One of Spot Cool Stuff’s most popular travel posts has been our review of World’s Best Bookstores. But what about those people looking to borrow, and not buy, a book? Fortunately our planet also has several incredible libraries. In fact, there’s a case to be made for libraries having more interesting architecture than any other building type except for religious houses of worship.
Here’s our look at eight architecturally amazing libraries (and one that’s not so much). It is the first in a series of Spot Cool Stuff’s tour of the world’s best looking libraries. To stay updated on all of our posts, including our cool library series, follow us on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS feed or check back with our newly opened Book and Literature Travel category page.
And if you know of a library you’d like us to check out leave us a comment any time. Late fees never apply.
Constructing the upside-down house was so disorientating for the builders that they could only work in three hour shifts
˙uʍop ǝpısdn plɹoʍ ǝɥʇ uɹnʇ ʇɐɥʇ—puɐloԀ puɐ ɐıɹʇsn∀ ‘˙∀˙S˙∩ ǝɥʇ ‘ʎuɐɯɹǝפ ‘ɐpɐuɐƆ ‘uıɐdS uı—sǝɹnʇɔnɹʇs uǝʌǝs ǝsǝɥʇ ɟo puoɟ ʎllɐıɔǝdsǝ sı ɟɟnʇS looƆ ʇodS ʎɥʍ sı ɥɔıɥM ˙ʎʇılɐǝɹ uo ǝʌıʇɔǝdsɹǝd ɹnoʎ ǝƃuɐɥɔ uɐɔ ʎǝɥʇ :ǝɹnʇɔǝʇıɥɔɹɐ puɐ lǝʌɐɹʇ ɥʇoq ɟo ʇɔǝdsɐ looɔ ǝuO
The 3,000 rare and exotic species in Lotusland are organized into enchanting chapters
Ninety minutes north of Los Angeles in the manicured town of Montecito is a sprawling and surreal site—the 37-acre private botanical garden of a visionary eccentric.
At night you fall asleep listening to the roar of lions and tigers through the canvas walls of your tent. In the morning you wake up to an elephant bringing you your breakfast, carried in a picnic basket he’s holding by his trunk.
It may seem like you are in Africa or in some brought-to-life children’s story. You are not. You are at the Vision Quest Ranch, an unusual B&B in Salinas, California, about an hour south of San Francisco.
You like camping but your partner prefers more glamorous travel. The solution? Glamping. Glamorous camping. Like that on offer at the The Treebones Resort.
Treebones, located on California’s scenic Big Sur coast, is a resort that offers the perfect romantic getaway for you both. Accommodations here are in yurts, large circular tents originally the domain of Central Asian nomads and made of sheepskin.
Mention the word “hostel” and most people recoil in horror, perhaps haunted by memories of dirty dorms, queues for the bathroom and rowdy backpackers. But hostels have transformed in recent years into some of the best value accommodation around, offering the same comfortable rooms and range of facilities you’d expect in a hotel.
As the credit crunch bites and travelers cut back on their holidays, this couldn’t be a more timely transformation—why pay the high room rates of hotel chains when you can get the same standard in a hostel?
Forget the standard youth and backpacker hostel, the term now covers a huge range of lodgings, from guesthouses to beachside apartments (you can even find hostels in tree-houses and old castles these days!). Many hostels now boast private rooms with ensuite bathrooms, widescreen TVs and even a Jacuzzi if you’re lucky!
The rise of the ‘boutique’ or ‘design’ hostel in major cities, with cutting-edge design, stylish interiors and high-tech facilities, is perfect for those of us that want to be cheap and chic.
Here is a look to the five most luxurious hostels out there:
Feeling frustrated? Tense? Angry? There are several stores that sell stress relief in the form of yoga lessons, aroma therapy or, say, Quaaludes. In San Diego, California there’s a shop where you can reduce tension a different way.
Here’s a restaurant theme you didn’t see coming: darkness.
The concept of purposefully eating in complete pitch-black dark originated with Jorge Spielmann, a blind clergyman from Zurich. When guests ate dinner at the Spielmann house some would wear blindfolds during their meal to show solidarity with their host and to better understand his world. What Spielmann’s sighted guests found was that the blindfolds heightened their sense of taste and smell and made their dining experience more enjoyable. That gave Spielmann the idea to open a dark restaurant, which he did in 1999.
Today you can stumble into dozens restaurants around the world where that question made famous in an American commercial in the 80s — Where’s the beef? — takes on a whole new meaning. Most dark restaurants employ blind waiters, offer a single set menu, and ban anything that could give off light (like cigarettes, cell phones and cameras) from the dinning area. All of them also have normally lit bathrooms though you’ll need to ask your waiter for help in finding it.
Here’s our illuminating look at some of the world’s dark restaurants: