Hotels & Lodgings

Tour Europe in a Retro, Affordable Camper Van

One way to save money on hotels and a rental car while traveling western Europe is to get your accommodations and transportation together. You could rent your typical mobile home. But the cheaper and cooler option—to say nothing of the more stylishly retro—choice is the Tonke Camper.

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Experience Istanbul Like an Ottoman

The Ottoman Empire may conjure up images of elaborately mustached men decked out in fez hats while women recline seductively behind floaty veils in the sultan’s harem, but there is much more to this exotic empire than first meets the eye. At the height of its might, Ottoman territories expanded across the three continents of Europe, Asia and Africa. Istanbul, known then as Constantinople, was wrestled from the hands of the Byzantines in 1453 and remained the capital of the Empire until its end in 1923. Situated on three bodies of water with a literal treasure chest of historical gems, the Ottomans further capitalized on Istanbul’s breathtaking beauty to ensure it maintained its reputation as one of the world’s most beautiful cities.

Although Istanbul has modernized at a startlingly rapid pace, some of the most glorious remnants of its past are everywhere to be seen. From centuries-old wooden mansion hotels to ancient shopping malls, mosques, palaces, bathhouses and much, much more, it’s possible to spend some time in Istanbul shopping, eating, praying, relaxing and sleeping much like the Ottomans did!

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Beirut’s Best Boutique Hotels

Even before Lebanon gained independence from France in 1943, those in-the-know referred to Beirut as “the Paris of the Middle East.” Wealthy travelers flocked there for the high culture, the exquisite shopping and the trendy restaurants. Then a brutal civil war ignited in 1975. That lingered until 1990. In the intervening 15 years much of the country’s cultural and historical sites were destroyed.

Happily, since the end of the war Lebanon has been (mostly) at peace and Beirut has undertaken a massive and aggressive rebuilding project to restore the city to its once-prominent position. Travel to Beirut today and you’ll once again see the companions with Paris.

That resurgence of Beirut has brought with it a resurgence of Beirut hotels, from modest budget accommodations to waterfront resorts. Here’s a review of the three best boutique lodging options:

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Staying at Holland’s Wine Cask ‘n’ Breakfast

Previously, Spot Cool Stuff told our readers about a temple made of beer bottles and warned against the dangers of worshipping and driving. Now comes a hotel where perhaps you shouldn’t sleep and drive: The Hotel de Vrouwe van Stavoren. At this restaurant and resort in Holland, guests sleep in giant recycled wine casks!

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The Matterhorn’s Boutique Hiking Hut

There may be no country in the world as into hiking and mountaineering as Switzerland. The Alpine nation is criss-crossed by trekking trails and dotted with remote hiking shelters.

Most of those shelters are basic—a roof, a few beds, an outhouse, perhaps a wood burning stove. But one Swiss shelter is very much not basic: the Monte Rosa Hütte. It’s been nicknamed the Bergkristall (mountain crystal) and those who have visited are calling it “the mountain hut of the future.”

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The King Of Berlin’s High Design Hotels

Room #26, The Jail Cell Room, has a toilet in the middle of it and a “door” that’s literally a hole in a wall.

Berlin is one of the greatest cities in the world for high design and artsy hotels. And king among the German capital’s artsy accommodations is the Propeller Island City Lodge. Its name is a misnomer. This hotel does not feel like a lodge, is not on an island and has no propellers. But it is in a city.

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The Levitating Beds, James Bond Stylings of Hotel 7

From the creative force behind The Five Hotel, a funky boutique property in the Latin Quarter of Paris, comes accommodations that are two better: The Seven Hotel.

Like it’s two-poorer cousin, each room and suite at The Seven Hotel is individually designed. What’s new is the level funkiness, the unusualness room features—and the levitating beds.

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One Fish, Two Fish,
Places That Look Dr. Seuss-ish

Anyone who grew up on The Cat In The Hat and Green Eggs and Ham remembers the illustrations of one Mr. Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. Trees with elongated trucks or with improbable collections of limbs. Stark and scraggly landscapes with oddly balanced rocks and unlikely geometric shapes. Architecture with unusual protrusions and awkward angles where no two windows exactly the same. These were some of the hallmarks of the world Dr. Seuss illustrated in his 60 children’s books.

Here’s a look at some places on Planet Earth—places you can visit on your next vacation—that resemble scenes from a Dr. Seuss illustration. So, in the words of the doctor himself . . .


…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!


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