Lonely Planet's top 10 weird bars and restaurants
Not a diver? The Red Sea Star has a front-row-seat view of the ocean floor. (Anthony Pidgeon/LPI)
Just when you think you are in touch with all the cool new places, it turns out you haven’t really seen it all.
Hobbit House, Manila, Philippines
This Tolkien-themed bar and restaurant in the Philippines bills itself as "the world's only bar owned and staffed by hobbits" - actually a team of dwarves and midgets. The decor is charming and rustic, with wood panelling and folksy flourishes, and tall people will need to bend over double to fit through the doorways. The Hobbit House is renowned for the quality of its live music. There is live music every night; for reservations, the menu and a map, visit www.hobbithousemanila.com.
Red Sea Star, Eilat, Israel
The Red Sea Star is a bit like Stromberg's underwater lair in the 1977 James Bond flick The Spy Who Loved Me - which is unsurprising considering that it is 5m below the Red Sea in Israel. The interior of this bar-restaurant feels somewhat reminiscent of a mermaid's lounge, with fishy fantasy motifs - including jellyfish-shaped stools and starfish-shaped lights - and huge windows through which curious (or possibly vengeful) fish and other marine creatures eyeball the customers eyeballing their seafood platters. If you crane your neck, you might see a ship overhead from time to time. Landlubbers will be relieved to find the rooftop Metro Bar is open 7pm-3am, the underwater bar opens from 10am.
Le Refuge Des Fondues, Paris, France
Don't despair if you can't get into that posh Parisian restaurant - this place will take anyone (space permitting). It is tiny and the walls are covered with graffiti (add your own). Only fondues are served, and there are just two tables, which are very long. Diners sit cheek by jowl - those on the inner seats have to scramble over the table when they want to leave. One of the bonuses is that you will meet lots of people; in fact, it is pretty hard not to when you go planting your boot into someone's dinner in your rush to make the toilet after one baby bottle too many (that is what their wine comes in).
Giger bar, Chur & Château St Germain, Switzerland
The Swiss graphic artist HR Giger is perhaps most famous for creating the eponymous creature in the sci-fi /horror flick Alien, along with the film's overall ambience of nightmare and dread. Giger invented the concept of "biomechanoids", a hellish fusion of machine and utterly alien intelligence, and that precisely describes the decor of these bars in Switzerland. Interiors are dark and oppressive - it feels like you are in the tomb where Alien's doomed space travellers first encountered their demonic nemesis. The seats impart a horrible sensation, like you're sitting in the slimy monster's lap.
Depeche Mode Baar, Tallinn, Estonia
The most bizarre aspect of this tribute bar is the band it chose to honour. This dark corner of Estonia is filled with black-clad, rake-thin Depeche Mode fans sipping on Master & Servant or Personal Jesus cocktails while listening to the band's cold melancholia. Autographed photos, DM artwork and tour memorabilia line the walls, while video screens play continuous Mode videos. A bleak hell for some; sweet heaven for others.
Albatross, Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo's tiny Albatross is in the barfilled Shomben Yokocho (Piss Alley; all the bars share the same toilets). You would be hard pressed to cram more than 10 bodies in here. There are three levels, including an art gallery, and the place is so skinny there is a hole in the upper floors through which the bar staff pass your drinks. If you do not breathe out, do not scratch your head and make sure you watch your step (people have been known to fall through the drinks hole), then you will have a fine old time.
Nasa, Bangalore, India
Bar staff resplendent in spacesuits; space-shuttle-style decor; spacey tags: "Fuel Tank" for the bar, "Humanoid Disposal" for the toilets; laser-light shows; tables attached to rocket fins; images of the earth seen from orbit through portholes on the walls... The only thing missing from this ode to the Infinite Vacuum in India is a dodgy heat-protection shield, although the cocktails can supply the blinding flash (and the stars before your eyes).