“A fragment of another planet, a mirage of stone in the heart of Anatolia… There are parts of the Earth which do not seem really to belong to; Cappadocia is one of them, a strange and spectacular landscape from the pages of science fiction.” (1)
For some, the prospect of staying in a cave might sound a little claustrophobic and prehistoric. However, When this ancientness is combined with lavish mod cons and all the comforts of 21st century living, cave hotels have become synonymous with quirky and unique accommodations at their most romantic and extravagant.
In Cappodocia in Central Anatolia, Turkey, the landscape has been characterised by “fairy chimneys and a unique historical and cultural heritage.” (2)
Brimming with a unique geographical, historic and cultural heritage, Cappadocia is popular tourist area with tourists flocking to the region’s many underground cities, such as Gaziemir, Ozkanak and Kaymakli.
The almost dreamlike erupted volcanic rock formation that makes up the bulk of Cappadocia’s landscape means it is the perfect environment for cave hotels.
Cave Hotels of Cappodocia
The cave hotels of Cappodocia remain a popular place for tourists of the area to stay in, particularly in the towns of Goreme, Guzelyurt, Urgup and Uchisar.
The city of Goreme, for example, has been described as being one of the most ‘beautiful and characteristic locales of the Cappadocia region’. (3)
With its famed fairy chimneys and fantastic hues of colour cast upon the fantastic volcanic rock formations, the Goreme region was literally made for cave living. Taking advantage of its remarkable natural landscape are the Cappadocia Cave Suites, a distinctive cave hotel, which according to the hotel’s website “combines houses and cave dwellings of Hittite, Roman and Byzantine Periods with the luxurious comfort of the 21st century.” (http://www.cappadociacavesuites.com/en/index.asp?lang=en).
This ‘deluxe cave hotel’ was originally a hay barn and was restored in the 1990s. It consists of 36 rooms, most of which have a Jacuzzi. All rooms have been built from ancient caves carved over a thousand years ago.
Aside from providing luxury comfort in troglodyte accommodations, the Cappadocia Cave Suites are located within a UNESCO World Heritage Park. Needless to say, the views from the hotel across the Goreme Valley are stunning.
A Matchless Landscape
Concurring with the hype the Cappadocia Cave Suites’ website builds up of the hotel, is one of the UK’s leading broadsheet newspapers, the Independent, which featured Turkey’s Cappadocia Cave Suites in a travel article about the world’s best five cave hotels.
Talking about Cappadocia’s matchless landscape, the Independent states:
Also in Gerome is the Kelebek Hotel, which lies right in the heart of the city’s ancient village.
Up until 1993, Kelebek was nothing more than a family home, which like most of the houses in Goreme, comprised of a network of cave rooms. Although the history of the site dates back to prehistoric times, when the eruption of Mount Erciyes followed by centuries of wind and rain carved two unique ‘fairy chimneys’, which are the focal point of the hotel.
According to the Kelebek Hotel website, in medieval times the rooms at the apex of the two chimneys served as chapels for local hermits. (5) Today, the Kelebek comprises of 31 deluxe rooms that contain hamam basins, power showers and huge bathtubs, again merging an absorbing match of exclusivity and sophistication with archaic simplicity.
Underground Hotels Across the World
While Cappadocia certainly seems to be exploiting its remarkable landscape for tourism, there are other parts of the world that are similarly ‘geared up’ for cave hotels and underground living.
In the Guadix region of southern Spain for example, the barren, dry and almost ‘moonscape’ setting dominated by a series of humps protruding from the rocks has resulted in almost every home in the region being carved in some way into the rock and possessing cave rooms.
It is within what has been described as being the “cave capital of Spain”, that the Hotel Cuevas del Zenete ca be found. This quirky hotel comprises of 11 caves, each with its own fully-equipped kitchen, bathroom, fireplace and terrace area.
As well as providing insight into prehistoric underground existence with all the comforts and luxuries of top quality modern hotels, another reason why cave accommodation is practical in countries that experience severe climates such as Turkey and Spain that often goes overlooked, is that the temperature in caves are welcomingly warm in the winter, whilst remaining refreshingly cool in the summer.