Lodging in the Trees, Underwater and in the Ground | Travel | Smithsonian
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Like an iceberg, the little red hut bobbing on Sweden’s Lake Malaren hardly hints at what’s beneath the surface; some 10 feet below is the “second” floor. (Howard Davies / Alamy)

Lodging in the Trees, Underwater and in the Ground

From Tunisian caves to Swedish mines, unusual hotels can be found around the world to make your vacation a special one

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If a standard hotel room just won’t cut it for your next vacation, you may be in luck: Dozens of imaginative souls have established lodgings in the air, below the ground and under the sea. We’ve rounded up nine such spots that take you out of the ordinary, including a 16th-century silver mine in Sweden, the Tunisian cave dwelling that was used as Luke Skywalker’s childhood home, and a marine research lab in the turquoise waters off the Florida Keys.

From This Story

Live Like Swiss Family Robinson

Bamboo Treehouse, Rincon, Puerto Rico, 541-499-3885
Jo Scheer built three treehouses, or “hooches,” on his property in northwestern Puerto Rico partly to display the beauty and versatility of the area’s abundant bamboo. Two hooches are entirely in the treetops, while the third treehouse forms the master bedroom for a house based on the ground.

The treetop lodgings rise above remote promontories that provide views of the Caribbean and lush valley; each hooch has a kitchenette, bathroom, and solar-powered electricity and hot water.

Cedar Creek Treehouse, Ashford, Washington, 360-569-2991
When Bill Compher built his treehouse in the early 1980s, he fulfilled a longstanding wish. From his new perch in Gifford Pinchot National Forest, he could revel in the views of nearby Mount Rainier. In 1998, he turned his eyrie into a guesthouse. Built 50 feet above a creek in a western red cedar tree, the house has a living/eating area, sleeping loft and toilet. “You can lie in bed and stargaze right above you,” he says. “The most common comment I get from guests is ‘Thank you for living your dream.’ ”

Winvian Resort Treehouse, Litchfield Hills, Connecticut, 860-567-9600
“Big kids never had it so good,” boast the owners of this New England resort’s treehouse cottage. And, with rates starting at $750 a night, it might be the crème de la crème of tree houses.

The vibe of this two-story “cottage” is kid-clubhouse, but it also includes very grown-up features such as a whirlpool, fireplace and full bar. The resort itself has all sorts of spa services, a gourmet restaurant, horseback riding and hiking around 113 acres of rolling hills in northwest Connecticut.

Play Hobbit

Hotel Sidi Driss, Matmata, Tunisia, 011-216-75-240005
Familiar to many as Luke Skywalker’s Tatooine home in “Star Wars,” Hotel Sidi Driss is actually a very large pit on the edge of the Sahara. Berbers of southern Tunisia burrowed into the ground—sometimes as far down as two stories—to protect themselves from enemies and extreme temperatures that define a desert climate.

Located in one of those burrows carved out in the seventh century, the troglodytic hotel has 25 guest rooms, six separate bathing facilities and a small restaurant. Accommodations are basic; remember, Luke didn’t grow up in the lap of luxury. Bits of the original movie set still remain in place, and the surrounding region boasts numerous “Star Wars” locations; www.tunisia.com/tunisia/travel/star-wars-tunisia provides an excellent guide to them.

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