The expert selection: unusual European hotels

Steve Dobson’s online catalogue, set up in 2004, helps travellers find quirky places to stay

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.

La Villa Cheminée, Nantes

La Villa Cheminée

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;

Euromast TV Tower, Rotterdam

The Euromast

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;

Jumbo Stay, Stockholm

The cockpit suite

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);

Le Carré Rouge, Haute Marne

The modernist Carré Rouge, near Dijon

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;

Habour Crane, Harlingen

The Harlingen crane

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;

‘Unusual Hotels of the World’ by Steve Dobson (Jonglez Publishing, £29.99)

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2016. All rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don't cut articles from and redistribute by email or post to the web.

More on this topic

Suggestions below based on European destinations