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People crave the familiar because our minds are wired for predictability. So, why are we so drawn to the surreal and otherworldly?

The answer lies in the tension between the known and the unknown. Surreal experiences challenge our assumptions about the world and force us to rethink what’s possible. With this in mind, we’ve curated a selection of hospitality establishments that deliver the surreal. Whether it’s a cozy stay in a sewer pipe or sleeping underwater, we hope these brilliant rooms inspire new, fantastical, out-of-the-box projects.


Germany & Austria
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The interior/exterior view of a unconventional hotel sewer pipe during sunset.
Each pipe fits a double bed, nightstand, desk lamp, and a space for luggage.

Imagine a hotel where guests sleep in sewer pipes. This unusual concept is the reality of dasparkhotel. Stepping inside these unassuming cylinders, guests are met with surprisingly comfortable interiors. Despite their industrial exterior, the interiors are comfortable and accommodate full standing height, double beds, and even storage space.

A welcome contrast to the stark exterior, the rooms are equipped with lighting, electricity, and cozy sleeping arrangements. Wolldecken (German for woolen blankets) and Hüttenschlafsäcke (sleeping bags) add to the unique ambience.

This unconventional hotel set under trees.
dasparkhotel was created by artist Andreas Strauss.

This is not a stay for those seeking luxury or indulgence. Yet, for those open to a unique adventure, Dasparkhotel offers a night unlike any other. It’s a chance to break free from the conventional, to experience the comfort of the familiar nestled within the unexpected embrace of a concrete tube. It’s a surreal escape, a night spent under the pipes, where dreams and reality converge in a truly unforgettable way.


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The gorgeously elusive Mirrorcube at Treehotel. Unconventional hotel.
The gorgeously elusive Mirrorcube at Treehotel.

There are hotels that provide comfort, some that prioritize luxury, and then there’s the Treehotel. Built within a Swedish pine  forest, the hotel features rooms designed to blend with its surroundings. One particularly surreal room is the Mirrorcube designed by Tham & Videgård.

The barely visible Mirrorcube.
Now you see it, now you don’t.

The unique element that makes the Mirrorcube a surreal experience is its mirrored facade. The Mirrorcube itself is a cube-shaped structure clad entirely in reflective glass. This mirrored exterior transforms the room into a near-invisible box, creating the illusion that it disappears into the trees. During the day, the forest reflects on the glass, making the cube seem to vanish amidst the foliage. At night, the starry sky and surrounding lights twinkle on the mirrored surface, further blurring the lines between the room and its environment.

A room covered in wooden bird feeders.
 Explore vibrant birdlife up close in the Biosphere treeroom.

Stepping inside the Mirrorcube, the interior is light and airy, with comfortable furniture and large windows that provide stunning views of the surrounding forest. Despite the reflective exterior, the interior offers privacy thanks to a one-way film coating on the glass. Living in a floating cube in the middle of a forest provides a surreal experience that provides a sense of immersion, blurring the boundaries between the artificial and the wilderness.

A UFO-like structure set in the woods.
Feel the gentle sway of the UFO room, hovering amongst the trees.

There are additional otherworldly rooms available at Treehotel. For example, the Biosphere treeroom designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) is covered in bird feeders. Or the UFO treeroom, designed by architect Bertil Harström of InredningsGruppen, which is an alien abduction enthusiast’s dream. For more fantastical rooms, check out Treehotel’s stunning website — it’s an adventure in itself!

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort

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Glass igloos on snowy terrain. Unconventional hotel.
Glass Igloos are available throughout the Northern Lights season, from late August to the end of April.

The image above isn’t a dream; it’s a very real possibility during a stay at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Finnish Lapland. Above the Arctic Circle, Kakslauttanen carves a niche in the realm of surreal experiences, offering guests a chance to commune with nature in a way unlike any other. Among other accommodations like cabins and snow igloos, the resort provides guests with the opportunity to stay in meticulously crafted transparent Glass Igloos, providing an unparalleled view of the surrounding wilderness.

View of the Northern Lights through a Glass Igloo.
View of the Northern Lights through a Glass Igloo.

These igloos have clear ceilings, allowing visitors to gaze directly at the night sky. This creates a surreal atmosphere, particularly during the winter months. Guests can witness the Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, from the comfort of their beds. Its ethereal glow bathes the landscape in an otherworldly light.

Utter Inn


View of the little red cottage floating on a pontoon. An unconventional hotel.
The little red cottage is located on a pontoon, giving guests access to swimming and sunbathing.

A stay at Utter Inn is a full sensory immersion into a world where the boundaries between human and aquatic existence become blurred.

Utter Inn, a small red cabin, floats on a platform in a lake. Located in Västerås, Sweden, this unique accommodation offers an experience that blends aquatic immersion with minimalist Scandinavian design.

The tranquility of the location is only the beginning of the unique stay. Three meters below the water’s surface lies the bedroom. Panoramic windows surround the sleeping area, offering an uninterrupted view of the aquatic world. Fish glide by, creating a calming, almost dreamlike atmosphere.

View of the interior structure.
Sleep three meters below the surface of the water with panoramic windows facing all directions.

Night transforms the underwater chamber into a truly captivating environment. As darkness descends, the lake comes alive with bioluminescence. Tiny organisms illuminate the water with an otherworldly glow, creating a scene straight out of a fairytale.

This unconventional hotel caters to adventurous travelers seeking an unforgettable experience. With its underwater bedroom and stunning lake views, Hotell Utter Inn offers a chance to sleep with the fishes.


New Zealand
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Silos in New Zealand.
Little River’s isolation and peacefulness is a definitive bonus for people on a quest for inner tranquility.

SiloStay is an unconventional “hotel” option in Little River, New Zealand. It’s a place to disconnect from the everyday and reconnect with a sense of wonder. Guests sleep in converted silos, which provide a truly surreal stay.

Transformed with clever design, the silos feature modern interiors within their round shells. Silence reigns supreme, punctuated only by the occasional creak of the metal steps. It’s a profound quiet, broken only by the magnified sound of your own heartbeat.

View of the silo interior including a bed and shower.
These silos go against the grain, providing comfort and promoting inner peace.

The interior creates a visually striking contrast between the silos’ shape. Polished concrete floors gleam under recessed lighting, reflecting the clean lines of the minimalist furniture. The cylindrical walls provide a different kind of space, a subtle shift from the rectangular rooms we’re accustomed to.

When guests peek out the circular window, they’re greeted with rolling green hills beneath a vast canvas of sky, dotted with grazing sheep — a scene both familiar and strangely alien from your cylindrical haven.

The Unconventional Hotel Dream

A stay in a surreal environment is an unforgettable adventure. It’s a chance to forgo the ordinary and dive into a world of whimsy. Every corner holds the potential for surprise, sparking our guests’ imaginations and creating memories that go far beyond a typical hotel stay.

Next Up: Adaptive Reuse Hotels


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