Sleeping in Trash, Trains & Drains: 14 Recycled Hotels


When you’re in search of a romantic honeymoon spot or comfortable lodging after a long day of travel, sewage pipes, harbor cranes and the county jail probably aren’t at the top of your list. But believe it or not, such structures have been transformed into fun, quirky and sometimes stunning hotels. From a former research lab at the bottom of the sea to a Boeing 727, these unusual recycled and upcycled hotels offer up one-of-a-kind accomodations.

Boston’s Liberty Hotel in a Former Jail


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Prison inmates once wasted their lives away in these rooms. Today, affluent travelers pay top dollar to occupy them. The Liberty Hotel in Boston was converted from the historic  Charles Street Jail in a stunning $150 million restoration that preserved vestiges of the jail cells within common areas like the lobby and the appropriately named ‘Clink’ bar and restaurant.

Controversy Inn: Reclaimed Trams


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How fun is this colorful Netherlands hotel made of four recycled trains? Named for the ‘Controversy Farm’ where the hotel is located, the inn features reclaimed trams that once rode the rails in Germany and Amsterdam and now house themed rooms packed with eco-friendly recycled details like tabletops made from old traffic signs.

Hotel Made From Beach Garbage, Rome


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A sharp contrast to the elegant white columns of the Vatican behind it, the ‘Save the Beach’ hotel is Rome’s trashiest – and it’s proud of that designation. The temporary hotel was built entirely from garbage collected on European beaches and erected on one of the dirtiest beaches in Rome. 12 tons of trash were used to create three bedrooms and two bathrooms, and highlighted some of the weird materials that get dumped on beaches, with mannequin legs and musical instruments among the bits sighted in the walls.

Drain Pipes at the Das Park Hotel, Austria


(images via: dasparkhotel)

Sewage pipes might seem like the last place you’d ever want to sleep, and most of the time, there’s good reason for that. But it’s a different story at Das Park Hotel in Austria, where three of these massive concrete drain pipes have been reclaimed for use as extremely compact lodging. There’s no bathroom and it’s definitely not for the claustrophobic, but it’s fun and modern, and definitely a creative example of adaptive reuse.

Shipping Container Travelodge, UK


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Shipping containers are being reused in all kinds of awesome and unexpected ways, and one of the most practical yet is in the form of a hotel in the UK. Budget chain Travelodge built a clever modular shipping container hotel from 86 used containers that were fully pre-fabricated with walls, electric and bathrooms in place before being assembled onto a giant steel frame. The design is also easily disassembled, so once renovations are required, the containers can simply be replaced.

727 Airplane at the Costa Verde Resort, Costa Rica


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Since most airplanes end up rotting in bizarre plane graveyards when they’re no longer air-worthy, it’s always nice to see them get transformed into something new. At the Costa Verde Resort, guests can stay in a 1965 Boeing 727 that has been converted into a cozy two-bedroom suite with a kitchenette, dining room and private terrace. Perched on a platform 50 feet above the ground, guests can experience something like the sensation of flight, not to mention incredible views of the ocean.

De Vrouwe Stavoren Wine Cask Hotel, Austria


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It’s the ultimate getaway for oenophiles: a hotel made from upcycled wine casks that once held 14,500 liters of Beaujolais from a French chateau. Each cask holds two twin beds, and guests have access to adjoining bathrooms and sitting rooms.

Oil Rig Hotel & Spa Concept


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Abandoned oil rigs already sit and rot in oceans around the world, and many more will be decommissioned as we transition from heavy use of fossil fuels. So innovative ideas like the Oil Rig Hotel and Spa not only provide highly unusual and unique lodging and recreation on the water, but also prevent old oil rigs from being removed – which is done, at great hazard to sea life, by explosion. The concept, by Morris Architects of Houston, would feature 300 guest and luxury suites, event space, dining, shopping, entertainment, a casino, a fitness center and  more.

Dockside Crane Hotel, Netherlands


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Until 12 years ago, this harbor crane had a lot of work to do, unloading heavy timber on a daily basis. But the construction of a new harbor forced the crane into early retirement. Luckily, it found its niche as an extremely quirky 1-room speciality hotel. The guest room is in the former machine room and features a double bed, Eames chairs and a large screen television not to mention a commanding view of the harbor. Breakfast, which is included, comes up to the bedroom on an internal lift. But that’s not even the best part – you get to play captain in the working control room and spin the cabin around.

Holiday Inn Made of Recycled Key Cards


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Expert card stacker Brian Berg teamed up with Holiday Inn to create the most unlikely of hotels: a literal house of cards. And while Brian proves the strength of his creation by sitting on the bed, this hotel where even the toilet paper is made from recycled key cards isn’t actually available for sleeping. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting accomplishment using reclaimed materials. If laid end-to-end, the 200,000 cards used to create the structure would stretch 11 miles.

Hotel Monaco in a Former Post Office, Washington D.C.


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Patterned after the Roman Temple of Jupiter, the General Post Office building in Washington, D.C. has long been an architectural attraction in America’s capital city and is on the National Register of Historic Places. But now, Washington’s first all-marble building, built in 1839, is home to Hotel Monaco, a 183-room boutique hotel. The main post office area of the building was turned into the hotel lobby, which has retained the character of the building with all of its white columns. And in what was once the mail-sorting area, diners can sit down and enjoy a meal in the hotel restaurant.

Waitanic Patrol Boat Hotel


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Guests can choose between four rooms – the Titanic, Britanic, Honeymoon or Captain’s – in a grounded World War II patrol boat at the Waitanic Hotel, one of New Zealand’s most unusual offerings. Not only is this clever reuse of a boat that once detected submarines, guests get another wacky treat when they stay there – the owner, Billy Black, is a professional sheep shearer and performer who puts on a ‘Kiwi culture show’.

Research Station to Jules Undersea Lodge


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If you want to stay at the Jules Undersea Lodge, you’ll need scuba equipment. No kidding. Built in a marine research station, this hotel in Key Largo, Florida requires a 21-foot dive beneath the surface of the sea just to gain entrance. The station, which was once used to explore the continental shelf off Puerto Rico, now features a bedroom, a common room with a kitchenette, and a ‘wet room’ where divers surface, take off their gear and enjoy a hot shower. It’s even air-conditioned.

Hotel Icon in a Former Bank, Houston, Texas


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Built in 1911, the former Union Bank building is one of Houston’s most iconic architectural attractions – so is it any wonder that after a $35 million hotel conversion project, it’s now called Hotel Icon? This 135-room hotel retains the massive wooden counter of the old bank as its front desk, and the vault can be seen in the lobby.