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The Most Adventurous Places to Rest Your Head


April 2014

Haley Shapley


Comfort and the call of the wild aren’t mutually exclusive at these spots around the world, where you can sleep soundly while still getting in a dose of adrenaline.

Chiang Rai, Thailand photo

Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort

Chiang Rai, Thailand

How often can you say you met the others staying at your resort, and they happened to be elephants?

In the lush jungle of northern Thailand, Anantara Golden Triangle offers a packed schedule of pachyderm activities. Learn to drive an elephant with a mahout (an elephant keeper), ride atop one of the gentle giants to participate in the ritual of river bathing, work with the resident veterinarian to conduct a health check and feeding, trek through bamboo on the back of one of your new friends, and even try some yoga poses while up to nine feet in the air.

The accommodations are no less awe-inspiring, with teakwood floors, terrazzo tubs, beautiful balconies, and lovely robes to snuggle in after an exciting day of mahout training.


Sala, Sweden photo

Sala Silvermine

Sala, Sweden

Sleep more than 500 feet below the surface of the earth when you book a night at Sala Silvermine. It’s cold, it’s damp, it’s dark—and it’s an experience unlike any you’ve ever had before.

It all starts with an elevator ride into the depths of the mine, which takes four minutes and 13 seconds. Upon arrival, you’ll get a guided tour of the mine; all galleries and cavities were excavated by hand from the 16th to 20th centuries. After that, the guide leaves you alone to enjoy a basket of goodies (think cheese, fruit, sparkling wine and chocolate) and the quiet of the mine. In the morning, you’ll get breakfast before you head up to ground level to rejoin the world.

“Most guests that stay the night are amazed by the safety they felt when sleeping in a bedrock 155 meters underground; most of them say they slept surprisingly well,” says Maaike Ouwehand, who works at the mine. “Slightly claustrophobic guests are usually very proud of the fact that they managed to stay the night in our hotel and mostly comment that it was not at all as bad as they had expected.”


Free Spirit Sphere photo

Free Spirit Spheres

Qualicum Beach, British Columbia, Canada

A twist on the idea of a tree house, Vancouver Island’s Free Spirit Spheres are designed to spiritually connect visitors with their location right in the middle of the forest. Eve, Eryn and Melody, as they’re known, seemingly float in the air, undulating only slightly in the breeze from their tethered location.

Made from materials like cedar, black walnut, and Sitka spruce, the orbs feature amenities such as a built-in speaker system, spiral staircases outside, comfy duvets, and round windows. What you won’t find are TVs or other distractions—here, it’s all about being immersed in the surrounding environment, just as if you’re another pinecone swinging from the branches of one of those conifers.


Saariselka, Finland photo

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort

Saariselkä, Finland ‎

While Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort offers a variety of accommodations, from log cabins to a traditional Lapland house, it’s the glass igloos that are arguably the most picturesque of all — and will give you gorgeous views of the night sky from the comfort of beneath your covers. You may even catch the northern lights, which make an appearance here 200 days a year.

Under the clear glass dome, cozy up in a room for two or four that’s blissfully heated. For a true Scandinavian experience, head to the resort’s smoke saunas by the river, one of which is the largest smoke sauna in the world. Once it gets too warm, you’re encouraged to take a dip in the river and start the process over again. “Don’t worry if it’s frozen over,” the website says. “We’ll cut a hole in the ice.”


Moab, Utah photo

Moab Under Canvas

Moab, Utah

Opening April 4, Moab Under Canvas will offer luxury camping at its finest in one of the country’s most outdoorsy places: Moab, Utah. Popular as a jumping-off point for mountain biking, climbing, and whitewater rafting down the Colorado River, the location is also close to the entrances of both Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park.

“Moab is a special place to stay all in itself, but being able to enjoy the desert firsthand, sleeping out in it amongst the stars, is truly unique,” says Sarah Dusek of Moab Under Canvas. Even the most basic tents come with camp cots, mattress padding, sleeping bags, pillows, blankets, towels, safari chairs and a lantern, while the most luxurious option includes private en suite bathrooms with spa products, a lounge area with a sofa bed, a wood-burning stove and a raised wood floor that stretches out to a private patio.


Pemba Island, Zanzibar photo

The Manta Resort Underwater Room

Pemba Island, Zanzibar

Normally sleeping with the fishes isn’t good—but at East Africa’s Manta Resort, it’s an experience you’ll happily live to tell about.

Opened late last year, the special suite is three stories, with a rooftop deck up top, a lounge area at sea level and a bedroom that plunges beneath the Indian Ocean. By day, dive or snorkel around your abode, laze on the white-sand beach or go on an excursion to the ancient Ngezi Forest in search of the Pemba flying fox, which isn’t found anywhere else in the world.

By night, watch from the comfort of your bedroom as fish, squid and octopuses swirl through the waters outside your window in what might feel something like an aquarium in reverse.

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