20 most unique hotels in the West

Try an overnight in a treehouse, a vintage trailer, a hanging orb, and more unusual sleeps

Hotel Endémico

Photo by Luis Garcia

Hotel Endémico, Baja, Mexico

Hotel Endémico’s modular bungalows are a sleek departure from Baja’s über-resorts. Scattered across a hillside in Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe, the 20 cabins sit in the heart of an upcoming wine country, where the warm, dry climate produces fascinating wines like Tempranillo. Sip one by the kiva on your private terrace, strategically placed to soak up the views. That is, when you’re not at the pool, taking a cooking class, or learning how to make your own wine. From $200 U.S.; 90 minutes south of San Diego; call the hotel to arrange car service; www.grupohabita.mx

Free Spirit Spheres

Photo by Guy Soulliere; written by Faith Durand

Free Spirit Spheres, Vancouver Island, BC

Meet Eryn (pictured) and Eve, two oversize orbs made from Sitka spruce and yellow cedar that dangle from conifer trees like spiders from a web in a Vancouver Island rain forest. Free Spirit Spheres’ treehouses sway ever so slightly in a breeze, and were built for guests of the curious and ecologically minded sort. An outdoor composting toilet is a fair trade for the utter bird- singing peace that comes with hanging in a grove of cedar, fir, and maple. If you really love the orbs, you can buy one for your own backyard. Overnight stay from $118 U.S.; freespiritspheres.com or 250/757-9445

La Casa del Camino

Photo by Andrea M. Gómez; written by MacKenzie Geidt

La Casa del Camino, Laguna Beach, CA

You don’t have to be a surfer dude to enjoy the splashy surf suites at La Casa del Camino. They’re done up with wall-size underwater-photo murals, surfboards on the walls, pillows made of boardshorts material, and, in some cases, views of the crashing waves from the window.Pop up to the rooftop bar (the only one in town) for drinks and insanely gorgeous sunsets. From $229; lacasadelcamino.com or 949/497-2446. 

Rolling Huts

Written by Jaime Gross

Rolling Huts, Methow Valley, WA

Edged by a river, with views of the Cascades, are six glass-and-steel cottages that let you commune with nature, in comfort. Parked in the Methow Valley, each of the Rolling Huts is just 210 square feet, but picture windows and sunny decks make the mod space feel spacious. Sorry, you can’t really roll around; the wheels were a nifty design solution, allowing the huts to be built on land zoned for RVs. The modular living room furniture hides a secret: Separately, they’re a bench, table, and stools; pushed together, they form an extra bed. From $80; two-night minimum; rollinghuts.com or 509/996-4442

Sanitarium Bed & Breakfast

Written by Samantha Schoech

Sanitarium Bed & Breakfast, San Luis Obispo, CA

From the whitewashed walls and glass-doored cabinets, it’s easy to imagine the 1800s, when rattled patients checked into this sprawling Victorian for peace and quiet. But these days, stays at what’s now the Sanitarium Bed & Breakfast are enhanced by in-room massages, organic eggs, and claw-foot metal tubs that could fit a family of four. With spare simplicity and works by local artists, the rooms create a calm not found in a typical hotel. From $190; two-night minimum; thesanitariumspa.com or 805/544-4124

The Saguaro

Photo by Andrea Gómez Romero; written by Miranda Jones

The Saguaro, Palm Springs, CA

Drenched in a rainbow of 12 hues inspired by the colors of desert flowers, the hotel pops against the mountain backdrop, and the rooms, more fun than fancy, are splashed with color right down to the brightly striped bedding. The pleasures here aren’t purely visual—James Beard winner Jose Garces presides over both the hotel bar and restaurant. El Jefe is the place for Mexico City–style tacos, tortilla soup, and tequila flights in a kitschy biker-bar setting. Tinto is for finer dining, with Basque pintxos (tapas) like boquerones (marinated white anchovies) and chuleta (ibérico pork loin), and a hyper-regional Spanish wine list. From $149 (high-season rates from $249); thesaguaro.com

Verana

Photo and text by Thomas J. Story

Verana, Yelapa, Mexico

High above the Pacific and surrounded by leafy palms is V House, a cool lodging option at eco-swank Verana. While couples commandeer the pricier rooms, you and five friends can take over these secluded open-air trapezoids that stand on stilts on a hillside. The shared bathroom is a small price to pay for fresh-caught fish, views, and a spa. Access this paradise by boat--and a mule ride uphill if you're too lazy to walk. Nov - early Jun; V House $250, suites from $320; five-night minimum; verana.com or 866/687-9358

Shady Dell

Photo by David Fenton; written by Jennie Nunn

Shady Dell, Bisbee, AZ

Think of Lucille Ball in The Long, Long Trailer, and you’ll get the picture of the Shady Dell—a vintage aluminum-trailer park revamped into an inn, within the equally throwback town of Bisbee. Choose among nine fully furnished trailers, includ- ing a polished shiny 1949 Airstream dubbed the Bridal Suite because it displays black-and-white wedding albums; the 1959 Boles Aero (pictured), with a gold-flecked starburst pattern on its walls; and a tiki bus decked out in Polynesian fantasy. Happy hour here is like a tail-gate party, with new friends and croquet on the artificial-turf patio. The Dell’s itty-bitty Dot’s Diner ($; closed Wed–Thu) is itself worth a trip for burgers, milkshakes, and house-made cherry pie. From $45; theshadydell.com or 520/432-3567

TreeHouse Point

Photo by Andrea Gómez; written by Rachel Levin

TreeHouse Point, Snoqualmie Valley, WA

Julia Butterfly Hill certainly didn’t have it this good: built-in cedar beds, leather reading chairs, hand- made quilts. At TreeHouse Point, 10 minutes from Snoqualmie Falls, Pete Nelson has created a treehouse utopia—plus giant hammocks hung 18 feet high, trails leading to a rocky riverfront beach, and a night sky filled with stars that you feel just a smidge closer to. The Temple of the Blue Moon (pictured) is accessed by a swaying bridge that shakes the house when someone walks the planks. From $195, including breakfast; treehousepoint.com

Padre Hotel

Photo by Andrea M. Gómez; written by Jennifer Baldwin

Padre Hotel, Bakersfield, CA

Downtown is on the upswing, thanks partly to the swank Padre Hotel. Its cowboy motif gives a nod to the city’s ag and oil history, with giant murals of farm animals on the ceiling in the Farmacy Cafe ($),and wallpaper featuring oil derricks and mustaches. There’s also a bar and grill, formal dining room, Vegas-style nightclub, and rooftop deck. Stay overnight, or just pull off I-5 for a bite. From $119; thepadrehotel.com

Kokopelli’s Cave Bed & Breakfast

Photo courtesy of Kokopelli’s Cave Bed & Breakfast; written by Katie Arnold

Kokopelli’s Cave Bed & Breakfast, Farmington, NM

Carved into the side of a sandstone cliff, Kokopelli's Cave Bed &; Breakfast> is a fully furnished grotto, 70 feet underground. A narrow trail winds down from the mesa top to the 1,650-square-foot cave, which geologist-owner Bruce Black blasted out in the 1980s and opened a decade later. The decor is nothing fancy (think college dorm room meets the Flintstones) until you realize you're in a subterranean guesthouse, where anything that couldn't be carried in--hello, fridge!--had to be winched over the cliff face. The waterfall shower is a nice touch, but the biggest draw is the view of the La Plata River, 300 feet below, and the craggy spires of Shiprock on the horizon. Mar - Nov; from $260, including breakfast; www.bbonline.com/nm/kokopelli

Clear Lake Butte fire lookout

Photo courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service; written by Ted Katauskas

Clear Lake Butte fire lookout, Mt. Hood National Forest, OR

One of the world’s cheapest rooms with a (killer) view comes with a price: a four-hour uphill kick-and-glide over a groomed snowmobile trail. Destination? The historic fire lookout on Oregon’s Clear Lake Butte, one of dozens of U.S. Forest Service fire lookouts around the West. It has a full-size bed (BYO bedding for additional guests) plus a gas range for fixing dinner, a potbelly stove for staying warm— and a 360° panorama that’ll keep you mesmerized till it’s time to turn in. $50; www.fs.fed.us/r6/recreation/rentals; book at recreation.gov. For a list of fire lookouts around the West, check out firelookout.org/lookout-rentals.htm

Post Ranch Inn

Photo by Kodiak Greenwood

Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, CA

The hotel is a crazy-expensive, one-of-a-kind experience, but works hard for your money so you never feel nickeled-and-dimed. Ocean-facing rooms have an edge-of-the-world quality that no other Western hotel quite matches, and the sense of privacy is thrilling with a great yet mostly invisible staff and 25 buildings that melt into the hillside. Even more unique are the treehouse-esque cabins on stilts (pictured) nestled in the woods. Cliffside pools and private hiking trails let you revel in Big Sur's glorious landscape. And in addition to free yoga classes, snacks, drinks, and breakfast, you'll save on gas, seeing as you'd be nuts to leave here during your stay. From $595 year-round; 39 rooms & suites; postranchinn.com

Figueroa Hotel

Written by MacKenzie Geidt

Figueroa Hotel, Los Angeles, CA

Humphrey Bogart would fit right in at this cinematic Moroccan oasis in the middle of downtown's flurry. For a fun date night, catch a concert at the nearby L.A. Live entertainment complex before you head back to North Africa. $$; figueroahotel.com

The Charlie

Photo by Andrea M. Gómez; written by MacKenzie Geidt

The Charlie, West Hollywood, CA

Once upon a time, Charlie Chaplin lived on a compound of storybook English Tudor–style cottages surrounded by flowers and vines and even a wishing well—right in the middle of L.A. Flash forward, and now the estate is the Charlie: 14 secluded garden bungalows, from studios to fully loaded two-bedrooms, that feel both glam and gothic (in the best Norma Desmond kind of way). From $250; thecharliehotel.com

Venice Beach Eco Cottages

Photo by Eric Staudenmaier; written by MacKenzie Geidt

Venice Beach Eco Cottages, Venice, CA

The super-cute and cozy Venice Beach Eco Cottages have a sweet spot on a leafy street between Venice’s famous beach and the shops and restaurants along Abbot Kinney Boulevard. You'll feel right at home basking in front of the Victorian fireplace, sipping coffee at the sunlit breakfast banquette, and soaking in the red claw-foot tub. From $215; 3-night minimum; venicebeachecocottages.com or 866/802-3110

The Saguaro

The Saguaro, Scottsdale, AZ

The Saguaro hotel in Scottsdale has candy-colored accent walls, floaty white cabanas for siestas, and balconies that overlook bustling Old Town. Add in 100 kinds of tequila and real-deal Mexican barbecue at Distrito restaurant, and you have all the ingredients for the perfect getaway. From $189; 2-night weekend min.; jdvhotels.com

Santa Barbara Auto Camp

Santa Barbara Auto Camp, Santa Barbara, CA

Santa Barbara Auto Camp is the latest in a crop of quirky camper hotels around the West that have all the romance of the open road, with none of the heavy towing. In the heart of town, where reasonably priced rooms are rare, these five mod renovated trailers are enough to make an Airstream convert out of anyone. Each comes with two beach cruisers for touring the coast like a local. From $139; sbautocamp.com

Metro Hotel

Metro Hotel, Petaluma, CA

Two Bambi Airstreams sit in the plastic flamingo–filled garden of the French-themed Metro Hotel, about 15 minutes from Sonoma wineries. The aluminum-interior digs have all the amenities of a typical room—morning coffee and pastries, room and maid service, and flat-screens with surround sound—and the trailers are now the hotel’s most popular options. From $99; metrolodging.com

Hicksville Trailer Palace

Hicksville Trailer Palace, Joshua Tree, CA

The Hicksville Trailer Palace has eight kitschy trailers, including one with a ’70s theme and electric fireplace. There’s also an archery range, pool, and mini golf course opening soon. In nearby Landers, Kate’s Lazy Desert’s six vintage trailers, restored by The B-52s’ “Love Shack” video backdrop artists, are from another world, one where you live in a lava lamp. Hicksville: From $75; hicksville.com. Kate’s: From $175; lazymeadow.com

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