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The right hotel can often make all the difference when it comes to really making the most of your vacation. Or in the case of the British website Unusual Hotels of the World (www.unusualhotelsoftheworld.com), your accommodation may be the actual destination or reason for your trip.

This website is dedicated to experiential lodgings throughout the world. Not only are these properties unique, but they are also everything from luxurious to adventurous.

From igloos (six igloo and ice hotel properties are featured in the guide) to tree houses and everything in between, if you are looking for a special hotel experience, you will undoubtedly find it for on this website. Not sure exactly what you are after? You can search by keyword, by geographical location, by budget or by type. The site allows you to get more information about specific accommodations by e-mailing an inquiry form prior to making a reservation. If you sign up for their free online newsletters, you will be privy to specials and featured deals from their range of hotels. Prices are often listed in the currency of the destination so you may need to do some currency converting (try www.xe.com/ucc for quick and easy exchange rates). Some of the more interesting categories include floating hotels, converted prisons, crazy designer d├ęcor, underwater inns and rooms located in caves.

With summer fast approaching, why not experience the coolness of sleeping underground. In Coober Pedy in the desert of Central Australia, halfway between Alice Springs and Adelaide, the temperatures can soar during the day. The town is famous for its majestic opals and opal mining is the town's main industry and tourism attraction. The Desert Cave Hotel allows you to experience dugout living with subterranean shops, bars and a large opal display area -- all cut out of sandstone under central Coober Pedy. If you're afraid that sleeping underground could get claustrophobic, be rest assured that the accommodations are quiet, cool, dark and airy featuring spacious rooms with high ceilings. You can also visit www.desertcave.com.au for more information. Rates start as low as $105 per night for a minimum stay of five-nights between Sunday and Friday. The "Corporate Traveler" deal includes continental breakfast and the price is per room, just add $5 for breakfast for a second person. The deal also includes 25% any tours taken through the hotel. The "Just Passing Through" package is $115 per person and includes twin share in a deluxe room, a bottle of wine, a box of chocolates on arrival, a two-course dinner and breakfast. A drink and gaming voucher in the Level Bar (featuring the world's only underground gaming machines) is also included.

If you like the idea of a cave but Australia is a little too far away, why not experience a cave hotel that was also a former prison and an ancient monastery. Located in stunning Cappadocia in central Turkey, Gamirasu Cave Hotel (www.gamirasu.com) is an exquisitely restored eighteen-room cave house that once functioned as the prison within a Byzantine monastery constructed over a thousand years ago. Now a luxurious and unique hotel, Gamirasu will transport you to a different era. Although remote, the town of Ayvali Koyu, in the province of Urgup is just over an hour's drive from Kayseri Airport, which is accessible by regular flights from Istanbul and Ankara. The hotel offers free airport pick-up service for guests. Standard rooms are only $70 per night with breakfast included and cave suites are $180.

The Fantasyland Hotel (tel. 800/RESERVE; www.fantasylandhotel.com) in Edmonton Canada is true to its name in providing no less than 114 themed rooms to fulfill every fantasy. Choose from a variety of room types including Roman, Western, Arabian, Truck, Hollywood, Polynesian and African to name a few. The hotel is located within West Edmonton Mall, considered to be the largest covered mall in the world. The Mall is also home to the World Waterpark and Galaxyland roller-coaster Park. The Unusual Hotels "Great Canadian Getaway" package is priced at $418 per person and includes two-nights accommodation in a themed room of your choice, four West Edmonton Mall attraction passes (World Waterpark or Galaxy Amusement entrance), four Deep Sea Adventure passes, four Sea Life Caverns passes and a West Edmonton Mall coupon book (worth over $150). Valid Sunday to Thursday until June 30, 2005. Taxes of 12% are additional.

For a truly bizarre hotel experience, the Propeller Island City Lodge (www.propeller-island.com) in Berlin, Germany is a journey into a design haven. It boasts 31 1/2 different rooms from suspended beds to padded cells, coffins to a mood altering color room. There is even an upside down room. More like a living art gallery than a hotel, it is located in central Berlin and is unparalleled in its attention to artistic detail. Even if you never stay there, at least visit their website and check out the rooms. My personal favorites are the Black and White room, the Flying Bed room and the strangely named Chicken Curry room. Room rates are for a single person (starting at around $100 per night on a weeknight), with each additional person being $20 and breakfast is $9 per person. Due to the nature of the design and some space limitations, certain rooms have shared bathrooms.

So for an unusual twist to sleeping in a strange bed, visit www.unusualhotelsoftheworld.com and discover a new world of accommodation.

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