Forget reception desks, kiosks and iPhone apps, we’re talking paragliding, sea tractors and camels. Chelsea Stuart rounds up the wildest ways to check into a hotel.
Feel the Adrenaline Pump as You Paraglide
Six Senses Zighy Bay, Musandam Peninsula, Oman
Leave your bags at the airport (don't worry, Zighy Bay staff ensures they make it to the hotel) and strap yourself to the nearest paragliding pro at Zighy Mountain. You and your tandem partner will navigate the bay of Musandam Peninsula before making a flawless descent to the beach below for the ultimate bucket-list check in.
Take to the Skies Via Private Helicopter
Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, Dubai
This is your chance to live out your James Bond fantasy. The 15-minute helicopter airport transfer to the iconic Burj Al Arab Jumeirah delivers knockout views of Dubai and drops you off in serious 007-style on the hotel's rooftop helipad. The only catch? It'll set you back roughly $2700. High-rollers, only.
Ditch Your Car for a Five-mile Hike
The Len Foote Hike Inn, Dawsonville, Georgia
Lace up your boots and pack light because the only way you're getting here is hiking in. The journey starts at the top of the cascading Amicalola Falls waterfall and continues through the North Georgia Blue Ridge Mountains for two to four-hours, depending how in shape you are. Your reward? A welcoming wrap-around porch, toasty wood-burning stove, and guest library.
Trek the Sahara Atop a Camel
Berber Village, Marrakech, Morocco
Any proper trip to Marrakech should include a couple of nights in a Riad, but after that, if you're game (nudge, nudge), a camel trek to a desert Berber Village should follow. Don't expect a graceful arrival—the animals are predisposed to tripping and stumbling, but it's all part of the experience. Once there, you'll enjoy a savory tagine for your efforts set against a starry night sky, before retiring to your cozy Berber tent.
Cruise Through Salt and Sand On a...Sea Tractor
Burgh Island Hotel, Devon, United Kingdom
We had no clue what a sea tractor was until we discovered one at the Burgh Island Hotel. The one-of-a-kind contraption was created in 1969 to take guests across rough waters to the island. Today, the sea tractor (which looks like a hay wagon) continues to ferry travelers back and forth through the surf.
Whiz Through Mountain Peaks in a Cable Car
Hotel Restaurant Schwarzsee, Zermatt, Switzerland
The spellbinding views of the Matterhorn as you make your way via cable car to Hotel Schwarzsee are sure to cure your altitude sickness (or at least take your mind off it.) Once you arrive, expect heaping bowls of Swiss fondue, decadent spa treatments and miles of backcountry ski trails to explore.
Chug Your Way Up the Swiss Alps on a Cogwheel Railway
Hotel Pilatus-Kulm, Lucerne, Switzerland
You have technically three options for getting to Hotel Pilatus-Kulm: the panoramic gondola, aerial cableway, or cogwheel railway. We'll tip the scales in the railway's favor by adding that it's the steepest cog railway in the world. The 30-minute hair-raising ride from Alpnachstad to Pilatus Kulm takes you up sheer rock faces and passes through vibrant Alpine flowers set against the placid Lake Lucerne. The riveting vistas don't end when you step off the railcar—guestrooms at the historic hotel look out onto the sweeping summits of central Switzerland.
Chit Chat with Robotic Receptionists
Henn-na Hotel, Nagasaki, Japan
Disclaimer: we know this isn't quite as exhilarating as paragliding or chartering a helicopter, but it is the not-so-distant future rearing its head. So, if being checked into your hotel by an animatronic velociraptor donning a pillbox hat and matching bowtie happens to be your thing, welcome to nirvana. The multilingual robots at Henn-na Hotel are programmed to carry your luggage, clean up your room and deliver breakfast, lunch and dinner, if you so desire (no tips required.)