7 hotels designed to blow your mind

Odd, eccentric, quirky, different… there are plenty of ways to describe uniqueness. But sometimes you come across places so weird and wonderful that words can’t do them justice. Places that inspire, confuse, and sprinkle your holiday with a special kind of magic – making a great trip into a truly unforgettable one. From harbour cranes to island fortresses, we’ve trawled the listings to find seven of the most outlandish properties around. Sit back, open your mind and get inspired.

Marqués de Riscal, a Luxury Collection – Elciego, Spain

This hotel is all about fine wine and funky design. Located in La Rioja’s oldest winery, this eye-catching building certainly stands out against its traditional, rural backdrop. A tangle of undulating, iridescent panels shimmers on top, described by architect Frank Gehry as ‘hair flying everywhere’. Underneath this metallic mêlée, you’ll find swanky rooms and a world-renowned vinotherapy spa.

Hotel Palacio de Sal – Colchani, Bolivia

Who needs bricks and mortar when you’re surrounded by salt? Located on the edge of the Uyuni Salt Flat, this hotel makes excellent use of its environment – with walls, ceilings, furniture, and beds all made of smooth, sparkling salt. It’s like staying in a strange kind of igloo – without the sub-zero temperatures.

Havenkraan van Harlingen – Harlingen, The Netherlands

Heave ho! This harbour crane was once used to unload timber from Russia and Scandinavia. But a two-year renovation project has transformed it into one of the quirkiest hotels around. Hop into the tubular lift and zoom 17 metres up to the cabin, where you’ll find a comfy bed, bathroom and terrace with jaw-dropping views. And the icing on this spindly, metal cake? There’s a lever that lets you rotate the whole cabin 360 degrees – so you can choose your own panorama.

Quinta Real Zacatecas – Zacatecas, Mexico

With a setting designed for spectacle, it’s no wonder Quinta Real steals the show again and again. This hotel is built around a 15th-century bullring, with a dramatic circular space at the centre. The rooms and restaurant are bedded into the amphitheatre-style stands, producing a cascading split-level effect. When it’s lit up at night, with the glowing arches of the aqueduct behind, it makes for a sumptuous setting for an evening stroll.

Capsulevalue Kanda – Tokyo, Japan

We couldn’t put together a list of wacky design hotels without including somewhere like Capsulevalue Kanda. At this hotel, personal space is more about the personal and less about the space. Instead of a room, guests get a tiny capsule just wide enough for a single bed. When you’re ready to sleep, just hop in, close the hatch and away you go.

Crazy House – Da Lat, Vietnam

Crazy by name, crazy by nature. This quirky architecture project-turned-hotel is straight out of a fairy-tale dreamscape. The building has curves and crevices that reflect natural forms like twisted tree roots, and there’s barely a straight edge or right-angle in sight. It’s gained quite the reputation, though – don’t be surprised to wake up to tourists knocking on your door for a peek inside.

No Man's Fort – Seaview, United Kingdom

When Lord Palmerston commissioned this sea fort in the mid-19th century, you can bet he never foresaw it being transformed into a luxury hotel one day. What was once a dank and gloomy barracks is now plush, playful accommodation for guests looking for an out-of-the-ordinary stay. The journey starts by boat, as you whizz across the Solent and moor up at the side. From there, you can while away your time with on-board cabaret, soaking in the outdoor Jacuzzis, or pinging golf balls off the fort’s edge.


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