Hotels are the backbone of every great trip. They’re a place to recuperate, refuel, or redirect ourselves as we work through packed itineraries and sometimes dabble in a little luxury. But sometimes, a hotel is the destination—and that’s where experiential hotels comes into play.
Some immerse us in a fantasy world while others double down on a unique quirk to build a special experience—whatever the angle, what’s happening outside doesn’t matter. You’re there for the hotel. Leaving shouldn’t be an option during your stay.
These are the best experiential hotels in the world.
Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser
Location: Disney World Orlando
Price: $5,000 for two people
Vibe: A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away
The rundown: However brutal the price tag, there’s no denying that Disney’s Star Wars Galactic Cruiser Hotel is an incomparable experience. The two-day voyage immerses guests in a real-time storyline set in the fictional Star Wars universe. Guests interact with actors, complete missions during their stay, and even sleep in simulated spaceship capsules.
The attention to detail at this experiential hotel is mesmerizing, and with each guest on their own unique adventure on board, everyone’s visit will be slightly different. There’s nothing quite like it.
House of Gods
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Vibe: Opulent rock n’ roll with tongue firmly in cheek
The rundown: At the other end of the spectrum is House of Gods. This edgy property, nestled in an unassuming spot just off the Royal Mile, lets guests experience hotel life as our rock n’ roll icons would—at their wildest.
The brooding guestrooms, adorned with luxurious four-poster beds, take inspiration from the Orient Express and the Palace of Versailles, but it’s the service that keeps you rooted to your room. A button on the wall calls for prosecco on demand, while the in-house cocktail butler ensures you’re never without a glass in hand. Don’t forget the midnight milk and cookies call, either.
Pure unadulterated extravagance. Check out our full review here.
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Price: From $220
Vibe: Hop-notch experience
The rundown: There aren’t a lot of reasons to visit the outskirts of Columbus. One of the few is the DogHouse. The world’s first craft beer hotel is a combination of every drunken idea you’ve had—just executed to perfection.
Scottish craft brewery BrewDog is behind the experience, where guests can stay on the 42-acre campus and fully ferment themselves in the world of craft beer. The modern rooms have beer taps (kegged with a prearranged beer of choice), views of the brewing rooms, a guitar, record players, and the creme de la creme – a beer fridge in the shower. On top of the brilliant rooms themselves, there’s a fully stocked taphouse and beer museum downstairs where guests can take tours, tastings, or just drink the day away.
21c Museum Hotels
Location: Multiple locations across the US
Price: $147 and up
Vibe: Artistic overload
The rundown: Ever found yourself frustrated after a day spent wandering an art gallery? Longing for a little more space, smaller crowds, or a bit more time? 21c Museum Hotels are the answer.
The growing collection of museum hotels allows guests to stay in a range of rooms within the galleries. The modern art displayed is often associated with the city it’s located in – Chicago and St. Louis are just two of ten available – with frequent exhibitions ensuring that no stay will ever be exactly the same. You can expect the rooms to be equally beautiful.
Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Price: From $875
Vibe: Possibly heaven on earth
The rundown: If you haven’t seen a video or Instagram post of Giraffe Manor, you’ve been living under a well-insulated rock with a foil hat on your head.
The spectacular English mansion in Kenya is home to a herd of endangered giraffes. As if the general proximity of these magnificent creatures wasn’t enough, the free-roaming animals make regular visits to the house itself. Guests can have breakfast with a giraffe, which sticks its head through the windows, and can even feed them from the balcony of their guest rooms if they opt for that level of opulence.
You won’t want to leave this experiential hotel, and who could blame you? Oh, the house is stunning, too, by the way.
Skylodge Suites Sacred Valley
Location: Sacred Valley, Peru
Price: From $300
Vibe: High-end service…emphasis on “high.”
The rundown: Possibly the only glaring exception to our “hotel as a destination” rule, the Hanging Hotel in Peru is both a unique experience and celebratory of the spectacular landscape it inhabits.
Dangling on a sheer cliff face in the Sacred Valley, epic may be an understatement for the pods. Guests can rock climb up or hike the valley behind to reach the entrance before being wined and dined 1300 feet above the ground. Despite the location, the experience itself is still fairly luxurious. Each personal pod has a sizeable bed, a bathroom (what a view), and running water.
Location: Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
Price: From $118
Vibe: Cool. Really cool. Some might say, ice cold.
The rundown: Experiential hotels don’t get any cooler—literally or figuratively.
Sweden’s spectacular ice hotel is a marvel to behold and an experience unlike any other. Redesigned each year by a selection of architects, designers, and artists, the hotel isn’t misleading its guests – it’s all been sourced from the nearby frozen river.
Each room is unique and kept cold enough to keep things stable. Naturally, you’re given a ton of warm blankets and insulating mattresses to ensure you don’t end up as an additional ice sculpture. Even the glasses in the bar are made of ice, so there won’t be any sneaky souvenirs being pocketed. While you’re there, check out the ice exhibition, where sculptors have created mind-bending artwork.