Here at MessyNessyChic, we’ve spent the past decade bucket-listing the earth, finding the most off-beat, unique (and chic) places to escape and explore. And along the way, we’ve come across a hotel room or two that we felt deserved its place on one of those official “best hotels of the world list”. So we decided to make our own official MessyNessy list, compiling our Top 20 for the decade ahead. Sweet dreams!
1. The Star Suite on a South African Nature Reserve
Play the Lion King for the night and enjoy a nightcap with the sunset’s deep reds, oranges and yellows before nodding off under the shooting stars.
Nestled in a rocky outcrop on one of the highest peaks of Kagga Kamma, it’s the only room of its kind at the resort, which also offers indoor accommodation at the main lodge. There’s no Wi-Fi or cell reception in the open-air suite, but the hotel assures there are no lions, tigers or bear wandering around the reserve – only a few friendly antelopes!
Discover the Kagga Kamma reserve here.
2. The Champagne Glass Suite in the Poconos
The legendary and kitschiest of couples resort boasts honeymoon suites with 7-foot champagne glass whirlpool baths overlooking glass heart-shaped pools.
Cove Haven is actually one of the last remaining Poconos resorts. Many are now abandoned, leaving behind empty heart-shaped tubs that once lured honeymooners when kitschy and sexy went hand in hand.
Now we’re not entirely sure whether we want to throw up in that pink champagne glass bath or have a grand ol’ time in it but one thing is for sure– you don’t see that everyday, at least not since the seventies. And for that reason, we’re bucket listing the heck out of it. More here.
3. The Italian Hotel built inside Abandoned Medieval Grottos
The cliffs of the Gravina River Valley in Matera Italy are believed to be the site of the first human settlements in the country. La Grotta della Civita consists of 21 cave rooms as well as a restaurant, which took a total of 10 years to renovate from what was essentially a series of deserted caves, last inhabited in the 1950s by residents who lived very primitively. The now UNESCO-listed town of Matera has a prehistoric birthday; it’s dwellings are carved into limestone rock that overlook the Gravina gorge, connected by winding cobblestone streets, built right over the rooftops of other caverns.
We wrote about this spot back in 2013, and since then, it’s become one of the most sought-after reservations in Italy…
While the calming style certainly pays tributes to its simple roots (there are no televisions or telephones in the rooms) but the time-worn cobblestone floors are heated from underneath. On a mission to create an innovative concept of hospitality, Sextantio, the group now behind Grotte della Civita has already acquired nine abandoned villages in the Abruzzi region. More information here.
4. Agatha Christie’s Steam Ship on the Nile
Right up there on our travel bucket list with the Orient Express, it was on board this historic vessel in 1933, that Agatha Christie found the insipration for Death on the Nile while accompanying her husband on an archaeological mission. Built at the dawn of the 20th century, the Steam Ship Sudan brings turn-of-the-century travel on the Nile to life again.
And yes, you can stay in the Agatha Christie suite while admiring ancient Egyptian temples with an Old Fashioned in hand.
5. The Hotel Rooms Hanging off a Cliff
Climb 1,000 feet up a Peruvian mountain on a zipline to reach your bedroom for the night and check into the world’s most daredevil hotel…
This hanging hotel has vacancy for a total of 8 people inside three separate capsule suites, all hand-crafted out of the same aluminium used on planes and tough, weather-proof materials. Each luxuriously decorated and cliff-hanging suite has four beds, dining area, breakfast terrace and ensuite bathroom.
6. An Old Italian Schoolhouse turned Charming B&B
This little schoolhouse nestled in the picturesque province of Vicenza, a 90 minute drive from Venice, and it’s nothing like the school days you remember. No grumpy Maths teachers, no caféteria slop for lunch and certainly no homework is involved in a stay at La Scuola Lusiana Guesthouse…
Built in the 1920s, the local school of the small town of Lusiana with a population under 3,000, was in operation until the 1960s. After careful renovations, the new owners re-opened the school in 2013 as a “brunch & breakfast” and worked only with local businesses and workers to restore the building. When the owners first visited the school with the dream of opening a guesthouse, they were shown the attic room where the teacher would sleep. A large tub, an old brick stove and a small table for a sewing machine still remained, as if the teacher was ever present, reading homework with her oil candle after the children had gone home.
Rooms start from a very affordable €32,50 a night, more here.
7. James Bond & Octopussy’s Indian Island Palace
Bond swam up to the floating palace disguised as a crocodile, but the Taj Lake Hotel conveniently welcomes its guests by boat in real life. The dreamy hotel located in India’s Lake Picchola, Udaipur, played a starring role as Octopussy’s lair, populated only by attractive women.
The Lake Palace was completed in 1746 as a royal winter palace, and during the famous Indian Mutiny in the 19th century, several European families used the palace as an asylum. To protect his guests, the Rana destroyed all the town’s boats so that the rebels could not reach the island.
In the late 19th century, the palace’s Eastern splendor began to deteriorate and it was later described in the 1950s as “totally deserted, the stillness broken only by the humming of clouds of mosquitoes”. In the 1960s, it was turned into a luxury hotel and today boasts 83 marble rooms and suites, and was recently voted as the most romantic hotel in India and in the world.
Discover the Taj Lake Hotel
8. Escape to the Little Lighthouse Hotel
A two hour drive from Manhattan in the Hudson Valley, this place is one of the very few lighthouses in America that offers overnight accommodation to guests. At night, you can creep up to the tower and stargaze into the early hours.
Ditch the car and walk a half a mile up the peninsula where the Saugerties Lighthouse will finally emerge from the tall grass, cut off from the world except for the small wooden bridge that connects to its little island.
9. Overnight inside a Polar Bears Den
Feeling how we feel about zoos, we found ourselves unsure and conflicted with the Safari Lodge of Zoo de la Flèche, a 14-hectare zoo that opened in 1946 in the Loire Valley of France. But it’s certainly not what we witness in city zoos. Two years ago, the park ventured into the world of luxury hospitality when it began expanding the enclosures of their polar bears, grizzlies, wild tigers and wolves, so that guests could spend the night. The animals look like they have pretty spacious enclosures within a rural region of France, and it’s worth considering that many of these species are now threatened in their own habitats by poaching and climate change.
With room service on call and all the comforts of a 5 star luxury hotel, guests can treat themselves to a very unusual and private extended encounter with the animals.
10. The Luxury Pirate Ship where Jack Sparrow Can’t Ruin Cocktail Hour
climb aboard this 46 meter handcrafted dreamboat of sun-warmed teak and rattan. The Alila Purnama, which translates as “full-moon” was built in the style of a Phinisi, ‘as used by the Bugis seafarers of Indonesia’.
The crew of 16 is at your service with icy facecloths and cocktails as you return from a day of dragon hunting on the island of Komodo, home to the world’s biggest lizard, or just a spot of snorkelling in turquoise waters. There are five suites aboard Purnama, including a master suite, or shall we call it the “captain’s lair”, with 180-degree views through the large wraparound windows. If you don’t feel like dining on the three-deck ship every night, the crew will set up your very on Robinson Crusoe “restaurant” on a nearby beach, complete with flickering lanterns and food delivered by motorboat.
More on this voyage of a lifetime here.
11. Sleeping on an Italian Vineyard under the Stars
a very bedroom with a very special surprise awaits at L’Albereta. The 5-star suite christened the Cabriolet room is no ordinary hotel suite, because at the touch of the button, all those childhood dreams you had of camping in your bedroom will become real as the roof opens to reveal the starry sky.
The hotel also offers intimate dinner parties at their winery where you can dine surrounded by a sea of old wine barrels.
12. The Siren Hotel, Detroit
Inside the former headquarters of the jukebox manufacturer, The Siren Hotel, is just another reason to go explore Detroit and the see how the fallen American city is having its own little renaissance.
13. Robinson Crusoe Hotel, Bali
If Robinson Crusoe had washed up on a tropical island inhabited by eco-warriors rather than cannibals, this might have been what his life as a castaway would have looked like.
Over ten years ago, eleven antique Javanese bridal homes were brought to Bali, restored, and decorated by designer and long time ex-pats, John and Cynthia Hardy. Bambu Indah’s tropical huts are perched over natural pools visible under your feet beneath the transparent flooring.
Browse the choice of villas here.
14. England’s Secret Historic Hotel Network
Hiding in the shadows of the mainstream travel industry since 1965, the Landmark Trust has been saving historic places in danger that would otherwise be lost, carefully restoring them and renting them out as self-catering holiday homes. These are all places you can actually stay overnight– on a student’s budget no less…
They have nearly 200 buildings across Britain and several in Italy, France and Belgium too, ranging from clan chief’s castles to cozy weavers’ cottages; Tudor towers to train stations– all rescued and given a new future without closing them off behind museum ropes. More here.
15. Sleepover inside a Paris Bookshop
In the heart of Paris, behind the facade of an old bookshop in the Marais, a secret awaits. For the bookshop at number 12 Rue Caffarelli is no ordinary Parisian library, but in fact, a place for the weary traveller after dark.
This particular bookshop was lucky enough to be rescued by the founders of Paris Boutik, a new hotelier concept that’s converting some of the city’s forgotten boutiques into a unique style of accommodation while keeping their spirit alive.
Stocked with over 4,500 books to choose from within your 45m² suite waiting behind the front of the shop, think of it like a literary speakeasy with all the luxuries of a five star hotel room.
Only those who stay at the library overnight know whether the books really do come alive after dark. You can book your suite here.
16. In an Amsterdam Bridge House
For over a century, these canalside gate houses accommodated the storied bridge keepers whose task it was to conduct the city’s water traffic and allow boats to pass. When a centralised bridge control system was introduced at the end of the 20th century, sure enough, the bridge houses became redundant. But Amsterdam is no stranger to evolution, and fortunately, the city is turning its bridge houses into tiny hotels!
SWEETS hotel, an ensemble of modern hotel suites dotted around Amsterdam with cozy modern interiors and historic exteriors. The concept launched in March 2018 with the first six bridge houses completed and ready to rest your head. Twenty-two more suites are currently being transformed and will be added to the hotel’s locations in the near future. More here.
17. The “Moonrise Kingdom” Camp
At an elevation of over 4,000 feet, with seriously spectacular views of the grandeur of Glacier Point, Half Dome Village is known today for the same warm hospitality its founders offered some one hundred years ago when visitors were still only trickling into Yosemite. There are 46 cabins with private baths, 14 wood cabins with shared bath houses, 403 canvas tents and 18 motel rooms. Oh, and deer can be seen grazing throughout the camp grounds. More on this historic camp here.
18. The Real Hobbit Hotel
In a hole in the ground, there lived a seriously pampered Swedish Hobbit. He had a private sauna, and a nearby manor retreat; a charming staff to make him a charcoal-fired pancakes and take him on moose safaris. For the right price, you too live like a glamping Hobbit. Welcome, friends, to the Kolarbyn eco-lodges.
Learn more about booking lodging here.
19. Jaipur’s Rajmahal Palace
Suján Rajmahal Palace is a once in a lifetime kinda hotel – one of the oldest palaces in Jaipur, India, offering guests to be transported to a new era of 21st century regal living. There are just 13 rooms and suites in the Palace, where the wallpapers have been specially created for each room, telling the many stories of Jaipur. Rooms start from 370 euros a night. Booking here.
20. Any of the Rooms at the Madonna Inn, the Kitschiest Hotel in the World
Imagine a place where caveman bedding, lime green carpeting and hotel rooms named after cultural ethnicities went unquestioned; where the sound of electric waterfalls and squeaking plastic leather seating was welcomed. My friend, you don’t have to imagine anymore, now that you know there’s a place where your inner-kitsch can be free. Welcome to the The Madonna Inn. The landmark hotel situation on California’s central coast was first built as just a 12-room motel in 1958 by Alex Madonna, a self-made contractor who designed the inn on the back of a napkin. Today it boasts 110 rooms and sits on approximately 2,200 acres.
More about this hotel here.