Skip to main content

10 quirkiest hotels in Latin America

By Jill Becker, for CNN
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1820 GMT (0220 HKT)
A Boeing 727 fuselage houses a two-bedroom suite at the Costa Verde hotel in Costa Rica. A Boeing 727 fuselage houses a two-bedroom suite at the Costa Verde hotel in Costa Rica.
HIDE CAPTION
Costa Verde hotel (Costa Rica)
Montaña Mágica (Chile)
Palacio de Sal (Bolivia)
Lapa's Nest Tree House (Costa Rica)
EcoDome Patagonia (Chile)
Canopy Tower (Panama)
Quinta Real Zacatecas (Mexico)
Unique Hotel (Brazil)
Encuentro Guadalupe Antiresort (Mexico)
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Hotels shaped like volcanoes or built in old passenger jets among more unusual accommodation available in Latin America
  • The Lapa's Nest Tree House in Costa Rica features rooms perched above the rainforest floor in a guanacaste tree
  • The floors, ceilings and even the beds in Bolivia's Palacio de Sal are constructed out of salt

(CNN) -- Drainage tubes.

Waterfalls.

Bullrings.

These aren't features typically associated with hotels, but the most interesting places to stay in Latin America somehow make them work.

This group of hotels goes a few steps further than turndown service and a free breakfast lineup to make your stay memorable.

Tubohotel (Topoztlan, Mexico)

Modeled after the funky Dasparkhotel in Linz, Austria, the Tubohotel has transformed 20 concrete sewer pipes into minimalistic hotel rooms.

Artfully arranged in groups of three, the pipes are 8 feet wide and 11 feet long and outfitted with a queen-sized bed, desk light and fan.

Claustrophobic or amenities-driven travelers need not apply.

Tubohotel, Tlacaltipac Glorieta Kilometer 17 S/N, San Sebastian, Tepoztlan, Mexico; +52 739 395 3613; from $31 per night

Costa Verde (Quepos, Costa Rica)

In the dense forest along the western coast of Costa Rica lies the body of an old Boeing 727.

It's not the ominous remains of a flight gone wrong, but rather a luxury hotel suite.

Seats in an upright position at the Costa Verde hotel in Costa Rica.
Seats in an upright position at the Costa Verde hotel in Costa Rica.

Dangling over the side of a hill amid a selection of more traditional accommodations, the fuselage of the vintage 1965 jetliner has been remade into a two-bedroom rental complete with dining area, sitting room and a small wooden deck for spotting the toucans, howler monkeys and other jungle creatures.

The fuselage that encases the two bedrooms of the "727 Fuselage Home" suite is intact.

Apart from the distinctive shape of the portholes and curved ceiling, however, the interior feels more woodsy bungalow than aircraft.

Costa Verde, about a half mile from entrance to Manuel Antonio National Park, Quepos, Costa Rica; +506 2777 0584; 727 suite from $250 per night

Encuentro Guadalupe Antiresort (Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico)

"Luxury cabin" sounds like an oxymoron, but not when you're talking about the 20 designer shelters that make up this Baja California retreat.

Each sparse but chic unit includes king-size beds, ceiling fans and floor-to-ceiling windows.

The hotel is positioned among craggy terrain, so it blends in with the landscape of this fertile wine-growing region just 90 minutes south of San Diego.

Encuentro Guadalupe Antiresort Ctra. Tecate-Ensenada, kilometer 75, Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico; +52 646 155 2775; from $175 per night

Lapa's Nest Tree House, Barrio Bonito, Costa Rica

With six stories, four bedrooms, and two bathrooms, Lapa's Nest just might be the world's coolest tree house.

Built 60 feet up around a towering guanacaste tree in the rainforest of remote southern Costa Rica, this arboreal perch offers guests unexpected luxuries like warm showers and air-conditioning, not to mention a bird's-eye view of the native wildlife.

Lapa's Nest Tree House, 13 kilometers north of Puerto Jimenez, Barrio Bonito, Costa Rica; +508 714 0622; from $1,850 per week

Unique Hotel (Sao Paulo, Brazil)

Other than its name, what makes this hotel unique is its shape.

The work of Ruy Ohtake, one of Brazil's most talented architects, it's been said to resemble everything from a boat to a slice of watermelon, but the construction was simply an ingenious way to get around the city's building-height codes.

Inside, it's not all that different from any other upscale property, except perhaps for the rooms' circular windows and an odd transparent, retractable wall between the bed and the bathroom.

Unique Hotel, Av. Brigadeiro Luis Antonio, 4700, Jardim Paulista, Sao Paulo, Brazil; +55 11 3055 4700; from $370 per night

It\'s best not to lick the salty walks of Bolivia\'s Palacio de Sal.
It's best not to lick the salty walks of Bolivia's Palacio de Sal.

Canopy Tower (Gamboa, Panama)

This 12-room lodge rising above the treetops of Soberanía National Park has an unusual origin.

It was built by the U.S. Air Force in 1965 as a radar tower to help in the defense of the Panama Canal, and was later used for everything from controlling air traffic to aiding in the war on drugs. Today, it's a hotel and nature observatory.

The rooftop deck offers a 360-degree view of the forest below.

It's popular with birders hoping to catch a glimpse of the bicolored antbird, blue cotinga and other species that reside in the forest canopy.

Canopy Tower Soberanía National Park, 35 miles north of Panama City, Gamboa, Panama; +507 264 5720; from $120 per night (three-night minimum)

Palacio de Sal (Potosí, Bolivia)

You may be tempted to lick the walls at this oddball hotel, but please refrain.

Especially if you have high blood pressure.

That's because the entire thing is made of salt.

Billions of tons of it, in fact, all of which came from the nearby Salar de Uyuni salt flat (the world's largest).

The unusual building material was used to construct the floors, ceilings and almost everything in between, including the beds and the property's nine-hole golf course.

Breakfast comes with a bird\'s eye view at the Lapa\'s Nest Tree House in Costa Rica.
Breakfast comes with a bird's eye view at the Lapa's Nest Tree House in Costa Rica.

Palacio de Sal, Salar de Uyuni, Uyuni, Potosí, Bolivia; +591 68420888; from $135 per night

Montaña Mágica (Panguipulli, Chile)

It's a trek getting to this 13-room retreat in the middle of the Huilo-Huilo Biological Reserve, but make it and you'll be treated to a vine-covered, volcano-shaped lodge with daily eruptions that spew water down the side of the property.

Step indoors and the woodsy theme will have you feeling like you're inside a hallowed-out tree.

Given the look and feel of the place, you might think you'd be surrounded by hobbits, but your neighbors are actually the pumas, pygmy owls and other creatures that make their home in the forest.

Montaña Mágica, inside Huilo-Huilo Biological Reserve, 530 miles south of Santiago, Panguipulli, Chile; +56 2 233 559 38; from $200 per night

Quinta Real Zacatecas (Zacatecas, Mexico)

One look at this luxury hotel and it's not hard to imagine its previous incarnation as the Plaza de Toros San Pedro, a bullfighting arena dating to the nineteenth century.

Forty-nine suites now reside where the grandstand once stood and the ring where the matadors once battled beasts is now a charming courtyard.

All of it has been remade to appease hotel guests while preserving the structure's classic colonial style.

Quinta Real Zacatecas, Av. Ignacio Rayón 434, Col. Centro, Zacatecas, Mexico; +492 922 9104; from $126 per night

EcoCamp Patagonia (Torres del Paine, Chile)

Glamping meets sustainability at this cluster of igloo-shaped suites that house visitors exploring the rugged Patagonian plains with adventure outfitter Cascada Expediciones.

The domes are designed to mimic the dwellings of the nomadic Kaweskar tribe that once inhabited the area

Green features include low-emission woodstoves and state-of-the-art composting toilets.

There's also enough electricity to charge your camera, so you can snap plenty of pics of the incredible Torres del Paine landscape.

EcoCamp Patagonia, Torres del Paine National Park, approximately 200 miles north of Punta Arenas airport, Torres del Paine, Chile; +56 2 2923 5950; call for rates

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 0556 GMT (1356 HKT)
From Maastricht to Melbourne, these itineraries make bookish travelers look stylish.
July 29, 2014 -- Updated 0858 GMT (1658 HKT)
Good cocktails combine with spectacular views across rivers, cityscapes and oceans at these bird-level drinkeries.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1809 GMT (0209 HKT)
A California homeowner's nightmare has become a cautionary tale for those who rent their homes to strangers.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 0226 GMT (1026 HKT)
Cinema loves portraying the lives of expats. Sometimes it gets it right. Sometimes it casts Nick Nolte as a jungle king.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 0117 GMT (0917 HKT)
Don't be intimidated, says a local expert. Here's how to do China without the hassles
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1233 GMT (2033 HKT)
When your city has an unenviable reputation for insulting tourists and fleecing them for every cent, inviting hotel guests to pay what they want could be a risky move.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 0710 GMT (1510 HKT)
1937 Auto Union V16 Streamliner, Audi Museum, Germany
With factory tours and collections of stunning vintage prototypes, southern Germany is petrolhead paradise.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1344 GMT (2144 HKT)
Every tourist destination has a flip side, a season when prices go down and savvy, flexible travelers can score big savings.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 0711 GMT (1511 HKT)
A Marrakech lamp bazaar
Morocco's Red City is crammed with stunning gardens, shaded souks and steamy bath houses.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1652 GMT (0052 HKT)
Santo Stefano Island, Italy
Pristine beaches, unspoiled nature and few tourists -- a stretch on these former penal colonies is no longer a punishment.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 0749 GMT (1549 HKT)
Life in Joburg can be stressful. Luckily there are some exceedingly non-stressful places close by.
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 0907 GMT (1707 HKT)
Istanbul skyline
CNN's Ivan Watson pays homage to the city he's called home for the past 12 years.
China notches up another superlative achievement as a Nanjing-based artist creates the world's largest and longest anamorphic painting.
July 20, 2014 -- Updated 2002 GMT (0402 HKT)
In what is undoubtedly the world's "coolest" surf video, photographer Chris Burkhard endures freezing temperatures, blizzards and injury to capture Arctic waves and their riders.
July 17, 2014 -- Updated 0339 GMT (1139 HKT)
Few airline routes are as cutthroat as the one that travels between London and New York. It is the world's busiest route and there are few lengths airlines won't go to in the hopes of getting a piece of the action.
ADVERTISEMENT