheim, Austria. Amenities are skimpy, as you might expect: You get a lamp, a mattress, and a few sleeping bags.
Hang out like a Teamster
For savoring the windswept Dutch landscape, nothing will lift you higher than the Harbour Crane, which for almost 30 years toiled at unloading timber at Harlingen, a port city an hour outside of Amsterdam, Netherlands. Since 2003, the massive crane has housed a luxury hotel room for two, roughly 60 feet above the harbor docks. Don't expect to sleep in an oily industrial hutch—the hotel's lighting system is touch-screen operated, the chairs are Eames Lounges, and the spindle of structural steel around you has a certain sculptural elegance. But the big payoff: You and your guest can jump into the cockpit and seize the controls, swinging the 143,000-pound crane a full 360 degrees. 011-31/517-414-410, vuurtoren-harlingen.nl.
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Gone to the dogs
After years of selling dog sculptures that they chainsawed out of wood, Dennis Sullivan and Frances Conklin sank their considerable profits into constructing Dog Bark Park Inn, a two-story, beagle-shaped B&B in Cottonwood, Idaho. Guests enter the structure from the deck that lines one side of the pup's rib cage. The main quarters are in the belly of the beast; the sleeping loft is in the pooch's head. And, yes, pets are allowed. 208/962-3647, dogbarkparkinn.com, open April through October.
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A trailer with a view
Hotel Everland is a one-room portable inn created by Switzerland-based installation artists Sabina Lang and Daniel Baumann. It's mobile, like a trailer home, but it's fancy, too, with pastel walls that swirl and swoop. The artists are moving the inn around Europe; through 2008, it will reside in Paris on the rooftop of the Palais de Tokyo museum, with its heart-swelling views of the Seine, 100 feet below, and the Eiffel Tower, in the near distance. Unfortunately, Hotel Everland becomes a contemporary art exhibit by day. So you can only stay for one night, and you have to be cleared out before the museum opens for business—or risk becoming part of the exhibit yourself. everland.ch, reservations online only.
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