James Bond Slept Here: Top Island Lodgings
By Ann H. Waigand, GoNOMAD LODGINGS GUIDE
Is there something about staying on an island that makes people opt for temples, trains, igloos, anything but a conventional hotel room? Obviously, there must be, if you judge from our favorite island lodgings below.
Mount Koya, Japan
Attending monks instead of chambermaids; five a.m. awakenings to the sound of gongs calling monks to morning worship; shojin ryori, traditional Buddhist vegetarian cuisine; and exotic surroundings all are part of a stay in one of the temples on Japan’s most sacred mountain.
Little to no English is spoken by the monks who attend guests, serve meals, lay out futons for on-the-floor sleeping, and fill wooden hot tubs with steaming bath water.
Bathrooms are generally shared (with both Western and Oriental squatting-style toilets available), but the scenery, which includes hand-painted scrolls and delicate Japanese gardens, makes up for any inconvenience. Visitors can join Japanese pilgrims to walk to the mountaintop’s revered site, Okunoin, burial place of Kobo Daishi, Japan’s most famous saint.
Rates: ¥9,000 – 15,000 per person per night, including two meals. Of the 53 shukubo (temple inns) on Mount Koya, two (Haryo-in and Sekisho-in) are part of the Welcome Inn system.
Jules’ Undersea Lodge
Key Largo, Florida
Resting peacefully some thirty feet below the surface of Emerald Lagoon in Key Largo Undersea Park, this hotel, originally La Chalupa Mobile Undersea Laboratory, claims a unique niche as the world’s only lodging in the earth’s “inner space.” You must SCUBA dive to reach the underwater habitat which can fit up to six guests in its two-room, steel and acrylic structure. Assistance and special training is available for those not yet certified.
Even if you don’t stay in the lodge which is named for Jules Verne, author of “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” you can take part in hands-on, underwater educational activities such as snorkeling among more than 100 colorful marine species or exploring a marine archaeology exhibit and an underwater research and education habitat. One precaution: after returning to the surface, you must wait 24 hours before flying.
Rates: $250 per person per night, from 5pm to 9am, including dinner and breakfast; $350 per person per night, from 1pm to 11am, including dinner and breakfast and instruction for Aquanaut dive specialty rating.
Jules’ Undersea Lodge
51 Shoreland Drive, Key Largo, FL 33037
Tel: 305-451-2353, fax: 305-451-4789
James Bond creator Ian Fleming wrote of his personal retreat on Jamaica’s northern coast, “Would these books have ever been written if I had not been living in the gorgeous vacuum of a Jamaican holiday? I doubt it.” His three-bedroom villa at Goldeneye, which hosted such celebrities as Elizabeth Taylor and Noel Coward, is now part of the Goldeneye Estate (including four additional villa/cottages) which commands an enviable view onto a serene cove. All meals are provided by a private staff, and guests have access to a private beach. Pricey, but if you’re a Bond fan, this could be the island retreat of your dreams.
Rates: US$2,500 per night for Ian Fleming’s House (which accommodates up to six persons); villas rent from US$400 – $1,000 per night. The entire estate is available for US$5,000 per night. Rates include all meals and beverages (including alcohol).
Oracabessa, St. Mary, Jamaica
Tel. 876-975-3354, fax 876-975-3620
The Sidings Hotel
Not just a place for rail buffs, The Sidings Hotel and Restaurant makes a good choice for anyone who likes to sit and watch the world go by. If the room starts to shake, remember this hotel lies right next to the East Coast Main line that runs express train service from London to Edinburgh. Slightly used, but authentically refurbished railway carriages contribute further to providing guests with both the look and the feel of an old-fashioned rail journey. There are four privately-run steam railways nearby, including the scenic Settle and Carlisle Railway that travels through the Yorkshire Dales and Cumbria. Rates: From £51.50 per night.
South End, Shipton-by-Bennington, York
Y06 1BS, England
Tel: 011-44-1904-470221, fax: 011-44-1904-470945
If Sweden’s Ice Hotel has become too trendy, warm your toes by an iceberg in Greenland instead. At the Hotel Arctic, just 250 km from the Arctic Circle, five aluminum-clad igloos look out over a fjord where the majority of the Northern Hemisphere’s icebergs are created. Skip the conventional hotel rooms and book one of the dome-shaped igloos that offer all modern conveniences, including central heating, bathrooms, and kitchen facilities. Rates: Single DKK1075 per night, twin DKK1395 per night. Hotel Arctic
P.O. Box 1501, DK-3952
Tel: 011-299-44153, fax: 011-299-43924
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