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Planes, Treehouses and Giraffes: Taking Hotels to New Heights.
By Jennifer Collins ~ Weekly Exclusive - Global Views On Recent Trends
Monday, 24th February 2014

Exclusive Feature: A comfortable, clean and central place to crash at the end of a day's exploring – that's what most travellers look for in a hotel, but with increasing competition from alternative accommodation sites like Airbnb, some hotels are trying to set themselves apart by becoming a destination in themselves.

Boutique and themed hotels aren't necessarily a new phenomenon but holidaymakers are increasingly looking for that new "experience" to give their stay an edge, perhaps, let's say, by being greeted by a giraffe over breakfast. And in Nairobi's Giraffe Manor, holidaymakers can do just that.

Giraffe Manor bills itself as "the only hotel in the world where you can eat breakfast with giraffe". (Unbeknownst to many, Giraffes are actually riveting conversationalists and have immaculate table manners).

Set in 12 acres of private land within 140 acres of indigenous forest, the former stately home was originally built in 1932 by David Duncan, a member of the British Mackintosh toffee family. It's now a hotel and sanctuary to the endangered Rothschild Giraffe.

A herd roams around the hotel grounds, sometimes greeting occupants at the front door and occasionally popping their heads through bedroom windows.

For holidaymakers who prefer to keep wildlife at a safer distance, there's always the option of spending the night in a jumbo jet – on the ground. The re-purposed Boeing 747-212B jet was built in 1976 and was last operated by Transjet, a Swedish airline that went bankrupt in 2002.

It's been operating as cheap but quirky accommodation since 2008, after it was bought and converted by hostel-owner Oscar Dioes.

"I was getting ready to expand my hostel business in 2006 when I heard about an old wreck of an aircraft for sale at Arlanda," explains Oscar Dioes on the Jumbo Stay website. "Since I had for a long time wanted to establish my business at Arlanda I didn’t hesitate for a second when this opportunity struck."

The hostel has 27 rooms, including one luxury suite in the cockpit with a panoramic view of the airport and is definitely one for the aerophile.

Still, travellers really hoping to take their vacation to new heights can always stay in a tree house. TreeHouse Point in Seattle is one such offering. Located in a dense forest close to the city, the bed and breakfast boasts five rustic tree houses to stay in.

TreeHouse Point is run by Pete Nelson, who has been building tree houses for 20 years since he first picked up a hammer and screwdriver at five-years-old. He and his wife say they wanted to connect people with nature and give them the fun opportunity to spend the night in a tree house and decided to embark on the project.

However, even if you're a no-frills hotel, it's still possible to offer visitors something a little different. That's exactly what Andreas Strauss did when he first opened Das Park Hotel in Ottensheim, Austria.

Visitors pay on a discretionary basis to stay in concrete tubes, constructed from concrete drain pipe sections, which they say are surprisingly comfortable. Each tube comes with a double bed, a light, electricity, blanket and sleeping bag. It's far from luxurious but the idea has proven so popular that a second location has opened in Essen, Germany.

Jennifer Collins is a reporter based in Berlin, Germany. She previously worked as a local journalist and arts and culture editor in her home town of Dublin, Ireland and now works with journalists around the world as part of the international journalism organisation, Associated Reporters Abroad. Jennifer enjoys travelling slowly, mainly by train, sampling local street food and people-watching from cafes in far-flung lands.
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