Vacation Wakeup Call: These Weird, Wonderful, Good-Value Hotels

Fireside Resort's Wheelhaus "Wedge" tiny house: 400 square feet inside, 100 outside.


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Are you the adventurous type, and always up for something different?
Then maybe, for your next vacation, you want to stay someplace that's not a predictable, four-walls-and-a-minibar kind of hotel room.

We've Got Some Out-of-the-Boxy Rooms for You!

The hotel rooms in this story are definitely not the same-old. While most are not quite the last word in luxury, they're so refreshing, they will do for you what a luxury hotel hopes to do: take you beyond an ordinary experience.

First Up: Fireside Resort, Where You Can Stay in A Tiny House 

Who'd have thought that tiny houses would become a trend? They're so popular that there's a whole About Small Spaces site about "living small."

Downsizing has its appeals, but could you make such a radical move? There's an easy way to find out without taking a plunge you may regret: take a tiny house vacation.
• No, I don't mean a hotel room in New York City or Paris, where you have to scramble across the bed to get to the window
• I mean an adventurous hotel offering compact accommodations

Stay in a Tiny House You Can Buy One Of: Fireside Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Fireside Resort is a flavorful Western getaway. It's set a few minutes from year-round mountain destination Jackson Hole and glorious Grand Teton National Park.

Every Room Here Is a Tiny House

Fireside Resort offers unusual accommodations: 20 tiny-house cabins by Wheelhaus, set in the Wyoming forest.
• The cabins are 400 square feet with additional covered deck space
• Their configuration: bedroom with king bed, living room with hide-a-bed, kitchen, bathroom

Who and what is Wheelhaus? It's a popular maker of handsome, modern, ready-made tiny houses for people who have committed to the less-is-more lifestyle.

Pack Light and Try Tiny House Living

The benefit to staying at Fireside: if you love the Wheelhaus tiny house you're in, you can have one of your own delivered to you, at a surprisingly reasonable price.

01 of 05

Natural High: Out'n'About "Treesort" (Tree-House Resort) in Oregon

©Out'n'About Treesort

The Original Branch: Out'n'About Treesort

Out'n'About Treesort describes itself as "a bed-and-breakfast in the trees."

Not a Mere Cabin in the Woods: Here, the Woods Are in the Cabin

Out'n'About Treesort is set in the green valley of Cave Junction in southwestern Oregon, abutting the Siskiyou National Forest.

Here, life literally revolves around trees. Of Out'n'About's 16 accommodations, four are circular wood cabins in the trees, accessible by wooden stairs and suspended walkways
• What makes them treehouses? These cabins wrap around the trunk of a towering evergreen or shade tree
• Treehouses sleep from two to six and are bargain-priced

Other Out'n'About cabins are built high off the ground amidst trees that poke through rooms. Other accommodations are simply cabins in the woods.

When You Climb Down from Your Treehouse...

There’s a lot do to on Out'n'About's 36-acre property.
• Tree-to-tree zipline, tree-climbing, Tarzan swings, horseback riding, river rafting, mountain biking and hiking, swimming in a natural rock pool, and (of course) tree climbing
• Every night, guests gather at a communal bonfire

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02 of 05

Get Sleepy in a Tipi in Moab, Utah: About as Earthy as it Gets

©Trent Bona

In Moab, You Want to Be Close to Nature

Moab, Utah, is one of the most glorious Red Rocks landscapes in the scenic American West. Here, you want to be as as close to the great outdoors as you can get, and not be stuck inside a hotel.

The Best Place to Get Your Zzz's

Moab Under Canvas lets you do that. This is a luxury camp with a range of close-to-the-earth accommodations.
• Most of the lodgings are canvas tent cottages. And some of those tents are tipis

Tipis: Tents for Fewer Pence

The bargain at Moab Under Canvas is tipi tent rentals.
• Formerly called "teepees," these are the iconic conical tents shown in Western movies
• They are one-pole construction, with a round base and covered floor
• For centuries, tipis housed nomadic, tribal hunter-gatherers on the American Plains

Could You Get Sleepy in a Tipi? What They're Like

Moab Under Canvas tipis offer natural living...not austere living.
• If you can get comfortable camping under a tent, you will like these tipis
• They're popular with families visiting Moab Under Canvas: the folks stay in a luxury tent, the kids in a tipi alongside the tent

Tipi tents sleep two comfortably, but can accommodate four.
• You can choose your bed: either a narrow camp cot or a soft sleeping bag
• Pillows, blankets, and towels are provided
• Furnishings are minimal: two folding "safari chairs," a small table, and a lantern

But Forget the "Ensuite Bathroom"

Moab Under Canvas tents include bathrooms. For tipi guests, the john is a short walk away.
• But they're fully equipped, even with spa products for post-shower

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03 of 05

New-Generation Hippie Heaven: Stay in a Yurt on Big Sur's Pacific Shore

©Treebones Resort

Do Getaways Get Groovier than a Yurt in Big Sur?

Decide for yourself at TreeBones Resort, perched over the Pacific on Northern California's oft-filmed cliffs. The panorama is stirring and the lodgings are unique: yurts.

So a Yurt Is...

Treebones' accommodations are 16 yurts: circular, tent-roofed cottages patterned after the originals favored by Mongolian nomads.

Yurts are roomy and comfy, with queen beds, electricity, heaters, a sink with hot and cold running water. (However, toilets and showers are a couple of minutes' walk.)
• Yurts offer spacious decks big enough for two lounge chairs or two yoga mats
• Decks overlook the ocean or mountains

It's a Green Scene at Treebones
Treebones is a committed eco-resort for travelers intent on leaving a minimal footprint.
• An example: guests are discouraged from bringing botted water; Treebones filters and supplies crisp H2O

Treebones Is a Social Whirl
Treebones is very convivial; yurt people have a bond. The scene is mellow and friendly:
• At the restaurant and sushi bar
• And in the ocean-view heated pool and hot tub
• Guests often join up to go ocean kayaking or hiking

For Inner Peace...
• Some Treebones guests just want to laze in their yurt or on their deck
• Or de-stress in the spa yurt

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04 of 05

The Luxury Is In Tents at The Resort at Paws Up in Montana

©The Resort at Paws Up

The Resort at Paws Up in Montana: "Luxury Wilderness Camp"

The Resort at Paws Up offers the best of two Western worlds: cowboy life...and luxury-hotel trappings.

A River (that River) Runs Through It
The resort sits on a 37,000-acre working ranch in majestic Western Montana. "A river runs through it": the same Blackfoot River as in the Brad Pitt movie by that name.

Cabin or Tent, Luxury Traveler?
Paws Up's accommodations are super-luxurious, yet still retain rustic Montana charm.
• You can stay in 28 deluxe (and dog-friendly) cabins...
• Or in 30 tents that pretty much define the "glamping" concept (yes: glamour camping)

What Makes a Tent a Luxury Tent?

At Paws Up, no two tents are alike, and they have names, nut numbers.
• Tents are sized for couples or for families (sleeping four)
• They are spacious and decorated in classic Rockies style
• They all offer heating and air-conditioning if you want it
• Bathrooms have heated floors; some feature soaking tubs with whirlpool jets
• In every way, cabins and tents fit the definition of true luxury hotel rooms

Foodies Are Happy at Paws Up

Groups of six tents -- riverside, creekside, mountain-view -- have their own restaurant and a bonfire pit for nightly s'mores.
Paws Up's main restaurant is critically renowned. Guests love it, too.
• It has ranch attitude, sophisticated Western cuisine, and a notable wine list.
• Riverside barbecues happen weekly, and special dinners and events are frequent

Wild-West Recreation
Recreation covers over 30 Western outdoor activities including fly-fishing on the river, jet-skiing on the lake, and trail-riding on a gentle horse through wild terrain.
• Soothe tired muscles in the spa. It's a cluster of tents, and one has your masseur in it

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05 of 05

Treehotel: Architectural Amazements + Northern Lights in Sweden's Far North


Treehotel: An Architectural Manifesto and a Super-Cool Place to Stay

Treehotel in Sweden is a destination for eco-travelers and adventurers.
• It is set in a virgin pine forest in the Lule River Valley very near the Arctic Circle in Lapland (Sweden's northernmost terrain)
• Every season here is magnificent, including the long, snowy winter

The Six "Did I Dream This?" Treerooms at Treehotel

Treehotel's six unique "treerooms" are elevated stuctures with distinctive style.
• Each was designed by a progressive Scandinavian architect, and each is visually riveting
• Each is conceptual: Birds' Nest really is made of branches, and Mirror Cube reflects forest and sky

Yet inside, treerooms are very comfortable.
• Many have walls of windows
Possibly the World's Most Private Hotel Room

Spotted in Sweden: the UFO shown, a Treehotel room.
• The UFO has a flat floor (don't worry)
• And a retractable staircase
• So don't expect to wake up to a room-service breakfast!

If and When You Leave Your Treeroom...

You may never want to leave your Treehotel digs. But if you do, Nordic excitement awaits.
• Tree Sauna holds eight, and the Forest Spa's fire-heated outdoor tub seats two
• A social area hosts dining and lounging (one specialty: Swedish vodka with sweet local pine syrup)

This Is a Winter Fun-derland

Outdoor recreation is year-round in the Lile River Valley.
In winter, Treehotel guests can...
• Hike on snowshoes to gawk at the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)
• Go cross-country skiing -- pulled by a shaggy Nordic horse
• Take a snowmobile safari

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