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5 of America’s Quirkiest Themed Hotels

By Fiona Mokry
Read time: 5 minutes

Why settle for a traditional stay away from home when you could immerse yourself in a fun and flamboyant theme? The U.S. is home to a variety of themed hotels that are an experience in themselves, welcoming guests into what feels like another dimension. These hotels are creative, eclectic, diverse, and offer the same elevated amenities and comfort you’d expect from a typical hotel. All of them claim a truly immersive environment that offers guests a fantastical escape from reality. Here are five of America’s coolest themed hotels.

TWA Hotel – John F. Kennedy Airport, New York

Lobby lounge inside historic repurposed airline terminal at the TWA Hotel in New York
Credit: Phillip Reed/ The Washington Post via Getty Images

The TWA Hotel at JFK Airport is far from your typical airport hotel. Named after the now-defunct Trans World Airlines (TWA), it occupies the carrier’s original terminal building in Queens, New York. The iconic, jet age-inspired terminal — designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen — was in operation from 1962 to 2001. The head house has been adapted as part of the TWA Hotel that opened in 2019, along with two other new buildings constructed for guest rooms and other hotel functions. 

Aviation history is on full display at the TWA Hotel — look no further than the vintage Lockheed Constellation parked outside that’s been turned into a cocktail bar. It’s also the only hotel located within JFK and is easily accessible from the airport terminals. With 512 guest rooms (many boasting exceptional views of the busy JFK runways), a year-round rooftop infinity pool, a Twister room where guests can take part in a wall-to-wall version of the iconic 60s game, and vintage decor throughout that’s reminiscent of the golden age of air travel, the TWA Hotel goes above and beyond the standards of most airport accommodations.

LEGOLAND Castle Hotel – Carlsbad, California

LEGO-themed exterior of the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel in Carlsbad, California
Credit: RBL/Bauer-Griffin/ GC Images via Getty Images 

The family fun doesn’t stop when you leave the famous LEGOLAND California theme park in Carlsbad, — as long as your visit includes a stay at LEGOLAND Castle Hotel. The neighboring accommodation was tailor-made for kids with its medieval LEGO castle theme. The turrets and towers were built in mismatching LEGO colors, and even the shape and structure of the hotel resembles the popular toy building blocks. 

The hotel also boasts an outdoor cinema with LEGO-themed movies, activities like a hotel-wide scavenger hunt, a castle-themed outdoor playscape, and themed rooms such as the Knights & Dragons, Wizards, and Princess rooms. With LEGOLAND California just steps away and constant entertainment found within the hotel, a stay at the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel is a child’s dream come true. 

Guitar Hotel at the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood – Hollywood, Florida

Guitar Hotel at the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood, lit at night
Credit: Bilanol/ Shutterstock 

No stay in southern Florida is flashier than a few nights at the world’s first guitar-shaped hotel, the Guitar Hotel at the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood Hotel. The hotel’s main tower takes the shape of a giant 450-foot-tall guitar that’s decked out with illuminated strings, floor-to-ceiling glass panes, and 638 guest rooms inside. 

Nightly light shows showcase the hotel’s 2.3 million LED lights with an impressive performance of changing light colors and intensities, all choreographed to music. The show is accentuated by six high-powered beams stemming from the guitar strings that soar 20,000 feet into the sky. Guests can choose to stay in the Guitar Tower or at two of the hotel’s other arms flanking the guitar (the Oasis Tower or the Hard Rock Hotel). All of them have access to the hotel’s casino, a variety of fine dining and casual restaurants, and the lagoon-style pool with poolside cabanas. 

Madonna Inn – San Luis Obispo, California

Courtyard at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, California
Credit: Tayfun Coskun/ Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In 1958, Alex Madonna and his wife Phyllis opened this kitschy motel a few miles outside downtown San Luis Obispo (nicknamed SLO) with a total of 12 rooms. A few years later, the motel grew to include 40 rooms, plus a wine cellar, bakery and coffee shop, spa, banquet room, and gift shop. Today, Madonna Inn is a top-rated hotel that boasts 110 unique and individually themed rooms, each with eclectic decor and design. Pink, white, and gold are the main color schemes, while the interior is adorned with ornate accents, brightly-colored vinyl, floral carpet patterns, and vintage wallpaper. 

Each room boasts its own name, like Barrel of Fun, Jungle Rock, Sugar & Spice, and Love Nest. Some come equipped with circular beds, gold throw blankets, and sequined walls, while others feature giant boulder walls, waterfall showers, and auto shop-inspired brick backdrops. All of the rooms are bright and cheerful, reflecting the hotel’s playful 1960s theme. A stay at the Madonna Inn isn’t all about the lodging, either — SLO is a beautiful city on California’s Central Coast that boasts outdoor adventures, beaches, and plenty of shopping and dining in its historic downtown. 

Big Idaho Potato Hotel – Boise, Idaho

Inside guest room in the Big Idaho Potato Hotel in Boise, Idaho
Credit: Courtesy of the Idaho Potato Commission

Idaho grows the most potatoes of any state, so it’s only fitting that the state’s quirkiest hotel experience revolves around a giant potato. In 2012, a six-ton steel, plaster, and concrete potato was made to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Idaho’s Potato Commission, the agency responsible for promoting and protecting the “Grown in Idaho” seal. For seven years, the human-made spud traveled the country on a flatbed before returning to Idaho, where Kristie Wolfe, a member of the truck touring team, used her construction skills to turn the potato into a hotel. 

Now located on 400 acres overlooking the Owyhee Mountains in South Boise, the 28-foot long, 12-foot wide, and 11.5-foot tall potato offers guests a true taste of Idaho. Water usage and heating and cooling methods have been designed to be eco-friendly, and the detached bathroom is more like a spa — boasting a whirlpool, fireplace, and skylight for stargazing. Guests can currently book a stay at Big Idaho Potato hotel on Airbnb

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