Travel allows us to explore the destinations of our dreams – to spend mornings unlocking the secrets of Giza’s pyramids, afternoons hiking through the wilds of Patagonia, and nights cruising the legendary Venetian canals, to name but a few. But the difference between a great travel experience and one that sticks with you for a lifetime often comes down to the details, with accommodations ranking chief among them. And here at Odysseys, we make it a priority to select accommodations that add something special to each of our tours.
Read on for a breakdown of our top 10 unique accommodations - from the decks of a Turkish yacht, to a lodge suspended above the Zambezi River, to an ancient Spanish pilgrimage site... and more:
Gulet yachts - Legendary Turkey
On our Legendary Turkey tour, we spend three nights aboard these beautiful gulets, replicas of traditional Turkish fishing vessels. Today’s versions are built with modern comforts in mind, and have small but cozy cabins with private bath and shower, as well as ample deck space both fore and aft to enjoy the spectacular views of the Mediterranean coastline. Swimming and snorkeling equipment is provided, the ship’s cook prepares all of our meals on board using fresh, local ingredients, and if the weather cooperates, you may wish to join your fellow guests sleeping on deck under the stars.
Locanda di San Martino - Southern Italy & Sicily
Sitting in the heart of Matera’s Sassi, a historical district full of ancient cave dwellings, this 32-room hotel expertly blends old and new. Passageways cut into the rock, external staircases, and elevators connect all four levels of the hotel, while contemporary comforts and modern amenities offer a comfortable stay. The breakfast area, bar, swim grotto, and guest rooms all boast natural rock walls and ceilings, and each guest room includes private bath with hair dryer, Internet access, and TV. Please note that because of the unique nature of the hotel, room sizes and views vary.
Kennicott Lodge - Untamed Alaska
This family-owned lodge offers guests breathtaking Alaskan scenery with views of the Kennicott Glacier, Mount Blackburn, and the Chugach Mountains. A replica of one of the historic copper-mining buildings and the only lodge in America’s largest national park, Kennicott Glacier Lodge sits in the heart of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and features a 190-foot-long front porch with panoramic views of the mountains, as well as a restaurant, reading/family room, TV/gathering room, complimentary Wi-Fi internet access, and plenty of outdoor activities. Each of the spacious guest rooms features a private bath. Please note: Due to the rustic nature of this hotel, there is no elevator, guest rooms do not have phones or TVs, and hair dryers are available at the front desk. However, there are electrical outlets to charge your devices.
King David Hotel - Israel: Timeless Wonders
A landmark hotel steeped in history, the King David Jerusalem Hotel stands overlooking (and within easy walking distance of) the Old City. Equally accessible to Jerusalem’s lively downtown, Israel’s most famous and prestigious hotel makes an excellent base for exploring this fascinating city during our five-night stay. Built in 1931 of locally quarried pink limestone, the 237-room King David features spacious gardens with breathtaking views of the Old City; two restaurants and a bar; fitness center; outdoor swimming pool; tennis court; spa services; complimentary Wi-Fi internet access; laundry and dry cleaning services; and shopping arcade with gift and jewelry shops, art gallery, and beauty salon.
Royal Palm Hotel - Machu Picchu to the Galapagos
The Royal Palm Hotel Galapagos comprises a secluded 480-acre private estate set in a lush Miconia forest in the highlands of the Galapagos’ central island, Santa Cruz. Along with rainforest-like gardens, the property has extensive lava tunnels onsite. Designed with a blend of colonial and traditional island elements that complement the natural surroundings, the hotel offers a restaurant and piano bar, outdoor swimming pool, sauna, massage treatments and whirlpool, gym, tennis courts, art gallery, and laundry and dry cleaning services. Accommodations consist of 21 separate casitas and villas, all of which have a garden-facing front porch and provide air conditioning, private bath with hair dryer, and all modern comforts.
Le Grand Pakbeng - Southeast Asia Odyssey
Le Grand Pakbeng sits in the jungle alongside a bend in the Mekong River, halfway between Luang Prabang, Laos and the main border crossing from Laos into Thailand. This resort-style lodging offers two restaurants, outdoor swimming pool with river views and pool bar, full spa with a range of treatments, bicycle rentals (for a fee), laundry and dry cleaning service (for a fee), and complimentary Wi-Fi internet access. We stay in spacious, private guest villas that include air conditioning, private bath with hair dryer, balcony with Mekong River views, minibar, and tea- and coffee-making facilities.
Royal Zambezi Lodge - Africa's Wildlife
The luxury Royal Zambezi Lodge sits on the banks of the vast Zambezi at one of its broadest points, bordering the Lower Zambezi National Park and within a protected Game Management Area. Combining rustic elegance and warm hospitality with an unspoiled wilderness experience, the 14-room lodge offers an open-plan dining room and lounge, copper-roofed verandah, wide decks, campfire, outdoor pool, spa treatments, laundry service, and afternoon tea. Game-viewing activities include open-vehicle game drives, bush walks, boat safaris, birding, and guided canoe excursions. Individual canvas-walled tents with thatched roofs, positioned with river views, have private bath with hair dryer, private verandah, mosquito-netted beds, and ceiling fans.
Parador de Santiago de Compostela - Across Spain and Portugal
Considered one of the world’s oldest hotels, the Parador de Santiago de Compostela (also known as the Hostal dos Reis Catolicós) was built by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella in 1486 as a hospital for pilgrims. The 137-room parador is situated in the historic Plaza do Obradoiro, adjacent to the famed cathedral, and includes architectural flourishes such as a carved entrance façade, vaulted ceilings, stone archways, a Renaissance chapel, and four courtyards. The hotel features two restaurants and a bar, coffee shop, complimentary Wi-Fi internet access, library, gift shop, and laundry and dry cleaning service (for a fee). Air-conditioned guest rooms offer private bath and all modern amenities.
Hotel Ullensvang - Norwegian Splendor
Family-run for five generations, this gracious 172-room hotel sits on the eastern shore of Sorfjorden, part of majestic Hardangerfjord. The hotel has two restaurants, a bar, and several lounges; indoor swimming pool; indoor tennis court; fitness room; golf simulator; Jacuzzi; sauna; and solarium. During the summer guests can lounge in the delightful fjord garden (where composer Edvard Grieg’s cottage still stands), swim in the surprisingly comfortable waters of the fjord, enjoy lunch with a view (above), or explore the by rowboat or paddle boat. Guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, mini-bar, TV, and phone.
Le Cloitre Saint Louis - Discovering Provence
In the center of Avignon sits Le Cloitre Saint Louis, an 80-room hotel occupying a 16th-century building originally used to house Avignon’s Jesuit priests in training. The building changed hands several times during its history, serving as a convent and a hospital before being registered as a French historical monument in 1950. In 1987, the building was renovated into a hotel, allowing guests to experience this stirring architectural monument in an entirely new way. In addition to the sweeping stone arches and beautiful courtyard with moss-covered fountain, the hotel offers a restaurant and bar with indoor and outdoor seating, rooftop swimming pool and solarium, courtyard garden, laundry and dry cleaning services (for a fee), and complimentary Wi-Fi internet access. Befitting its history, each air-conditioned guest room is simply decorated and appointed, and features private bath and all modern comforts.