The big wide world has dreamed up a range of weird and wonderful overnight experiences for all the family; here are 14 of the best.
1. Bizarre bedrooms in Propeller Island City Lodge, Berlin, Germany
At Berlin's Propeller Island City Lodge you can all bagsy yourselves differently themed bedrooms. You might not want the kids to stay in coffins in the Gruft room, but the stilted cages in Two Lions could be useful if you have any midnight wanderers. This hotel/art project began in 1997 when artist Lars Stroschen created four unusual audiovisual rooms in his apartment block. Staff say it will close when the artist feels the ‘exhibition’ has come to its natural end.
2. Long night of reality in Karosta Prison, Liepaja, Latvia
We dare you to ask for more porridge at this former Latvian detention centre. Latvia's Karosta Prison gives you as much for your money as Alcatraz, but isn't quite as cosy. Karosta, near Liepaja, was once a naval base for the Soviet army and the former detention centre is now a museum and reminder of the occupations of Latvia. We were entertained, bullied and thoroughly engaged on a tour by the uniformed, unsmiling ‘Comrade Commander’. You can stay the night in a cell, but beware: the waiver warns of a full-on 'reality' experience including verbal abuse and harsh punishment. On the upside there's a special rate for schoolchildren.
3. Get dunked in slime at Nickelodeon Suites Resort, Florida, USA
Ever wondered if bogeys were a good look? Stay at the ‘Nick Hotel’ and find out. This Nickelodeon TV-themed resort (nicknamed the ‘Nick Hotel’) is near Orlando's Walt Disney World. It’s so bright you risk getting a migraine, but you can soothe your brow with a bucketful of slime. Every day the pool is filled with adults and kids waiting to be gunked as cheery commentators count down to the non-toxic dump. Later on you can learn Ninja Turtle moves, or watch the Double Dare Live cabaret show.
4. Float aboard The Joker Boat, Liverpool, England
Dance with the devil in the pale moonlight while staying on The Joker Boat. The trickster's lipstick grin leers at you from across the Albert Dock, but that's the only uncomfortable part of your break in this Batman-inspired accommodation. The rest is all bobbing about in luxury, with flat-screen 3D TV and easy access to some of Liverpool's best museums and galleries. And if you aren't keen on The Joker Boat's purple theme you could always hire The Yellow Submarine or Titanic.
5. Let life mirror art at Hotel Benesse House, Naoshima, Japan
Allow art to infuse your dreams on this creative Japanese island. While you don't literally get to camp under a Monet, Hotel Benesse House is as close as most of us will ever get to staying in an art gallery. Four buildings mix art, nature and architecture. The hotel is part of the Benesse Art Site but creativity can be found everywhere from the seashore to converted houses. Naoshima's iconic exhibit is a golden pumpkin on a pier. It doesn’t turn into a coach at midnight.
6. Go undercover at Seven Hotel, Paris, France
There's one unbeatable reason to book the Seven Hotel (sevenhotelparis.com) in the Latin Quarter of Paris. And it's not a view of the Eiffel Tower. The boutique hotel's 007 suite is the ultimate British experience in the ultimate French city. The only thing missing is Daniel Craig (unless you happen to be Mrs Daniel Craig). You can watch the entire Bond back catalogue without getting out of bed, unless you need the suite's golden toilet. This spy pad doesn't come cheap but it’s worth its weight in gadgets.
7. Be mad as a Hatter at Oddfellows, Chester, England
This elegant Georgian building once housed a friendly society and is now a family friendly hotel. Oddfellows is just a stone’s throw from the River Dee but it’s perhaps closer to Wonderland. Have a Mad Hatter's Tea Party in the dining room with an upturned tea party on the ceiling, or you can sit in an oversized chair on the stair. In general everything is a bit inside out. Or should that be outside in? There are lampshades and sofas in the garden and a tree grows through the restaurant.
8. Go caravanning on a rooftop at Brooks Guesthouse, Bristol, England
Brooks Guesthouse (brooksguesthousebristol.com/roof-top-rockets) in Bristol is the ultimate in cool. Or at least the roof is. This newly opened rooftop experience offers a bird’s-eye view of the city in shiny aluminium accommodation. A family of four can stay in the largest of their Rooftop Rockets, 1950s-style caravans. Don’t panic, it’s not caravanning as you know it: this is modern family fun with a vintage twist in the heart of a great city.
9. Hobbit holes for humans at Woodlyn Park, Waitomo, New Zealand
New Zealand's Hobbit Motel at Woodlyn Park near Waitomo Caves offers your little 'precious' the chance to stay in a hobbit hole. Two separate family units right next door to each other sleep six humans apiece in Middle-earth. If you feel too tall for a hobbit hole you could always stay in a 1950s Bristol freighter plane, a train or a boat. And don’t leave before taking a boat ride around the labyrinth of glowworm caves nearby.
10. Count fish at Atlantis the Palm Resort, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Our children were mesmerised by the Ambassador Lagoon at Dubai’s Atlantis The Palm Resort. And if you have a big enough pocket, you can book two signature underwater suites. This Lost City-themed hotel offers 65,000 species to spot through the glass wall of the premium bedroom and bathroom. Forget counting sheep, this is more interesting. And by day you can blast around in water yourself at the adjacent Aquaventure Waterpark. One of the waterslides lets whole families ride together.
11. Book a sleeper at the railway hotel St Pancras Renaissance, London, England
The five-star St Pancras Renaissance is the ultimate experience for a family of trainspotters. Break your Thomas the Tank Engine piggy bank open for a Chamber Suite at this restored station hotel. You can watch the trains come and go on the Eurostar platform while having coffee and cookies in bed, brought by a butler. On the way home you can take a trip to nearby platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross. But do warn mini-muggles they won't get their trolley through a brick wall.
12. Enjoy an icy retreat at Igloo Hotel, Kranjska Gora, Slovenia
If you fancy sleeping in an igloo but can't face the peak prices of Father Christmas territory then try the Slovenian ski town of Kranjska Gora. Two ice pods in the Igloo Hotel in Eskimo Village (eskimska-vas.si) sleep up to eight each, so if granny can face a night in an expedition sleeping bag lovingly laid out on a block of ice then she can come too. Before bed you can all go on an organised snowshoe adventure.
13. Bring a onesie to The Llamas Pyjamas B&B, Penrith, England
You'll feel like you are in Peru. In fact you are in Penrith. The Llamas Pyjamas is a guest house near the English Lakes offering Peruvian-themed rooms, llamas in the garden and a nearby cafe that promises llama karma with your latte. Your kids can pet llamas, talk to llamas, walk with llamas and of course hang out with llamas in pyjamas. Except you'll be the ones in the pyjamas. Llamas don't wear them. Not even onesies.
14. Fun for the 'nuclear' family at the Secret Soviet Bunker at Ligatne, Latvia
This 'vacation hotel' (visitligatne.lv) just outside Ligatne in Latvia was once a rehabilitation centre for sick members of the Communist Party. But that wasn't all. Nine metres down is a top secret bunker and strategic Soviet Latvian powerhouse in case of nuclear war. You can tour preserved rooms and corridors. You can show the kids what a 'telephone' looks like or take part in an extreme reality game. And after you wake in your very basic hotel room you can have a lukewarm, lumpy breakfast.
Need a few ideas on how to keep your young explorers entertained at home or on the road? Check out our Lonely Planet Kids books and apps. Kickstart the travel bug by showing them just how amazing our planet can be.