The 90s may have been a hay day for franchises, commercial companies, and McDonalds, but the new millennium has lowered the tone a notch. Three decades later, the trending search is no longer “hottest travel destinations” but “budget travel”, and you are better off being declared quirky than luxurious. According to Randwick accomodation, the ratings of hotels and hostels have simply switched around, proving that the world is finally ready to try out new things and set forth on brand new adventures.
. For starters, you don’t even have to distance yourself from hotels too much, depending on what the region you are staying in focuses on. For example, some hotels are casino hotels, and they can, naturally, be found in Las Vegas and Indian resorts. What sets them apart from regular hotels is that they are specifically aimed at gamblers (casual and hard-core): the lower floors of these establishments are bedecked with salons, bars, card game tables, and croupiers are the main people you talk to, whereas the top floors are arranged as typical hotels. Hotel guests often have benefits that visiting casino guests don’t.
Another targeted type of hotel is the eco hotel. These self-sustainable buildings are on the rise, following the hype kicked off by paleo diets and yoga varieties. Fortunately, it’s not just the mindset of the employees that makes eco hotels green – these structures get their electricity via solar panels, and then they do not squander it upon non-sustainable light bulbs and bad laundry management. These places are where you can keep your mind at ease knowing that you are traveling without leaving a carbon footprint, while you munch upon your delicious vegan breakfast.
Traveling in the frozen north, got an aurora borealis to catch? Why don’t you choose an ice hotel to complete the mood? These hotels melt come spring, and are rebuilt from scratch before every tourist season, making them formidable architectural solutions as well as quirky resorts.
Are you more of a person who would take a walk down an extravagant garden on the outskirts of Paris, with a Renaissance structure (a castle, a villa) on one side, and a forest on the other? Look for garden hotels. These aesthetic hotspots don’t function so much as places to stay, they are rather places to enjoy. Very often, it is the castle itself where you can book a room, and feel royal, even if you are Lorde.
There are smaller scale hotels too – they are known as boutique hotels. Holding merely 30 rooms on average, these hotels aim for design, and intimacy rather than mass-marketed, uniform comfort. They earned their name by being the “boutique” to the franchise hotel’s “department store”.
Now, to the non-hotels! Some countries have traditional institutions that pre-date the hotel industry. For example, Japan has a history of Ryokan. Ryokan are very traditional Japanese houses where you can stay, albeit for a bigger price than a hotel room. They are rarely found near settlements, and more often in remote areas where the city rush has no effect on the calm and collected tradition that these establishments aim to continue.
There’s another very particular form of lodging in Japan, but it is entirely different from ryokan. Capsule hotels can be found on virtually any top list of weird hotels, and for a good reason. Imagine renting out a 2x1x1.25 m “room”. Of course, capsule hotels can only be used for overnight stays, but their strange concept makes them a very popular choice for businessmen traveling around Japan.
Casa Particular, on the other hand, can be found in Cuba, and they are private homes rented out in a way that is much like “bed and breakfast” lodgings. These places, distinguished by a sign on the doors depicting blue triangles on a white background, are a major threat to the local hotel industry, and extremely touristy areas such as Varadero, Playa Santa Lucia and Guardalavaca have forbidden them all together.
Apartment hotels are not hotels, but they use a similar booking system. Essentially, these are regular, often high-class apartment buildings with their own front desk and a check-in/check-out system rather than renting for a definite period of time.
On a smaller scale, there are variations such as the aforementioned “bed and breakfast” houses, very useful for travelers that need to find shelter very cheap and very fast. Guesthouses are often found along busy highways, as well as roadhouses, much to the relief of weary truck drivers. Similar to these are motels, also often found by the roadside, often on the edges of a city.
Young travelers with a lower budget are the best represented in the alternative hotel industry. Popular services like Airbnb will connect people to homeowners willing to rent out their place for a while, and the highly interactive website of the service lets travelers choose according to their needs (wi-fi, pets, part of city, etc). Hostels remain the top choice for traveling groups: these rooms are always the cheapest, and groups of 4-5 friends can easily book an entire room to themselves.