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Why stay in a normal hotel when you can have an extraordinary experience at one of the many themed lodging options around the country? From sleeping inside the world’s largest beagle to staying aboard a historic ship, these seven hotels offer some of the coolest accommodations in America.
Chattanooga Choo-Choo, Chattanooga, Tennessee
Train buffs shouldn’t miss their chance to stay at the Chattanooga Choo-Choo. Guests can pick a room in the historic station or even sleep inside one of the historic Pullman train cars. When Terminal Station opened in 1909, it was the first train station in the South. Converting it (and the trains) into a hotel and entertainment center was part of a massive preservation project to maintain the site, and one of the city’s first historic restorations. The whole complex — which includes suites, restaurants, bars, and shops — was even added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
The Queen Mary, Long Beach, California
In 1936, the passenger ship Queen Mary made her maiden voyage — a five-day trip across the north Atlantic. She would carry travelers for the next three years before becoming a troop ship for World War II in 1939. In 1947, the Queen Mary was retrofitted to be an ocean liner again; she ran that way until 1966, when she was sold to a resident in Long Beach. Shortly after, the ship permanently docked in Long Beach and transformed into a 347-room hotel, complete with self-guided historical exhibits and paranormal tours.
Library Hotel, New York, New York
The Dewey Decimal System, once the main method of organizing library books, has mostly disappeared in today’s modernized libraries. But that card catalog has made a comeback at the Library Hotel in Manhattan. Each of the rooms is stocked with relevant books according to its floor number’s Dewey Decimal category. There are 10 floors and 10 categories, and more than 6,000 books on the property. Language rooms, for example, are on the fourth floor, which cover Dewey Decimal numbers 400.001 to 400.006. The seventh floor is for the arts, and covers numbers 700.001 to 700.006. And the top floor, for religion, is arranged by numbers 1200.001 to 1200.006.
The Shady Dell, Bisbee, Arizona
If you’ve always wanted to try out trailer life but don’t have an RV, book a reservation at The Shady Dell. This 1950s-themed trailer park hotel is a collection of 11 vintage RVs, one vintage yacht, and one 1947 Airporter bus. A stay in one of the trailers (or the yacht or bus) is complete with ‘50s kitsch and period-appropriate ephemera. You get a percolator instead of a coffee pot, a charcoal grill to cook over, and a classic, formica diner. It’s a historic location too. The trailer court first opened in 1927 as a place for fatigued travelers to stop and rest with their own RVs or tents.
Saint Kate, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
As one of Milwaukee’s newest boutique hotels, Saint Kate caters to art aficionados and guests in search of a trendier atmosphere. The hip hotel is named after Saint Catherine, the patron saint of artists. In addition to 219 art-focused guest rooms, Saint Kate also has exhibition and gallery spaces, as well as a theater with its own troupe that entertains guests with pop-up performances around the hotel. Five rooms at the hotel were designed completely by local artists, so you'll feel like you’re stepping into the creative process when you enter your suite. Plus, every room comes with drawing paper, an instrument, a record player, and art and design books.
Dog Bark Park Inn, Cottonwood, Idaho
Love dogs? How about a stay inside the world’s largest beagle? Dog Bark Park Inn in Idaho came to life in 1997 when married couple Dennis Sullivan and Francis Conklin decided to take their professional wood-carving skills to the next level. Their dog sculptures were featured on QVC network in 1995, and sales took off, so the couple set to work creating a dog-themed bed-and-breakfast, where you can literally sleep inside the beagle’s belly.
The Clown Motel, Tonopah, Nevada
The Clown Motel has been dubbed many things throughout its history: America’s scariest motel, a traveler’s worst nightmare, and just plain creepy (to name a few). The motel, which was built in 1985, has more than 2,000 clowns on the premises — and is located right next to an abandoned graveyard. Clown Motel wasn’t built to be a scary place though. It was initially opened in memory of Clarence David, the owners’ father, who died in a nearby mine and is buried in the abandoned cemetery. David loved clowns. His collection of 150 clowns became a theme in the motel. The collection had grown to about 800 clowns by 2017, when new owner (and clown lover) Hame Anand bought the property. He brought about 200 more clowns with him, and the collection has continued to grow. Oh, and the motel is also apparently haunted by multiple ghosts. Spend the night if you dare.