The Idaho Potato Hotel is a one-of-a-kind experience — Photo courtesy of Idaho Potato Commission
Why have a basic vacation when you can live out your greatest fantasy as a caveman or space explorer? Maybe you want to sleep like a hobbit or spend the night in an Idaho potato. With so many quirky, creative, and downright offbeat hotel rooms around the country, you can do all that and more.
Themed hotel rooms are a kitschy throwback to the ’70s and ’80s, a time when people were looking for an escape within driving distance. They’re typically located on smaller highways in out-of-the-way places, perfect for road trips or an afternoon tryst.
While themed hotel rooms might seem unconventional, these hotels have amenities to make any road-weary traveler comfortable, from in-room hot tubs, fireplaces, and even movie screens, to swimming pools and popular restaurants on the properties. Visit one of these eight unforgettable hotels on your next getaway.
Big Idaho Potato Hotel, South Boise, Idaho
The Big Idaho Potato Hotel is a one-of-a-kind experience — Photo courtesy of Idaho Potato Commission
When one potato closes, an Airbnb opens. That’s right: You can spend the night in a potato-shaped room in the middle of Idaho, every spud-lover’s dream.
This 6-ton potato structure was built for the Idaho Potato Commission’s 75th anniversary and toured around the country on a flatbed truck. After the tour, instead of letting the potato, er, rot in an Idaho field, a tiny-house builder turned the tater into a short-term rental.
The single-room Big Idaho Potato Hotel is energy-efficient, sparsely yet comfortably decorated, and air-conditioned. To make up for the fact that the bathroom is in an adjacent silo, it’s more like a spa with a giant whirlpool and skylight.
The Victorian Mansion at Los Alamos, Los Alamos, California
The ’50s Suite is one of the most popular the themed hotel rooms at The Victorian Mansion — Photo courtesy of The Victorian Mansion at Los Alamos
Along California’s Central Coast, Los Alamos has a lot going for it — fantastic wine tasting and vineyards, nationally recognized restaurants, and The Victorian Mansion, a bed-and-breakfast with six uniquely themed hotel rooms.
Rock around the clock in the ’50s Suite, complete with diner-style neon and a 1956 Cadillac bed, parked like it’s at a drive-in movie. (There’s even a movie screen and projector!) One room looks like a pirate’s ship, and another feels like a tent oasis in the middle of the desert.
The newest themed hotel room, the Hobbit Hole, has a round entry and windows, rock and wood beams, and wizard’s robes a la “Lord of the Rings.” Oh, my precious!
Sunset Inn & Suites, Clinton, Illinois
The walls turn from sunset to starry skies in the Paradise Beach room at the Sunset Inn & Suites — Photo courtesy of Mike Gibbons Photography LLC
From the highway, the Sunset Inn & Suites looks like any other nondescript roadside inn. Inside, however, you’ll find fantasy (adults-only) suites that run the gamut, from a wood cabin-themed hotel room to ones fashioned after a rainforest and a safari.
The most popular and newest themed hotel room is Paradise Beach, an island-inspired getaway that includes a boat bed, tropical shower, and private tiki bar. Flip a switch, and the walls turn from a sunny day at the beach to a beautiful sunset and starry skies.
The hotel offers standard rooms as well, plus a continental breakfast, indoor pool, sauna, and gym. But why be ordinary?
Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo, California
Madonna Inn’s Caveman room features a rock waterfall shower — Photo courtesy of Madonna Inn
This 110-room inn along California’s Central Coast is a destination all its own. The property boasts a pool and spa, a steakhouse with whimsical decor, a lounge that screams martini time, and a bakery for gorgeous layered cakes and pies. But the themed hotel rooms are the biggest draw of the Madonna Inn.
No two of the 110 rooms look alike. Many have rock waterfall showers — like the Caveman room, one of the most popular; others have balconies and fireplaces. There’s lots of color and quirky vibes in every corner of the place. It’s the perfect respite for road trips along Highway 101.
Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada
Not just one, but three decorated trees fill the Christmas Suite at Westgate Las Vegas — Photo courtesy of Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino
The Hallmark Channel doesn’t have a lock on year-round Christmas. With its bright garlands, twinkling lights, Elf on the Shelf-themed bathrooms, and three fully decorated trees, the Christmas Suite at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino will have you feeling festive whenever you want.
It’s just one of several fantasy suites at the resort, along with a Halloween-themed room, and one decked out for cowboys and cowgirls. Surprisingly, there isn’t a King of Rock-themed room, as Westgate was once the International Hotel, where Elvis Presley had a multiyear residency.
Jules’ Undersea Lodge, Key Largo, Florida
Fish and other marine life swim by the portholes at Jules’ Undersea Lodge — Photo courtesy of Jules’ Undersea Lodge
It’s one thing to pretend you’re sleeping at the bottom of the sea in a themed hotel room. Or you can actually do it at Jules’ Undersea Lodge in the Florida Keys.
Attached to the seabed in a protected lagoon, this two-bedroom apartment can only be reached by scuba diving. If you’re not a certified diver, you can take a short training course at the undersea park before heading to your underwater accommodations.
Watch sea life (or one of your diving mates) through the portholes, or sit back and watch a movie. There’s Wi-Fi, so you can take your phones and tablets. Just like any hotel room, you’ll find snacks and drinks. For dinner, nibble on pizza delivered right to your door. Everything is temperature-controlled and closely monitored (meaning: the oxygen) for safe overnight stays.
Black Swan Inn, Pocatello, Idaho
The Garden Suite at the Black Swan Inn features a custom-built gazebo bed and trickling fountain — Photo courtesy of Holly Houghton
Not far from Salt Lake City and several national parks, the Black Swan Inn’s themed hotel rooms bring people from all over the world to this little sliver of Idaho.
Each of the 15 suites has extravagant decor, from a pirate’s cove to a jungle fantasy, a tropical paradise, a 17th-century garden, or a sea cave (the latter has a giant clamshell bed, of course). All feature original, hand-painted murals, and some have waterfalls, fish ponds, and steam showers right in the middle of the room!
The Anniversary Inn, Logan, Utah
Rich’s Drive-In is the most popular themed hotel room at The Anniversary Inn — Photo courtesy of Natalie Scott
If you have a fantasy vacation in mind, The Anniversary Inn probably has a room to make it a reality. Spread around seven buildings, the Logan, Utah, inn features more than 30 themed hotel rooms for romance, adventure, or just plain relaxing away from it all.
With a queen-size bed set in the back of a 1960 Ford pickup truck, a big LCD screen for movies, or TV watching, and an unlimited soda fountain, Rich’s Drive-In is the most popular room. For those who need a touch of reality, there’s also a jetted tub and waterfall shower.
If you’re looking for an African safari, Hawaiian paradise, pirate’s ship, or NASA space room, you’ll find them here — and at one of the other three Anniversary Inn locations in Utah and Idaho.