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For what would have to be the coolest hotel experience, check into Sweden’s Icehotel. The arctic project is made of snow and sculpted blocks of ice and reincarnated every winter in the Swedish village of Jukkasjärvi. There are 16 suites, all intricately designed by artists. The sub-zero structure boasts a chapel for weddings and a bar where you can drink from ice glasses.
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This gorgeous five-star hideout is tucked away on 242 hectares of rugged beauty in Canyon Point in the desert region of Utah. It overlooks jaw-dropping canyons and plateaus as far as the eye can see. And if the stunning views and utter seclusion aren't enough, then head to the lavish infinity pool to cool your toes. It’s built around a massive 165-million-year-old Entrada Sandstone rock and it’s sure to impress.
Rosemont Hotel & Residences, Dubai
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Set to open in 2018, this two-building, 53-storey extravaganza will feature robotic luggage handlers, a glass-bottom pool and an artificial beach but they’re not the craziest features. There are plans for a lush, indoor rainforest to be built (or is it grown?) at the base of the two structures. Image: ZAS Architects
The Literary Man, Portugal
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Take a book-lover to this hotel in medieval Obidos, in northern Portugal, and you may lose them among the stacks. Its 30 bedrooms are wood-panelled and feature wrought-iron bedheads but it’s the communal rooms and hallways bookworms will be amazed by: more than 45,000 titles are squeezed into every available nook of wall space. The Literary Gin Bar, another room lined with tomes, serves up author- and story-themed cocktails – a gin rickey for F. Scott Fitzgerald or an Old Fashioned to drink while thumbing The Catcher in the Rye.
Lapland Hotels SnowVillage, Finland
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Ice artists spend months perfecting the annual incarnation of this chilly hotel in the Arctic Circle; come summer, the ice-and-snow structures are left to melt. For the 2018 season, it’s been given a Game of Thrones theme, complete with a giant White Walker, house sigils carved into the walls and an ice Iron Throne (Game of Thrones fans will understand).
Skylodge Adventure Suites, Peru
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This hotel is a real reward at the end of a 400-metre hike in Cuzco’s Sacred Valley – but acrophobics might disagree. Tacked onto the cliff face are three 15-square-metre transparent pods made from aerospace aluminium and weather-resistant polycarbonate, each with four beds and their own dining area and bathroom. If you can handle the height, its view over the valley – and of the circling condors – is one you won’t get anywhere else.
Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort, China
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Affectionately nicknamed the “Doughnut Hotel’, this arch appears to emerge from Taihu Lake – particularly when the illuminated exterior is reflected in the water each night. The luxury starts from the moment guests enter: the roof of the lobby is lined with Swarovski crystals. There are 321 rooms and suits across the 27 levels, as well as a private beach, two pools and a spa.
Marqués de Riscal, Spain
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Nestled in Rioja wine country, this Frank Gehry-designed hotel immediately stands out from the vineyards at its base. Opened in 2006, there are 43 rooms inside its titanium and steel curves, each of which has a distinctly different view depending on its position inside this labyrinth.
La Balade des Gnomes, Belgium
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This one is for the kids – or the adult fairytale enthusiast. Located in the Belgian province of Luxembourg, La Balade des Gnomes has 11 differently themed bedrooms inspired by the lands and characters of favourite childhood tales. Who wouldn’t want to go to sleep in a wooden Trojan horse that comes with a bubble bath? Or wake up beneath a twisting tree trunk with the chance to discover a fairy hidey-hole in the walls?
PurePods, New Zealand
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The southern isle is known for its commanding landscape, so why close yourself off from it during your stay? There are five PurePods – glass-walled, glass-roofed structures dotted in the middle of fields and rolling hills – across the south island, all within driving distance from Christchurch. Each pod sleeps two people and comes with linen, cooking equipment and a telescope for stargazing.
Das Park Hotel, Austria
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At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be a hotel on the edge of Ottensheim’s Rodlgelände at all. But on closer inspection, the discarded industrial concrete pipes are in fact the rooms. Thankfully, they’ve been converted into cosy getaways with a circular window providing natural light, a double mattress and a beautifully designed artwork on the wall behind the bed.
Arctic Bath, Sweden
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Designed by the same people behind the Bird’s Nest at Treehotel, this circular structure will float on the surface of the Lule River in Swedish Lapland. Accommodating just 12 guests at a time, it features wood-burning fireplaces in each room, four saunas and an open-air plunge bath. It’s set to sail in European autumn, 2018, with guests able to book about six months in advance.
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Call it “bubble B&B” or “French glamping” but a stay at this eco-friendly resort will have you gawking in awe at nature. Located near Marseille, the quirky lodging offers guests the chance to sleep in translucent bubble tents under the stars. Each unit offers uninterrupted views of the pine-forest surroundings and is furnished with all the comforts of home. At dusk, turn off all the lights to enjoy the Provençal night sky.
Balancing Barn, England
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Not for the faint-hearted, the Balancing Barn is a 30-metre-long hotel in the English countryside of Suffolk. Tiled with stainless-steel shingles, the barn teeters over the edge of a small hill at midpoint. There are four bedrooms, a living space and kitchen. One long corridor links to the floating end, where there is an additional living space with huge panoramic windows over the countryside.
Faralda Crane Hotel, The Netherlands
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Where else can you soak in a hot tub over Amsterdam? At this hoist hotel you get to stay inside the city’s oldest and tallest mechanical structure. Located in the centre of Amsterdam’s creative Kunststad district, the 50-metre-tall crane boasts a panoramic lounge, a television broadcasting studio and three lavishly themed guest suites. At the top is an outdoor spa to take in those breathtaking sunsets.
Gamirasu Cappadocia Cave Hotel, Turkey
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Who knew a cave could be so comfortable? Set in a monastic retreat, this thousand-year-old enclave was built into volcanic rock and restored from ruins. The rock keeps the temperature at a comfortable level year round. There are 30 exquisitely decorated rooms, featuring marble bathrooms, hot tubs and fireplaces.
Giraffe Manor, Kenya
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You can get up close and personal with some residents of the really tall, long-necked kind at this wildlife hotel. Set on 12 acres of private land, within forest in south Nairobi, the sanctuary is home to a herd of friendly Rothschild’s giraffes. They visit guests in the morning and at night for treats at mealtime. The hotel runs a successful breeding program that aims to revive the endangered species.
The Wizard Chambers, Georgian House Hotel, England
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If you’re a Harry Potter fan, or just plain curious, a stay in the Wizard Chambers at Georgian House will leave you spellbound. Here, you get to live like a wizard. Each room is furnished with canopy beds, tartan plaid blankets, antique silver tea service and antler chandeliers. There is no limit to the magic you can create here – potion bottles, cauldrons, spell books are supplied.
Hotel Ještěd, Czech Republic
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You'll know how it feels to sleep above the clouds at this alpine hotel. Perched on the highest peak of the Ještěd-Kozákov Ridge near Liberec, the high-tech tower is elevated at a knee-trembling height of 1012 metres above sea level. It offers magnificent mountain views that stretch into Germany and Poland and is only reachable by cable car.
Katikies Hotel, Greece
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You’ve seen it in postcards – and for good reason. Katikies, in the Greek Islands, offers the ultimate five-star experience with the most stunning views you’ve ever seen. Perched on a cliff above the Caldera basin in the village of Oia, Santorini, the hotel’s hulled-cave rooms are connected by a maze of terraces and endless stairs and bridges. Choose from three jaw-dropping infinity pools, a Champagne bar and two restaurants to take in breathtaking panoramic views of the endless Aegean blue sea.
Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Finland
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A night under the stars is one thing, but a crystal-clear view of the Northern Lights from your own private room? At Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, you can stay in glass igloos and enjoy incredible views of the Aurora Borealis. Built for two people, each hut is fitted with thermal glass walls and ceilings to keep it warm and cozy at night.
Pantone Hotel, Belgium
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You won’t find drab drapes and dreary hallways at this roost. Located in the Saint-Gilles district of Brussels, the happy-hued hotel is decorated in a riot of colours. There are plenty of Pantone-branded decor items – from folding chairs to mugs to artwork. Each floor is decorated in a different colour palette.
Palacio de Sal, Bolivia
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If you’re looking for a seasoned hotel, Bolivia's Palacio de Sal is it. It is comprised of an impressive one million 35-centimetre blocks of salt. Everything here is made from the natural mineral – from the walls, to the floors, to the ceilings and furniture. The palatial hotel, which sits on the banks of the largest salt plains in the world, has become a destination in itself.
Manta Resort, Tanzania
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Why settle for a private beach when you can have a whole island to yourself? This sublime floating hotel drifts 250 metres off the Tanzanian coast. You don’t need a “do not disturb” sign here – it offers complete seclusion from the rest of the world. It has everything you need plus all the extras, including a top sundeck, and a submerged bedroom four metres below the surface, so you can watch the fish swim by.
The UFO, Treehotel, Sweden
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You’ll be forgiven for thinking that aliens have landed at this bizarre hotel. The 1950s-kitsch UFO cabin is suspended in trees and can “abduct” a family of up to five. The unit comes with radiant flooring heating and a state-of-the-art eco-friendly incineration toilet. Access is by a retractable staircase with a hatch door.