Strangest Places to Stay: 5 Tree Houses, Caves and More

Safari Land Farm and Guesthouse is near the towns of Ooty and Masinagudi, in the Nilgiris Biosphere. It is 150 miles, or a five-hour drive from Bangalore. Courtesy Safari Land Farm and Guesthouse Safari Land Farm and Guesthouse
By Charis Atlas Heelan

A hotel can just be the place you sleep, or it can be one of the highlights of your vacation. From tree houses and caves to converted planes and trains, these creative lodging options can turn any ordinary stay into an unforgettable experience.

Photo Caption: The tree houses at India's Safari Land Farm and Guesthouses are roomy enough to hold four-poster canopy beds.
Courtesy Safari Land Farm and Guesthouse
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Woodlyn Park, a working farm that also happens to offer an eclectic selection of lodging, in Otorohanga, on the central North Island about two hours from Auckland. Courtesy Woodlyn Park Woodlyn Park
What: Woodlyn Park is a working farm that also happens to offer an eclectic selection of lodging: a WWII patrol boat, a converted railway carriage, one of the last Allied planes to make it out of Vietnam now transformed with two rooms (one in the cockpit and the other in the tail) -- and a 1950s polystyrene-clad freighter fully refurbished into two self-contained units, making up the world's first hobbit motel. Woodlyn Park also hosts a Kiwi Culture Show with audience participation (think sheep shearing, log sawing, bush animals, the kiwi bear, and a dancing pig).

Where: 1177 Waitomo Valley Road, Otorohanga on the central North Island, about two hours from Auckland, Rotorua, and Taupo, and two minutes from the famous Waitomo Glow Worm Caves.

How Much: In the plane -- NZ$195 ($170) for the cockpit and NZ$180 ($160) for the tail (each sleeps four people); in the train -- NZ$195 per double ($170); on the boat -- from NZ$185 ($160); and NZ$285 ($249) in the hobbit houses (each sleeps six people).

When: Throughout the year

More Info: Woodlyn Park (tel. +64/7-878-6666; www.woodlynpark.co.nz; billy@woodlynpark.co.nz)

Photo Caption: Woodlyn Park is on the central North Island about two hours from Auckland.
Courtesy Woodlyn Park
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Peri Cave Hotel in Goreme, Turkey. Courtesy Peri Cave Hotel Peri Cave Hotel
What: Peri Cave Hotel is a small pension housed within two ancient volcanic rock formations, or fairy chimneys as they are often called. Carved out of the stone, the rooms have remained relatively the same as they did centuries ago when they were used as monasteries, churches, and homes.

Amenities: All cave rooms come with private bathrooms, heating, Internet access, and laundry service. Peri Cave Hotel also offers free transportation to and from the local bus stations.

Where: Muze Yolu 50180 Göreme/Nevsehir. The hotel is located in the town of Göreme (just up the road from the famed Göreme Open Air Museum), a perfect spot to base yourself for day trips around Cappadocia and its picture-book fairy chimneys.

When: Throughout the year, but seeing the fairy chimneys under winter snow or surrounded by the colorful spring blooms is especially amazing.

More Info: Peri Cave Hotel (tel. +90/384- 271-2136; www.pericavehotel.com)

Photo Caption: Peri Cave Hotel in Goreme, Turkey.
Courtesy Peri Cave Hotel
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A sloth near Tree Houses Hotel in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. Courtesy Tree Houses Hotel Tree Houses Hotel
What: Looking for a way to immerse yourself in the Costa Rican jungle without giving up creature comforts? Tree Houses Hotel may be just the spot. This complex of three tree houses provides privacy while still being near the crowded tourist hotspots around Arenal Volcano. Surrounded by a 70-acre wildlife refuge with a waterfall and a river, the tree houses are surprisingly comfortable. An overnight stay also offers the chance for close encounters with exotic birds, sloths, monkeys, and armadillos.

Amenities: It's hard to say which is more important: warm-water showers or air conditioning. Luckily, the seven tree houses have both. Each tree house also comes with a private deck and a fridge (there are also several restaurants nearby).

Where: The address is listed as 300 Meters Norte de Cementerio de la Florencia Santa Clara, San Carlos. Technically speaking, the Tree Houses Hotel is on the main highway #141, a two-hour drive from San José Airport and about 25 minutes south of La Fortuna.

When: Throughout the year

How Much: Based on double occupancy, a stay in a tree house ranges from $99-$175 per night with a full breakfast. Add $15 per additional guest.

More Info: Tree Houses Hotel (tel. +506/2475-6507; www.treehouseshotelcostarica.com; info@treehouseshotelcostarica.com)

Photo Caption: A sloth hangs out near Tree Houses Hotel in La Fortuna, Costa Rica.
Courtesy Tree Houses Hotel
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Trulli Talily is between Ostuni and Cisternino in the Apulia region. The hotel is a 30-minute drive from Brindisi Airport or an hour from Bari Airport. Courtesy Trulli Talily Trulli Talily
What: Trulli, traditional conical-shaped stone buildings made without mortar, are found in the Apulia region on the southwest coast of Italy. Trulli Talily is an 800-year-old architectural masterpiece that has been lovingly restored and converted into vacation accommodations for up to five people.

Amenities: Set in a three-acre olive tree garden, this trullo features two bedrooms, a flatscreen TV, a small kitchen, and a private courtyard. Your stay also includes a welcome pack with local produce.

Where: Trulli Talily is between Ostuni and Cisternino, generally considered one of the region's prettiest historic hilltop towns. The hotel is a 30-minute drive from Brindisi Airport or an hour from Bari Airport.

How Much: From £795 ($1,355).

When: Trulli Talily is available throughout the year

More Info: Trulli Talily (tel. +44/1435-884-122; www.trullitalily.com; info@trullitalily.com)

Photo Caption: Trulli Talily is between Ostuni and Cisternino in the Apulia region.
Courtesy Trulli Talily
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Safari Land Farm and Guesthouse is near the towns of Ooty and Masinagudi, in the Nilgiris Biosphere. It is 150 miles, or a five-hour drive from Bangalore. Courtesy Safari Land Farm and Guesthouse Safari Land Farm and Guesthouse
What: Safari Land was established by conservationist, environmentalist and wildlife photographer Nawab Shafath Ali Khan in an area where he had vacationed for many years. Wildlife abounds here, including rare species of birds, elephants, and tigers.

Amenities: The tree houses have electricity, hot water, toilets -- and four-poster canopy beds.

Where: Safari Land is near the towns of Ooty and Masinagudi, in the beautiful Nilgiris Biosphere, which is neighbored by a number of national parks. It is 150 miles, or a five-hour drive from Bangalore.

When: Throughout the year

How Much: A twin tree house (two bedrooms for two couples) is 4000 Indian Rupees ($66) per couple. A family tree house starts at 8000 Indian Rupees for three people ($133). The prices include excursions to a nearby stream and a visit to a nearby mountain peak. Meals cost extra.

More Info: Safari Land Farm and Guesthouse (tel. +91/423-252-6937; www.safarilandresorts.com; safarilandresorts@gmail.com)

Photo Caption: Safari Land Farm and Guesthouse is near the towns of Ooty and Masinagudi, in the Nilgiris Biosphere. It is 150 miles, or a five-hour drive from Bangalore.
Courtesy Safari Land Farm and Guesthouse
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