10 Weird and Affordable Hotels

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Hotels are providing less customer satisfaction these days – or consumers are demanding more for their money.

J.D. Power and Associates’ newly released North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study, based on 61,700 guest responses in the past year, claims overall satisfaction is about 75.7 percent. That’s down from 76.4 percent in 2011. And it’s worse than it sounds…

Guest satisfaction with the underlying experience has deteriorated much more than this score suggests, as relatively high levels of satisfaction with cost and fees mask declines in other areas of the guest experience. Satisfaction with check-in/check-out; food and beverage; hotel services; and hotel facilities are at new lows since the 2006 study and satisfaction with guest room has declined within one point of its lowest level in the past seven years.

“Charging guests more and providing less is not a winning combination,” says JDP vice president Stuart Greif. “Hoteliers are falling further behind and need to catch up.”

But until they do, maybe now’s a good time to try an alternative hotel where you might have lower expectations and be pleasantly surprised. Travel site TripAdvisor just released a list of 10 of the Quirkiest Lodgings in America – according to them and nobody else. But looking at the list, you might agree…

1. Jailer’s Inn Bed and Breakfast (Bardstown, Kentucky)

Yep, this hotel is a county jail. Or it was for almost two centuries. Now it’s a seven-guestroom hotel. Six of the rooms have been outfitted with antique furniture, a couple of them have Jacuzzis, and the other “still resembles an actual cell and includes two of the original bunk beds,” according to TripAdvisor. The jail cell room also has a water bed, and is the cheapest of the bunch.

So if you’ve ever wanted to spend a night in jail without the consequences…

Average Nightly Rate: $105

2. Earthship Biotecture (Taos, New Mexico)

Do you like art? Science? Going green? Try this one.

You’ll stay in a pod made of “recycled and sustainable materials” and enjoy Wi-Fi, TV, and on-demand movies powered by Mother Nature. There are several different models with different amenities and prices.

Average Nightly Rate: $120

3. Out ‘n’ About Treesort (Cave Junction, Oregon)

Monkey around in the mountains and “enjoy al fresco adventures, traipse across swinging bridges and zip line courses and later cool off in the property’s freshwater swimming pool.” The property has 14 tree houses, some nearly 40 feet in the air.

Average Nightly Rate: $90

4. Saugerties Lighthouse (Saugerties, New York)

A lighthouse on the Hudson River, with emphasis on the “house” – it’s not the traditional tower shape. Two rustic guestrooms offer views of the river and Catskill Mountains, and it’s pretty old-fashioned. There’s no AC, the rooms are heated by coal stoves, and the toilets are a little different. (“Instructions for its use are provided upon arrival,” the website says.) Only open Thursday through Sunday.

Average Nightly Rate: $132

5. Shack Up Inn (Clarksdale, Mississippi)

Between the name and the slogan – “The Ritz we ain’t” – you have an idea of what you’re getting. It’s the site of a former plantation, and you can check out the original cotton gin. Blues fans will also find a lot of vintage instruments to look at. Their FAQ on amenities has a certain Southern charm:

  • wireless INTERNET – a bad ass, expensive T1 line
  • brochures – hell no
  • discounts – call Priceline for big fat swollen William Shatner
  • roof leaks – only if it rains
  • Phone & fax service – call a Comfort Inn anywhere
  • Sheet thread count – NO KIDDING FOLKS, SOME CRAZY LADY ASKED THIS QUESTION…call the Alluvian in Greenwood, they really have the good ones
  • Wake up call – yea right, automatic one minute after check out time, it consist of a chain saw right outside your door at 11:01 AM

Average Nightly Rate: $65

6. Northern Rail Traincar B&B (Two Harbors, Minnesota)

A jail, a tree, why not a train? Stay on the tracks near Lake Superior and Gooseberry Falls. While the exterior looks like run-down rail cars at a train depot, the interiors look much more traditional and cozy – AC, TV, and some of the 17 cars even have a fireplace. Lots of activities nearby, including two railroad museums.

Average Nightly Rate: $87

7. Treebones Resort (Big Sur, California)

Stay in a yurt on a bluff over the ocean. For something that looks like a tent outside, you’ll be living pretty good inside – pine floors, French doors, electricity, and coastal views. There’s an outdoor sushi bar too. Pretty fancy camping, with no mosquitoes.

Average Nightly Rate: $189

8. Palm Springs Rendezvous (Palm Springs, California)

Is this list getting too exotic for your tastes? This tames it down: a retro retreat with ’50s music, “a pool surrounded by blue artificial turf and pink lawn flamingos,” vintage bikes you can borrow, plus free cocktails and appetizers at the lounge. Many of the rooms are themed – there’s “Pretty in Pink” (which Marilyn Monroe once stayed in), “Stage Coach,” and “Shake Rattle & Roll.”

Average Nightly Rate: $139

9. The Peabody Memphis (Memphis, Tennessee)

A classy, traditional, perfectly normal hotel – except for the marching ducks.

Since at least 1933, the Peabody Ducks have made a daily trek through the lobby to jump into the marble fountain at its center. It’s a formal affair, set to ceremonial march music. “The Duckmaster” escorts the ducks from their rooftop palace – they live in an enclosure that includes a scaled-down replica of the hotel and a large fountain – down to the lobby and across a roped-off red carpet to the fountain, where they play from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Guests can watch from the lobby or across balconies from upstairs.

You can take a virtual tour (similar to Google’s Street View) through the lobby or down historic Beale Street at the Peabody’s website.

Average Nightly Rate: $240

10. Kate’s Lazy Meadow Motel (Mount Tremper, New York)

The outside looks like a quaint cabin in the wilderness, nothing unusual except a garden gnome in a tree. But inside, the Lazy Meadow Motel claims “mind-blowing mid-century modern/space age/rocket-your-socks-off décor,” with colorful furnishings. Check out the photos. Cabin #8 looks a bit like Candyland and, well, I’m not really sure what’s going on in Cabin #4. River gnomes in a giant toyroom? Trippy.

Average Nightly Rate: $200

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