Saturday, 6 August 2011
Taipei is known for its variety of strangely themed dining establishments, but this one might just take the cake. Your surreal experience starts with the name, D.S. Music Restaurant, which in no way hints at what’s actually inside. Wait staff dressed in nurse uniforms push you to your table in wheelchairs, where your drinks are served from an IV-like contraption hanging from the ceiling. The ‘nurses’ ask trivia questions, and if you get them right, you’re rewarded with shots of a tasty drink squirted into your mouth with a syringe. It only gets stranger from there. Once you’re done eating, a female staff member in a deranged ballerina costume dances on your table.
Friday, 5 August 2011
Not everyone can stomach eating a meal while dangling 150 feet above the ground from a crane, even if you’re not usually afraid of heights. At Dinner in the Sky in Belgium, diners are strapped into chairs, raised to half the height of Big Ben and served meals like ham salad and sauteed prawns that are cooked in a small oven in the center of the structure.
Thursday, 4 August 2011
Wednesday, 3 August 2011
The owner of the Devil Island restaurants in China reportedly wanted to scare people away from a life of crime by showing them just how rough prison life can be – through a jail-themed restaurant where you’re led to your table in handcuffs and served fried coffin-shaped bread. Each table is surrounded by rusting prison bars, and you’re served by waiters in black-and-white striped uniforms. A similar restaurant in Beijing is misleadingly named ‘Zen Cool’.
Tuesday, 2 August 2011
Fall down the rabbit hole into an Alice in Wonderland-themed restaurant based on the story by Lewis Carroll, with wait staff decked out in light blue and white checkered pinafores and walls painted with strange, vaguely Alice-inspired imagery. The coasters are playing cards, little bowls of snacks are decorated with signs that say ‘Eat Me’ and you summon your server with a little brass bell. The menu features a Japanese spin on French and Italian cuisine and a large variety of bite-size appetizers.
Monday, 1 August 2011
The first menu you’ll see at Calico Cat Café in Tokyo has nothing to do with food: it’s the cat selection. But you won’t be dining on any of these adorable felines – they’re just there to provide some companionship while you sip a cup of tea. The watchful staff ensure that guests treat the cats respectfully, and provide complimentary bags of dried cat food that can be used to attract your desired playmate. For many Tokyo residents, owning a cat isn’t realistic, so the city’s 30-odd cat cafés give them a chance to enjoy some “commitment-free cat stroking”.
Sunday, 31 July 2011
Catholics might get a bit squeamish about the décor at the Christon chain of cafes in Tokyo, which is a bit on the gothic side. At the entrance you’ll find a glass display of the Virgin Mary, and inside is an elaborate and slightly macabre display of gargoyles, statues of saints, stained glass windows and even an authentic altar. For those interested in checking it out in person, the food is said to be fabulous and quite reasonable.
Saturday, 30 July 2011
You wouldn’t think the Chinese people would be eager to relive the Mao era while casually dining, but patrons at Shaoshan Chong line up to consume local delicacies served by waiters in the Red Guard uniform. The Red Guard was the army unit formed by Mao Tse Tung during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), which aimed to wipe the country free of revisionist and Western influence.
Friday, 29 July 2011
One restaurant in Nuremburg, Germany cut out waitstaff altogether, relying on robots instead. Alas, they weren’t walking, talking robots wearing aprons or anything really fun like that. Rather, it was centered around automation – customers ordered via touch screens, and moments later the food traveled to their tables on a spiral slide. It might have saved diners money on tips, but apparently the concept didn’t go over too well, as the restaurant was not open long.
Thursday, 28 July 2011
Long before the Lord of the Rings trilogy debuted on theatre screens, the Hobbit House was founded in Manila by former Peace Corps volunteer and Tolkein fan Jim Turner. Don’t expect to find the sort of lush Middle Earth scenery that filled the movies, however – what you’ll encounter instead if you stop to dine at the Hobbit House is a staff of ‘the smallest waiters in the world’. That’s right, check your political correctness at the door – this is one group of little people who are okay with being referred to as hobbits.
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
Continuing the creepy, otherwordly themes is the Vampire Café in the Ginza section of Tokyo, where the interior is almost entirely blood red. Guests are ushered down a long hallway with red blood cells superimposed on the floor. Inside, the décor includes heavy velvet drapes, black coffins dripping with red candle wax, skulls and crosses. Many of the meals are vampire-themed, and diners drink red cocktails from martini glasses.
Monday, 25 July 2011
The Hellfire Club, with its gothic décor and creepy theme, might not seem like a likely place to enjoy a world-class meal, but the food here is said to be divine. It’s located in a reportedly haunted 19th century building and resembles a dungeon, with skeletons, coffins and red lights strewn throughout. Menu items include steaks named ‘Kiss of the Vampire’ and ‘Cannibal Holocaust’.
Sunday, 24 July 2011
When a group of undertakers set out to start a restaurant, you know it’s going to be weird. And indeed, ‘Eternity’ restaurant in Truskavets, Ukraine is a windowless building shaped like a giant coffin. Inside you’ll find funeral wreaths, black shrouded walls and human-sized coffins. Menu items include dishes with names like “Let’s meet in paradise”.
Saturday, 23 July 2011
Being surrounded by coffins while you eat is one thing, but it’s an entirely different matter when they’re occupied.
The New Lucky Restaurant in Ahmadabad, India began as a tea stall outside a centuries-old Muslim cemetery, and grew to encompass it over the years. The graves, situated between tables and often topped with candles, and resemble green-painted concrete coffins. One is said to contain a 16th century Sufi saint. Business is brisk, and the owners say that the graves bring them good luck.
Friday, 22 July 2011
It’s often said that if you take away one or more of your senses, the remaining ones get stronger. That’s the idea behind Pitch Black, a Beijing restaurant where patrons eat in complete darkness. Illuminating devices like cell phones and watches are strictly forbidden, and it’s so dark you can’t see your hand in front of your face. Don’t think you can get away with any funny business, however – the waiters wear night-vision goggles.
Thursday, 21 July 2011
Wednesday, 20 July 2011
Hitlers Cross, in Mumbai, India, understandably provoked a lot of anger from the community when it debuted in August of 2006. On display was a giant poster of Hitler, and the ‘o’ in ‘cross’ on the restaurant’s large illuminated sign contained a swastika. Just one week later, the restaurant was forced to change its name to the ambiguous ‘The Cross’ and remove all Hitler and nazi memorabilia.
Tuesday, 19 July 2011
Perhaps the best-known strangely themed restaurant is Modern Toilet in Taipei, Taiwan, where hungry customers take a seat on Western-style commodes and enjoy feces-shaped chocolate soft serve in miniature toilet bowls. Toilet rolls are hung over the tables for use as napkins, and drinks come in miniature urinals. The toilet theme continues throughout , with ‘WC’ signs hung as décor.
Monday, 18 July 2011
The only restaurant in the world dedicated to birth control, Cabbages & Condoms in Bangkok, Thailand offers not mints on your way out the door, but condoms. Their slogan, emblazoned on t-shirts in the gift shop, is “Our food is guaranteed not to cause pregnancy”. Menu items include the ‘Spicy Condom Salad’, fried Shanghai noodles spiced with herbs. The restaurant benefits the Population and Community Development Association
Sunday, 17 July 2011
Japanese literally means ‘female body plate’, and this restaurant named after the tradition of eating sushi and sashimi off a nude woman’s body takes the concept to a whole new level. An edible body, with dough ‘skin’ and sauce ‘blood’ is wheeled into the room on a hospital gurney and placed upon a table. The hostess begins the meal by cutting into the body with a scalpel and then patrons dig in, operating on the body to reveal edible ‘organs’.
Saturday, 16 July 2011
At Buns & Guns in Beirut, Lebanon, everything is military themed – from the décor and names of the menu items to the helicopter sounds that play constantly in the background. Manager Yussef Ibrahim says that the theme reflects the mood of the city during Lebanon’s 2006 war with Israel, and that while some patrons may find it disturbing, most are amused. You can order yourself an M16 Carbine meat sandwich, a Mortar burger or a Terrorist meal (which happens to be vegetarian). Displayed at the entrance is the restaurant’s slogan, “Sandwiches Can Kill You”.
Friday, 15 July 2011
If you’ve always dreamt of being a prince or princess for a day, splashing out on a room in a castle in a stunning location may just be what you’re looking for to fulfill a childhood dream. Whether it’s an ornate French Chateaux or a Castle in the Scottish highlands, you are bound to get your money’s worth as you’ll be more interested in exploring its architecture and manicured grounds than to run off to seek entertainment elsewhere.
Last but not least, it would have also been great to include the famous Swiss nuclear bunker turned zero-star hotel, but unfortunately, it was only open for one year and can now only be visited as a museum. You might want to check it out though if you’re in the area.
Wednesday, 13 July 2011
‘Hay hotels’, as they have been nicknamed, are also a fantastic way of getting a good night’s sleep in the European countryside without spending a fortune. Farms across Switzerland, Germany and Austria are now offering, literally, a hay bed in their charming barns. Switzerland’s farmers have particularly warmed up to this scheme, and in a country where a simple hostel bed can cost you 30 dollars, this budget accommodation choice is welcome. Somewhere in between camping and hosteling, barn stays are an original and memorable way of getting in touch with nature.
Tuesday, 12 July 2011
Hiking around the Alps does not have to include staying in St. Moritz-style glitzy hotels and chalets, as the mountains are dotted with mountain huts offering anything from simple beds to sleeping bag accommodation. Bear in mind that most huts are only open during the summer season, so for hiking outside of this time frame you should make sure to research in advance which huts remain open and what services they offer.
Monday, 11 July 2011
With its many pretty canals, Amsterdam just begs for boat accommodation, but it’s not the only place in Europe where you’ll be able to sleep on water. In London, you can rent a narrow boat, sleep in it, and, if you’re adventurous, sail it through the narrow canals of London so that you end up having both sleeping accommodation and a mode of transport. The same can be done along France’s Canal du Midi, which with the Canal des Deux Mers, allows the appropriate boats to go from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean without interruptions.
Sunday, 10 July 2011
What happens when a prison is no longer used for the purpose it was initially intended? You guessed it. It is turned into a hotel. For such a strange concept, there are a lot of former prisons which are now delighting sleepers with their ‘cozy’ rooms. For your inmate experience you can head to Stockholm, Istanbul or Oxford, though there are many, many more options. Also remember that while some have kept their prison-related ‘charm’, like the Oxford MalMaison hotel, others, such as the Four Seasons Hotel in Istanbul, have wiped the slate clean and been transformed into luxury accommodation.
Saturday, 9 July 2011
Friday, 8 July 2011
Traveling around in much of Western and Northern Europe in winter is not always fun due to the often-freezing temperatures, but if you’re looking to celebrate winter and all that it entails, consider of incorporating it in your accommodation. Ice hotels and igloo accommodation have been springing up all over Europe, and now you can find them in countries including Norway, Switzerland and Sweden. If you’re traveling further north, you might also be able to spot the Northern lights from the comfort of your bed. And if you can’t take the temperatures, some hotels, like Sweden’s famous Ice Hotel, offer warm accommodations choices as well.
Thursday, 7 July 2011
You don’t have to be religious to stay at one of the many monasteries and convents around Europe which offer simple accommodation for the traveler who wants more than a concrete block of a hotel, but you certainly need a good measure of respect. While convents charge a set fee as a guesthouse would, monks, who have as one of their vows hospitality, only ask for a ‘donation’ in return for offering simple accommodation.
Obviously, this sort of sleeping option is not for party animals, but more for those of you out there who want a little bit of quiet time to yourselves. If all the above has got you interested, check out any online bookshop, as plenty of guides out there cater specifically for those looking for this sort of accommodation.
Tuesday, 5 July 2011
What better way to enjoy the iconic Mediterranean countryside than by booking yourself a into a wonderful agriturismo? When applied to its Italian meaning, Agriturism literally refers to a farm stay, though such farms can be made to incorporate all sorts of luxuries.
Staying at an agriturismo means not having to drive from the city to take a spin around the local countryside, but being directly in it with the opportunity to stroll through it early in the morning before breakfast, or at sunset after the strong afternoon sun has turned into mellower warmth. Many agritourismos offer the chance to learn more about the local agriculture, from farm tours and cooking classes to wine tastings and private picnic dinners. For those out of you who think that staying in a typical Italian farm involves spending a fortune, think again. Low-end prices are affordable, and agriturismos are not just limited to Italy. You can find anything from simple farm b&bs to more refined buildings in France, Spain and even the U.K.
If you’re happy with agritourism at the very lower end of the scale of style and comfort, consider WWOOFing, and then you won’t even have to pay accommodation costs, as this organization sets you up with room and board in exchange for work on the farm premises.
Monday, 4 July 2011
Perched 14 meters above the Indian Ocean, this open-top bar is literally served straight up on the rocks.
It’s a perfect place to sit and watch the sunset, sip cocktails and admire the view of the perfect Bali waves splashing against the rocks below. What makes it even more novel is the outdoor elevator which takes you down the cliff to the bar. Beware though, it only holds four so you might end up taking the stairs!
Live musicians play on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays so you can sit back and enjoy some tunes with a view. Located within the Ayana Resort & Spa in Jimbaran Bay, The Rock Bar will certainly leave a lasting impression and is Bali’s most chic sunset and after-dark destination.
Sunday, 3 July 2011
The William Thornton is a steel 100-foot schooner with a restaurant and bar on board, moored at The Bight off Norman Island.
The Willy T, as it is affectionately known, began life in the 80s as a wooden Baltic vessel. But after the boat sprung a leak and sank at its anchorage, the owners, Annie and Mick Gardner, replaced it with the larger steel boat everyone knows today.
The William Thornton who the floating bar is named after was born in the British Virgin Islands and is the man behind the design of the United States Capitol building.
Saturday, 2 July 2011
Alux, in Playa Del Carmen, is one of only two restaurants in the world inside a cavern.
The whole Yucatan peninsula in Mexico is riddled with an interconnected system of caverns and subterranean rivers and after years of planning and restoration, Alux restaurant and lounge was opened for the public to enjoy this natural environment with a drink in hand.
The Flintstones-like cavern has numerous chambers where you can lounge, drink, dine, and dance amongst the stalagmites and stalactites, which are lit up in shades of violet, blue and pink. Small, magical beings called ‘Aluxes’ are said to occupy these caverns, so look out for one as you dance the night away! It’s a drinking spot you mustn’t miss if you’re staying in Playa Del Carmen.
Friday, 1 July 2011
Floyds has to be the coolest bar in the Caribbean. Looking out from the shore at the dot on the horizon, your first reaction might be “is that really a bar?”
Perched on stilts on a sandbar, Floyds is made completely of driftwood and palm leaves. Bring a sharp object and you can carve your name in the floor. It looks like it might fall over, but it’s surprisingly sturdy.
Floyds sits about a mile off the south coast of Jamaica in Parottee Bay and local fisherman will take you out there. There’s nothing like a cold beer in the middle of the ocean, doing a bit of snorkelling and enjoying a fresh lobster meal prepared by Floyd himself. You might spot some pelicans and a few sting rays too
Thursday, 30 June 2011
The world’s first underwater bar, the Red Sea Star, is submerged six meters below the Red Sea in Eilat. Each table has Plexiglass windows – two either side and one above – so that diners can admire the fish, coral, and other sea life from their dinner table. The décor is even marine-inspired with jellyfish stools, urchin cushions, and anemone lighting fixtures.
Before the Red Sea Star was built in 1998, the area on which it stands was a damaged seabed, but four years before it opened the Red Sea Star team started growing a coral nursery surrounding the reef to save and preserve what used to be an active and colourful coral reef.
Wednesday, 29 June 2011
The very first bar to be made entirely of ice can be found in the small town of Jukkasjarvi in Sweden. Although novelty ice bars seem to be popping up everywhere these days, even in the baking hot Niger desert, the Absolut Icebar, within the Ice Hotel, is the original ice bar.
Guests don thermal capes and huddle together in freezing cold conditions surrounded by carefully-crafted ice sculptures. The Absolut vodka cocktails are served in ice glasses, just make sure you don’t get your lips stuck to them!
The ice is sourced from the Torne River in the village of Jukkasjarvi and the frosty bar is only open during the winter from December to April.
Tuesday, 28 June 2011
In the town of Alice Springs in the red centre of Australia, backpackers and travellers on their way to visit Uluru will almost certainly end up at this curious bar.
Walk through the closely guarded saloon doors and you’ll be amazed at what you see – boots hanging from the ceilings, snakes in tanks, and a coffin with a suit of armour inside which says ‘How Much To Touch Ned’s Nuts?’ Pull out some peanuts and throw the shells on the floor, because at Bo’s anything goes.
Sounds like a quirky bar already, but wait – it gets better. If you go to the bathroom you might get a little surprise, for when you come to wash your hands, each tap turns on the water in a different sink!
Monday, 27 June 2011
Saturday, 25 June 2011
The « Dans le noir » (in the dark) french restaurant has a secured dining room for 50 to 60 people in total darkness. Customers choose their menu before entering the restaurant and then blind people take care of them after guiding them to their table. No movement is authorized without the help of a blind employee, event to go to the bathroom.
Friday, 24 June 2011
Stockholm is the house of this wacky hotel, the first aircraft inn. This abandoned Boeing 747 jumbo jet was saved from being trashed metal to become a 25-room hotel sited in Stockholm's Arlanda airport.
Each room is bare 65 square ft big and furnished with bunk beds, overhead luggage storage and flat-screen TVs. There is a reception area and a cafe with toilets and showers at the rear of the aircraft, which means that you will have to share! The upper deck is a conference room and the best of all, the cockpit is where the wedding suite is housed.
Not a very comfy hotel I would think, but staying there just to get a feel of it might be cool.
Thursday, 23 June 2011
The most bizarre drinking experience ever. Red wine in blood transfusion packs, electric shocks from tables, rotating bar stools, a tarantula in a glass case, a flasher at the entrance... and not too expensive either! Has to be seen to be believed.
Leibnitzstrasse 57 (50 metres from Ku'damm); U-Bahn: Adenauerplatz