Hotels And Beyond: 9 Ways To Sleep Around The World

A traveller’s field guide to the wild new world of lodging. | By Margaret Loftus & Others

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Free Spirit Spheres see all seasons among the tall trees of Vancouver Island along Canada’s west coast. Photo: Ferrari/Ace Pictures

Night at the Museum

Be An Exhibitionist

Why let kids have all the slumber party fun? Last August, New York’s American Museum of Natural History hosted an adults-only sleepover—complete with three-course dinner and curator presentation—in a spin-off of its hugely popular Night at the Museum series for kids. The roster for 2016 is on their website; meanwhile, more museums are rolling out the sleeping bags (amnh.org; $350/₹22,400).

Where To Find With stand-up comedy, a show on the sex lives of insects, a movie marathon, edible insect snacks, and a cash bar, the adult sleepover at London’s Natural History Museum, dubbed Dino Snores for Grown-Ups, feels more frat party than field trip (nhm.ac.uk; £180/₹18,000). The Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., keeps it to a dull roar by comparison, with a wine and cheese welcome, a keeper-led tour of the exhibits, and a tent (nationalzoo.si.edu; $130/₹8,300). The Rubin Museum in New York hosts a “dream-over” each May; last year’s participants slept next to a piece of art selected for them and, the next morning, had their dreams interpreted (rubinmuseum.org).

Best For Science and art nuts who fantasise about cuddling up to their favourite exhibits.

Caveat You can pretty much guarantee this won’t be the best sleep you’ve ever had.

Tip Keep an eye out for website announcements if you’re planning a trip to any of these cities. Some events sell out within hours.

Themed Holidays

Reel Living

For film buffs seeking lodging with a touch of drama, these suites bring alive famous reel experiences. Be warned: They’re not all shiny, happy movies.

Highland Park Hotel Bollywood

Hotel Highlands Park in Gulmarg is famous for its guestlist that has included Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma, Yash Chopra, and stars of the film “Bobby”. Photo: IP-Zero 03/Indiapicture

Ravla Khempur Rajasthan Hotel

Ravla Khempur is the haveli featured in the The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Photo: Rupert Sagar-Musgrave/Alamy/Indiapicture

Where To Find At the family-run Highlands Park in Gulmarg, Jammu and Kashmir, traditional Kashmiri hospitality meets celluloid history. The hotel’s Bobby suite isn’t just any-old hotel room—it’s the one in which Bollywood darlings Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia were locked up for the famous 1970s hit “Hum Tum Ek Kamre Mein Bandh Ho”. The hotel is a favourite among cinema fans and the Bollywood film fraternity, who often stay here while shooting against the backdrop of spectacular snow-covered slopes (www.highlandspark.in; doubles from ₹18,500). In contrast, Ravla Khempur, tucked away in the heart of Mewar, Rajasthan, is relatively unknown. It was just another heritage haveli until a bunch of ruddy, greying Englishmen and women propelled it into the big leagues. Stay here to relive scenes from the charming The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Like the characters, you too might encounter pigeons nesting outside your windows when you unlatch the shutters (www.ravlakhempur.com; doubles from ₹5,500). Far away in Oregon, U.S.A., Timberline Lodge was rendered legendary by Stanley Kubrick, who shot parts of his terrifying horror masterpiece The Shining here. Room 217, which features in the original Stephen King novel, is the most wanted room of them all (www.timberlinelodge.com; doubles from $245/₹15,700).

Best for Film enthusiasts and fans.

Caveat These hotels have film cred but may not be luxurious or have amenities like Wi-Fi.

Tip Watch the films before you visit so that the hotels come alive.

All-Inclusive Resorts

Paid, Sealed, Delivered

Most Indian travellers have at some point contemplated a hotel “package.” In India these usually include accommodation, a few meals, and a few extras thrown in. What we are not accustomed to is the “all-inclusive” concept made famous by resorts in the Caribbean. In theory, “all-inclusive” means that guests pay one price, and once they are lying by the resort’s infinity pool, they do not have to dip into their pockets—not for food, drinks, alcohol, or resort activities. Most loved by travellers who want a stress-free, tip-free, calculation-free holiday is the kind of resort that covers these key areas: meals that aren’t limited to the buffets but allow access to à la carte restaurants on-site, unlimited alcoholic and soft drinks, entertainment for children, some activity and spa treatments as well as night entertainment for adults, tips and gratuities.

Where To Find From Cancun, Mexico to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, the Caribbean region has hundreds of resorts offering all-inclusive deals. In Punta Cana, the very family-friendly The Reserve at Paradisus has thought of almost everything a family could wish for with meals and plenty of activities (www.paradisus.com; from $500/₹32,000 per day for a family of four sharing a suite). In Castries, St. Lucia, The BodyHoliday Resort is popular not least because the tariff includes a daily spa treatment, scuba diving, and tennis lessons(www.thebodyholiday.com; from $650/₹41,700 per couple). Also on St. Lucia is Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa & Beach Resort in Gros Islet, which gets the thumbs up for views and outstanding service from couples looking for a hassle-free, one-price-tag romantic break with unlimited water sports thrown in (www.sandals.com; from $590/₹37,800 per couple per night). Closer home in the Maldives the Centara Grand Island Resort & Spa reopens after a renovation. Its luxurious over-water villas are as much the attraction as its all-inclusive deals that keep adults and children occupied with water activities (www.centarahotelsresorts.com; from $2,874/₹1,84,300 for 3 nights for a couple). Less expensive is Meeru Island Resort and Spa which among other amenities has six bars and a 24-hour unlimited drinks policy; it could be just the place for those who can’t stop making merry (www.meeru.com; doubles from $317/₹20,000 per night for a couple).

St Lucia Caribbean Hotel Bodyholiday

Set in a private cove in St. Lucia in the Caribbean, The BodyHoliday has all the facilities and activities that holidaymakers have to come to expect from an all-inclusive resort. Photo courtesy BodyHoliday

Best For Lovers of sand, sea, and R&R and a hassle-free holiday where you know exactly how much you will spend.

Caveat Don’t expect five-star luxury if rates are super-cheap. If you don’t like buffet meals check in advance if your package allows à la carte meals at the resort’s restaurants.

Tip Always check the fine print. While resorts often fall over each other to provide more and more inclusions for guests, every resort does have some exclusions.

Appeared in the September 2015 issue as “9 Ways To Sleep Around The World”.

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