Character building: 5 surprising places to stay

If staying in a regular hotel is a bit too mundane for you, try these accommodation options that are definitely out of the norm.

A bubbletent atop a mountain.
  • Krysia Bonkowski
    Main image: Cam Darcy
  • October 2018

Lay your head somewhere different with these surprising and offbeat stays – you’ll come back with stories to tell and Insta-worthy shots.

A picture taken inside a bubble tent at Capartee Valley.
Wake up to wilderness in a bubbletent at Capertee Valley. Picture: Mayumi Iwasaki

1. Bubbletents

Capertee, NSW
Go off-grid with a difference in these three Bubbletents. Set up in particularly scenic spots around a huge farm, they overlook the World Heritage-listed wilderness of Capertee Valley canyon – second in size only to the Grand Canyon. The inflatable structures offer front-row views of this little-known marvel, with all the comforts of a hotel and thoughtful touches such as a telescope and a wood-fired hot tub.

2. Book and Bed

Shinjuku, Tokyo
Bookworms will fall for this novel hostel, where sleeping nooks are secreted away within bookshelves. Providing an oasis from the nonstop madness of Shinjuku, guests at the fifth and latest iteration of this mini-chain can choose from more than 2500 page-turners curated by Shibuya Publishing & Booksellers. If you like the idea of killing time before a flight with a read and a nap, hourly rates are also available.

A picture of Daryl Kerigan's family home in The Castle (1997 movie),
Stay in Daryl Kerigan's family home in The Castle, one of Australia's best and most-loved films.

3. The Castle in Bonnie Doon

Bonnie Doon, VIC
No, you’re not dreaming, this iconic slice of Aussie cinematic culture can be yours for a stay. Causing quite a flap among movie buffs when it popped up on Airbnb last year, the retro-fabulous shack from The Castle is filled with tongue-in-cheek paraphernalia (think jousting sticks and a greyhound kennel) and overlooks the lake that inspired Darryl Kerrigan’s reveries. How’s the serenity?

4. Bangkok Tree House

Bang Krachao, Bangkok
On the banks of Chao Praya River in Bangkok’s living green lung – Bang Krachao island – Bangkok Tree House is a free-flowing bamboo eco-hotel reached by boat, bike or foot only. Each multi-storey suite features a rooftop and open-air shower, but those seeking even greater immersion in nature can choose to snooze in the ‘View with a Room’ – a comfy bed on an open platform jutting above the forest canopy.

5. Silostay

Little River, New Zealand
An architectural experiment has transformed eight grain silos into striking apartments worthy of the detour to the small town of Little River. In the words of SiloStay’s founders, Little River promises “no internationally recognised natural wonders, no Guggenheim, no fiords [and] no towering waterfalls”. But it does offer an ideal base to explore the scenic Banks Peninsula, less than an hour’s drive from Christchurch, along with ample inspiration for design nerds.