Spending the night in a prison cell sounds far from glam but it’s all part of the fun of staying in an ‘experience hotel’ – those left-of-field lodgings where the unexpected runs to more than chocolates on the pillow. Imagine spacing out in a UFO, crashing in a Mercedes bed or waking up in a world made of salt?

Check out some extraordinary hotels with the special X factor, where grown-ups can indulge their inner child. If you’ve never slept in a tree house before, it’s time you branched out!

Tree Hugger Heaven – Treehotel, Harad, Sweden

eXtraordinary Factor: Nest like a bird or space out in a UFO
Sweden’s top architects have got together to design the most eccentric arboreal accommodation in the world. If you’re feeling broody there’s a bunch of twigs where you’ll feel free as a bird. Appropriately called The Bird’s Nest, enter by the retractable ladder and disappear completely.

It’s surprisingly well-appointed with separate bedrooms, a bathroom, lounge and tiny porthole windows – room for a two-chick family. The UFO lodge is also pretty extra-terrestrial.

Your inner child will love kipping in a capsule resembling a Martian from the Smash instant potato adverts. Other structures include an airborne log cabin, a mirror cube clad in infrared film to stop the birds bumping into it, a sauna and a 12-seater conference centre. Meals are served in a traditional building at ground level.

The hotel was inspired by The Tree Lover, a movie about three city guys’ journey of self-discovery through the tree house they build. All the dwellings hanging above the forest floor use low-energy LED lighting and green hydroelectric power, generated by the rushing Lule river, and there are enough centenary pines to occupy the most committed tree hugger.

Norwegian Wood – Juvet Landscape Hotel, Valldal, Norway

eXtraordinary Factor: Get back to nature with the forest folk in a glass box.
If your definition of freedom is running around stark naked, Norway’s the country and Juvet’s the place to indulge. The highlight of this stunning eco lodge on the edge of Reinheimen National Park is the nine private box-shaped dwellings embedded in a forest of birch, aspen and pine.

Perched on stilts to deter snoops, glass walls allow nature inside while the river Valldøla, tumbles through a rockscape of ravines below. The boxes are no bigger than 8m2 and blend seamlessly into the topography, with interiors treated to minimise reflections. Minimalist furnishings allow the scenery to take centre stage, although you do get wifi.

A place to contemplate nature or your naval, if you choose, when the solitude gets too much there’s always the communal hot tub and sauna, winter skiing, white-water rafting and forest walks throughout the changing seasons. Guests come sociably together in the 100-year-old converted barn, where the cook rustles up meals in the old pigsty and a converted cow byre does duty as the lounge, with an open fire and space for dancing like a forest nyad. Read the rest of the article.

Words Belinda Beckett

Treehotel, Harad, Sweden

Juvet Landscape Hotel, Valldal, Norway