unique places to stay

7 unique places to stay in the world

by Michael on September 13, 2012

From a kitschy throwback hotel in North Korea to a nudist B&B in Portugal, we found a few unique places to stay in the world. Here are some of our favorites:

1) Little Petra Bedouin Camp, Jordan


Little Petra Bedouin camp Jordan

The Little Petra Bedouin Camp is so named because of its proximity to Little Petra, a smaller cousin of the world-renowned site of Petra. Just like the name implies, it’s little, but worth visiting as it gets less than 1% of the visitors of Petra. When we visited there were only three other people there. The Bedouin camp offers accommodations in tents. However, we were a little concerned at check-in when the owner cheerfully told us, “I’ve upgraded you to a cave.” So we spent a rather cold night in the cave but it was filled with blankets and pillows and ended up being quite cozy.

Website: Little Petra Bedouin Camp

2) Shichachai Shadow Art Hotel, Beijing, China


Unique places to stay Shichachai Shadow Art Hotel

Keen observers will notice that while Larissa is waiting for the next performance she is engrossed in a game of Solitaire.

Hutongs are traditional neighborhoods of small alleys and courtyard homes in Beijing that are rapidly being bulldozed over for new developments. While the hutongs are becoming a shadow of their former selves, will an art based on shadows help revive them? The Shichachai Shadow Art Hotel is in an old hutong neighborhood and showcases the ancient art of shadow puppetry. Banned by Chairman Mao during the Cultural Revolution, shadow puppetry is being revived by another Mao, this one an artist.

Unique Places to stay Shichachai Hotel Beijing

The man behind the curtain is puppet artist Mao.

Mao makes his own hand painted shadow puppets as he revives the lost art. A theater was built into the hotel lobby to showcase regular performances for guests.. Staying here provides the visitor a unique opportunity to experience life in an old hutong while watching an ancient art.

Book a room at the: Shichachai Shadow Art Hotel

3) Belar Homestead, Dubbo, Australia


Unique places to stay Belars Australia

The Belar Homestead sits in Australia’s bush country on a 3,000 acre ranch owned by 4th-generation cattle farmer Rob Wright and his wife Deb. In fact, the house was built by Rob’s great-grandfather. The setting off a mile-long driveway is perfect for someone seeking solitude with the only neighbors being a few cows, some chickens and the occasional kangaroo. The remote location provides a spectacular night sky for stargazing. It’s so clear that the Parkes Radio Telescope, which received the video of the first Apollo moon landing, is nearby.

4) Ai Aiba, The Rock Painting Lodge, Namibia


Ai Aiba rock painting lodge Namibia

Namibia has become a popular destination in Africa for independent self-drive safaris. Aside from the big game viewing, there are many areas with prehistoric cave art paintings. Ai Aiba sits within a 12,000 acre reserve boasting over 150 of these paintings. On a pre-breakfast hike we spotted some ancient artwork of giraffes while looking over our shoulder at real giraffes munching on the acacia trees. It was a sublime experience.

Ai Aiba rock painting lodge Namibia

Website: Ai Aiba, The Rock Painting Lodge

5) Yanggakdo Hotel, Pyongyang, North Korea


Yanggakdo Hotel Pyongyang North Korea

Okay this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it certainly wasn’t Larissa’s choice, but the Yanggakdo is the place to go when visiting the monolithic country of North Korea and experience some retro-70s style. There’s even a highlight of that era, a revolving restaurant on top. The rooms were nicer than we expected, although coated somewhat with several decades worth of tar and nicotine. The only way to visit North Korea is via an authorized tour operator. We recommend Koryo Tours. Extra bonus: There’s a two-lane bowling alley in the basement that comes with your own cheerleader.

Website: Koryo Tours

6) Casa Amarela, Algarve Coast, Portugal


Casa Amarela Naturist resort Portugal

If you’re seeking a vacation where you can pack light, really light, the Casa Amarela may be what you’re looking for. The guest house run by Brits Jane and Stewart is clothing optional. The feeling of diving into the pool and then drying off au natural in the warm Portuguese sun is so … well, you’ll just have to experience it for yourself. And while you’re relaxing just think of all the money you saved on baggage fees.

Web site: Casa Amarela

7) Munduk Moding Plantation, Bali


Unique places to stay Munduk Moding Bali

If you’ve dreamed of waking up to a view of a coffee plantation on the island of Bali then this is the place. True coffee addicts can hike the plantation then retire to the lodge for a fresh cup of Kopi Luwak. Made famous as the java of choice for Jack Nicholson in The Bucket List,  it’s brewed from beans that have first been eaten and shat out by the civet cat. Despite that history, Larissa tried it. Fortunately for Michael he’s not a coffee drinker. As an added bonus you can visit the civets in cages and watch them prepare the beans for roasting.

Munduk Moding Plantation Bali

Website: Munduk Moding Plantation

What unique places to stay can you recommend?

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Jerry September 13, 2012 at 9:43 am

On our 3 month cross country (USA) honeymoon, we had little money and were always looking for cheap accommodations. In Thermopolis, Wyoming, we came across a FREE municipal campground. What a deal! After we snuggled into our sleeping bags, we discovered it was downwind from the sewage treatment plant. I guess you get what you pay for.

John D September 15, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Great list. I am intrigued by 1, 3, 4 and 7. 6 looks beautiful although I have no desire to subject others to this body. I do not recall hearing much about Portugal, was that this trip?

Michael September 16, 2012 at 10:27 am

Yikes, did you stay there the whole night?

Michael September 16, 2012 at 10:28 am

Aww, just give it a try, you’ll love it.

Barb September 17, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Hi MIchael & Larissa,

Happy and very belated travel anniversay!! I have missed this post as we are still on the road. We are currentlly in New Brunswick.
Such a beautiful list of favs. Wishing you many more great moments.

Barbara & Didier

Michael September 17, 2012 at 7:14 pm

Hi Barb,

Good to hear from you. We were getting worried. Hopefully a few places here for you and Didier to try.


Larissa and Michael

Carl September 25, 2012 at 12:13 pm

If you’re going to nudist resorts no wonder you packed so light.

Michael October 6, 2012 at 11:51 pm

Well there is that benefit too.

emma@gottakeepmovin October 8, 2012 at 10:36 am

I don’t think North Korea would be my first choice either! Although how could you possibly say no to bowling with your own cheerleader present?! Interesting post, thanks for sharing.

Michael October 9, 2012 at 11:32 am

We have to admit the cheerleader started losing interest when she saw how bad we were.

Lena December 12, 2012 at 8:25 pm

We stayed at a homestay in the mountains of Southern India doing yoga and meditating most of the day. We mention it in our post here: http://backpackofmemories.com/2012/10/08/india-you-either-love-it-or-hate-it/#more-1300

We were also lucky to stay with a family (also a homestay) in the mountains of Georgia in a village outside of Kobuleti but we had to speak Russian or Georgian to have that opportunity, luckily I speak Russian.

Great list!

Alexandra December 13, 2012 at 12:25 pm

Bookmarking the Lodge in Namibia! Will be there in May 2013!

udaya seean saan mohanty March 19, 2013 at 6:31 am

so all nice place my aim allz places visit

Michael April 14, 2013 at 11:32 pm

Let us know how you like it!

Michael April 14, 2013 at 11:33 pm

All right then. Enjoy!

Talon April 15, 2013 at 12:21 am

Hard to beat having your own cheerleader.

Steve April 15, 2013 at 12:38 am

Those caves look beautiful. We recently got the opportunity to stay atop a lighthouse in Oregon, with a bath where the lamp used to sit.

Cat of Sunshine and Siestas April 15, 2013 at 3:09 am

Um, sweet list! I’ve not stayed in really wacky accommodation yet, but am curious as to how you find these places. I think the most exotic we’ve ever gotten is staying at the Flamingo in Vegas and having brunch next to its namesake!

Michael April 15, 2013 at 9:18 am

That experience bowling in Pyongyang was a bit bizarre. Although after rolling a few frames she realized how bad we were and went back to stacking the shoes.

Michael April 15, 2013 at 9:19 am

Which I guess means you climbed up and down every time. Pretty wild.

Michael April 15, 2013 at 9:20 am

We just keep researching. Larissa handles most of the accommodations and is good at finding the off beat.

wandering educators April 16, 2013 at 6:58 pm

i want to stay in a cave!!

Michael April 17, 2013 at 10:17 am

It’s quite cozy.

D.J. - The World of Deej April 18, 2013 at 8:34 am

As a bit of a hotel junkie, these are right up my alley. Well, except for the “tar coated walls” in North Korea:)

Lillie - @WorldLillie April 18, 2013 at 2:23 pm

What an intriguing list!

Terry at Overnight New York April 18, 2013 at 8:14 pm

I’m happiest when I’m caffeinated, so I know which one would top my list!

nubwaxer May 4, 2013 at 6:52 pm

north korea is not a tourist destination.

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