Europe

Indoor Caravan Camping

When you visit Berlin will you stay in an artsy boutique hotel? In a low cost hostel? In a trailer park?

The wonderfully cool thing about The Hüttenpalast is that the accommodations are all three of those—at once!

At Spot Cool Stuff we’ve reviewed more than our share of unusual hotels. But rarely have we found one that offers such an unconventional experience with such a relatively high level of comfort at such a relatively low price.

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Cappadocia’s Cave Hotels

Cappadocia is one of the coolest, and most fascinating, travel destinations in Turkey. Up until two million years ago the region was literally a sea of lava over 150 meters (500 feet) deep. After the volcanoes that surround Cappadocia stopped erupting that sea of lava turned to rock—relatively soft rock that’s easily eroded and dug into. As a result the region is today rife with otherworldly rock formations, underground cities . . . and cave hotels.

There are maybe two dozen cave hotels in the greater Cappadocia region. A review of some of our favorites for budget travelers and for luxury-seekers.

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The Munich Airport Beer Garden

Your typical airport bar is a semi-depressing place, full of lonely traveling salespeople and stressed passengers waiting out their flight delays. Happily, Munich—Europe’s beer capital and the spiritual home of Oktoberfest—is not your typical city when it comes to its bars. At Munich’s international airport you’ll find Airbräu. It’s the world’s only full-fledged beer garden that’s inside an airport. It’s also the world’s only in-airport brewery.

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The Best View in the Alps

When the world’s highest climbing cable car brings you to the highest mountain in the Alps you know you are in for an amazing view. But maybe not this amazing.

The scene from the summit of Aiguilles de Chamonix, a jagged mountain high in the middle of the Mont Blanc massif, is the single most spectacular in the whole of the Alps. It might be the best mountain view that doesn’t involve hiking, flying or driving available anywhere.

Here’s how to make the trip:

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The Mystery of the Crooked Forest

The Crooked Forest is a place we could almost have listed in our review of travel places that look like Dr. Seuss illustrations if it weren’t tinged with such creepiness. The forest is more like the sort of place a band of weary heroes would have to traverse towards the end of a dark fairy tale. Or maybe it would work best for a scene in a mystery novel. That would be apropos since the trees here are in themselves a mystery.

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The Igloo Rooms of Iglu-Dorf

Amazing hot tubs. But going to the restroom is an undeniably chilly affair.

Spot Cool Stuff is occasionally asked what our favorite hotel chain is. The answer depends. We are fans of the W Hotels, appreciate the inexpensive airport stylings of Yotel and are keen on virtually all the Kimpton properties. But our choice for favorite hotel chain might have to be the igloos of Iglu-Dorf.

Why do we like the igloo rooms of Iglu-Dorf? Because they are igloo rooms. Made from real snow and ice.

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6 Cool Bicycle Stores

There’s no other bicycle shop in the world where you have to give serious thought to your wardrobe before visiting.

The best bike shops in the world do more than sell and fix bicycles. They fill you with a sort of enthusiastic energy that makes you want to get out there and pedal.

There are lots of great community bicycle stores out there, too many for us to declare the six we feature below to be the absolute best. But each one is superlative in its own way:

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Flying the Airway to Heaven

On the shores of Lake Constance—which straddles Germany, Austria and Switzerland—the whales are not found in the water. They are found floating above it in the form of the massive whale-like zeppelin, the world’s largest commercial flying machine.

Note that zeppelins are different from blimps. Both have bulbous tops filled with a gas that’s lighter than air. But a blimp’s top has no internal structure; blimps are essentially steerable balloons. Zeppelins use a metal frame, which makes them more stable, agile, durable and quiet for passengers (since the engine can be placed further from the cabin).

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