[Weekender] Stranger places: out-of-the-ordinary destinations

By Rumy Doo
  • Published : Mar 3, 2017 - 10:59
  • Updated : Mar 3, 2017 - 15:25
For those weary of typical travel itineraries -- looking at landscapes, eating local food, sightseeing -- The Korea Herald recommends a number of unique, and somewhat strange, places to visit, ranging from interesting accommodations to unusual places of interest. 

Robotic comforts

In Nagasaki, Japan, there is a hotel staffed almost entirely by robots, from automated employees at the reception desk and electric bellboys to droid waiters at a restaurant.

Upon entering the futuristic establishment, a mechanized dinosaur greets guests at check-in. A luggage robot will carry their suitcases to their room. Slip into bed and another robot assistant will turn off the lights.

The Henn-na Hotel, which in Japanese means “strange,” was created by Hideo Sawada in 2015 with the aim of achieving “ultimate efficiency.” It is said to have reduced labor costs by two-thirds, automating 70 percent of tasks human beings would normally execute.

Location: 859-3243, Huis Ten Bosch Machi, Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan

Morning with monks

A number of convents and monasteries in Italy offer clean, serene accommodations to pilgrims and nonreligious travelers alike.

The San Giorgio Monastery of Venice is an imposing Benedictine establishment decorated with paintings by 16th-century artist Tintoretto. Perched on a small island, the monastery here has been offering hospitality since 982. Five available guest rooms are equipped with the monastery’s simple but sturdy beds and crucifixes on the wall.

Visitors are able to use the monastery’s kitchens -- stocked with pasta and olive oil -- to make their own food; the monks eat in a separate space.

Location: Isola di S. Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, Italy

Human aquarium

Imagine switching places with fish in an aquarium. A hotel in Sweden allows visitors to sleep underwater while fish swim by, beholding their human display.

The Utter Inn is a single-room lodging located in the middle of Lake Malaren near Stockholm. Above the surface of the water floats what looks like a quaint, small red-brick house. Enter the door and climb down three meters to reach a room whose windows offer a panoramic view of the surrounding lake.

Visitors can also canoe on the lake and swim in its waters, or choose to have dinner inside the room.

Location: Lake Malaren, 722 12 Vasteras, Sweden

Food in a toilet

A restaurant in Taipei, Taiwan offers food plated in what would normally be an extremely unappetizing bowl -- a toilet.

Modern Toilet opened in 2004 when its owners came up with the idea of selling brown ice-cream in toilet-shaped bowls. The theme has evolved into a full-fledged restaurant now, offering dishes, from fried pork to noodles, in different types of toilet bowls.

The furniture has also embraced the bathroom theme -- diners eat on top of a bathtub, while sitting on toilet-shaped chairs. Found in the bathroom are actual toilets alongside toilet-shaped sinks.

Location: 2F, No.50-7 Xining South Road, Taipei, Taiwan.

Punished in prison

Brave souls who want to experience a night in a World War II, Communist-era prison can venture to Latvia’s notorious Karosta Prison, which has been renovated into a hotel.

Guests can immerse themselves in a complete prison experience: Uniformed actors impersonate prison guards, verbally abusing guests and forcing them to engage in physical exercise. Screams of despair can be heard from adjacent cells, along with threatening gunfire.

The beds consist of paper-thin mattresses on the floor, with threadbare blankets. Guests who fail to comply with the rules are punished with chores.

Location: Invalidu iela 4, Liepaja, LV-3402, Latvia

At one with nature, in the nude

The world’s biggest nude town lies on the coast of France’s Cap d’Agde, to which some 40,000 bare visitors flock every summer.

Nudity is legal at this resort, where a full town operates with people stripped of all clothing. Near the beach, where nude sunbathers sprawl, naked people can be seen sauntering in supermarkets and arcades.

Though originally designed for proponents of naturism, a cultural and political movement advocating nudity, the town is increasingly popular with libertines in search of debauchery, according to reports.

Location: Le Village Naturiste, Rond-Point du Bagnas, 34300 Agde, France

Petrified souvenirs

In 1488 during the reign of Henry VII, the townspeople of Knaresborough, England believed that a nearby well was turning plants, animals and all other things that entered it into stone.

Centuries later, scientific analysis revealed that the “petrification” process was actually a natural phenomenon that occurred due to the water’s extremely high mineral content.

Since 1630, the site, called Mother Shipton’s Cave, has been open for tourism. Nowadays, visitors are able to put objects into the well to be covered in mineral; after three or five months, they can take home their very own “petrified” souvenir. Teddy bears for petrifying are sold at the gift shop.

Location: Prophecy Lodge, Harrogate Rd, High Bridge, Knaresborough HG5 8DD, UK

By Rumy Doo (