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Weird Hotels 'round the World

When it comes to accommodations, there's good weird and there's bad weird. I've stayed in a few of the latter kind -- like an uber-budget flophouse in Paris where the door wouldn't close all the way and stray cats would sneak into our room while we were sleeping. The hotels below, on the other hand, are trying to make a statement, being weird on purpose in a creative way, and generally look like comfortable places to stay. (Except maybe the oil rig escape pod.) Check 'em out.

Jules' Underwater Hotel

If you're really into diving (and you don't work on a submarine), this hotel-slash-research lab may be the only opportunity you'll ever have to stay underwater for days at a time without surfacing. Located 21 feet under the waters off Key Largo, Florida, the only way in is via scuba, and it's got two bedrooms, a common room, bathrooms and a galley -- so it's really more like an underwater time-share apartment than a hotel. Rooms are around $500/night. Here's one of them:

And this is the hotel entrance:
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The Poseidon, 5-Star Underwater Hotel

If the Jules seems too downmarket and you want to stay in the Four Seasons of underwater hotels, the soon-to-be-completed Poseidon in the Bahamas will be more your speed. The entrance to this hotel is via tunnel (so you don't have to get wet), and the hotel is equipped with lights and fish-feeders, so there's always a show out your window. If you've got $1500/night to drop on it, make a reservation!

There's another hotel named the Poseidon planned -- this one in Fiji -- and they've created this virtual tour of the facility.

Oil rig escape pod

Capsule_dog

On the other end of the ocean-themed comfort spectrum, there are the Netherlands' Capsule Hotels, which are actually 1970s-era oil rig escape pods (to be lowered into the water in case of evacuation). More pictures are here -- and actually, it doesn't look that uncomfortable inside.

A section of used drainpipe

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It's actually called DAS PARKHOTEL, but I call 'em like they are. Located in a park alongside the banks of the Danube, these old pipes are outfitted with an unexpectedly comfortable interior - full headroom, double bed, storage, light, power, woolly blanket and light cotton sleeping bag. Bathroom facilities are available in the public bathrooms in the park. If this sounds a lot like camping out, it is -- hence the hotels "pay what you wish" policy. Just leave a few Euros behind when you go. [link]

An old wine cask

DeVrouwe_exterior

These four huge casks are actually the Hotel de Vrouwe Van Stavoren in the Netherlands, and at one time they each held approximately 20,000 bottles worth of wine each. Tiny, airtight rooms which are probably still outgassing alcohol vapor -- is this a good idea? But it certainly looks cool.
DeVrouwe_interior

Pictures by Paul Rekker.

A 747 in the Costa Rican jungle

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This plane was once operated by South African Airways and Avianca Airlines -- now it sits in the Costa Rican jungle, interior repaneled in rich wood, as a two-bedroom hotel suite. (It appears to be owned by a "normal" hotel, located on a beachside bluff nearby.) Pictures by Vincent Costello.

(Via Budgettravel.)

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The Little Known Airport Bookstore Program That Can Get You Half of What You Spend on Books Back
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Inflight entertainment is a necessary evil, but the price can quickly add up without the proper planning. Between Wi-Fi access and TV/movie packages, you can run into all kinds of annoying additional charges that will only increase the longer your flight is. Thankfully, there is one way to minimize the cost of your inflight entertainment that’s a dream for any reader.

Paradies Lagardère, which runs more than 850 stores in 98 airports across the U.S. and Canada, has an attractive Read and Return program for all the books they sell. All you have to do is purchase a title, read it, and return it to a Paradies Lagardère-owned shop within six months and you'll get half your money back. This turns a $28 hardcover into a $14 one. Books in good condition are re-sold for half the price by the company, while books with more wear and tear are donated to charity.

If you haven’t heard of Paradies Lagardère, don’t worry—you’ve probably been in one of their stores. They’re the company behind a range of retail spots in airports, including licensed ventures like The New York Times Bookstore and CNBC News, and more local shops exclusive to the city you're flying out of. They also run restaurants, travel essentials stores, and specialty shops. 

Not every Paradies Lagardère store sells books, though, and the company doesn’t operate out of every airport, so you’ll need to do a little research before just buying a book the next time you fly. Luckily, the company does have an online map that shows every airport it operates out of and which stores are there.

There is one real catch to remember: You must keep the original receipt of the book if you want to return it and get your money back. If you're the forgetful type, just follow PureWow’s advice and use the receipt as a bookmark and you’ll be golden.

For frequent flyers who plan ahead, this program can ensure that your inflight entertainment will never break the bank.

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A New Law Could Make It Harder to Access Your Favorite Florida Beaches
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Florida boasts roughly 8500 miles of coastline—the most of any state in the lower 48 [PDF]—but some of those sunny beaches could soon get a lot harder to access. As Coastal Living reports, a state law passed in 2018 gives private landowners the right to close almost the entirety of their beaches off to the public.

Florida law once required the state to "ensure the public's right to reasonable access to beaches." That policy left the state free to sell miles of coastal land to big tax generators like condos and hotels, while still keeping the waterfront accessible to local beach lovers and the millions of tourists who visit the state each year.

Sixty percent of Florida beaches are now privately owned. Under the new law, tides will turn in favor of those private landowners, allowing them to restrict access to any part of the beach above the high tide line. Starting July 1, they will be able to decide who does and doesn't get to set foot on their oceanfront property.

An online petition campaigning to keep those beaches open to all has already garnered more than 52,000 signatures. If that effort doesn't succeed, local governments will still have the power to remove restrictions from privately owned beaches, but they will need to petition a judge to do so. Any city ordinances about beach access passed prior to 2016 will also stay in effect.

Florida isn't the only coastal state where the question of who owns the beaches is up for debate. Wealthy homeowners in California have been known to hire security guards to remove people from the beaches in front of their houses, despite the fact that beaches in the state are public property. The courts have largely sided with the masses, though: In 2017, a billionaire landowner in northern California was ordered by a state court to restore public access to the beach in front of his property, which he had previously closed off with a locked gate.

Even with the new law, the portion of Florida shoreline that falls within the tide will always belong to the state. But that may not help anyone who has to traverse private property to get there.

[h/t Coastal Living]

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