When it comes time to booking your holidays, hotels are usually an afterthought. As no matter how convenient, affordable or fancy they are, they’re mostly just a base from which to charge your phone, change your clothes and get some sleep. But what if the hotel itself could be part of the adventure? There’ s a whole list of unique hotels in Europe that take the boredom out of snoozing.
Europe is filled with bespoke hotel experiences that fly under the radar and offer travellers a genuinely unique experience. Whether it’s staying in a lighthouse overlooking the Baltic Sea, a medieval clock tower in Italy, or a converted aeroplane in a Dutch field, there’s more to accommodation than just five-star ratings.
Here are some of the most unique hotels in Europe. These are guaranteed to liven up your travels and provide unforgettable photos.
The Old Man and the Sea
If you’re are looking for a rugged, romantic getaway, Europe offers a variety of lighthouses you can book for an overnight or extended stay.
On the Norwegian Coast
Norway’s coastline is renowned for its beauty and boasts several tastefully renovated lighthouses to choose from, plus all the crashing waves and howling winds you could ever hope for. You can check the country’s official tourism website for some of the more popular options before booking your flight to capital city Oslo and pointing your rental car towards the coast.
Asleep and Adrift
Alternatively, if you’d prefer something a little more central, Amsterdam’s houseboats offer tourists plenty of unique charm. Whether you’re on a budget and looking for something old and quaint, or want a sweeping balcony and roaring fire with a modern fit-out, there’s a range of houseboats sure to make your friends envious. The Dutch Canal Boat is a great mid-range option with amazing views.
On the Road to Nowhere
For those wanting to experience the luxury of a private airline or an old world train journey (without actually going anywhere), Europe offers a variety of converted planes, trains and automobiles to choose from.
The Airplane in the Netherlands began life in 1960 as transport for East Germany’s top government brass and made flights to Cuba, China, Vietnam and Soviet Russia, before being retired in the mid-80s and ultimately reinvented as a luxury hotel suite. 40-metres long and more luxurious than your typical five-star hotel, Airplane Suite provides spacious sleeping quarters, a jacuzzi and the original cockpit controls for you to play with.
It’s heavily booked throughout most of the year, but you can always spend a night at the nearby Bastion Hotel in Apeldoorn while you wait your turn.
If your travel aspirations are a little more modest, Petworth in the UK is home to The Old Railway Station hotel and offers a taste of the Orient Express. Four Pullman carriages have been converted into luxury suites that capture the romance of a bygone era in travel, even if they don’t actually go anywhere.
The Old Railway Station, Sussex, UK
Another hotel that isn’t going anywhere is the nearby Amberley. It’s been overlooking Petworth’s rolling valleys for more than 900 years and sits on 12 hectares of landscaped gardens. If your TV schedule includes Game of Thrones, you’ll feel right at home here.
Let Me Be Your Fantasy
While converted aircraft, lighthouses and train carriages are good clean fun, these are still very much grounded in reality. Not to worry, Europe has plenty of whimsical, storybook hotels to choose from.
For those who appreciate a frosty winter wonderland but aren’t particularly keen on a trip to the Arctic, Alpeniglu® is a boutique ‘hotel’ in the Swiss Alps comprised of seven custom-built igloos. Temperatures outside may drop well below zero, but things are nice and cosy inside and the assorted fur rugs give the place a suitably mythical feel.
Visit during the summer months and you’ll find breathtaking views of the countryside and significantly discounted nightly rates at cute and cosy mountain lodges. Agerhof is a three-star treat that sits on top of a nearby mountain and could have been plucked straight out of The Sound of Music.
If you’d rather holiday in an ancient forest, far above the ground, France’s Les Alicourts Resort Treehouses are perfect. Set on 30 acres of preserved forest, the resort consists of eight beautifully crafted, authentically rustic tree houses. They’ll even deliver your breakfast via a rope and pulley.
But if you’re after heights and don’t mind a steep climb, the Torre Prendiparte in Bologna, Italy, lets you live out your medieval fantasies. 900-years old and 12-floors high, the tower is the second tallest structure in town. It’s also a one-bedroom getaway you won’t soon forget. It even has original prison cells within its catacombs (complete with ancient graffiti).
Having a whole tower to yourself is popular with both locals and tourists, so you’ll want to book well in advance.
Tower of Dreams
Luckily, Bologna has plenty of other attractions and you can spend a couple of nights at the nearby and very fancy Grand Hotel Majestic già Baglioni. It might not be a private tower, but the sweeping views of the old town and plush decor are seriously impressive.
On the topic of fantasy settings, Sweden’s old Sala Silvermine could be pulled from the pages of a Tolkien novel. The world’s deepest bedroom is located 155-metres underground in one of the world’s best preserved mine settings. Filled with ornate antique furniture, it’s probably the closest you’ll ever get to the hall of the mountain king. This definitely counts as one of the most unique hotels in Europe — even if Gimli never makes an appearance.
Fair warning though, it gets a little cold and icy down there (according to the proprietors), so a night or two at the nearby Schenströmska Herrgården Hotel should help warm your bones. It’s an endlessly charming country house renovated to look like a Swedish take on The Hamptons, so lots of white and lounges that swallow you whole.
While there’s a lot to be said for the comfort and convenience of a good hotel (and Europe has plenty), something a little more exotic and out of the way like the unique hotels above, can offer you the sort of travel stories you won’t find in the tourist guides.
Best Time to Visit
When to Go
If you’re looking for igloos and snow, then winter is the obvious choice, but most of these hotel options are available throughout the year.
How to Get There
Most major airlines, including Singapore Airlines, provide daily flights to Europe. Frankfurt Airport in Germany is a particularly central arrival destination for any European holiday.
Singaporean passport holders do not require a visa to travel to Europe for stays of up to 90 days within 6 months from the date of initial entry.
Once inside the EU, travel between countries doesn’t require additional paperwork. Check with the respective embassy of the country you’re travelling to for up-to-date information.