Agoda.com, one of Asia’s leading hotel booking sites and part of Nasdaq-listed Priceline Group (Nasdaq:PCLN), has released its annual list of Over The Top Hotels--properties that push the boundaries of creative accommodation.
“Over the top” can mean “luxury”, but it can often mean more. An Agoda.com over the top hotel is one that turns heads, offers unique takes on standard designs, and makes people want to update their social media accounts with photos and hashtags. From a lavishly decorated fairy tale-themed hotel in Italy, to a huge cement tree in Vietnam, to an unbelievable cliff-side villa in Thailand worthy of a James Bond film, these eight hotels prove that exciting and interesting accommodation never goes out of style, no matter where in the world you the travel bug takes you.
This hotel should appear in a Google image search as the definition of "over-the-top." This huge tree/castle structure seems to have been inspired by the fanciful drawings of Dr. Seuss. Built by a Vietnamese architect with a PhD from the Moscow University of Architecture, the interior of the Crazy House is full of twisting stone stairways and gnarled wooden furniture. Traditional architectural rules were jettisoned during construction. Cubes, curves, and uneven planes gleefully ignore classical building principles. Life-size (or bigger) statues of bears, kangaroos, and other animals tower in the corners. Outdoor terraces give great views of the surrounding neighborhood. Families with young children rave about the hours of fun to be had climbing and exploring.
Behind the scenes: Crazy House was originally called Hang Nga Villa, but changed its name when other “Hang Nga Villas” started opening, hoping to lure confused visitors away from the popular resort.
It’s only natural that the ultimate excess destination is home to one of Agoda.com’s OTT hotels. The brand new SLS Las Vegas stands on the same spot as the iconic Sahara once did, leading the revitalization of an older area of the famous Vegas strip. Crafted by legendary artist and designer Philippe Starck (and rock star Lenny Kravitz, who helped with some of the rooms), the hotel caters to the eccentric and detail oriented crowds that flock to Vegas for a one-of-a-kind experience. The rooms are monochromatic pink; world-class restaurants invite patrons to dine inside giant samurai helmets; and several nightclubs offer everything from intimate live music acts to thumping discos with acrobats performing high overhead. To take things to the next level, opt for the “Sultry Little Scandal” package for two, including two nights in a King Suite, VIP tables, drinks, and a specially curated dinner at one of the world-class restaurants onsite.
Behind the scenes: SLS Hotel is overseen by Sam Nazarian, who was the youngest executive ever featured on the prestigious Top 100 Most Powerful People in Southern California list. He’s also a part-time movie producer.
Rising up from Abu Dhabi’s legendary Rub’ al Khali (Empty Quarter) like a classic mirage, the Qasr al Sarab Desert Resort is isolated, mysterious, and completely captivating. Resembling an ancient desert castle, guests can gaze across mile upon mile of rolling sand dunes in every direction. With only small hamlets for neighbors, the Milky Way is so bright at night it nearly casts shadows. The hotel’s 206 rooms are decorated in rich fabric and jeweled chandeliers, while the outdoor pool provides a perfect oasis amid the dunes – especially at night under the stars. The hotel can also arrange exciting outings, from horse and camel riding, land sailing, falconry, archery, and dune bashing.
Behind the scenes: Being in the middle of the desert, the Qasr al Arab Desert Resort takes the environment seriously, with great effort put into water & energy conservation, waste management, and recycling.
Have you ever stayed in a hotel that has no physical footprint? Imagine sitting in a classic London pub and answering the question “where are you staying mate?” with “In the middle of the Thames”. While this may be stretching the truth it is close to what you get on the 394ft Sunborn Yacht Hotel, which was purpose-built for its location at the Royal Victoria Dock. The luxury craft with 183 rooms on 5 levels, meeting rooms, a theater, and bar is as distinct a location to sleep as you’re likely to find in London. Rooms are large and offer great maritime views, and guests can choose to explore the city or stay onboard to try signature dishes at the Land’s End restaurant. Take a standard suite or splurge on an executive suite, which offers a private sundeck, marble bathroom, and fully equipped media center. From the rooftop bar, enjoy a 360° view, including planes taking off and landing at London City Airport.
Behind the scenes: The Royal Victoria Dock opened in 1855 and was the first in the UK designed specifically to accommodate large steam ships. It finally stopped operation in 1980.
Opulent, elegant, and most definitely over the top, Moon Shadow Villa, on Thailand’s famous island of Ko Samui, takes luxury escape to a whole new level. Perched on a cliff overlooking the deep blue of the Gulf of Thailand, guests can have a morning dip in the infinity pool, enjoy breakfast cooked to order by the chef, and take in the view from the private garden or the 180° terrace. Adventurous? Use the private guest relations manager to arrange elephant rides, waterfall visits, island hops, golf rounds, and snorkeling trips. There’s even a private airport pickup to take you right to the front door. And talk about exclusive – Moon Shadow Villa sleeps only eight people, making it the perfect getaway for a group of friends or a family wanting to turn a standard vacation into an unforgettable experience.
Behind the scenes: The Moon Shadow Villa was winner of the prestigious 2013 Thai Property Award for Best Villa Architectural Design.
If there was one word to describe this hotel, we think that “lavish” would just about do it. The castle-inspired Chateau Montfort sits in the heart of Milan – itself the heart of fashion, art, architecture and culture – and is designed to evoke the fairy tales that we all grew up with. From the ornate wallpaper to the colorful velvet furniture, to a brick dungeon behind an iron gate, it’s likely that guests will choose to explore the hotel before heading into the city. The wine cellar hosts meat, cheese, and wine tastings, as well as romantic dinners by candlelight (next to a water fountain in the shape of Bacchus, god of wine, naturally). For something extra romantic, opt for the two-hour couples spa package in the Turkish spa which includes a caldarium, ice fountain and chromotherapy pool.
Behind the scenes: The Chateau Montfort hotel is pet friendly, and offers a unique pet lounge, special treats, and even the contact details of the nearest veterinarian, just in case.
It’s hard to pick just a single OTT element of Resorts World Sentosa. From Universal Studios to Dolphin Island to the Trick Eye Museum, there is something here for everyone. But when it comes to hotels, we have to go with the Ocean Suites, which take hotel room views to a whole new level. As the window blind ascends and the lights automatically dim, guests are rewarded with a stunning underwater floor-to-ceiling view into the 45 million-liter Marine Life Park aquarium. Scuba divers move around monitoring the 800+ species that glide lazily through the water, from fish to sharks to huge manta rays. If the marine view from your bed isn’t enough, slip into a warm bath at the window’s edge, or head upstairs for some fresh air on the private patio with Jacuzzi.
Behind the scenes: If the view from your room isn’t enough, get really close to the fish with the Sea Trek Adventure, which lets you strap on a breathing helmet and head underwater.
From Over The Top we go Under The Top, to a hotel that can genuinely claim to be millions of years old. Before there were humans looking for rooms, this area of Turkey was roiling with active volcanos. But after a bit of cooling down, the sedimentary rock made a perfect location for Bronze Age people to dig into, carving homes, churches, farms, and entire towns – all underground. The same spaces are still used today, and the Miras Hotel Cappadocia puts a gorgeous, modern touch on the ancient underground dwellings. Each of its 8 rooms are individually decorated using local materials, with mythological reliefs, shelving and even some furniture carved right into the walls. Heating or air conditioning isn’t needed, as the natural rock keeps the hotel cool in summer and warm in winter. Meals on the terrace are a gorgeous way to begin or end the day, surrounded by intricate stone towers and looking across the ancient village of Goreme.
Behind the scenes: There have been many reports of construction workers in this area unexpectedly stumbling on underground rooms, passageways or even entire towns that had been abandoned centuries ago and forgotten about.
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