For an increasing number of travelers, a hotel is little more than a place to sleep, shower, and do business. Even if you're immune to the charms of luxury, however, some accommodations transcend this—they're experiences in and of themselves. From immersive ecotourism, to ancient tradition, to breathtaking city views, here are seven places that are worth the extra cash, as compared to cheap hotels.
Four Seasons Safari Lodge, Tanzania
Imagine watching a family of elephants walk in front of you as you have breakfast, or going to sleep to the sound of a lion's roar. That last one might be easier said than done, but all of these things are more possible at the Four Seasons Safari Lodge, built deep into Tanzania's Serengeti. Room rates here start at around $1,100 per night, although the most luxurious suites can cost dozens of times more than that.
Takaragawa Onsen, Japan
It's pretty much indisputable at this point that an experiencing a tradition onsen hot spring is an essential part of a Japan travel experience. What's less settled is where the best onsen in Japan is. Takaragawa Onsen, perched along a river in the Japanese Alps about two hours north of Tokyo by Shinkansen bullet train makes a pretty solid case for itself, especially since you can stay there for under $200 per night during many parts of the year.
Kakslauttanen Igloo Village, Finland
Finland often gets the shaft when it comes to Nordic countries, but Finnish Lapland is up there with the best of them. And I do mean "up there": It sits above the Arctic Circle. The best way to experience this wintry landscape, where temperatures can drop below -40ºF, is to sleep inside one of the glass igloos at Kakslauttanen Igloo Village, which also happens to be an excellent place to catch the Northern Lights.
Hotel Palacio de Sal, Bolivia
Many travelers are shocked to learn that the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia (you know, that place that looks like a giant mirror of the sky) is not a beach, but a rain-covered salt flat. Even more surprising is the fact that someone has built a hotel made of salt there, and you can stay there for around $100 per night.
Treebones Resort, California
Big Sur, California is one of the most beautiful places in the United States, even if all you see if it is what zooms past you during a road trip along the California coast. One way to savor the magic of Big Sur a little bit longer is to sleep there—the best is undoubtedly to do so in one of the so-called "Human Nests" on offer at Treebones Resort. These hanging pods, which suspend you on a hillside above the coast, are reasonably priced, at nightly rates of about $150 to start.
Cappadocia Cave Suites, Turkey
The Turkish region of Cappadocia is famous for a number of things, namely hot air balloon rides and obscene rocks whose phallic shapes are actually natural. What you might not realize until you arrive in Goreme, the region's principal city, is that the area is also famous for its cave, which you can experience quite personally if you stay at Cappadocia Cave Suites. Although it's styled as a boutique/luxury development, rates here are rock-bottom and often hover below $100 per night.
Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore
These days, amazing city hotels in Asia are a dime a dozen, from Bangkok, to Tokyo, to Ho Chi Minh City. But when Singapore's Marina Bay Sands Hotel opened in 2010, it set standards many hotels still struggle to meet today. Namely, its skyline-view infinity pool, which is large enough to land an Airbus A380 aircraft. You can stay here for around $275 per night, although the hotel also sells rooftop passes for a fraction of that, if you just want to experience the view.