Hotels Renovate Former Banks, Trains and Planes

Up the cool quotient on your next vacation by staying in a reclaimed space. Whether it’s a former train, plane or fire station, these properties’ new lives offer up cushy quarters and tasty treats.

Bonnie's Dining Room, Bank Hotel © Jens Bergstrand

Bonnie’s Dining Room, Bank Hotel © Jens Bergstrand

It may cost you some ducats, but Stockholm’s recently opened Bank Hotel is garnering tons of interest in the heart of the city. The circa 1910 building started as the head office of a financial institution, with a modern interpretation of a Renaissance palace and Art Deco extravagance. Today, you can still admire those grand tiled floors, high ceilings with magnificent archways and the original massive bronze doors. The design of Papillon bar is inspired by the former bank director’s office.

The Train Lodge may be a hostel, but its former lifetime makes for a great conversation starter with those you don’t know. This former rail car gives houseboats a run for their money in the canal-laden city of Amsterdam for unique, with 132 beds in 44 compartments set up much like traditional sleeper cars. You can combine two compartments for a family-friendly six beds, or rent an entire carriage for 33 people. The location is also great — next to the Sloterdijk train station.

You might have to take a Boeing 727 to get to Costa Rica, but you can also stay in one at Hotel Costa Verde, a two-bedroom suite that jets out from the jungle canopy. Much more comfortable than a typical jet, however, the rooms include teak furnishings and private balconies off of both wings to spot monkeys, toucans and sloths. There’s also the cockpit cottage, part of a McDonnell Douglas MD-80 fuselage. The one bedroom even includes a kitchen!

Fans of the TV show Babylon Berlin know that in the early 20th century, few Germans had bathing facilities at home and used to go to public bathhouses for a good soak as a family once or twice a week. At Hotel Oderberger, get a glimpse into the past with a contemporary spin, thanks to meeting rooms held in converted bath facilities. Guestrooms no longer have tiled walls, but the bathrooms inside them have antique doors from the 1898 facility. You can, of course, always take a dip in the cool (and covered) interior courtyard pool, reopened in 2016 after a 30-year hiatus. Every Tuesday, free historic guided tours of the property are offered in the trendy Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood.

Few of the incarcerated folks who lived here probably dreamed generations later would spend a few bills to stay in one of the nicest parts of town, but times change for the better. Boston’s former Charles Street Jail was reimagined as the Liberty Hotel, transforming an 1851 National Historic Landmark into a 298-room hot spot. The cool interior plays on a “bars” theme in terms of décor and food and beverage, with restaurant Clink, and Alibi and Liberty bars.

The most popular suite for honeymooners in North Adelaide features an intriguing third guest: a 1942 International Fire Truck at the foot of the king-sized bed at the Fire Station Inn. What was formerly the main fire station (circa 1866) is now a B&B complete with a fireman’s pole, lights, memorabilia from the original space and luxurious spa bathrooms. There’s also a delicious breakfast — a far cry from the chili likely formerly cooked up here!