Our restless band of ever-curious holiday experts have journeyed from Miami to Thailand to uncover the most weird & wonderful hotel novelties. From glass gardens to golden cash points, welcome to world travel’s quirkiest hotel features.
Stairs & Graces
As a monument to South Beach cool since 1954, Fontainebleau Miami Beach has long played host to high society’s biggest names. And it was in homage to their grace and glamour that architect Morris Lapidus built the hotel’s famous staircase. Originally the staircase led to a small cloakroom, before giving guests no choice but to turn on their heels and descend, showcasing all their finery in full view of lobby attendees. With the cloak room long gone, today the staircase leads nowhere but quirky hotel legend.
Considering most of the city’s hotels resemble cut-price mock-ups of other iconic structures (the Great Pyramids, the Coliseum of Rome), Las Vegas could aptly lay claim to most of world travel’s quirkiest hotel features. But this one’s a little more subtle. Said to represent springtime in Italy, the Fiori di Como sculpture by celebrated artist Dale Chihuly has made the Bellagio Hotel lobby ceiling a Las Vegas landmark. Measuring 2,100 square feet, weighting 40,000lbs and containing 2,000 flowers, this multi-coloured hand-blown glass ‘garden’ is a gravity-defying, must-see experience.
Going for Gold
Yes, the rumours are true – you can buy solid gold in the UAE from a machine. Albeit a 1,000lb, 6ft, gold-plated vending machine ATM with touch screen. ‘Gold to Go’, in the lobby of Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi, dispenses 24-carat gold bars and gold coins from various countries. Prices are updated hourly via online links to the stock exchange. As the quirkiest hotel features in world travel go, this one’s worth saving up for.
We all love checking in to new hotels, but rarely is it akin to a spiritual experience. Not so for Thailand holidaymakers arriving at Phulay Bay, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Krabi – provided their arrival is after sunset, that is. Each evening in the hotel’s fabulous indoor-meets-outdoor lobby, 2,000 candles are lit. The effect is a temple-like atmosphere that is known to inspire devout silence and quiet contemplation among guests.
Suspend your Disbelief
Before even stepping foot through the door of the Mandarin Oriental Barcelona, a travellator-style suspended catwalk carries guests from Passeig de Gracia to the hotel’s super-stylish atrium. It’s a hotel quirk that introduces a cool, contemporary air mixed with a sense of fun that is immediately complemented by the interior’s white-on-white designs and modernist adornments.