I have an undying love of hotels. But as a frequent traveler, staying in the same types of rooms over and over again can get boring. A run-of-the-mill weekend hotel can look the same no matter where you go. Sometimes, to preserve the enchantment of travel, one must pursue weirder and more unique hotels in the USA.
Fortunately, America is in no shortage of unique hotels. From roadside oddities to AAA Diamond Rated luxury lodges, America’s weird hotels are unique, boutique—and unabashedly odd.
THE LIBERTY HOTEL, MASSACHUSETTS
No list of unique hotels is complete without the Liberty Hotel. Nestled at the foot of Beacon Hill in Boston is a luxury hotel built out of the historic Charles Street Jail. You heard me right: the Liberty Hotel is a AAA Four Diamond Rated establishment where guests can stay in jail. Well, not exactly jail. The accommodations are renovated, posh and roomy. In terms of decoration, the hotel has a running motif of antique keys, iron bars and exposed brick. The property is replete with themed bars and restaurants. At Alibi, you can enjoy a cocktail in the prison’s former drunk tank, while at Clink you can dine on fresh seafood and heirloom produce from behind bars.
THE LIBRARY HOTEL, NEW YORK
Not to be confused with the Liberty Hotel, the Library Hotel is a literary-themed establishment in New York City. It’s exactly what it says: a hotel that’s also a library. Floors are based on the Dewey Decimal System and rooms are based on different genres, complete with personal books curated for your rooms. The hotel’s reading lounges offer hundreds more books to choose from.
JULES’ UNDERSEA LODGE, FLORIDA
Take a dive – literally – into Jules’ Undersea Lodge. The lodge is a restaurant and hotel inspired by the work of Jules Verne. As a result, it’s 5 fathoms under the water at Key Largo Undersea Park. To get to the Lodge you must scuba dive all the way down yourself. If you’re not certified, don’t worry. They have classes. As weird hotels go, it’s one of the weirdest. It claims to be the only underwater hotel in the world.
THE STANLEY HOTEL, COLORADO
The Stanley Hotel was the inspiration for Stephen King’s “The Shining,” and the location for the 1997 miniseries adaptation of the book. Embracing its status as one of the spookiest unique hotels, The Stanley offers many King-related experiences, such as a hedge maze, paranormal tours and a ghost adventure package.
MCMENAMINS KENNEDY SCHOOL, OREGON
The McMenamins Kennedy School invites you to “fall asleep in class” in every meaning of the phrase. The Kennedy School is an old elementary school that has been renovated into one of the most unique hotels. The rooms of the hotel are fashioned from old classrooms and other areas of the school. Some of them still have desks and chalkboards. The hotel boasts multiple bars and restaurants riffing on the school theme and carved out of restored school rooms. Detention has been turned into a bar where you can drink and smoke cigars with the other rebels. Or you could drink with the nerds in the Honors Bar. The school’s old cafeteria has been transformed into the Courtyard Restaurant, which serves pub food instead of square pizza. Don’t tell the vice principal, but the girls bathroom has been turned into a brewery.
WIGWAM VILLAGE MOTEL, ARIZONA
The Wigwam Village Motel in Arizona is one of three surviving “wigwam motels” in the United States. It is situated right off Route 66, providing a series of fake teepees to house weary travelers. This ring of concrete teepees (mistakenly referred to as “wigwams”) served as the inspiration for the Cozy Cone Motel in the Pixar film “Cars.” There are also many vintage cars on display year-round in the parking lot.
THE JANE HOTEL, NEW YORK
This historic hotel, which opened at the turn of the 20th century, once served as temporary housing for survivors of the Titanic. Its slim rooms are reminiscent of sleeper cars on trains or cabins on ships. No bathrooms, though—they’re down the hall! The aesthetic of the hotel is grounded somewhere in the 1920s, with bellhops dressed in maroon suits and hats and maids dressed in black and white. It looks almost like a Wes Anderson-directed adaptation of the Tower of Terror. These are some of the cheapest and most stylish rooms you’ll find in the city.