Triple-skin facade brings daylight, fresh air and beauty to a tropical home

January 8, 2019 by  
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Hanoi-based design studio Nghia Architect has completed Maison A, a beautiful home that brings to life the cherished childhood memories of the client. Located in Nam ??nh, a coastal village southeast of Vietnam’s capital of Hanoi, the house was created for the client’s aging mother and is large enough to accommodate her children and grandchildren who visit during the holidays. Inspired by the traditional countryside vernacular, Maison A is built for comfortable modern living and features a triple-skin facade that brings daylight, fresh air and a beautiful floral appearance to the home. Spread over an area of 78 square meters, Maison A catches the eye with its sculptural red exterior constructed of floral ventilation bricks handmade in the Bat Trang Village. The perforated sections let in daylight and ventilation into the house, while the bricks are customized with hollow interiors that trap air to serve as a heat-insulating layer. The second layer of the triple-skin facade is a layer of plants that provides additional privacy and a pleasant microclimate . The third “skin” is operable glass, which the mother can close during large storms. Related: Solar screen brings beauty and heat relief to a Vietnam home To recall the many banana trees that grew around the client’s childhood home, the architects worked with local craftsmen who used a hand-pressed intaglio method to imprint banana leaves onto parts of the concrete facade. Inside, local stone craftsmen were employed to turn locally sourced laterite stone (called “hive stone”) into the family bedroom wall. “Maison A mixes the countryside traditions with modern comfort in-depth material research to create an ancestral place for the mother and her returning children,” the architects explain. “The brutalist composition of local materials reflects the richness of the surrounding cultures while the design elevates them to higher grounds. From here, the memory of the family is recorded in each brick and passed down through generations.” + Nghia Architect Images by Tuan Nghia Nguyen

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Triple-skin facade brings daylight, fresh air and beauty to a tropical home

Can vegan pet food be good for the planet and your pet?

December 20, 2018 by  
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Does your pup hover at your feet when the smell of bacon or steak wafts in his direction? It’s no surprise, considering the ingredients dogs are used to receiving and the evolution of the species. Every bag of food at the pet store promotes meat as its main ingredient. From chicken to lamb to bison, meat reigns supreme in the pet food world. Now it is coming to light that maybe it would benefit the planet and our pets if we moved to vegan food to fulfill their dietary needs. But is a plant-based diet both good for your pup and our Earth? Many companies are jumping into the plant-based pet food market. Celebrities are shining a light on the irony of providing shelter for animals and then feeding them animal-based foods. More and more people are beginning to question whether feeding meat-based foods is an unnecessary form of animal cannibalism. Does it make sense to rescue animals like rabbits in one effort and then raise them for slaughter in another? Related: A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for pets A potential issue with meat-based pet food is the consumption of meat in a world already stressed by the burdens that cattle and other livestock industries contribute to the planet. When you consider that animals drink water and also consume foods that require water to grow, the effects are staggering, and it explains why many vegans have chosen a meat-free diet. In addition to gouging water resources, animal production requires massive amounts of land. Opponents of the meat industry argue that all forms of fruits and vegetables produce more consumable food per acre and use significantly fewer resources. Some estimates report that eliminating meat from the pet food market could reduce the environmental impact by over 25 percent. Of course, there is also the ethical component in the mix. Ask any PETA member and they will scream out that raising animals entirely for the purpose of butcher is inhumane. Plus, there are well-documented issues about how these animals are treated during their short life cycles with little room to move, limited access to the outdoors and an inability to follow their instincts. Related: This sustainable dog house has a green roof and solar-powered fan to keep cool Many animals are already vegan . Think cows, hamsters and elephants, for starters. So we know that humans and some animals can survive without meat. But does that apply to our domestic friends, too? The question has been asked, “Is it healthy for animals to go vegan?” This is where science and veterinarians weigh in. In short, the answer is yes, cats and dogs can be perfectly healthy eating a vegan diet. Like humans, the key is acquiring the right nutritional balance. We associate meat with protein , but vegetables can fill that requirement just as well in many ways. There are exceptions, however. For example, some vets argue that cats and dogs do not absorb vitamin D from the sun and need to get it from their food. Specifically, dogs and humans can absorb D2 from foods, but cats need D3, only available in animal proteins. An inadequately balanced diet can result in a deficiency of minerals, nutrients, vitamins, amino proteins (especially taurine) and essential fatty acids. A shortage of these dietary needs can lead to irreversible medical issues. As the premium pet food market explodes, manufacturers are finding ways to make sure that food meets the nutritional needs of our pets. That means that many products spend time in a lab before being added to food. This food technology is not new. Scientists have worked toward meat substitutes in our food markets for many years. The advantage of transferring this technology over to animal products is that the consumer is a whole lot less picky. Where humans require a smell and texture similar to the meat variety, pets don’t care about tactile pleasure. That means that pet food produced with the help of a lab is faster and less expensive to make. It also means that scientists can carefully balance the nutrients in the food, even if the ingredients don’t provide them upfront. The bottom line is that pets need specific nutrients, regardless of what form they come in. These needs are well-backed by science, so everyone can agree that if the nutritional profile is being met, then it’s absolutely healthy for your pet to sustain a vegan-based diet. The problem is getting a guarantee that your pet food selection in fact meets those needs. Pet owners should not make the decision lightly. After all, modern day pets are members of the family, and we want to provide them the best care we can. When considering the switch to vegan pet food, there are several things to keep in mind. Make sure the food has been thoroughly tested through trials and has met the requirement outlined by the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials). Discuss the switch with your veterinarian; not only are they trained in animal diets, but they’ve seen the results of a poor diet and can guide you toward the best combination for your pet. Get a preliminary or baseline blood test for your pet, and take them back in for another test after six months. Never feed a vegan diet to puppies or kittens, or any animal that you plan to breed, as these groups have additional nutritional needs. While many see this as an opportunity to significantly reduce the carbon footprint from meat production and offer an alternative to the use of animals in animal food, others maintain the believe that there is no substitute for the real thing. Either way, the market is providing options for consumers on both sides of the aisle. Via Popular Science Images via Ish Ka , Mimzy and Shutterstock

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Can vegan pet food be good for the planet and your pet?

The prefab Plugin House turns ruins into livable dwellings in just one day

December 14, 2018 by  
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Beijing-based design studio People’s Architecture Office has proved yet again its knack for innovation and socially conscious design with its recent project, the Shangwei Village Plugin House. Made with a modular building system of prefabricated panels, these customizable homes can slot into existing structures to make formerly uninhabitable spaces both livable and attractive for far less than the cost of a typical renovation. The experimental dwellings were installed in the Chinese village of Shangwei near Shenzhen and can be assembled with unskilled labor using just one tool in less than a day. The local government, the Shangwei Village Cooperative, along with local nonprofit Leping Foundation and Future Plus, tapped People’s Architecture Office to renovate a series of centuries-old structures into houses for supporting a budding community of local artists and craftspeople. Having been left vacant for decades, the structures had become uninhabitable ruins with caved-in roofs. Since renovation could adversely affect adjacent buildings, the architects decided to rehabilitate the spaces by inserting new construction — with added structural reinforcement — inside the existing structures, a typology that the firm calls the ‘Plugin House.’ “Industrial manufacturing allows the use of high quality materials that drastically increase energy efficiency and economies of scale ensure the Plugin House remains inexpensive,” the architects explained. “Although the Plugin Panels are mass produced, each Plugin House is customized to fit its particular site.” The Huang Family Plugin House, for instance, slots into a tiny 160-square-foot space. The space-saving construction features a mezzanine bedroom with a corner window cantilevered over a collapsed wall as well as a new skylight where the original roof once was. The Fang Family Plugin House, on the other hand, is slightly larger at 215 square feet. Related: Hydroponic gardens and a “mini mountain” promote fun and well-being in this creative office The architects added, “For both locations, the Plugin House System raises living standards by adding efficient mini-split units for heating and cooling, modern kitchens and off-the-grid composting toilet systems.” + People’s Architecture Office Images by ZHAN Changheng and People’s Architecture Office

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The prefab Plugin House turns ruins into livable dwellings in just one day

A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for family

December 11, 2018 by  
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When it comes to family, we want to offer the best of the best. The smartest way to gift high-quality gifts to your loved ones is by shopping sustainably. Eco-friendly products (and experiences) are made with love and care for people and the planet. Here are some of our top picks for everyone in your family. For mom: Eco-friendly yoga mats Mom deserves some ‘me’ time. Whether she is an avid yogi or is just getting started, this plant-based yoga mat is made with cork . It’s also free of harsh chemicals, antibacterial and odor-free. The cork is sustainable and helps provide a stronger grip. Hobby classes Does your mom love to cook? Maybe she could spend hours making pottery , or perhaps she enjoys painting. No matter her preferences, buy a pass or certificate for classes that interest her. This is a thoughtful gift of experience, which will leave her with lovely memories for years to come. Sweaters Who doesn’t love a snuggly sweater? We love the various options from Patagonia — the company is a champion for the environment, plus their products are built to last whether Mom likes to sit on the couch in her sweater or explore the great outdoors. Sustainable jewelry Add a little extra bling to your mom’s envy-inducing jewelry box with eco-friendly, ethical accessories. There are many beautiful, unique options from 31Bits , which works with women artisans in Uganda, Indonesia and the U.S. to provide fair working conditions and wages as well as healthcare, mentorship, counseling and more. For dad: Organic skincare There is no better way to show your love for someone than by giving them the gift of healthy skin. Whether it is something to moisturize the rough patches under a beard, something to soothe cracked knuckles or a myriad of products, gift Dad with organic skincare that will allow him to pamper himself daily. We love this line , which is made from recycled coffee grounds and only uses plant-based packaging. Watches Adorn Dad’s wrist with a new watch that will keep him punctual and stylish. Be sure to choose a brand with the environment in mind, like WeWood . WeWood offers wood watches free of toxic, artificial materials. Plus, WeWood plants a tree for each watch sold, and these wooden watches are sure to stand out among a sea of their metallic counterparts. Related: Inhabitat test drives a gorgeous WeWood watch Wool shirts Wool is incredibly durable with the ability to withstand the coldest of temperatures and wick away moisture with ease. Add a sleek wool shirt to Dad’s closet with options like Ramblers Way , a family-owned business in the U.S. that is dedicated to respecting the sheep, the environment and the people. The company uses 100 percent wool and donates time and money to local causes ranging from environmental conservation to human need to arts and education. Vegan or recycled leather jackets The jokes might be lame, but Dad can at least look cool in an environmentally responsible leather jacket. There are many vegan options on the market, or you can embrace reuse with a jacked from Better World Fashion . These jackets are made from recycled leather and the buttons are made with recycled metal. The certified B corp also relies on responsible production methods, uses zero water or chemicals and creates zero waste. For siblings: Eco-friendly subscription boxes Subscription boxes are the gift that keeps on giving, but it is important to find ones that advocate for the environment. Surprise your siblings month after month with a subscription to companies like the Bloomin’ Bin , Feeling Fab , KloverBox , MightyFix  and more. Everlane clothing With a commitment to ethical, sustainable fashion, Everlane offers eco-friendly unisex clothing, shoes and accessories that are sure to please. Be sure to browse the ReNew collection , which offers puffer coats, pullover sweaters and parkas all made from recycled water bottles. Zero-waste kit Help your siblings lower their carbon footprints (truly the best gift of all) by gifting them a zero-waste kit. Specifically, we recommend the {Zero} Waste Kit , which includes a glass jar with a leak-proof, organic bamboo lid; a sustainable cork sleeve for mugs; a reusable, ethically-sourced bamboo dual utensil; a stainless steel straw with an eco-friendly cleaner; a napkin made from upcycled fabric scraps; a knife with a ceramic blade and a bamboo handle; and organic cotton produce bags. Whew! That’s a lot of bang for your buck, and everything your loved ones could need to really embrace the zero-waste lifestyle. Indoor garden With a snappy indoor garden , your siblings can grow their very own food for weeks, months and years to come. We love Click + Grow , which is energy-efficient, small space-friendly and easy to use. In our own tests, we had sprouts from seed in just two days! It’s a great gift for those who would love to grow their own food, but might not have a lot of time or space to do so. For grandparents: Natural candles Nothing beats visiting your grandparents and taking in the comforting scents that fill their home (especially if they love to bake!). Add to the aroma with natural candles. Standard, store-bought candles can be toxic, so be sure to find sustainable candles made from responsibly sourced soy, coconut or palm wax. Also, ensure the wick is lead-free and made with cotton. Check Etsy for a wide range of handmade, eco-friendly candles. Related: Making soy candles for the holidays Birdhouses We all get a bit of joy from hearing birds chirp and watching as they soar above us. Gift this joy to Grandma and Grandpa by giving them a beautiful, handcrafted birdhouse that will spruce up their yard and bring cheerful birds around each day. Reading subscriptions Another gift that continues long after the holidays are over, a subscription for books, magazines or newspapers are an excellent present for grandparents who love to read. If they are open to going digital, it’ll save paper — otherwise, encourage them to recycle or upcycle the products when they have finished them! Choose their favorite media and topics, or introduce them to some reading that focuses on sustainability. Family photos Most grandparents would love to receive pictures of their family to place around their homes. Have your images printed with eco-friendly ink on sustainable paper , and then frame it in reclaimed wood or recycled materials. If you really want to go all out, organize a photoshoot with the whole family, and then frame those photos for a sweet sentiment. Images via George Dolgikh , Urbivore , Cally Lawson , Rocknwool , Artem Bali , Grums Aarhus , Ramblers Way , Franklin Heijnen , Kloverbox , Everlane , Alex Mortensen / {Zero} Waste Kit , Click + Grow , Joanna Kosinska , Nora Vellinga , Jonas Jacobsson , Shutterstock and Inhabitat

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A guide to the best eco-friendly holiday gifts for family

How the Arctic Affects Your Family This Holiday Season (and Every Day)

November 26, 2018 by  
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This is the first of a series of Arctic ice … The post How the Arctic Affects Your Family This Holiday Season (and Every Day) appeared first on Earth911.com.

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How the Arctic Affects Your Family This Holiday Season (and Every Day)

Throw out your romaine lettuce, CDC declares E.coli outbreak

November 21, 2018 by  
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Romaine lettuce is unsafe to eat … again. The CDC is advising people to throw out and avoid eating all romaine lettuce following an E.coli outbreak that has left 32 people sick and 13 people hospitalized across 11 states in the U.S. so far. The CDC along with public health officials across the U.S. and Canada are investigating another outbreak of E.coli connected to romaine lettuce. The center said that consumers should not eat any romaine lettuce, and restaurants and retailers should not serve this item until the outbreak has been thoroughly investigated. Related: Is your Thanksgiving turkey putting your family’s health at risk? The reported illnesses for this outbreak began on Oct.8, 2018 through Oct. 31, 2018. Thirteen people have been hospitalized, with 32 cases reported altogether at the time of writing. No deaths have been reported. The investigation is still undergoing and no additional information has been reported, but the center advises consumers to throw out all romaine lettuce , even if you have already eaten some and did not get sick. “This advice includes all types or uses of romaine lettuce, such as whole heads of romaine, hearts of romaine and bags and boxes of precut lettuce and salad mixes that contain romaine, including baby romaine, spring mix and Caesar salad,” the CDC said. “If you do not know if the lettuce is romaine or whether a salad mix contains romaine, do not eat it and throw it away. Wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in refrigerators where romaine was stored. Follow these five steps to clean your refrigerator.” Watch: CDC declares romaine lettuce an E. coli risk If you’re worried about the outbreak, here are some symptoms to look for: severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting and a slight fever. The illness usually begins about two to eight days after swallowing the germ and lasts about a week, but E.coli can cause kidney failure or become life-threatening. Find out more information here .  The CDC is updating consumers on the outbreak and ongoing investigation. + CDC Image via Shutterstock

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Is your Thanksgiving turkey putting your family’s health at risk?

November 15, 2018 by  
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With Thanksgiving right around the corner, many of us are planning meals centered around a turkey. But a new report from the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and its partners at the Food Animal Concerns Trust says that you could be putting your family’s health at risk by eating turkey because of the way American meats are produced. Just last week, NBC News reported an outbreak of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella that is linked to raw turkey , and it is still spreading. So far, the outbreak has made 164 people sick, and one person has died. According to experts, at least 2 million Americans suffer infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria each year — resulting in more than 23,000 deaths — and those numbers are rising. Related: 6 vegan and vegetarian turkey alternatives for Thanksgiving If you are wondering what that has to do with your holiday planning, the NRDC analysis says that turkeys are given antibiotics more intensively than other livestock in the United States. The U.S. livestock industry raises animals with an intensive use of antibiotics, with most of the medicines being fed to groups of animals that aren’t sick to compensate for stressful and unsanitary living conditions. However, this is not necessary. Several European countries stopped this practice years ago, and last month the European Parliament voted to ban such practices. Using antibiotics this way is driving a crisis in antibiotic resistance, and the World Health Organization warns that if we want antibiotics to remain useful for treating people when they are sick, we have to use antibiotics more responsibly. So if you are buying a turkey this Thanksgiving, look for labels like “Animal Welfare Approved” or “USDA Certified Organic.” These certifications mean that the turkeys were raised without antibiotics or growth promoters. Also, be sure to properly handle and cook your turkey. It is in your best interest to choose a turkey that has not been fed antibiotics. In the future, maybe the turkey industry (as well as the American beef and pork industries) will figure out a way to protect the consumers who buy their products. Via NRDC and EWG Image via Shutterstock

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Is your Thanksgiving turkey putting your family’s health at risk?

12 plant-based recipes for a vegan or vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner

November 15, 2018 by  
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For many people, Thanksgiving dinner is not complete without a turkey on the table. But with diet trends turning toward vegetarianism, veganism and flexitarianism , people are starting to break away from the traditional turkey dinner for health, animal welfare or environmental reasons. Luckily, there are amazing plant-based dishes that you can prepare for a mouth-watering Thanksgiving feast, making it easier than ever to skip the turkey. Here are some ideas for main dishes that will replace the turkey on your table, plus some side dish and dessert ideas that will keep the food at your celebration completely plant-based. Main dishes Classic seitan roast Forget the tofurkey — try this basic meat substitute for a savory, meaty main dish that you can use for Thanksgiving day, and any extras will be perfect as salad toppers or sandwich fillings. This recipe comes from One Green Planet , and it does have an involved process. But the results are totally worth it. Seitan pot roast Another idea from One Green Planet , this recipe is not the traditional pot roast your mom would make, but it is the perfect recipe for a large Thanksgiving dinner. The biggest plus about this dish is that you make it in a slow cooker. Just throw everything in the pot, and let it cook while you make your other dishes. Related: 6 vegan and vegetarian turkey alternatives for Thanksgiving Lentil shepherd’s pie This recipe from Plant Based Cooking is perfect for picky eaters, vegan or not. Lentil shepherd’s pie is loaded with mushrooms, carrots, peas and garlic mashed potatoes, and you can easily refrigerate or freeze it. Vegan lentil loaf with gravy Perfect for the holiday season, this recipe from Vegan Heaven is easy to make, super healthy and beyond delicious. You will impress your family with this main dish, which takes a little over an hour to make and bake. Vegducken This is a vegetable main dish that will have your family and friends talking long after Thanksgiving is over. This recipe features roasted butternut squash stuffed with eggplant, zucchini and whole scallions. Then, you layer it with a puree of sautéed mushrooms, red onion, chickpeas, scallions, red lentils and gluten-free breadcrumbs. Side dishes Thanksgiving cornbread stuffing with gravy You might be able to skip turkey at Thanksgiving, but no one can live without the stuffing. This delicious vegan recipe from One Green Planet takes a little time to make, so you might want to prepare it a day in advance. Vegan pumpkin biscuits Free of dairy , egg, corn, soy and yeast, these pumpkin biscuits from Vegan Richa are easy to make and perfect for any guest at your Thanksgiving dinner. They feature fresh sage and thyme, and they are a savory side dish that is crisp on the outside and moist on the inside. Buttermilk vegan mashed potatoes Who says you need dairy products to make fluffy, creamy mashed potatoes? This recipe from The Vegan 8 calls for just eight ingredients to make creamy mashed potatoes that are full of flavor with a buttery taste that comes from apple cider vinegar. They will be one of the most-loved dishes at your Thanksgiving dinner. Smokey maple roasted carrots with lemon thyme drizzle If you are looking for an easy side dish that you can throw together, try this recipe from Veggies Don’t Bite . Not only is this carrot dish loaded with flavor, but the lemon thyme sauce will make you want to lick your plate clean. Related: The best in-season veggies to buy at your local market for Thanksgiving dinner Vegan green bean casserole This casserole is so creamy that you won’t believe it doesn’t contain dairy. Using raw cashews, unsweetened almond milk, bread crumbs, onions, garlic, flour, EVOO, mushrooms, white wine, soy sauce, salt and black pepper, this dish from Hummusapien will be so good, no one will know its vegan. Desserts Vegan pecan pie This recipe from the Center for Nutrition Studies is a healthy, vegan alternative to the popular holiday dessert . It is decadent, but not too sweet, and it is gluten-free and soy-free. Chocolate ganache mousse pie If you want to add a chocolate dessert to your menu, here is a delicious option that has a cookie crust and light filling that will make any chocolate lover happy. Images via Pixabay and Shutterstock

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12 plant-based recipes for a vegan or vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner

5 Ways To Repurpose Your Trash

November 5, 2018 by  
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5 Ways To Repurpose Your Trash

Slide down a fire pole in this classic fire truck converted into a quirky hotel

October 26, 2018 by  
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For those who have ever wanted to slide down a real fire pole, the Red Rescue Retreat is the hotel for you. The retreat is an old fire truck that has been converted into a tiny vacation home . Located on a peaceful lot in Lake District National Park in England, the renovated fire truck offers guests a tranquil, relaxing getaway while they enjoy the fire truck-themed elements, including a real fire pole and fire-truck style beds. Tucked into a quiet, green corner of a working farm, the Red Rescue Retreat is a great place to visit with the family. Guests to the fun hotel can enjoy strolling around the farm or hiking to the magnificent Blencathra fells, one of the most beautiful areas in the Northern Lakes. The tiny vacation rental with a big personality sleeps four, with a master bedroom and two twin fire truck-themed beds for the kiddies. There are even a few child-sized firefighter costumes in the closet. Related: Couple transforms a fire truck into a cozy camper for traveling Europe The compact space is actually quite comfortable. The interior features a spacious living area that comes with a smart television and a cozy sofa that pulls out into a double bed. Large bean bags make for a fun movie night. Guests can also prepare their own meals in the fully-equipped kitchen. Large sliding glass doors lead to an open-air patio with plenty of space for dining, reading or just enjoying the scenery. As an extra bonus, there is even an wood-lined sauna. The master bedroom, equipped with a king-sized bed, is located on the upper level and reached by ladder. Of course, you can take the ladder down to the first floor, but sliding down the fire pole, which is surrounded by a lockable gate for safety, will be the first option for those staying at this very unique hotel . + Holiday Cottages Via Apartment Therapy Images via Holiday Cottages

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Slide down a fire pole in this classic fire truck converted into a quirky hotel

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