Top Ten Quirky Hotels in the USA
Extravagance, creativity, excess, innovation: we know the USA has a reputation for pushing the boat out when it comes to its national endeavours, and their tourism industry is no different.
If you’re planning a trip to the USA, there are two things that you’ll undoubtedly need: an ESTA, which you can apply for online and receive within 24 hours, and a place to stay, which you can book online instantly. Unlike US visas, there’s only one kind of ESTA, and all British people can apply for it, however when it comes to accommodation the options are limitless.
To give you a little inspiration, we’ve compiled a list of some of the quirkiest, downright odd and extravagant hotels in the USA…
Imagine a hotel where you need to have a scuba diving certification just to get in. Well, when the hotel is located thirty feet under water, it’s compulsory. Guests are invited to dive their way to the entrance, located underneath the lodge, and make their way into the cosy and bizarre dwelling. The bedrooms have windows that look out into the ocean, with all sorts of marine life popping by to say hello. Perhaps the best quirk of all is the room service – when guests book into Jules’ Undersea Lodge, the reservation includes a pizza delivery right to your door.
If the sea’s not your thing, how about staying in a coast guard helicopter? This Connecticut hotel includes a 1968 helicopter within a 900-foot luxury cottage. As well as a king-sized bed, hot tub and wood burning fireplace outside of the helicopter, guests can have a drink in the cockpit or watch a film in the fuselage. The helicopter has its original components such as pilot and co-pilot seats, as well as its (thankfully defunct) buttons and switches. The hotel also has an extra seventeen luxury cottages, all with stylish charm and cosy class.
Another hotel with a transport theme, the rooms of the Aurora Express B&B are all former train carriages. As if this novelty weren’t enough, each carriage has a different theme, from the roaring twenties to the Victorian era, with spectacular views over Fairbanks and its natural beauty. Whilst you might not expect a train carriage to be able to offer a spacious night’s sleep, the rooms are surprisingly roomy and completely fitted out to offer total luxury to guests. The Aurora Express is not only a once-in-a-lifetime experience in itself, but the Alaskan surroundings allow for a unique holiday experience.
This monstrous hotel in Memphis offers ornate, luxury accommodation spread across some 464 rooms. The hotel breathes a sense of class, and yet there is one ingredient in particular that is entirely unique to the Peabody. Namely, these are the resident ducks. Twice per day, a pageant of ducks waddle down a red carpet to the delight/surprise of guests. According to the hotel, this tradition dates back to 1932, and at this point it is just one of the hotel’s traditions.
Don’t be put off by the thought of staying in a treehouse, as the Out’n’About Treehouses Treesort have missed out the scruffy, somewhat dangerous and splinter-prone elements of your classic childhood treehouse, and instead replaced these components with queen-sized beds, multiple rooms and, in some cases, luxury bathrooms. The ‘treesort’ also offers many outdoor activities, ideal for family groups. These activities include zip-wiring, horseback riding, hiking and river rafting. This accommodation is perfect for families who, as well as not being afraid of heights, want to spend a few days in the great outdoors and partake in nature-based activities.
We’ve already seen a hotel based on train carriages, however this hotel takes it one step further perhaps. This Crowne Plaza hotel is located in an active train station, and a historic one at that. Nevertheless, thirteen of the rooms are actually train carriages, and are located on their original railroads. Each of these carriage rooms is themed on a famous historic person, whose names are borne on the carriages.
In Boston, one of the best-known cities in the USA, this luxury hotel has a rather singular past. Up until 1990, the building that now houses the Liberty Hotel was a prison, housing some Boston’s most notorious and dangerous criminals. Essentially, it was closed down because it was deemed to be unfit with poor living conditions, and yet ironically it is now a luxury downtown hotel, with stylish and well-designed rooms and sweeping views over the Boston skyline. When the building was repurposed as a hotel, the architects worked with conservationists to preserve a key piece of local history, making the end result a perfect blend between history and modern comfort.
Open for just three quarters of the year, Kokopelli’s Cave is as impressive for its uniqueness as it is for its breath-taking setting. As the name suggests, this is guest accommodation in a cave, nestled into a cave in New Mexico. The man who carved the cave into the cliff had originally planned to use it as his office (as he is a geologist), however later decided to turn it into a spectacular bed and breakfast. The cave includes a master bedroom, living area, bathroom with a Jacuzzi and a full kitchen. One of the most spectacular elements of Kokopelli’s Cave is the views it offers over La Plata river valley, with unparalleled sunsets and views over ‘the four corners’, where the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado meet.
This iconic structure in Idaho has become a favourite among locals, and is widely recognised around the world. The element that really stands out here is the fact that the bed and breakfast is actually a 12-foot beagle. The structure sleeps four, and guests enter the canine through a second-floor entrance. As dog lovers themselves, the creators of course are happy for their guests to bring their pets. Unsurprisingly, the owners are also chainsaw artists, and have created many structures over the past decades.
Perhaps the most frightening hotel on this list, Howlers Inn is both a bed and breakfast and a wolf sanctuary. In fact, the wolves are what make this place so special. The exquisite service of the hotel, as well as amenities including hot tubs and a sauna, is provided in the setting of a rural wolf sanctuary, located close to Yellowstone National Park. The howling of the wolves at night make Howlers Inn particularly authentic and cosy, and provide guests with an experience that is truly immersed in nature.
As a British citizen, you could go on a road trip of a lifetime and stay in all of these wonderful and quirky hotels. As we’ve established, you may need to get a scuba-diving license first, and certainly get over your fear of heights, but a far easier part of your planning will be applying for ESTA online. You’ll need to get ESTA authorisation in advance before travelling to the USA, which will then allow you to travel to the country for periods of up to 90 days at a time, and will be valid for two years from the time of your approval (unless your passport expires first).
Brits can travel with ESTA thanks to the Visa Waiver Programme; a programme established between the USA and 38 other countries that allow citizens of these countries to visit the states without a visa, provided they are travelling for tourism or business purposes (among several other possibilities). Applying for ESTA online is far quicker, easier and cheaper than following the traditional process of requesting a US visa. In the past, Brits had to organise an interview in a US embassy or consulate before being able to visit the USA, and the overall application process could take months. Thankfully, the ESTA application process is carried out completely online, and the approval process is automatic. This means that, after submitting your ESTA application form, you will be informed of your approval status via email within 24 hours.
Whether you stay in a cave, underwater, alongside a parade of ducks or on a train, it has never been easier to explore the breadth of the USA as a Brit. Apply for ESTA now and start booking your quirky accommodation!
Travelling to the United States? Do you have your pre-planning checklist in order? Visit our ESTA Guide for more information about obtaining your travel permit. We'd love to hear from you. Send us your comments or questions for travel assistance.