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From an underwater lodge to a haunted castle, these accommodations are truly one-of-a-kind.
Part of the fun in traveling is staying somewhere totally unique—accommodations with furnishings, decor, and amenities so special that you're transported to another time and place. When you're looking for an especially memorable vacation, seek out one of the best themed hotels. Luckily, there are plenty of them scattered across the U.S.
Which hotel you choose will likely depend on the nature of your trip. Taking a much-needed family vacation for bonding with your little ones? Then opt for a magical fairytale themed hotel for an unforgettable experience. Trying to reignite the spark in your long-term relationship? Then book a stay with your SO at a romance-themed lodge geared toward couples. The point is, there's a themed hotel for just about every type of traveler from history buffs to adventure enthusiasts.
Whether you're a big spender or on a tight budget, here are some of the best themed hotels in the U.S. worth seeing for yourself.
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Located right on California's iconic Highway 101 in San Luis Obispo, this world-famous hotel boasts a whopping 110 uniquely themed rooms. Though the general theme is over-the-top mid-century kitsch, there's truly something for everyone at the Madonna Inn—from a jungle-like African safari room to a solid rock caveman room with stone-age clubs, a cavern-style bathroom, and animal prints galore.
Couples will surely appreciate the Love Nest suite or Just Heaven room, both of which feature an enchanting spiral staircase leading to a private viewing tower and French-styled furnishings.
But James Brad, founder of Travare.net, recommends checking out the breathtaking Bridal Falls room, where you can shower under a real waterfall inspired by those at Yosemite National Park.
You could easily stay at these quirky digs in Pocatello, Idaho more than a dozen times and never have the same experience twice—each room has an entirely unique and elaborate theme, ranging from the Wild West to Arabian nights.
"You might not expect a tropical getaway in the middle of Idaho, but the Black Swan Inn's Tropical Paradise Suite is," says Jason Dempsey, CEO and co-founder of Home & City Living. "Though some of the murals and fake rock might feel a little cheesy, the 15-foot wide waterfall and deep tub certainly create a feeling of luxury."
While you can't go wrong with any of the suites, Only Wanderlust founder Amar Hussain advises staying in the awe-inspiring Atlantis Under The Sea room.
All suites at the Black Swan Inn feature two-person whirlpool tubs, and fireplaces—and some even have saunas, massage tables, and aquariums.
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This hotel bills itself as Alice in Wonderland meets Willy Wonka in Oz—so, it's safe to say you can expect a healthy dose of colorful whimsy when staying here, no matter which themed suite you choose. Looking for a little happily ever after? You can't beat the cinderella gown cottage.ae0fcc31ae342fd3a1346ebb1f342fcb
"This is one of eight magical-themed cottages located at The Roxbury," says Hussain. "Those who stay here will feel like Cinderella getting ready for the ball in the bathroom, which is shaped like a pumpkin that transforms into a golden carriage. In the bedroom, an 18-foot ballgown is suspended over the bed, ensuring every guest sleeps like a princess."
Other luxury cottages here include the gothic-chic Dracula's Fangs, Grecian-inspired Terraza of the Titans, and playful Superhero Incognito. And don't forget to snap lots of pics— because no matter which cottage or mansion room you select, each one is endlessly Instagrammable.
Fun fact: If the cottages are too pricey for your budget, The Roxbury also owns a motel right down the road with plenty more themed rooms that are straight out of a storybook, according to Kristin Winkaffe, luxury travel advisor and founder of Winkaffe Global Travel.
There's only one hotel in the entire country where you can actually stay underwater—and that's this eclectic lodge in Key Largo. Make sure you're comfortable scuba diving before booking your stay, though, because you'll need to venture 30 feet deep into the ocean to get to your room.
"That means all guests either need to be scuba certified or take a two-hour crash course on diving," says Nick Mueller, Director of Operations at HawaiianIslands.com.
While munching on the complimentary pizza delivery in your room, you'll be privy to incredible views of the surrounding marine life from your porthole windows. Retro-futuristic decor and room service round out the standout features at this truly one-of-a-kind hotel.
Experience nature like you've never seen it before at this wilderness-themed luxury hotel, where you can camp out in an iconic 32-story pyramid in downtown Memphis.
All the rooms and suites feature handmade furnishings and rustic decor that'll make you feel like you're in a vintage hunting lodge—and some even offer screened porches and whirlpool tubs. The Fly Fishing Lodge deserves a special mention—perched right within the Big Cypress swamp, it includes a loft, a private balcony overlooking Bass Pro shops, and an electric fireplace. The Treehouse, meanwhile, boasts the best view on the property—and features vaulted ceilings, air tubs in the bathrooms, and a screened-in balcony.
"The Treehouse is the perfect retreat for nature lovers and those who love a great view from incredible heights," says Hussain.
While you're staying here, don't forget to ride the country's tallest freestanding elevator, which will take you 300 feet into the air for an incredible bird's eye view of the Mississippi River.
Can't get enough mistletoe and merry in December? As its name suggests, you can celebrate the Christmas all year round at this charming themed hotel.
Set in the foothills of East Tennessee's Smoky Mountains, the lush landscaping and picturesque Bavarian building will instantly draw you in. But the real draws are the cozy rooms, hearty hot breakfasts, and complimentary visits with Christmas characters.
"Each suite has a Christmas tree and other welcoming, cozy decor," says Melanie Musson, a travel expert with CarInsuranceComparison.com. "Included in your stay are pictures with Santa, story times, and sing-alongs with Santa—plus nightly cookies. While those tend to be children's favorites, many adults cite them as a highlight of their trip as well."
Thrill-seekers and Halloween fanatics will feel right at home in this New Hampshire hotel—which offers the only simulated haunted overnight experience in the entire world.
"It's the perfect destination for those who love a good scare," says Hussain. "Spooky features include a catwalk bar, a tower staircase with a skull railing, Ouija boards, a king's throne made of bones, and an asylum. Those who dare to stay in the castle will hear eerie noises throughout the night and may also get visits from unwanted guests."
After passing through the dark hallways with flickering candles, skull sconces, and plaster gargoyle casts, you find a cell-bound animatronic woman who screams when you pass her by.
Be warned that these accommodations are not for the faint of heart: Vacationers say the realistic sound effects make you feel like there's something—or someone—in the room with you, even when you're alone.
Calling all lovebirds: FloridaPanhandle.com travel expert and CMO Brittany Mendez says this kitschy couples-only resort oozes romance—and it's conveniently located in the heart of the scenic Poconos Mountains.
"The three Cove Pocono Resorts are the only places in the world where you can soak in a seven-foot champagne glass whirlpool for two," says Nikki Webster, the travel writer behind Brit on the Move.
Log-burning fireplaces, heart-shaped hot tubs, and round king-size beds are just a few of the highlights inside the resort's plush suites that make it one of the best themed hotels in the U.S.
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Nestled in the rolling glaciated hills of southwestern Wisconsin, you'll find this offbeat hotel. Inside the barn-style building, each of the 25 rooms has a different theme that's sure to spice up your stay.
"Would you like to sleep in a hot air balloon or relax in a moon crate whirlpool? If the answer is yes, Don Q Inn is a must-see place for you," says Ugur Yurt, a travel expert at Wingie.
From Caesar's court to Japanese geisha gardens, there's a theme for every taste or personality here. But according to Anna Krizova, a travel expert at Camino Adventures, the Northern Lights suite is a must-see: While staying in a full-sized igloo with a built-in whirlpool and arctic landscapes, you can look up at the ceiling to find a beautiful simulation of the glowing aurora borealis.
"If you're an aviation buff, then look no further than the TWA Hotel in JFK airport—which is ideal for someone who wants to take a layover back in the '60s," says Jim Campbell, founder and CEO of Honeymoon Goals. "Whether you want to roller skate at the Roll-A-Rama rink, have a martini at the glamorous retro lounge, or take a dip in the infinity pool that overlooks the main airstrip at JFK, this hotel is a dream come true for anyone that loves air travel and nostalgia."
Set in the iconic former TWA flight center at John F. Kennedy International Airport, the floor-to-ceiling windows, sleek rooms, and stunning runway views make it one of the best themed hotels. Take a trip back in time by making a call on the lobby payphones, getting your shoes shined on site, and scoping out the display of vintage TWA pilot uniforms while classic Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong hits play in the background.
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