Do you ever feel the need to getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life and virtually hibernate inside a hidden shelter? Well, here’s a list of underground eco-hotels that epitomise ethical comfort yet providing you with numerous advantages of staying in an underground hotel — no humidity, constant cool temperature, serenity and calmness, with no crowds or loud noises.
Source: Hobbit Motel
It is impossible to think of any house built underground without comparing it to those from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. With a fantasy appeal, these strange little rooms with porthole-style windows invoke homely charms suitable for the most discerning of hobbits. Built into the side of a hill in Waitomo, a region on North Island known for its caves and waterfalls, the Hobbit Motel can accommodate up to six people, with a double bed in the main living area and two sets of bunk beds in another room. For fans of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies, a stay in this hotel is an experience not to be missed.
Located in the oldest part of the Sassi quarters, Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita outlooks to Murgia Park’s rock-hewn churches, and is Italy’s most luxurious cave hotel, proving traditional bricks and mortar aren’t needed for all upscale hotels. Designed by architect David Chipperfield, Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita is restored from decaying, abandoned ancient caves in the UNESCO-listed Sassi quarters, which comprises of hundreds of preserved caves once used as homes, churches and underground palaces. Now it comprises 18 impeccable rooms, the space has been converted into a stone-clad retreat perfect for the unconventional, history buff and eco-traveller.
You can't go any further underground than Sweden’s Sala Silvermine, located in Västmanland, where you will find the world’s deepest hotel room in the world at 508 feet underground. The suite can only be accessed through a mine lift shaft, giving visitors the chance to enjoy a private retreat in one of Sweden’s historical treasures, Sala Silvermine. Once dubbed “Sweden’s Federal Treasury”, silver was mined for many centuries here. Guests can take their own private tour of the mine and weave through underground lakes, winding galleries, and hallways where flashlights are the only source of illumination. While the accommodations are obviously not bathed in sunlight, the suite is adorned with a delicate chandelier, silver furnishings and plenty of candlelight to provide a romantic setting.
Matmatat-Al-Qadimal, Tunisia, has remnants of a fourth-century underground town built by the Berbers. The Hotel Marhala here is an underground hotel known as ‘Les Troglodytes’ by Star Wars fans. Part of Star Wars Episode IV was filmed here as Luke Skywalker’s childhood home on the planet of Tatooine in the first of George Lucas’ trilogy. Rooms here are just like other desert settlements in Tunisia — dug into the ground to avoid the intense heat and strong desert winds. Not only is the property a unique place to retreat after a night on the Tunisian town, it also provides a unique underground stay experience with a medieval setting.
La Claustra is part of a wider trend in Switzerland for recycling the plentiful decommissioned bunkers first carved out to defend the famously neutral country from foreign invasion. Once a secret military installation was hewn from deep inside Saint Gotthard mountain range, just south of Lucerne, Switzerland. The Swiss army ditched the spot in 1999 and artist Jean Odermatt snatched it up, and five years later opens a hotel with modern aesthetic and minimalist interiors. Inside, La Claustra is a maze of cavernous hallways one would expect to find in a bunker, but with unexpected touches, like a restaurant, windowless rooms, lounge and pool; Outside, at nearly 6,700 feet above sea level, the former bunker offers breathtaking views of the pristine greenery and slate grays rock formations of the Swiss Alps.
After decades of design development and construction, the mostly subterranean InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland opened in 2018 inside a formerly abandoned quarry about 20 miles southwest of Shanghai. Nicknamed as the "earthscraper," as it's the opposite of a skyscraper, the hotel has succeeded in turning an abandoned quarry into a futuristic landmark, resembling a flying saucer making its descent into the quarry, with only two of the building's levels above the ground and 16 levels, cascading down the rugged quarry cliff face. In addition, the building is notable for its environmental impact. It creates its own power — including heat and lighting — through geothermal and solar energy, and the roof is covered in greenery. Yet another must-go reason for eco-conscious travellers.