Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Unusual Places to Go and Stay

Update: March 18, 2009
Jumbo Hostel, Arlanda/Stockholm
Spend the night in a former Boeing 747 which has been converted into a hostel at Stockholm's Arlanda airport. Book the cockpit suite and get an awesome view of the runway.
Phone: 46 (0)8 593 60400
Our editor asked recently where we would like to go for our birthday. Having just pooh-poohed chain hotels in our recent list of New Year’s resolutions, we thought this would be a good opportunity to review our favourite websites describing weird and wonderful getaways from London. Here’s our list. Do you have any suggestions?

Havenkraan, Harlingden, Holland

This could be the ultimate NoCrowds experience, a one room hotel for two in an industrial harbour crane rising above the Wadden Sea in Holland. There are two lifts (think pneumatic tubes) which whisk you up the 17 meters where you will find all the modern cons including a showerbath for two, Charles Eames seating (whoever he is) and a “well designed bed”. Best of all, they let you drive the 65,000 kilo steel crane.
As they say on the website, “Scotty, beam me aboard!” The fact that the editor hates heights may kill this one for us but if you check the website, you’ll see you can also stay in a lighthouse or a lifeboat.

The Harlingden Harbour Crane
Dokkade 5 Harlingden
The Netherlands


The Temple at Stancombe Park, England

Built by the original owner for trysts with a local gypsy girl and set in the famous Folly Gardens of Stancombe Park where Evelyn Waugh wrote Brideshead Revisited, the Temple gets our vote for the most romantic getaway in Britain. The price of £797 per night for 2 in low season (with a three night minimum) and £1,015 in high season sadly may put this option beyond our reach. But if we win the lottery, we’re so there.

Stancombe, near Wotton-under-Edge


Dasparkhotel, Ottensheim Austria

Now here’s one we can afford. Built out of recycled concrete drain pipes and located in a municipal park near Linz, Austria, Dasparkhotel is a “hospitality concept” which operates from May to October. Built by artists and conceived as an art installation, the sleeping pods operate on a “pay-as-you-like” system. Each drain pod comes equipped with a double bed, linens, storage, a small window, an electrical outlet and the all important internet connection. Everything else, like toilets, food and running water, can be found nearby in the park. Definitely not for claustrophobics and maybe not as much fun to visit as it is to write about, we still think this novel idea is worth considering.

For reservations: http://www.dasparkhotel.net/reservation/index.php

Baby Jumping in Castrillo de Murcia, Spain

We’ve heard that the running of the bulls in Pamplona has degenerated into a total zoo and is not much fun anymore. For a less touristic and less dangerous (at least for the visitors) festival, this year we’re considering heading for the El Calacho Baby Jumping Festival in Castrillo de Murchia. Every year since 1620 as part of the celebration of Corpus Christi, men dressed as the devil holding whips and truncheons leap over new born babies to cleanse them of evil. The babies are dressed in their finest and laid on decorated mattresses in the street. The festivities are organised by the Brotherhood of Santissimo Sacramento de Minerva who also make it their business to terrorize onlookers or anyone in need of a quick exorcism. To see a video of baby jumping, click here.

At this time, we have no idea where to stay or even how to get there but we’re working on it.

So there you have it, a crane, a temple, a drainpipe or a baby jumping festival. Where would you go?
Photo of the baby jumping in Castrillo de Murcia courtesy of Associated Press

1 comment:

  1. Not being a parent allows me to act like a child more often --and while it is not in the UK, it used to be part of it. So, my nominee is the Neemrana Fort-Palace in Rajasthan, India (www.neemranahotels.com). I stayed there recently and the chance to explore all the secret passageways and rooms made me feel twelve years old again. Plus, it is secluded (and almost impossible to find as you wind through the village of Neemrana), being located about 1.5 hours south of Delhi on the NH-8. While I would not describe my room as "posh," it was large and quite comfortable, with two semi-private terraces and a courtyard. The food was excellent. According to the hotel's brochure, Princess Sarah Armstrong-Jones and Kate Winslet both consider it one of their favorite hotels. I can't wait to go back again, either.