Leave your typical routine on the curb as you check in at one of these wildly creative destination hotels, where your room becomes the main attraction. From a treehouse, to a jail cell, to a stationed cruise ship, you’ve never spent the night in more imaginative surroundings. Here are 10 off-beat hotels around the country to make your next stay away from home a memorable one.
By Zachary Laks
The Roxbury Motel
WHERE: Roxbury, NY
Situated in the heart of the Catskill Mountains, The Roxbury Motel is anything but an ordinary inn. Creativity has been unleashed in the most decadent and witty style as grand themed rooms transport guests to a new world. Everything in the rooms is one-of-a-kind, including The Wizard’s Emeralds, a Wizard of Oz–themed suite complete with yellow brick road and ruby slippers, as well as the Genie’s Bottle suite, two bedrooms adjoined by a one-of-a-kind genie bottle bathroom. Roxbury’s new flagship suite, The Digs, is modeled after Indiana Jones. This separate cottage is for truly adventurous groups, with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, comes complete with secret doors, a magnificent aquarium, and an additional outdoor shower.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Catskills Travel Guide
WHERE: Taos, NM
Go off the grid and live a completely sustainable life at the Earthship Hotel. Four structures called earthships are custom built into the desert sand, all purposely constructed to control indoor temperatures and minimize impact on the environment. All earthships come with the capability to grow food, solar panels for energy, and a rain and water reuse system. Well-appointed and decorated with a New Mexican flare, The Phoenix Earthship is the largest of the lot with a private greenhouse and fish pond. Going off-grid only applies to public utilities, as the modern comforts of WiFi and TVs with Netflix are available in each earthship.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Taos Travel Guide
WHERE: San Luis Obispo, CA
Located between Los Angeles and San Francisco, Madonna Inn is a cultural landmark of quirky hospitality. Built with families in mind, the pseudo-Swiss-Alps-resort façade features 110 lavishly designed rooms. Among the most sought-after rooms, the Vous room is a royal-blue luxury hideout with vaulted ceilings, an ornate chandelier, and a round bed. A stay in the Safari Suite is accented by the animal skins, prints, and rock shower with overhead waterfall and comes standard with two king beds. The Madonna Inn’s Gold Rush Steak House on premises is opulent, bursting with color, and best known for its circular pink booths.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s California Travel Guide
WHERE: Marfa, TX
Hipster-rustic with a throwback to the simpler days, El Cosmico offers unexpected lodgings in the form of teepees, trailers, and a yurt in rural western Texas. Made of wood and canvas, the 22-feet-diameter teepees have brick floors and just enough room for a queen bed, love seat, and a small daybed. Seven restored trailers, each with individual character and charm, transport overnight guests to the glory days of roadside accommodation. Most relaxing of all at El Cosmico is Hammock Grove, where guests can relax in suspended beds under the Texan stars.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Texas Travel Guide
Ruby Montana’s Coral Sands Inn
WHERE: Palm Springs, CA
Owner Ruby Montana goes to great lengths to ensure all guests feel welcome at her six suite inn in the Palm Springs resort town. Each suite is curated with custom kitsch, folk art, and charming antiques. The Roy Rogers & Dale Evans Suite features a wall-mounted guitar, antlers, and plenty of western accents, such as wagon wheels and cowboy hats. For truly committed kitsch fans, The Liberace Suite is home to assorted flamingo trinkets, gold-plated headboards, and a leopard print bedspread. All the suites open up to the pool, where guests meet, mingle, and often exchange tours of their rooms.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Palm Springs Travel Guide
The Queen Mary
WHERE: Long Beach, CA
Having sailed the ocean blue from 1936 to 1967, the iconic Queen Mary docked at her permanent home in Long Beach in 1971, opening her doors to tourists, and in 1972, the vessel became a 150 room hotel. Since then, the ship has been renovated several times and now has 346 guestrooms ranging from original first-class staterooms to the more affordable inside staterooms without a porthole. Three restaurants on board offer a range of American cuisine not typically associated with cruise fare, such as avocado bacon burgers at the casual Promenade Café and pan seared duck at the fine dining Sir Winston’s. The real joy of staying overnight on The Queen Mary is exploring the many outdoor decks, public lounges, and areas of the ship, such as the captain’s bridge and radio room.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Long Beach Travel Guide
Out’n’About Treehouses Treesort
WHERE: Cave Junction, OR
Childhood dreams come to life with the ultimate treehouse forts at Out'n'About Treehouses Treesort. Twelve treehouses, all custom built for the resort, are scattered around a 36-acre private property. A genius pulley system is in place for luggage, and a variety of spiral staircases, ladders, and rope bridges bring guests to their suites in the sky. Horseback riding is a popular activity, as equines roam the grounds. A comprehensive zip line course of 15 lines gives guests plenty of adrenaline-fueled fun. With the treehouses in high demand, bookings start a year in advance and sell out immediately.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Oregon Travel Guide
WHERE: Bardstown, KY
About an hour south of Louisville in Bardstown, KY, Jailer’s Inn was an operational prison from 1797 through 1987. Having been restored and redesigned as a hotel, the building’s original purpose shines through in the iron bars, 30 inch-thick stone walls, and heavy steel doors. Six guest rooms are all uniquely decorated, evoking colonial, Victorian, and modern eras. Honoring its past and staying true to form, the Jailer’s Inn offers a fun Jail Cell room that is outfitted in black and white and pays homage to bad boys such as “Jailhouse Rock”er Elvis Presley and James Dean.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Kentucky Travel Guide
Don Q Inn
WHERE: Dodgeville, WI
At Don Q Inn, the question isn’t whether the rooms come with a view; they are the view. Marvel at the funky lobby, complete with a fire pit surrounded by barber chairs, before checking into one of the many fantasy suites on site. The “Up, Up, and Away!” room features a hot air balloon hovering over the king sized round bed, along with a waterfall effects whirlpool. The Geisha Garden suite incorporates Japanese accents, including antique art, black lacquer furniture, and circular doorways for complete eastern immersion.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Wisconsin Travel Guide
Chateau Avalon Hotel
WHERE: Kansas City, KS
Whimsical romance is in the air at the Chateau Avalon Hotel in Kansas City, Kansas. The French Chateau-styled getaway houses 61 rooms and suites, all unique and luxurious in their own style. The Tuscany Suite is one of the most exclusive in the estate and features a grand staircase that leads to a loft bed and chromotherapy whirlpool spa. Eleven adventure rooms bring a playful spirit to your stay at the chateau, with the Serengeti Suite ranking as a favorite for its fine stone wall detail and artificial trees.
PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s Kansas City Travel Guide