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Trip List by boilinginTexas

Beyond the Destination: Unique Lodgings, cool cabins, & memorable places to stay

Aug 30, 2012  Frequently when my travel associates want to get out of Dodge, we don't know where we want to go. We just know we want to stay someplace unique. To stay at some of these places, you have to be willing to be flexible and open. If you want a fourstar experience, stay at the Four Seasons. If you want an experience you will remember, read on.
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This is an ongoing list of some of the more unusual, odd and unique lodgings around the world, for folks who want to stay someplace a little out of the ordinary. Great views and nice rooms don't cut it, what I am always looking for is what we call Lagniappe, a little something extra that makes the place something to cross off your bucket list, or inspire conversation with your friends back at home.

Please feel free to e-me to add new entries if you know of one.

  • 1. Newport Belle Bed & Breakfast - Stay on a Riverboat
    Newport Belle Bed & Breakfast, Newport

    Why stay at a house, when you can stay on a Riverboat B&B? This lovely Paddle wheeler, restored with a loving hand, is currently moored in Newport, Oregon. The rooms are all scenic and simply, but comfortably furnished. The boat has a great bow room, surrounded by glass windows so you can get the sunshine and overlook the marina while reading your book.
    This B&B is really not for children. It is more for couples getting away from it all.

  • 2. Cloudcroft Lodge - Historic, cozy and haunted
    The Lodge Resort and Spa, Cloudcroft, New Mexico

    We stumbled on this wonderful place at Thanksgiving one year. Straight up the side of the mountain next to White Sands and Ruidoso, this historic lodge has character and class. In the summer, the high elevation is great for the cooler temperatures. The grounds are a golf course. In the winter, the elevation might give you snow, even when it is not snowing in Ruidoso below. It snowed on us when we were there and it was an absolute wonderland in white. The wedding party got snowed in completely. We didn't have to be anywhere, though, so it was great! We took walks and made snow angels and saucered down the steep hill to the little store at the bottom for hot chocolate and bakery goodies.
    The great room has a tremendous stone fireplace like wonderful ski lodges have. The couches and chairs cluster around it and beg you to sit and knit with your bunny-slipper-clad feet up. The rooms are smaller, but have old fashioned 4-poster beds and daybeds. Each bed has a Victorian Teddy bear in full costume leaning against the pillow to welcome you.
    The restaurant, named Rebecca after the resident ghost, has very good food and live piano music at times.
    Cloudcroft is not particularly on the way to anything, unless you are a hiker or cyclist. Smokey Bears birthplace is close, as is the Billy the Kid highway with its lovely views. You can go over to Ski Apache or downtown Ruidoso to shop. In the summer, White Sands has midnight sledding on the dunes when the moon is full and sometimes they show outdoor movies in their sand-amphitheater. About an hour away is Trinity, the nuclear bomb testing site at Alamogordo, and of course you can drive to Area 51 and the ultra-kitschy Roswell, if you are into aliens. But come back to this quiet haunt for tranquility.
    Don't forget to check out the tower belfry. It is a grand place to hide and read.

  • 3. Chattanooga Choo Choo -Stay in a Train Car
    Chattanooga Choo Choo, Chattanooga, Tennessee

    Relive the bygone age by sleeping in a Victorian train car. This very unique hotel is a converted train station in downtown Chattanooga with old train cars serving as hotel rooms. The depot itself has rooms, which are larger, but just your basic rooms. The train car rooms are available and are outside the depot (as expected). These train cars are decorated in antique style and sometimes appear worn. The walls aren't very thick, so it might be loud if there is a wedding party around. But, that is the cost of novelty. This is not the Ritz, it is just very different.

  • 4. Rose Island Lighthouse - Stay at a Lighthouse or be a Keeper
    Rose Island Lighthouse, Newport, Rhode Island

    Ever wonder what life was like tending a lighthouse? Now you can find out. The Rose Island lighthouse allows you to stay overnight or a month, as long as you call way in advance, and don't mind working for your board. You can stay overnight in the downstairs rooms, or better yet, you can be a lighthouse keeper for a week at this 130-year-old lighthouse living museum situated next to a wading bird sanctuary. For that week, you will do the work of a lighthouse keeper for an hour a day; testing the water, tending the little garden, gathering mussels for dinner, etc.
    The two-story lighthouse is restored to its turn of the century look, with antique furniture, a coal stove in the kitchen, and a real pitcher pump at the pantry sink.
    The yard has a garden to pick your salad goodies, and the shower is outdoor and you have to pump your water from the cistern.
    This has more of a hostel feel about it than a hotel. There is no TV, and you have to clean up after yourself, but this is an ideal place for fishing, kayaking, watching the sunset and boat races, or climbing the light tour to read.
    Access to the island is by Lobster fisherman boat, and once you get there you will have the grand tour before settling in. This is a great living-history or ecology vacation spot. But, if you are looking for the concierge, you are in the wrong place.

  • 5. Timberline Lodge - WPA Grandlady of a Lodge
    Timberline Lodge, Timberline Lodge, Clackamas County

    They simply don't make these like this anymore.

    During the Depression, the WPA (Works Progress Administration) program gave jobs to unemployed laborers in the National Park System, designing facilities for sightseers to visit. They had all the time in the world and all the trees they could axe.

    You can still see their work in beau fully carved wooden signs for paths in the Redwoods, gorgeous stone bridges in Yosemite, the famous Ahwahnee Historic Hotel in Yosemite, and Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood in Oregon. This 75 year old lodge, seen in the movie "The Shining" and lots of other movies, is built with huge trees, carved with decorative designs and lots and lots of local stone. The inside is everything a great ski lodge should be. From the large fireplaces and furniture both comfortable and amusing (chairs made out of old skis), chandeliers made out of elk horns and cozy niches everywhere. The walls are all woody and rustic and every stairwell has carvings of something different, as if the builders were holed up in here all winter and made the 1930's version of cave drawings.

    The rooms are rustic and vaguely overpriced for the size you get, but that doesn't stop them from booking up really fast. The restaurant is really outstanding, complete with the local gigantic Himalayan blackberries in their Blackberry Ice Tea. Try the Crab Louie...divine.

    The funniest part of this place is that there is skiing year round. So, in August, you can sip your ice tea in the restaurant and watch the snowboarders get out of their cars in the parking lots in shorts and flip flops, headed for the ski lift, where presumably they would don their ski clothes.

  • 6. Treebones Resort in Big Sur - Stay in a Yurt
    Treebones Resort, Big Sur, California

    Yurt camping on a gorgeous stretch of beach cliffs. Wanna feel nomadic? check out this interesting camping-esque experience. Stay in a fully appointed Yurt room, complete with fireplace and balconies. The weather is fabulous, so dining is largely al fresco. Check out the human nest. I want one of these in my backyard.

  • 7. The Ahwahnee - Historic Lodge in Yosemite National Park
    The Majestic Yosemite Hotel, Yosemite National Park, California

    At the base of the transcendental National Park at Yosemite, sits the WPA project mother lode, the Ahwahnee Hotel. ( "Ahwahnee" is the Indian word for "overpriced").
    Built at a time when labor was very cheap and no one thought of tree conservation, this huge lodge has the feel of a castle and some of the most glorious scenery in the country.

    The rooms are Native American chic and really expensive. You definitely pay for the ambiance at this place. Some of the rooms have magnificent porches overlooking the park. This might be worth the cost by itself.

    If the colossal dining room looks familiar, it is because it appeared in the movie "The Shining", the scene where dear Jack gets cocktails from dead people. The lounge and great room have huge fireplaces and comfy chairs to nestle in and look out the windows at El Capitan. The Great Hall looks like something out of a medieval castle.

    One thing they are missing is the Big Wheel rentals. The Halls appear in "the Shining" as well, where little Danny rides his Big Wheel and sees the ghost twins. This would make a great photo opportunity! They would make the money back for their total roof overhaul a few years back in a heartbeat.