The Website Where Cool Hotels and Poetry Meet
At HotelHaiku.com, everything you need to know about a hotel is described in 17 syllables.
That's the premise anyway.
Or perhaps "gimmick" is the more appropriate word? HotelHaiku is a niche site that highlights highly unusual hotels around the world, and yes, the write-ups of each property consist solely of a traditional three-line haiku poem: five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables.
As of now there are over 70 hotels listed on the site. For instance, there's 9 Hours, an ultra-modern capsule hotel in Kyoto, Japan, described here:
Check-in then shower /
Fall asleep in your capsule /
Prepare then check-out
Maybe that's enough of a description for some travelers. Well, that and, presumably, the implicit endorsement of the tastemakers at HotelHaiku.
In our recent "World's Weirdest Hotels" feature, though, you'd learn a lot more about this same property, including that it has "amenities you would expect from a four-star hotel (rain-forest showerheads, complimentary mineral water, pillows specially designed to ensure healthy posture during sleep)." Also, that "each capsule includes a computerized-lighting/alarm-clock system to facilitate sleeping and waking."
Sweden's Treehotel also gets the haiku treatment:
Nesting with the birds /
In the forest canopy /
Where tree lovers flock
That one's also in our "Weird" story, only with a whole lot more detail. Here's some:
Fixed about 20 feet up in the trees of the Harads woods are five separate "rooms" that each offer distinct tree-house experiences. The Bird's Nest is exactly what it sounds like, with a wild twig exterior on grand scale. The Mirrorcube is a square unit that reflects its surroundings, doubling as a kind of forest camouflage. (Bird lovers, don't fret—it's covered in an infrared film that's visible to our feathered friends, to avoid crashes.) The UFO evokes a spinning spaceship from just about any '60s sci-fi movie. Each structure is only accessible by an individual ladder, staircase, or bridge, so to wander among them is to stroll the forest floor.
Even so, HotelHaiku is a neat starting point for tracking down one-of-a-kind lodging. If you're bored by cookie-cutter chain hotels, give the site a look. Just don't end your research there, obviously.
MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL:
Celebrating St. Patrick's Day in the Caribbean
Yes, the most famous St. Patrick's Day festival is in Dublin. But did you know that there's a Caribbean island that celebrates the holiday with great fanfare? Montserrat is the only country in the world besides Ireland where St. Patrick's Day is a national holiday. The volcanic island, which has the nickname of "The Other Emerald Isle," was colonized by Irish Catholics from nearby St. Kitts in the 1630s and by 1678 half the residents were Irish. March 17 also has an additional significance to the people of Montserrat beyond the Irish heritage. The celebrations here also commemorate a failed slave uprising on that day in 1768. Today, locals and tourists celebrate with a weeklong festival that lasts until Montserrat Day (March 19). Things are a little different here than on the island on the other side of the Atlantic. The weather is decidedly sunnier, for one. Instead of pints of Guinness, revelers drink rum punch and fresh juice straight from coconuts. It's also doubtful that spear fishing tournaments or goat water competitions have ever factored into the Irish celebration. MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL 26 Stunning Ireland Photos 15 Things You Didn't Know About Ireland Top Budget Travel Destinations for 2012
One Year Later, Japan Tourism Slowly Recovers
As Japan marked the one-year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the island nation on March 11, 2011, the country's tourism officials report that travelers are starting to trickle back. In January 2012, Japan welcomed 700,000 international tourists, a 4.5 percent decrease compared to January 2011, according to the Japan Tourism Agency, the government's tourism promotion arm. And while the tourism numbers are still slightly down, that represents a major improvement over the 70 percent dive in tourism the country experienced immediately after the earthquake. To mark the anniversary and the recovery efforts, the Japan Tourism Agency and Japan National Tourism Organization launched a campaign called "Japan. Thank You." It is intended to communicate the gratitude of the Japanese people for the global support it has received. As the recovery continues, the nation is hoping that its famous cherry blossom season this spring can help attract even more international travelers. There are also numerous promotions in the Japan travel market intended to stimulate travel back to Japan. The Japan National Tourism Organization issues regular travel advisory updates, hoping to help travelers better understand the situation on the ground in Japan, including the threat of radiation. It reminds travelers that the radiation level in Tokyo is similar to that of New York City. The organization also has a map on its website showing where the Fukushima Daiichi Plant is located in relation to other major cities across the island. Would you still be wary of going to Japan? How come? More from Budget Travel: Wendy's Goes Gourmet in Japan How travelers can help Japan recovery Budget Travel reader reaches out from Japan
How to Identify Any Blossom
It doesn't get much more beautiful than blossom season, and while cherry trees tend to get all the love this time of year, there are plenty of other arboreal displays to admire. The problem—for those of us who aren't particularly savvy about these things—is figuring out exactly what kind of tree you're appreciating at any given time. Turns out, an app we featured last fall in our roundup of leaf–peeping–season gear is just as useful for shedding a light on spring's spellbinding displays as it is for illuminating fall's most colorful foliage. The Leafsnap app, which works with iPhones and iPads (and is absolutely free), is a continually–updated electronic field guide that puts 2,500 high–res photos of native American trees' leaves, bark, fruit, and flowers in the palm of your hand. Flip through the images in the database for fun, or snap a photo with your device and upload it to the app to find the match. And if you just feel like doing some armchair blossom–spotting, check out the Field Guide to Flowering Trees of the World Flickr group; it's got more than 11,000 photos of some 1,300 different species of tree, all labeled with their scientific names. And don't forget to click through Budget Travel Readers' Best Cherry Blossom Photos while you're at it! Do you have a favorite blossoming tree (other than the cherry)? Tell us in the comments! MORE FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Travel Deals For Cherry Blossom Festivals D.C.'s Cherry Blossoms Without the Crowds The 14 Most Beautiful Home and Garden Tours in America
Do You Embrace Technology When You Travel?
It seems like everyday there is a new travel website launching—it can be overwhelming, even for us and we do this for a living! We're constantly testing the newest tools to help you sort the wheat from the chaff (refer to our list of the 10 Most Useful Travel Websites to see some of our favorites). Some sites, like TripIt help create custom itineraries. Other websites like Guestmob, Viator, and FlightFox promise ways to save money on hotels, cruise shore excursions, or airline tickets respectively. And that's not even counting apps—a quick search in The App Store revealed there are more than 240 apps in the travel category alone, not to mention another 48 available for Android devices via Google Play. Before smartphones and instant internet access, people relied on word–of–mouth recommendations, travel agents, printed guides and didn't mind getting a little lost if it meant having a great travel story to tell when they got home. It's not that these things have disappeared—most of us still ask our friends for recommendations before we travel, still own a guidebook or two, and travel agents are still in business. The difference is that now we also have currency converters, maps, online planners and translators at our fingertips. And it's easier than ever to share our can share our travel adventures on social media—or Pinterest—at any time. We even did a story about this back in December of 2010 where we sent a writer to Mumbai with nothing but a smartphone to see what kind of trip he would have by relying on technology alone. In another story from our October 2011 issue, we sent a writer to France without any maps, guidebooks, itinerary, GPS, or cell phone to see if he could get by solely on advice from the locals. As technology continues to evolve, so will we—and so will how we travel. We're just beginning to discover the ways that we can use all of the data accessible to us to make our lives easier. The question is—for the time being—do you find these new developments to be helpful or confusing? Do you think that printed guidebooks and travel agents will one day go out of business or will there always be demand for them? Sound off below!