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Steve Dobson is co-founder of Unusual Hotels of the World, an online catalogue set up in 2004 to help travellers find quirky places to stay. A spin-off book is published this month, featuring converted planes, trains, chapels and prisons. Here the author picks five favourites.
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La Villa Cheminée, Nantes
La Villa Cheminée was created by Japanese installation artist Tatzu Nishi as part of the 2009 Estuaire Nantes Saint-Nazaire art festival, but it is now possible to spend the night in it. A typical 1970s villa (with a kitchen downstairs and a double bedroom upstairs) sits at the top of what clearly resembles a factory smokestack. Nishi took his inspiration from the chimneys of the largest fossil fuel power plant in France, which are on the riverbank close by.
From €95; nantes-tourisme.com
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Euromast TV Tower, Rotterdam
The Euromast Tower has been a feature of the Rotterdam skyline since it was built in the 1960s. There’s a brasserie perched almost 100m above the city, and above that are two suites: Heaven and Stars. Both have polished wood floors, comfortable double beds, minibars and a balcony with unbeatable views.
From €385; euromast.nl
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Jumbo Stay, Stockholm
This 1976 Boeing 747 has been parked on the edge of Arlanda airport and now contains 27 bedrooms, from low-cost dormitories to a couple of luxury suites: one in the cockpit, the other in the tail. The standard doubles are good for those with early flights; the cockpit suite is more suited to a couple of aeroplane enthusiasts.
En suite double rooms from SKr1,900 (£185) cockpit suite SKr3,300 (£322); jumbostay.com
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Le Carré Rouge, Haute Marne
Created by the artist Gloria Friedmann as a sculpture utile – or usable sculpture – the Carré Rouge is a cube whose south-facing side is painted red, and north-facing side is made entirely of glass. It’s set beside a stream on the Langres plateau, 30 miles north of Dijon, making it the perfect place for a romantic getaway or family adventure. Inside there are two levels – kitchen and dining area downstairs, three double beds upstairs. It’s not a conventional holiday home – there’s no electricity or running water. Oil lamps and candles are provided; a woodstove serves for both cooking and heating.
From €150 for two nights; tourisme-langres.com
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Habour Crane, Harlingen
One of three unusual hotels in Harlingen in the Netherlands – the others are a lifeboat and a lighthouse – this dockside crane, in use from 1967 until 1996, has been converted into a luxurious bedroom. Access is via a modern lift, installed in place of the original cage ladders. Best of all, guests can rotate the crane to vary the far-reaching views over the Wadden Sea.
From €319; vuurtoren-harlingen.nl
‘Unusual Hotels of the World’ by Steve Dobson (Jonglez Publishing, £29.99)