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The World’s Best Toy Stores

There's a hand-carved (!) carousel, 18-hole mini golf course, Kool-Aid waterfall, gourmet fudge shop, vintage toy museum, huge children's book selection, llama petting zoo, puppet shows and, oh yeah, you can also buy toys.

It’s a tough job but someone has to take on the task of finding the world’s best toy stores. So Spot Cool Stuff assigned ourselves.

Here’s a look at our favorite shops for indulging your kids—and your inner child:

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5 Wonderfully Earthy Glamping Sites

Camping has traditionally brought sophisticated urban dwellers out in hives, but the emergence of glamping—a hybrid of “glamor” and “camping”—has changed things. Now, luxurious yurt and tepee sites boast 100% cotton bedding, organic welcome hampers and indecently abundent tea lights. So no more struggling with a tent and airbed!

Glamping sites range from little more than a pre-erected tent with simple Ikea furnishings to something more akin to an upmarket hotel. Along the way many have missed the point—either too basic or too plush and removed from the natural surroundings.

Here is a look at five luxury camping sites that have achieved the perfect blend, providing absolute immersion in the great outdoors whilst maintaining a just-so degree of indulgence and luxury:

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5 Luxurious Airport Hotels

Airport hotels have got a bad name. You might have spent the night in a soulless concrete box by the tarmac, its hallways lined by hollow-eyed passengers en route to a better place. But it doesn’t have to be like that. The next time you’ve got a stopover between connecting flights, you can spend the night in heavenly comfort at one of these luxurious airport hotels. You might be tempted to book a room even if you aren’t using the airport!

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A-Maze-Ing

The Villa Pisani maze is the world’s most difficult to solve. Napoleon himself is among those who have been flummoxed by it.

The world “mazerific” is thrown around a lot these days. But we’ve found eight mazes that really are superlative, either for their size, history or quirky features.

Check out our review below . . . and try not to get lost along the way.

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The Fabulously Crazy
Crazy Bear Hotel

If RuPaul operated a farm and Liberace an S&M palor the Crazy Bear Hotel would be like a cross between the two.

Sometimes it’s a fine line separating gaudy from opulent, and trashy from romantic. Straddling those lines is the Crazy Bear Hotel in Old Beaconsfield, England

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The London Restaurant with Interactive Tables

What’s on the menu at London’s Inamo restaurant? Literally, your plate, your drinks and your silverware. At Inamo, patrons order their food electronically at the high-tech, interactive table at which they sit!

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3 Cool & Affordable Places To Stay In London

London is one of the most expensive travel cities in the world. It also has some great, affordable accommodations options on offer. Here’s a review of our three favorites. All three have both shared and private rooms. All three offer central locations and touches of luxury. And, with rates starting at £9 per person, all three are affordable to travelers looking for high value.

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5 Cool Buildings Made of Shipping Containers

Shipping containers. You’ve seen them on trains, on the back of trucks, at ports and piled onto cargo ships. There more than 20 million of those steel 40 by 8 feet (12 by 2.4 meter) boxes scattered around the world. That’s more than were needed even before the current economic slowdown. Today, as many as one million shipping containers may be sitting around unused. The surplus is especially profound in the United States, northern Europe and China.

Given the planet’s excess of shipping containers and shortage of affordable housing it only makes sense that people would make the connection. “Container architecture” has become a specialty in itself. The benefits are obvious: Containers are relatively cheap (around US$1,200~1,500 each). They are, by definition, portable. And they are durable (made to survive rough treatment and resist salt corrosion). A container house can be built, on average, 40% faster than a comparably sized traditional house. And then there’s the environmental benefit of putting surplus containers to use instead of letting them slowly rust in a landfill.

Thousands buildings made of shipping containers are today being uses for offices, stores, restaurants and private residences. There are several excellent books documenting the most interesting among them. Here are five shipping container buildings we think are especially cool:

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