7 Hotels With a Crazy History

Nowadays, there is less of a need to construct new buildings, particularly in urban areas. Though there are still new projects being developed, investors are frequently looking into buying already existing properties. Especially in the travel industry, this trend is becoming popular; instead of shelling out millions to build a hotel from scratch, already-completed constructions are being changed into accommodations.

We’ve all heard of the occasional apartment building being turned into a hotel. Even offices can frequently be divided into separated rooms and work well for accommodation options. But there are other buildings out there that wouldn’t normally be your first pick when you choose a hotel or hostel. But with a little creativity (or in some cases, a lot), hotel owners have transformed even the least likely buildings into hotels. From prisons to pieces of old airplanes, here are seven accommodations with a crazy history:

1.    Jumbo Stay Hostel (Stockholm, Sweden)

“Spend the night in a jumbo jet” is the Jumbo Stay Hostel pitch. But instead of flying high in the sky and sleeping in an uncomfortable seat, you stay on the ground and sleep in a real bed.

Opened in January 2009, the hostel is literally a decommissioned jumbo jet model 747-212B made all the way back in 1976. It has been renovated with a completely new and modern interior design. Whether you’re an aviation fanatic or just someone looking for an interesting way to start your trip abroad, it’s open to all.

If you want to head back even further to the 1960s, you could also consider staying in the airplane suite at the Costa Verde Resort in Costa Rica. The 727 accommodates two people.

>> Find tickets to Stockholm or get tips on visiting Stockholm on a Budget

2.     Old Mount Gambier Gaol (Mount Gambier, Australia)

You don’t have to be a criminal to spend a night in jail. The Old Mount Gambier Gaol Hotel is a former prison, dating back to 1866. It was closed as a prison in 1995, and then was converted into both cell and non-cell rooms that cater to travelers of all ages.

In addition to the main prison building, guests have access to the prison chapel, library and lounge, which are now common spaces with internet, color TVs and sofas. Live entertainment and concert take place in the three courtyards. In the communal kitchen, you will find free tea, coffee, sugar and milk – a service prisoners didn’t have back in 1866.

To find out about other jail accommodations worldwide, check out this round-up at Travel Generation.

>> Find more Mount Gambier hostels or check out cool underground hotels in Australia

3.     Library Hotel and Wellness Resort (Kalavasos, Cyprus)

This hotel is a masterfully restored, stone-built mansion dating all the way back to the 19th century. As its name already states, a big emphasis here is placed on literature and writing. To be exact, there are 11 uniquely styled suites, each one named after a poet, thinker or writer from all over the world. From the Oscar Wilde suite to the Edgar Allan Poe room, you can take your pick. Images of each are available online at the website so you can be fully informed before you go. All the suites open to the courtyard, with views of the village and surrounding mountains, but the real attraction is the impressive library lounge. Here you can revel in a collection of books on history, philosophy, culture and civilization while sitting at the open fireplace.

If you can’t make it all the way to Cyprus, consider The Library Hotel in New York, where there are 60 rooms ranging from a Fairy Tale Room to a Biography Room. If you can wait and want to take a trip to Australia, keep updated on the conversion of the Old State Library in Brisbane. Work to transform the national landmark into a hotel is set to start soon.

>> Book flights to Cyprus and get tips for visiting Cyprus

4. Hotel de L’Orangerie (Versailles, France)

The descriptors of “queen” and “king” bed can soon be taken literally. France’s spectacular Palace of Versailles has been home to monarchy since Louis XIV, and beginning in early 2012, will house us commoners, too. Specifically, the building that used to be the Hotel du Grand Controle will be turned into a five-star luxury hotel by the name of Hotel de L’Orangerie, named after L’Orangerie, Louis XV’s greenhouse. The Belgian hotel company Ivy International has taken over the restoration, which the administration of the Palace couldn’t afford. The company is currently renovating the 23 rooms to convert them into luxurious hotel suites. According to NPR, “In January 2012, when the Hotel de l’Orangerie is completed, overnight guests will be able to drink champagne and stroll in the gardens of Versailles for the first time in 300 years.”

Another option would be the Shangri-La Hotel in Paris, the former residence of Napoleon Bonaparte’s grandnephew, Prince Roland Bonaparte.

>> Get tips for visiting Versailles or search for hotels in France

5. Wanderlust Hotel (Singapore, Singapore)

The old house that was home to the Hong Wen School in Singapore was really nothing special. Mr. Loh Lik Peng, a hotelier known for his unconventional tastes, bought the four-story building back in 2008 and since then, has converted it into a 29-room luxury hotel. It now goes by the name of “Wanderlust,” and prides itself on drawing “madcap voyagers and curious travelers to its doorstep.” There are four thematic levels, each designed by award winning Singapore design agencies: Industrial Glam by Asylum (Lobby Level), Eccentricity by :phunk Studio (Level 2), It is just Black and White by DP Architects (Level 3) and Creature Comforts by fFurious (Level 4).

Wanderlust is probably the most creative former school building you will see, but there are other schools turned hotels, too. You could consider the Kennedy School, for example, which is now part of the McMenamin’s chain in the Pacific Northwest. You finally get permission to fall asleep in class!

>> Find airfare to Singapore or read our Singapore travel guide

6.    Shrigley Hall Hotel (Cheshire, United Kingdom)

Originally built as a family home, Shrigley Hall was later turned into a missionary college for boy. The former church adjoining the main buildings is now home to the swimming pool and thus, forms part of the hotel’s leisure complex. Who ever thought of doing laps in a church? Well, here you can.

It is also possible to stay at working monasteries in countries like Italy. In addition, if you are hiking the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James) in Northern Spain, you will find that many religious buildings open their doors to you along the way, and may even allow you to sleep inside. This might happen especially in the summer when the pilgrims’ refuges are already full.

>> Read more about staying in monasteries in Italy

7. Alma Domus (Siena, Italy)

The Hotel Alma Domus is a former drying room of medieval wool works and most likely, dates back to the early 1300s, when it belonged to a certain Brunello di Brunaccio. As the hotel’s website explains, “it was here that the last important phase of cloth production took place. The wet cloth, once treated with natural agents and transformed into felt, was hung out to dry on purpose built washing lines.” In 1976, the medieval construction was converted into a hotel, but still retains its original five story-façade, which is decorated in the true style of Siena. Inside the building, there are still traces of the old factory, such as the imposing pillars that formerly held up enormous trusses.

Should you be interested in other factories turned hotels, consider La Purificadora hotel (a former ice factory in Puebla, Mexico) or the former Ghirardelli Chocolate Factory in San Francisco.

>> Read more about visiting Siena or find cheap hotels in Siena

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Photos: K.Wiklund, Cremo, Courtesy of Library Hotel Cyprus, château de Versailles, Christian Milet, Courtesy of Wanderlust Hotel, Philip Halling,