The Mohican Treehouse Resort Is one of several unusual accommodations. Photo by Chris McLelland@Mohican Media

It didn’t take Marge and Robert Allen long to agree that The Castle was a fitting name for the luxury suite in which they were staying.  The two-story lodging features an octagonal cherry ceiling and a handcrafted Amish-built spiral staircase leading up to a large loft area that is lit by a massive iron chandelier.

The loft, which is furnished with a luxury draped king-size bed, opens onto a balcony that provides a gorgeous view over the Mohican Valley in Ohio.  No wonder the hotel has been rated among the top 30 of its kind in the world.

“Its kind” refers to treehouse accommodations, and they are one of a number of unusual and unique places to stay that offer something more than typical bed and bath lodgings.

That certainly applies to the Mohicans Treehouse Resort in Glenmont, Ohio.

Along with cabins and country homes, this family-owned hostelry offers stays in accommodations perched off-ground, each of which has its own touches. The one named White Oak sleeps six guests and features a wraparound deck. Silver Bullet is a renovated classic Airstream trailer perched 22 feet high.

Treehouse interiors are surprisingly spacious
Treehouse interiors are surprisingly spacious. Photo by Chris McLelland@Mohican Media

Above-Ground Lodging Such as Treehouses and Fire Towers Can’t Compete With a Hotel Room

Another high-altitude sleeping experience awaits at abandoned fire towers that are available for rent.  Most of them were built during the 1930s and 1940s by the Civilian Conservation Corps to be manned by lookouts seeking to spot forest fires. They have largely been replaced by modern technology.

Fire towers present unique lodging options without a lot of amenities
Fire towers present unique lodging options without a lot of amenities. Photo by USDA Forest Service

They’re located in national forests, USDA Forest Service land and state parks. While rental rates are low, so are amenities.  Many turrets are located in a remote area, so visitors have to park and hike in, often carrying their own supplies and water.  Electricity and plumbing may be lacking, replaced by an outside pit toilet and cooking area.

Other places to overnight also have touches of the past. Covered wagons helped push the American frontier all the way to the Pacific Ocean until they were supplanted by the railroads in the 1850s.

It’s possible to recapture the nostalgia of that time at the True West Campground in Tennessee. Along with more traditional accommodations, it has covered wagons that offer some creature comforts of home that the pioneers lacked. These include comfortable beds, heat and air conditioning.

Creature comforts are also available at the Black Tree Resort in Colorado, where “rustic modern lives among the trees.” Those planning to visit have no need to buy, pack, and assemble camping equipment or food.

Black Tree provides fully furnished tents with hand-crafted furniture, a private bathroom, a covered deck and an electric golf cart to get around the property. Meals are delivered to the tents, which may be enjoyed at the outside picnic table adjacent to a fire pit.

Luxury Camping Tents in Black Tree, Colorado, Far Outrank the Aseemble-Yourself Kind

Luxury camping sites offer a welcome alternative to the usual camping experience.
Luxury camping sites offer a welcome alternative to the usual camping experience.
Photo by Pressmaster/

The atmosphere is different at the historic lock houses, which are strung out along a section of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal between Washington, DC, and western Maryland. That waterway was constructed between 1828 and 1850 so cargo could be transported in barges pulled by mules. 

Because of the elevation change in the terrain, 74 locks were built, and their keepers lived in modest houses placed nearby.  Some of those homes are available to overnight guests.  Their facilities range from full amenities to rustic to electricity-only.

It’s the 1930s that passengers who board the iconic Queen Mary oceanliner relive.  They experience the glamour and excitement of the Golden Age of Atlantic crossings without leaving port.

The first Queen Mary is permanently docked in Long Beach, California, where it serves as a hotel. Original Art Deco touches are reminders of its heyday as a luxury liner, along with three award-winning ocean-view restaurants.

Unusual Accommodations: The Queen Mary Hotel provides a luxury liner experience with out ever leaving the dock
The Queen Mary Hotel provides a luxury liner experience with out ever leaving the dock.
Photo by Juan Camilo Bernsl/

A much earlier trip back in time is available at the Feather Nest Inn.  One of the theme suites at the Cherry Hill, New Jersey property resembles a prehistoric cavern complete with wall paintings, faux animal skins and rock piles. Another, Treasure Island Room, features a boat-shaped bed, furniture resembling that salvaged from a shipwreck and a waterfall.

A very different theme pervades a bed and breakfast accommodation at the Historic Washington State Park in Arkansas. One major park attraction is the collection of 54 buildings that comprised a pioneer settlement along the Southwest Trail, a 19th-century pioneer route that stretched from Missouri to Texas.

The Jailhouse Bed and Breakfast in Arkansas’ Washington State Park is Incarceration by Choice  

Another is the Jailhouse Bed & Breakfast, which occupies a two-story jail that was completed in 1918 to replace one built in 1873. The facility housed people convicted of burglary, forgery, assault and other crimes.

In addition to eight guest rooms, the building has displays where convicts etched their names, two cells and other hints of its notorious past. According to local lore, a 1922 prisoner named Isaac Evans haunts the premises to this day.

Unusual accommodations: The Hutton Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee not surprisingly focuses on musical entertainment
The Hutton Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, not surprisingly focuses on musical entertainment.
Photo courtesy of the Hutton Hotel

The Hutton Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee not surprisingly focuses on musical entertainment   Photo courtesy of the Hutton Hotel

While residents of that Arkansas jail were facing the music because of their actions, a package at the Hutton Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, focuses on music enjoyment. Among the highlights of the Fender In-Room Experience are guitar lessons, free tickets to a show at the hotel’s Analog music venue and a discount on a custom song written for the guest.

This is but a brief sampling of non-traditional places to stay around the country that can make the accommodations part of the experience.

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