It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a...bee hive?
That’s just one of the unexpected attractions you may find at one of these hotels that make these properties more than just a place to see. From swanky potty training seats to psychic residents, here are 10 surprises in store for your next overnight visit.
1. Robot Concierge, Hilton McLean Tysons Corner - Tysons Corner, Va.
Want a recommendation for the best Chinese food near your hotel or need to know how late the fitness center is open? Meet Connie the Concierge at Hilton McLean Tysons Corner just outside Washington, D.C. The property serves as Hilton’s test site for new products and services for the global chain. This concierge robot, which is powered by IBM Watson and named for Hilton’s founder Conrad Hilton, can answer hundreds of guest queries on command. As more guests interact with Connie, the robot learns and improves its answers.
2. Potty Training Seat and Disco Elevator, LEGOLAND Hotel - Carlsbad, Calif.
Designed with kids in mind, the LEGOLAND Hotel at LEGOLAND California Resort outside San Diego has plenty of over-the-top features for kids of a variety of ages -- and that even includes a souped-up potty training seat. The cleverly-designed toilet has a fold-down training seat that youngsters can use to make “going potty” a little easier when away from home. And adults can simply lift it up when not needed. The fun hotel also has a pint-sized peephole in the room and a surprise elevator that turns into a disco as you start to go up or down. How can you leave without a smile on your face? “Everything is awesome!”
3. Camaro Billiard Table, Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya - Riviera Maya, Mexico
There are a lot of things you can do with a Camaro, but turning it into a billiard table is pretty unique. The Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya turned its classic car into a pool table for the resort’s over-the-top Bret Michaels Rock Star Suite designed by the singer. The Camaro is reminiscent of a car Bret once owned and the room is adorned with artifacts from Michaels himself and his fans. Other fun room features include a private theater, a desk chair made from Harley Davidson parts, a guitar amp mini fridge, a hammock on the balcony and more.
4. Swamp, Big Cypress Lodge - Memphis, Tennessee
While you won’t find any alligators here, there is a full swamp inside the Big Cypress Lodge in Memphis. Located within the 32-story Bass Pro Shops Pyramid, which once served as a sports and concert arena, the wilderness-inspired hotel has a Cypress Swamp on the ground floor complete with 100-foot tall replica cypress trees, a network of ponds and streams with thousands of live fish, and the country’s tallest free-standing elevator made of glass for ultimate swamp views. The rooms continue the theme with many designed to look like tree houses or vintage duck hunting camps.
5. Barber Shop, Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail Vail, Colorado
Shave and a haircut, two bits? You can definitely get cleaned up at this swanky on-site barbershop at the Four Seasons Resort and Residences in Vail-- but it’ll cost you a bit more than two cents. Try $70. But it’s well worth it, because at this barbershop, you can enjoy a drink of 10th Mountain whiskey or a beer from Crazy Mountain Brewery while the barber does his thing. Other services include a head shave, moustache, beard or goatee trim and a scalp massage.
6. Robots, Crowne Plaza San Jose-Silicon Valley - Milpitas, Calif.
Forgot your toothbrush or need more towels? Don’t expect the housekeeping staff to show up to your hotel room at the Crowne Plaza San Jose-Silicon Valley. Instead, you just might find Dash the robot at your door with toiletries in tow. The robot stores the items in an internal compartment, which guests can lift to retrieve their goods. Dash, which stands three-feet tall and weighs 100 pounds, travels at human walking pace and gets where he’s going unaccompanied. It can even navigate between floors and use the elevator.
7. Stripper Pole, Andaz San Diego - San Diego, Calif.
For guests looking for something sexier than a Jacuzzi tub, the Star Suite at the Andaz San Diego ups the ante with a stripper pole in the master bedroom. No classes on how to use the pole are included, but the suite does feature a floor-to-ceiling glass shower that fogs up with the touch of a button and offers dual shower heads along with views of the pole and king-sized bunk beds. Andaz San Diego is in the hip Gaslamp Quarter of downtown San Diego full of restaurants, clubs and bars to start your evening before heading back to the privacy of your sensual suite.
8. Psychic, The Stanley Hotel - Estes Park, Colo.
What does your future hold? You may be able to find out the next time you stay at famously spooky Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colo., which opened in 1909. The historic haunted hotel made famous as the inspiration for Stephen King’s “The Shining” has its very own resident psychic, Madame Vera, who is most happy to tell your fortune -- for better or worse. But just walking in isn't recommended. You’ll need to schedule an appointment for a psychic reading with Madame Vera, who has been in business for more than 25 years. When you aren’t divining your future, enjoy nearby Rocky Mountain National Park and amazing mountain views of the Rockies in all directions.
9. A Town, Danville Inn - Orlando, Fla.
Walk up to the Danville Inn, the front of which appears to be a country-style front porch, and at the touch a button, the porch lifts and you are instantly transported inside an airport hangar that's designed to look like a town. Inside you’ll find the luxury two-room inn, an Irish pub, gazebo and even a theater to watch a movie. There are other hangars nearby that you can walk to or visit by Segway to see classic cars, planes and even a dedicated Man Cave. The versatile venue is popular with brides and grooms for weddings and honeymoons.
10. Bee Hive, Seaport Boston - Boston, Mass.
The Seaport Boston Hotel located on Boston Harbor in the Seaport District has some special residents on its roof: one million bees. The bees live in seven hives, which stand several feet high. The staff have been trained as beekeepers to care for the bees and help harvest the honey, which is then used in the hotel’s restaurant and cafes in foods, desserts and drinks. Try the Honey and Vanilla Cupcakes, Bee Pollen Smoothie Shots, Honey and Bee Pollen Popcorn and Honey and Orange Iced Tea for a natural and sweet treat.
Lyn Mettler is an Indianapolis, Ind.-based travel writer. She is the author of The Step-by-Step Guide to Earning Your Southwest Companion Pass. You can find her at www.GotoTravelGal.com or on Twitter at @GotoTravelGal.