We’ve already established that Utah has tons of amazing things to see and do. If you’re planning a trip to this beautiful state to vacation or visit your mother-in-law, you’ll need a place to stay. And if you already live in Utah, well, sometimes you just need to get out of the house and find a change of venue. No matter what your reasons for lodging, why stay in a boring hotel room when you can have an unforgettable experience in one of these seven unique places?
1) Ben Lomond Suites Historic Hotel Ogden, Utah
The Ben Lomond is a historic icon located in the trolley district of Ogden. Not only is it a beautiful example of an Italian renaissance-style building, it’s also said to be HAUNTED! The Ben Lomond is on the Utah and National Historic registers and still features many of the original fixtures such as chandeliers and marble floors.
The hotel has been the location of several murders, suicides and accidental deaths over the years. Stories include a woman who drowned in the bathtub in room 1102 and her son, who committed suicide shortly thereafter in the adjoining room, 1001. Guests and hotel staff have reported that the bathtub in room 1102 often turns on by itself, and that voices and apparitions are heard in both rooms. An employee fell down an elevator shaft three floors to his death in 1926. Now, night-shift employees say that the elevator operates mysteriously on its own, traveling to the 10th floor, where it stays for quite awhile before returning to the lobby...empty.
Whether you witness evidence of the afterworld or not, the Ben Lomond Suites Historic Hotel is worth checking out. You’ll find it at 2510 Washington Boulevard. Call for reservations (801)627-1900.
2) Seven Wives Inn, St. George
For a really unique experience, you and your spouse(s) can spend the night at an inn with some rich polygamist history. Seven Wives Inn includes two neighboring historic homes and a cottage. The Edwin Wooley home, built in 1873, was used to hide polygamist Benjamin F. Johnson and his seven wives from prying U.S. government eyes in 1882. Johnson is an ancestor of the current owners, who clearly have a sense of humor -- they’ve even named the guest rooms after the wives. Unlike the polygamist wives of the 1880s, you won’t be expected to cook meals, wash dozens of loads of laundry by hand and wrangle 40 children.
Each house has a guest parlor for visiting. Seven Wives also has an outdoor swimming pool, central air conditioning and heating, and free breakfast (Johnson’s wives never had it this good). The twelve rooms each offer a unique blend of pioneer decor and twenty-first century amenities such as Wifi, jetted tubs, electronic door keypads, gas fireplaces and cable television.
For those who prefer a bit more privacy, the quaint Ada Cottage has a sweet, little front porch, walk-in shower, large jetted tub and California King-sized bed. The Inn is located at 217 N. 100 W. in St. George. Reservations at (435)628-3737.
3) Big Water Yurt, Millcreek Canyon
If you’re up for a real adventure, try Big Water Yurt. Located 4.5 miles past the winter gate in Millcreek Canyon, it’s managed by Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation and is akin to camping… with a woodstove. Staying overnight in a yurt is truly an unforgettable experience. Leave whiners and those addicted to technology home.
There’s no cellphone reception, which means you’ll spend your entire trip Facebook-free. There’s no indoor plumbing; you haul your own water and poop in an outhouse. You ski or snowshoe 4.5 miles to get to the yurt, so if the last prolonged physical activity you did involved walking to the mailbox and back, you’ll be in big trouble.
If you can handle its limitations, Big Water Yurt might just change your life. It’s rare to find such secluded, wild accommodations. The yurt sits at 7,520 feet, so visitors are rare. You won’t have to worry about partying college kids keeping you up all night, or the clanging of an ice machine outside your door. Just peace and quiet.
Submit a reservations request to Salt Lake County Parks by November 5th. The yurt is open from December through April.
4) Defa’s Dude Ranch, Hanna
If you’re looking for a fun summer experience, check out Defa’s Dude Ranch. It’s located in Hanna, in the Ashley National Forest. The ranch was founded by Frank Defa in 1946. Frank and his son built a new guest cabin every year and slowly improved and expanded the ranch. Today, the ranch is run by third-generation Defa family members. Guests can stay in any of the 18 cabins, or camp with a tent or RV. Activities include horseback riding, horseshoe pitching, fishing and hiking.
The guest cabins are definitely no-frills, but come with mattresses on the beds, refrigerators, stoves and furniture. They don’t have indoor plumbing, but there’s shower facilities onsite so you won’t get too smelly. The truth is, you’re not there for the cabin because you’re surrounded by the stunning forest. If you’re the kind of person who leaves home to sit in a hotel room, watching TV, Defa’s is not for you. Get out and explore the gorgeous terrain. Enjoy the solitude of nature. When you’re in the mood for some socializing, stop by the dance hall and cowboy bar or cafe.
Defa's Dude Ranch/Facbook
Open May through October. Stay on weeknights for only $25. Reservations (435) 848-5590.
5) Alaskan Inn, Ogden Canyon
If luxurious cabins and pampering are more what you had in mind, stay at the Alaskan Inn. You’ll still enjoy some real peace and quiet (for one thing, it’s an adults-only bed and breakfast). And you can stay in your own little log cabin. The cabins at Alaskan Inn are designed for romance -- each one has a jetted tub, a soft, comfy bed with cozy bedding, lodgepole furniture, a bottled of chilled cider and chocolates. In the morning, the inn keepers bring breakfast right to your cabin door. The 11 cabins are all decorated with a different Alaskan theme.
If you’re celebrating something special (like time away from the kids), order a few extras for the room. They’ll scatter rose petals on the bed, place tea light candles around the whirlpool bath and provide you with a couple’s massage. If you’re so lame that you can’t think of ANYTHING good to do once you’ve checked in, your room is equipped with a flat screen television so you can watch a romantic football game.
During the month of July, Alaskan Inn thanks military servicemembers with a 20 percent discount on weeknights and 10 percent discount on Friday and Saturday nights. If you’re eligible, mention it when you make your reservation. The Alaskan Inn is located at 435 Ogden Canyon. Reserve at (801)621-8600.
6) Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Kanab
If you have a real love of furry creatures, a stay at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary might be the unique experience you’re looking for. The sanctuary was founded in 1984 by a group of people who wanted to create a no-kill shelter for homeless, abused animals. Today, Best Friends Sanctuary is home to around 2,000 animals including dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, birds, mules, sheep and more. Many of the animals are adoptable; others are getting the physical and emotional care they need to someday become adoptable.
You can stay overnight at the sanctuary, though you’ll want to make your reservations as far in advance as possible (it’s a popular place!). The eight cottages accommodate up to six human guests and three pets. The four smaller cabins sleep one to two humans and two pets. The Sanctuary also has two RV sites that are open March 15th through October 31st.
While you’re visiting, put in a few hours of volunteer work. You can walk a dog, clean an animal pen, snuggle a cat and more -- there’s always plenty to do at a sanctuary with nearly 2,000 animals! As a volunteer, you can also invite an adoptable animal to your cottage or cabin for a “sleepover.” It’s a chance to snuggle up to a sweet dog or cat during your stay. Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is located five miles north of Kanab. Reserve online.
7) Lake Powell Houseboats
It’s hot, you’re bored, the kids are bored and everyone is cranky. Time to take this summer party somewhere with better scenery, a cooler full of cold drinks and a huge lake full of fun. Head to Lake Powell and rent a houseboat.
Anyone can drive a houseboat. Or so they say. Of course, you must be sober to drive legally, and you have to be at least eighteen years old. They’ll give you thorough driving instructions and will captain the houseboat out of the marina so you don’t crash into someone else’s party on your departure.
You can camp on any of numerous sandy beaches along the coast, or sleep on the boat. It comes stocked with kitchen essentials, deck chairs, bedding and towels. You bring the sunscreen, food, lake toys and beverages.
You’ll pick up your houseboat from either the Bullfrog Marina in Utah, or the Wahweap Marina, just across the Arizona border. Reserve online or call (888)896-3829.