walkway to the Lofty Lookout Treehouse gets you
ready for the inside, which includes a king size bed
and a heart-shaped Jacuzzi for two. It's one of the
treehouse or cottage you can book at Treehouse
Cottages in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
family and friends in Portland, Ore., found out where we
were staying during a recent visit, they just had to come
and take a look.
not as if we had splurged on the presidential suite at the
city’s best hotel. In fact, our accommodations were no
bigger than a typical bedroom in your average American
— The Tiny House Hotel is made up of six miniature
houses, ranging in size from 120 to 170 square feet,
circled around an open courtyard in Portland’s trendy
Alberta Arts District. They look a lot like oversize doll
houses, each one a different design. Tiny houses — the
star of several TV shows — are all the rage these days,
thanks largely to an increased emphasis on sustainable and
affordable living. Caravan was the country’s first hotel
of tiny houses when it opened in 2013.
invited guests to the courtyard on our first of two nights
at Caravan. Four young women showed up for a tiny cocktail
party. We drank out of tiny red Solo cups and dined on
hors d’oeuvres served on toothpicks.
could resist joining in on the tiny house fun.
something about miniaturized objects that’s
irresistible. It’s this kind of attraction to a unique
or unusual place to stay that sometimes outshines — or
at least takes equal billing with — a destination.
Castle hotels in Europe, for example, can be as much of a
draw for a trip as the location itself. In the U.S., some
weird and offbeat lodging options can be reason enough for
a getaway, or at least enhance the experience so that your
accommodations are more than just a place to sleep.
sister and I shared Caravan’s largest unit, Pacifica.
She slept upstairs in the lofted queen bed and I took the
bed downstairs. In the morning, we marveled as the sun
colored the light coming through the stained-glass
windows. A tiny house with colored sunlight is magical.
the U.S., quirky lodgings are available at a variety of
price points. Here are some fun ones to try:
Cave in Farmington, N.M., is a 1,700-square-foot space
built into a sandstone cliff overlooking the La Plata
River Valley. The cave is 70 feet below the surface, with
views of the Four Corners area of Arizona, New Mexico,
Utah and Colorado. To get to the entrance, you walk down a
sloping path and steps cut into the cliff face.
"Since there is no elevator, it is wise to pack as
lightly as possible," the website advises.
inside, there’s a master bedroom, living room, dining
area, kitchen and a bathroom with rock walls forming a
waterfall shower. There’s also a replica kiva — a room
for Native American rituals — and two porches with
sliding glass doors. Meals from a French chef can be
ordered in advance.
underground isn’t your thing, how about up in the
Cottages in Eureka Springs, Ark., features seven luxurious
treehouses built into a pine forest. About 25 feet off the
ground with king-size beds and double whirlpool tubs,
these aren’t your childhood havens. These are secluded
spots for romance and relaxation, outfitted with antiques,
chandeliers and wrap-around decks.
up in the air is Dog Bark Park Inn in Cottonwood, Idaho,
where you can take the kids and sleep inside a
30-foot-tall wooden beagle, a kind of Trojan dog, if you
will, named Sweet Willy. You enter from a second-floor
deck to a room with a queen-size bed that has a headboard
adorned with 26 dog carvings. The kids can climb up into
Sweet Willy’s head, where there are two futon
mattresses. Books, games and puzzles are provided but no
are also the draw at Wildlife Prairie Park outside Peoria,
Ill. But instead of wooden carvings, these are live bison,
elk, cougar, black bear and more, all native to the
Midwest. At this 2,000-acre zoological park you can sleep
in refurbished red cabooses at the edge of the bison and
elk range, near Caboose Lake. I remember hearing the
animals at night when I stayed here a long time ago with
my large extended family and young children taking over
all four cabooses, which sleep up to five.
like regular hotels but still out of the ordinary are The
Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif., and The Liberty Hotel in
a famed 1930s ocean liner, The Queen Mary is now a
floating hotel with 355 rooms, many featuring artwork and
wooden art deco built-ins from the era.
Liberty, at the foot of Beacon Hill, is a 298-room luxury
hotel that was once the Charles Street Jail. A national
historic landmark, the former jail was originally
constructed in 1851. Previous "guests" included
Malcolm X, doomed anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo
Vanzetti and a German U-boat crew captured in the
Atlantic. The catwalk where guards watched over inmates is
now part of the lobby.
— The Tiny House Hotel: Rates range from $145 to $165 a
Cave: Two-night minimum stay costs $560 for two people,
$760 for three to four. The cave is closed during December
through February; www.kokoscave.com.
Cottages: High-season rates begin at $159 a night. Take
note: Cottages book up far in advance;
Bark Park Inn: Open April 1 through Oct. 31, overnight
rates are $98 for two and $10 for each extra person;
Prairie Park: Rates for the cabooses, available April
through October, start at $100. Other lodging options
include cabins, cottages and camping;
Queen Mary and Liberty hotels: Rates begin around $119 on
the former ocean liner (www.queenmary.com) and $399 at the
one-time jail (www.libertyhotel.com).