The 20 quirkiest places to stay in Britain
Looking for lodgings with a difference? Then have a look through our guide to the most unusual accommodation in Britain.
1) Romany Caravan, Black Mountains, Wales
Feed your inner bohemian with a stay in one of Wales’ kookiest accommodation options – a gypsy wagon. The lovingly restored 1940s vardo may be on the snug side, but its charming interiors – rich woods painted with bright swirls, goose down duvets and a coal-burning Queenie stove – totally make up for it. Set amongst the bucolic meadows of the Monmouthshire countryside, it’s a romantic retreat if ever there was one.
Best for: Rural escapes, a couples’ getaway.
Details: Caravan from £172 for 2 nights (tel: 01873 890190; www.cottage-holiday-wales.co.uk).
2) West Usk Lighthouse, Newport
One of Britain’s most unusual lighthouses, West Usk retired from service in 1922 and has since found a new job as a cosy bed and breakfast. Located at the junction of the Severn and Usk estuaries, the lighthouse has six nautically-themed rooms, a hot tub and great views.
Best for: Romantic retreats, family holidays, walking holidays.
Details: Double rooms start at £150 per night, which includes full English breakfasts the following morning (tel: 01633 810126; www.westusklighthouse.co.uk).
3) Appleton Water Tower, Sandringham, Norfolk
A stone's throw from the Royal Sandringham Estate, this Victorian water tower has been converted into lodgings that are fit for a king. Looking out over the tree tops, this regal residence sleeps four and has great walking trails nearby. The downstairs kitchen has a farmhouse feel and the third floor bathroom offers the best panoramas in the area.
Best for: Escapism, hiking holidays, family breaks.
Details: Appleton Water Tower sleeps four and is rented out on a three- or four-night basis with prices starting from £472 (tel: 01628 825925; www.landmarktrust.org.uk).
4) Llancayo Windmill, Usk, Monmouthshire
Nestling in rural Monmouthshire, this converted windmill is perfect for group holidays or family sojourns. Located near the Brecon Beacons, there are a range of adventure sports available locally, such as climbing, hang gliding, hiking and mountain biking. This Welsh wonder can accommodate up to 12 guests and one pooch.
Best for: Group holidays, family breaks, outdoor adventure.
Details: Llancayo Windmill sleeps 12 and a three-night stay costs from £1,165 (tel: 01386 701177; www.ruralretreats.co.uk).
5) Freston Tower, Ipswich, Suffolk
This six-storey Tudor folly offers vertical living in the heart of rural Suffolk. Boasting sweeping views over the surrounding countryside and nearby River Orwell, this unique property has two twin bedrooms, a kitchen and a snug on the top floor, all of which are linked by a steep spiral staircase. For the best views in the house, head to the roof terrace.
Best for: Novelty family breaks, couples getaways.
Details: Pet-friendly Freston Tower sleeps four and is rented out on a four-night basis with prices staring from £425 (tel: 01628 825925; www.landmarktrust.org.uk).
6) Big Green Bus, Lewes, East Sussex
Since retiring from service in the nineties, this West Midlands commuter bus has been converted into a three-bedroom space that accommodates up to six guests. The bus has been featured on the Channel 4 show, George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces, and is seeing out its retirement on a campsite in rural East Sussex. Believe it or not there’s a kitchen, wetroom and even a lounge complete with log-burning stove.
Best for: Glamping holidays, novelty family breaks, a rural retreat.
Details: The Big Green Bus can be rented out from a minimum of two nights (tel: 01273 697782; biggreenbus.co.uk).
7) Martello Tower, Aldeburgh, Suffolk
Built to protect Britain from a marauding Napoleon, today the historic Martello Tower is rented out as a unique holiday property. Located on the pebble beach at Aldeburgh, this extraordinary, nautically-themed building has two twin bedrooms, cosy living areas and beautiful views along the coast.
Best for: Family getaways, romantic breaks.
Details: Pet-friendly Martello Tower sleeps four and is rented out on a four-night basis with prices starting from £575 (tel: 01628 825925; www.landmarktrust.org.uk).
8) Hampton Court Palace, Richmond-upon-Thames, London
It’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in London, but few visitors realise that Hampton Court Palace offers overnight stays. And what a stay it will be, sleeping in a sprawling Tudor palace that Henry VIII once called home. There are two apartments available; Fish Court and The Georgian House, which sleep six and eight respectively.
Best for: History buffs, Henry VIII admirers.
Details: Apartments are available for four-night rentals, which start at £771. (tel: 01628 825925; www.landmarktrust.org.uk).
9) The Witchery, Edinburgh
Jenni Douglas / Creative Commons
Indulgent, ostentatious and operatic, the nine individually-dressed sleeping quarters at The Witchery combine aristocratic artistry with utmost luxury. Its restoration from crumbling Royal Mile building to devilishly decorated den of decadence comes courtesy of its generous four poster beds, extravagant furniture and resplendent roll-top baths. It also has a remarkable, wooden-walled restaurant on-site.
Best for: Honeymoons, Hogmanay, city breaks.
Details: Suites in The Witchery start from £335 per night and include a breakfast hamper served in the room, newspapers, mineral water and a welcoming bottle of champagne on arrival (tel: (0131) 225 5613; www.thewitchery.com).
10) St Pancras Clock Tower, King’s Cross, London
Hidden inside the clock tower of Sir George Gilbert Scott’s beautifully fashioned, but long since closed Midland Grand Hotel, is this wonderfully designed, loft-style apartment. With exposed brickwork, soaring ceilings, wrought iron staircases and an extensive library, the whole flat oozes New York charm in a very, traditional English edifice.
Best for: City breaks, longer stays.
Details: The mini apartment in the St Pancras Clock Tower can be rented out from £150 per night (www.airbnb.co.uk).
11) Spitbank Fort, Portsmouth, Hampshire
Built in 1878 to protect Portsmouth from an invasion, Spitbank Fort became an unlikely location for raves when it was abandoned by the Ministry of Defence in 1982. Today the fort is home to a luxury eight-bedroom hotel, three restaurants, an open-air pool, sauna, wine cellar and games room. Accessed by boat, if you’re looking to get away from it all, this is hard to beat.
Best for: Escapism, private parties, romantic breaks.
Details: Double rooms start from £495 per night, which includes transfers, food, full use of the fort’s facilities and a glass of champagne on arrival (tel: 0330 3337 222; https://solentforts.com).
12) Hobbit House, Luxulyan Valley, Cornwall
You don’t have to be a short and hairy mythical being to get your own piece of Tolkien’s middle-earth. The Hobbit House in Cornwall is actually quite accommodating for those of all heights, with room for five full-sized guests. Located on the super-green ‘Plan-it-earth’ reserve, the circular hut features an outdoor living roof, and an indoor skylight for stargazing.
Best for: Families, Lord of the Rings nerds.
Details: Renting this slice of Middle Earth costs from £136 per night (tel: 01172 047830; www.canopyandstars.co.uk).
13) Tree Tent, Bodmin, Cornwall
After a long day of hiking, wouldn’t you like to skip the less-than-enjoyable tent-pitching and climb right into bed? Well at Lost Meadow Tree Tent you can literally climb right in. The compact mid-air bedroom has two single beds and 20 private acres for guests to explore. The circular pod hangs a cool 3m (9.10ft) off the ground.
Best for: Nature lovers, height-junkies, adventure types.
Details: The lofty Tree Tent sleeps two adults and costs £95 per night to rent (tel: 01172 047830; www.canopyandstars.co.uk).
14) House in the Clouds, Thorpeness, Suffolk
Karen Roe / Creative Commons
So you’re heading on holiday, you’ve got loud kids in tow and maybe even your in-laws… if only there was somewhere you could all have your own space. House in the Clouds in Suffolk is the answer to your wishes: six floors, with five bedrooms, a game room, drawing room and 67 stairs to separate you from the other guests. Bliss.
Best for: Family breaks with barriers, rural holidays.
Details: This vertical house can be rented from £555 per night (tel: 020 7224 3615; www.houseintheclouds.co.uk).
15) Treetops Treehouse, Chulmleigh, Devon
If you never had the joy of a treehouse when you were younger, then a night here will more than make up for it. Built around the branches of a 250 year old oak, Treetops Treehouse has two double rooms, which comfortably accommodate four guests in wooded luxury.
Best for: Young and the young at heart.
Details: This big kid’s dream can be rented out from £190 per night (tel: 01172 047830; www.canopyandstars.co.uk).
16) Raft at Chigborough, Maldon, Essex
So you like the idea of a holiday on the water, but you’ve watched Titanic too many times to consider a cruise. Then how about this rustic, two-story raft? Floating on a lake in Essex, this unique property is close to the scenic countryside and is great for birdwatchers.
Best for: Birdwatchers, relaxing holidays on the water.
Details: This four-berth starts at £195 per night (tel: 01172 047830; www.canopyandstars.co.uk).
17) The Chapel, Walcot Hall, Shropshire
The idea of sleeping in an old chapel might seem a tad eerie, but there’s nothing unnerving about this former sanctuary. Renovations have made The Chapel an idyllic retreat for those wanting a little peace and quiet. The two-bedroom holiday home is located amongst the English oaks and chestnuts of Walcot Arboretum.
Best for: Hiking holidays, escaping to Mother Nature.
Details: Rent this slice of rural Shropshire from just £100 per night (tel: 01172 047830; www.canopyandstars.co.uk).
18) House in the Sea, Newquay Bay, Cornwall
Private house? Check. Private island? Check. On the beach? Check. As if that wasn’t enough, this opulent abode comes with its own private gardens, bar and sunbathing deck. Accessed via a suspension bridge, this Bond-esque retreat sleeps up to six guests and one well-behaved pooch.
Best for: Luxury family breaks, romantic sojourns.
Details: Guests can book for a minimum of three nights, which costs from £ 1,545 (tel: 01637 881942; www.uniquehomestays.com).
19) Loveland Pod, Bideford, Devon
The Pod at Loveland farm has everything you need for a romantic holiday, and nothing you don’t. Though the exterior looks a little like something from outer space, the giant domed tent is cosy, with a large king-sized bed, wood-burning fire and two fold-out sofas. There is an outdoor kitchenette, shower and toilet, all of which have splendid views.
Best for: Lovebirds, birdwatchers, young families.
Details: The Pod can be rented for a minimum of three nights and prices start from £474 (tel: 01237 441894; www.lovelandfarmcamping.co.uk).
20) Fernie Castle Treehouse, St Andrews, Fife
Fernie Castle should really be on this list twice; once for its awesome hotel – which is housed inside a 450 year-old castle – and again for the eccentric Treehouse suite, which is propped up by six huge sycamores. Luxury abounds inside this lofty room, which accommodates two in wooded opulence.
Best for: Eccentric mini-breaks, nature lovers.
Details: The room can be rented from £445 per night; this includes dinner, bed and breakfast alongside a host of luxurious touches (tel: 01337 810381; www.ferniecastle.co.uk).