Victoria Brewood has collected some of the more unusual drinking venues around the world. “In the search for more unusual, out-of this-world travelling experiences, travellers are being lured to the ends of the earth to find the most eccentric, wacky and exciting activities, sights and venues. So if you’re fond of a tipple or two, you might want to try one of these bars. Their locations and gimmicks are enough to get pulses racing, but add alcohol to the mix and you’re in for quite a fun time. Here are 13 of the world’s most strange, exciting and different watering holes that will have you thirsty for more.” read on…
1. Clinic – Singapore
Many people don’t like visiting hospitals so this bar might be a little questionable in taste for some. Clinic is a hospital themed bar located within the shopping and entertainment district, Clarke Quay.
It’s not surprising that the architect of the bar was wacky artist Damien Hirst, famous for such works as the cow in formaldehyde. The pill shaped rooms are all interlinked and are designed to give a drug ‘trip’ effect. Guests can drink from test tubes and IV bags, sit in wheelchairs instead of sitting on bar stools, lie on hospital beds with white curtains, and boogie on the capsule-shaped dance floor in the nightclub, Morphine.
The restaurant is designed like an operating room where guests can dine sitting in gold wheelchairs and eating from kidney shaped steel trays. Yum, I just hope the food doesn’t taste like hospital food…
2. Absolut Icebar – Sweden
The very first bar to be made entirely of ice can be found in the small town of Jukkasjarvi in Sweden. Although novelty ice bars seem to be popping up everywhere these days, even in the baking hot Niger desert, the Absolut Icebar, within the Ice Hotel, is the original ice bar.
Guests don thermal capes and huddle together in freezing cold conditions surrounded by carefully-crafted ice sculptures. The Absolut vodka cocktails are served in ice glasses, just make sure you don’t get your lips stuck to them!
The ice is sourced from the Torne River in the village of Jukkasjarvi and the frosty bar is only open during the winter from December to April.
3. Red Sea Star Underwater Restaurant, Bar and Observatory – Israel
The world’s first underwater bar, the Red Sea Star, is submerged six meters below the Red Sea in Eilat. Each table has Plexiglass windows – two either side and one above – so that diners can admire the fish, coral, and other sea life from their dinner table. The décor is even marine-inspired with jellyfish stools, urchin cushions, and anemone lighting fixtures.
Before the Red Sea Star was built in 1998, the area on which it stands was a damaged seabed, but four years before it opened the Red Sea Star team started growing a coral nursery surrounding the reef to save and preserve what used to be an active and colourful coral reef.
4. Bojangles – Australia
In the town of Alice Springs in the red centre of Australia, backpackers and travellers on their way to visit Uluru will almost certainly end up at this curious bar.
Walk through the closely guarded saloon doors and you’ll be amazed at what you see – boots hanging from the ceilings, snakes in tanks, and a coffin with a suit of armour inside which says ‘How Much To Touch Ned’s Nuts?’ Pull out some peanuts and throw the shells on the floor, because at Bo’s anything goes.
Sounds like a quirky bar already, but wait – it gets better. If you go to the bathroom you might get a little surprise, for when you come to wash your hands, each tap turns on the water in a different sink!
5. DM Bar – Estonia
If you’re a huge fan and you just can’t get enough of Depeche Mode, this bar in the capital city of Estonia, Tallinn, is entirely devoted to the band.
It doesn’t seem the most obvious choice of band to dedicate a bar to, but the synth-poppers from Basildon in the UK are extremely popular anywhere east of Berlin. The bar’s walls are filled with Depeche Mode memorabilia and guess what’s on the playlist for the night? You guessed it, Depeche Mode songs.
Members of the band Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher have actually partied the night away in the bar which is sure to be one of the strangest hat tips to the band.
6. Hobbit House – Philippines
Hobbit House in the Philippines is based on the J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy, “Lord of The Rings,” and all the staff in the bar are friendly and charming dwarfs. The dark, smoke-filled bar offers around 100 different kinds of beer and is a great live music venue.
Opened 35 years ago, The Hobbit House has been around in Manila so long, it is a famous institution. The Iowa-born owner, Jim Turner, is an ex-Peace Corps volunteer who has rescued these dwarfs from the slums and streets of Manila and given them an honest place to work. He has given them new cultural identities and they are no longer shunned or avoided; they are respectable business people.
The bartenders are merry characters and entertainers who are up for a laugh and will happily pose with tourists for photos. The Hobbit House features possibly the world’s smallest Elvis impersonator, hobbit jugglers, comics, dancers, flame-eaters, and singers.
7. Baobab Bar – South Africa
Having a drink inside a 6,000-year-old Baobab tree is an unusual experience to tell your friends about when you return from your travels.
The hollow 72-foot high tree offers a cool interior to step into from the heat outside and now has a bar, dart board and benches.
It was created in a Baobab tree in Sunland Farm in Limpopo to keep the thirsty locals happy and now thousands of tourists travel from miles around to have a pint in this interesting establishment.
The trunk has a 155-foot circumference and is wide enough to fit 40 people inside it. It even has its own cellar with natural ventilation to keep the beer cool!
The pub is owned by the van Heerdens, who decided to open a pub when they discovered a natural hollow in the tree in the 1980s. While clearing out the hollow centre of the tree trunk, the van Heerdens found historical evidence of Bushmen who may have once lived in the tree.
8. Das Klo Bar – Germany
One of the most bizarre drinking experiences ever, Klo Bar in Berlin is reputed to attract more tourists than Charlottenburg Castle and the Museum Island. Klo 1 and 2 no longer exist, but Klo 3, which started life on Christmas Day 1971, still does. Part flea market, part zoo, and part theme park, Das Klo (German for “the toilet”) is meant to evoke the inside of a toilet, but it ends up giving visitors the feel of stepping onto an Indiana Jones movie set.
Prepare to be shocked – expect red wine in blood transfusion packs, electric shocks from tables, rotating bar stools, a hammer that comes down unexpectedly, and a bird spider, boa constrictor and iguana. It’s an attack on the senses – upon entering Klo you’ll be sprinkled by water, spooked by skeletons and a gust of air might blow ladies’ skirts up. Lightning flashes across the rooms and there is a false ceiling of paper mâché rocks that fall in a giant avalanche every 10 minutes. A kilted figure in the ladies loo is booby-trapped so that whenever a lady lifts the kilt to see if he is going commando, a siren goes off in the bar.
Seating is a choice of coffins or toilet seats, the beer is served in new urine specimen bottles, and the food is sausages with sauerkraut fetchingly presented in huge enamel potties. Supposedly most of the owner’s ideas came to him sitting on the loo.
9. Skeleton Bar – Switzerland
This odd museum-bar was designed by Swiss man Hans Rudi Giger who worked as a designer on the Oscar winning Alien movies. Giger designed the title character, the human-eating Alien monster, and won an Oscar for best special effects in 1980.
The bar in Gruyere, Switzerland, will remind you of the alien – or perhaps sitting inside a monster’s stomach, with its spinal chord-like skeleton decoration.
The creepy, horror movie-inspired bar is decorated with skeleton bones throughout, from the walls and chairs to the flower vases.
10. Floyd’s Pelican Bar – Jamaica
Take a few pieces of driftwood and palm leaves, nail them together and put them on stilts in the ocean and – hey presto – you have Floyd’s Pelican Bar.
It looks like it might fall over, but it’s surprisingly sturdy.
Floyd’s sits about a mile off the south coast of Jamaica in Parottee Bay and local fisherman will take you out there.
There’s nothing like a cold beer in the middle of the ocean, doing a bit of snorkelling and enjoying a lobster meal prepared by Floyd himself. You might spot some pelicans and a few sting rays too.
11. Alux Restaurant & Lounge – Mexico
Alux, in Playa Del Carmen, is one of only two restaurants in the world inside a cavern.
After you descend down the candlelit rock stairway into the Flintstones-like cave, you can lounge, drink, dine, and dance amongst the natural environment of stalagmites and stalactites. The bar is spread amongst a series of caverns and creative lighting casts the stalactites and stalagmites all different colours.
At around 9pm the Alux turns into one of the most popular drinking spots in Playa Del Carmen and as the night wears on you might spot an alux, one of the mythical prank-playing “little people” of Mayan lore, who are said to inhabit these caverns.
12. William Thornton Floating Bar & Restaurant – British Virgin Islands
The William Thornton is a steel 100-foot schooner with a restaurant and bar on board, moored at The Bight off Norman Island.
The Willy T, as it is affectionately known, began life in the 80s as a wooden Baltic vessel. But after the boat sprung a leak and sank at its anchorage, the owners, Annie and Mick Gardner, replaced it with the larger steel boat everyone knows today.
The William Thornton who the floating bar is named after was born in the British Virgin Islands and is the man behind the design of the United States Capitol building.
13. The Rock Bar – Bali
Perched 14 meters above the Indian Ocean, this open-top bar is literally served straight up on the rocks.
It’s a perfect place to sit and watch the sunset, sip cocktails and admire the view of the perfect Bali waves splashing against the rocks below. What makes it even more novel is the outdoor elevator which takes you down the cliff to the bar. Beware though, it only holds four so you might end up taking the stairs!
Live musicians play on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays so you can sit back and enjoy some tunes with a view. Located within the Ayana Resort & Spa in Jimbaran Bay, The Rock Bar will certainly leave a lasting impression and is Bali’s most chic sunset and after-dark destination.
photos, top to bottom, by: Jason Bagley, mattsabo17, g-flow, Andy_Mitchell_UK, HokutoSuisse, Jere Dow,Danforth1, Das Klo website, edseloh, alfredmoya, chrisheuer, ttrygve, Victoria Brewood