Hotels in unlikely places

Recycling is de rigeur, and no one wants to see a perfectly good historic property go to waste. That (and, of course, the marketing draw) is why you see so many hotels popping up in spaces once used for other purposes, whether primary school or prison. Someday, you might be heading off for a night's rest in a hotel that was once something entirely different.

1. A jet-setting plane


(727 Fuselage)

Hotel Costa Verde 727 Fuselage, Costa Verde, Costa Rica

Hotel Costa Verde transported the shell of an old 1965 Boeing 727  and transported it to the jungle—making it look like it "landed" among the treetops. The result is part-hotel suite, part-treehouse.  The now-teak interior is big enough for two bedrooms, a kitchenette, and a dining area, and the spacious balcony offers a toucan's-eye-view of the jungle beyond. We know some travelers find it hard to sleep on planes, but we don't think anyone will have any trouble here.

2. A run-down paper factory


(A Quinta da Auga)

A Quinta da Auga, Santiago de Compostela, Spain

When the Lorenzo García family found the property that became A Quinta da Agua, it could hardly be called a former paper factory—the site was basically in ruins, with vegetation climbing over the 18th-century stone walls.  The hotel today, now a Relais & Châteaux property, boasts 59 guest rooms in the old warehouse, with scenery provided by the river and aqueduct that once powered the paper mill.

3. A centuries-old fort

Ahilya Fort, Maheshwar, India


(Ahilya Fort)

Emerging from the stone cliffs above the sacred Narmada River is the Ahilya Fort, built in the mid-18th century for Queen Ahilya Bai Holkar. Today, o'er the ramparts you can watch boats glide down the Narmada courtesy of Prince Richard Holkar, a descendant of both Ahilya Bai Holkar and the last Maharajah of Indore. (He's also an accomplished chef.)  When Holkar started renovating the fort in 2000, it had no running water. Today, though it still retains the impressive exterior of an 18th-century fortification, the inside is posh enough to receive a Relais & Châteaux distinction.

4. A jam factory

The Henry Jones Art Hotel, Hobart, Australia


(The Henry Jones Art Hotel)

As you approach Australia's Henry Jones Art Hotel, you'll see that the sign on the front still says "H. Jones & Co…Jams." Finding the harbor-side location a convenient spot for jam production, George Peacock started his factory in 1861, and, under Henry Jones, one of his employees, the business expanded until it took up nearly the entire block of buildings along the wharf.  Today, the boilers and canning machinery are gone, and 56-room property has shifted its focus to art, featuring more than 300 works in the hotel, many created by graduates from the Tasmanian School of Art.

5. A 1570s mill

Locanda RosaRosae, Breda di Piave, Italy


(Locanda RosaRosae)

If you didn't know better, you might assume that the Locanda RosaRosae is a working mill—the mill wheel still laps up waves from the neighboring stream. Inside is just as quaint—there's no ultra-modern refurbishment going on here.  The innkeepers—architect Slivio Stefani and his wife, Betti—have kept most of the bricks and beams bare, dressing up the four guest rooms with antiques befitting a structure that dates all the way back to 1570.

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