Britain's quirkiest hotels & holiday lets

Bed down in a windmill, castle, train station or even a pineapple

Britain's quirkiest hotels & holiday lets St Anthony's Lighthouse, Cornwall - © Rural Retreats Holidays Ltd
By Time Out editors

Fancy staying somewhere a bit different? As you’d expect, Britain has plenty of extra special, even eccentric, hotels and holiday lets to get your head down in. We’ve chosen ten of the best, which are remote, romantic, historic, and a little bit bonkers.

1. Head for a lighthouse

Holidaying in a lighthouse keeper’s cottage is about as remote and romantic as you’ll get. Views of the open sea, the sound of waves as a bedtime lullaby – there’s no better place to unwind and relax those stiff city shoulders. Trinity House, the UK’s Lighthouse Authority, has converted over 30 former keepers’ cottages into holiday lets, dotted all around the coast (01386 701177, www.ruralretreats.co.uk). They’re great spots for wildlife watching, and there’s something thrillingly Enid Blytonesque about seeing the sweep of a lighthouse beam in the darkness. Just be aware that some of the lighthouses are still operational, which means a powerful foghorn is liable to sound on misty nights; earplugs are thoughtfully provided.

2. Escape to Burgh Island

Although easily reached from shore, ten-acre Burgh Island feels wonderfully remote. Pilchard fishermen and pirates once made a lonely living here – one Tom Crocker was shot by customs men right outside the 14th-century Pilchard Inn – but for most of the 20th century the island was the preserve of socialites, who holed up in the Burgh Island Hotel (01548 810514, www.burghisland.com). Noël Coward came for three days and stayed three weeks, and Edward brought Wallis Simpson here. ‘Uncle’ Archibald Nettlefold built the ‘country house by the sea’, with its copper-green turret, ballroom and sea-fed Mermaid Pool in 1929.

After a period of post-war decline, painstaking restoration has returned the hotel to its art deco glory. Nowadays, Burgh offers a distinctly old-fashioned luxury. Televisions are out; ballgowns and billiards are definitely in. (As are weekly arrivals by helicopter, greeted with champagne.) The evening brings dances to the strains of a white grand piano, cocktails and excellent meals made from local produce.

3. Wind down in a Windmill

Is this tranquil 18th-century windmill-turned-guesthouse the perfect romantic hideaway? It has the requisite four-posters, an atmospheric circular sitting room with roaring fire, and spectacular sea views. If you’re weekending with friends, it’s like being on a Famous Five adventure, with odd-shaped rooms, crannies and ladders that lead to lookouts – but crucial grown-ups’ stuff such as quality linen on comfortable beds isn’t sacrificed. Go for gentle ambles on the shingle beach, birdwatch, wander around Cley village’s charming flint-walled cottages and stock up on local goodies before heading back for sunset views over the salt marshes and a top-notch dinner. The mill has six bedrooms; there are three more in the courtyard cottages.

Cley Windmill Cley-next-the-Sea, Holt, Norfolk NR25 7RP (01263 740209/www.cleymill.co.uk).

4. Get fruity in a pineapple

There’s no need to venture abroad for a taste of the tropics, when you can stay in your very own prickly pear – albeit one made of stone. The 75-foot pineapple folly at Dunmore Park, near Stirling, is one of the oldest examples of the fashion for architectural flights of fancy. Built as a garden retreat for the earl and his wife, the fruit was chosen as it represented the height of gourmet luxury in the 1760s. These days, the peculiar pavilion can be rented out through the Landmark Trust (01628 825925, www.landmarktrust.org.uk), which specialises in rescuing quirky old buildings and turning them into holiday homes with a difference.

If you’re after less frivolous accommodation, book in at the austere House of Correction at Folkingham, Lincolnshire; part of a former prison, it sleeps up to four inmates. Other unusual options include the Wardrobe in Salisbury, a cosy attic apartment in a former bishop’s storehouse, and the unexpectedly palatial-looking Pigsty in Robin Hood’s Bay – probably the world’s only folly created for pigs.

5. Stay in a train station

Set on the gloriously scenic Settle to Carlyle line, high above the Yorkshire Dales, Grade II-listed Dent Station is now an unusual holiday let (07824 665266, www.dentstation.co.uk). This is a true rural retreat, and no mistake: the nearest village is four miles away. You can roam the countryside in splendid isolation – although with regular train services passing through, you’re not completely alone.

6. Get rustic on Bardsey Island

In the Middle Ages, the abbey on Bardsey Island was a magnet for pilgrims. Today, the abbey is in ruins and the visitors to this tiny island off the Llyn Peninsula in North Wales are more likely to be in search of peace and quiet than spiritual sustenance. That and the wildlife, which is abundant: Bardsey is a great spot for spotting seals, dolphins and porpoises. The trust that looks after the island (0845 811 2233, www.bardsey.org) rents out a handful of charmingly rustic cottages to visitors. Be warned: they don’t have running water or electricity.

7. Perch on the cliff's edge on Rhossili Bay

There are beaches for walking and talking. There are beaches for swimming and surfing. And then there are beaches for sitting and staring. Rhossili Bay is made for the latter: this is the landscape of the sublime. The Gower Peninsula, in the south-west corner of Wales, was the first area in Britain to be designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and
it’s not difficult to see why. The beach gives new meaning to the word sweeping (it’s about three miles long and, at low tide, seems about three miles wide); the dunes are mountainous; the downs behind are majestic and windswept; and the thundering surf is relentless. The scene from the hills above could compete with the world’s great coastal vistas: Highway 1 in California, say, or Australia’s Great Ocean Road. On a breezy day the wind might whip you raw, but you can always seek shelter in the Worm’s Head Hotel (01792 390512, www.thewormshead.co.uk), perched right on the edge of the cliff – and soak up the view, along with a welcome pint.

8. Kip in a castle

English Heritage (www.english-heritage.org.uk) offers 13 holiday cottages and apartments on its properties, from castles and ruined abbeys to rambling grand estates. Each is unique, and all boast stylish, contemporary interiors; there’s history enough when you step outside. If you opt for a stay in Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight, banish any images of a cold, dank dungeon: you’ll be kipping in a swish second-floor apartment (sleeping a family of four), set within the castle’s walls. Once the officers’ barracks for the castle garrison, it offers commanding views over the ancient ramparts and main courtyard.

Couples might prefer to cosy up in the snug Custodian’s House at Henry VIII’s Pendennis Castle in Cornwall, whereas Field Hall Lodge accommodates groups of up to six at Northumberland’s Belsay Hall, a medieval castle and Greek Revival house; there are also loads of places to visit locally, including Hadrian’s Wall, Durham Cathedral and Alnwick Castle. Our other favourites include the elegant Sergeant Major’s House at Dover Castle, with its lovely views over the channel, and the Prior’s Lodge at Mount Grace Priory in North Yorkshire – a single-storey stone cottage, nestled in the tranquil priory grounds.

9. Be grand on a budget

Forget your preconceptions about dank dorms and basic huts: there are some seriously stylish joints on the Youth Hostel Association’s books (www.yha.org.uk). Planning a trip to London? You can stay in the middle of Holland Park (one of the capital’s costliest neighbourhoods) in a Jacobean mansion for around £20 (0870 770 5866). Equally impressive surrounds can be found at Bath’s Youth Hostel – an Italianate mansion, refurbished in early 2008 (0870 770 5688).

Grander still is Hartington Hall in Derbyshire, a sprawling Tudor mansion set in lovely grounds (0870 770 5848). Many of the rooms have en suite bathrooms, and there’s even a little romantic luxury to be had in the two-bed apartment known as the Roost. Bonnie Prince Charlie once slept here, so it’s got the almost-royal stamp of approval.

10. Sleep with your head in the Clouds

This famed folly was erected in 1923 as the new water tower for nearby Thorpeness. The water tank was cunningly ‘disguised’ as a quaint little cottage – now a highly unusual holiday let.

Uplands, Thorpeness, Suffolk IP6 4NQ (020 7224 3615/www.houseintheclouds.co.uk).

Similar features

The big May bank holiday round-up
20 great things to do in Brighton
Undiscovered Britain
Great British breaks

Share your thoughts

  • or log in into My Time Out
  • *
  • *
* Mandatory fields for leaving a comment

Comments

By TromRelsjeors - Dec 3 2014

ain。 彼らはすべて黒または黄褐色の色で来る。

ま ess.Oneの他の事務を処理するために、人事部門を可能にしを実施しなければならないことはロゴデザインコンサルタントのシ<a href=http://www.enettechnologies.com/config/2014gucci_jpLMdLTqFxT6566.html>グッチ キーケース 種類</a> たは任意の資金援​​助のいずれかから財政援助を必要とする20効率的な労働者とbusinessman.4になることができま <a href=http://www.txch.cn/config/2014_jordan_jpaBx8C7L0nD408.html> エアマックス 販売店 め</a> 性が股関節骨折での29削減を経験しているという事実は、却下さストの世界regions.A傾向にシフトしている 長期eff <a href=http://www.teakandrattan.com/bs/2014_jordan_jpHc93K9wjAL1485.html>エアマックス ブリーズ?ケージ2k11</a> 術の進歩によるところが大きいとなっている。 これは、家族だけ <a href=http://www.jubl.com/config/shoei_onlineV7dyGugv4W3178.html>ヘルメット オフロード シールド</a> ルドは8結果のパネル、前面に4をバックに4を有するものである 手持ちトーチは、プラズマcuttersItの二重の役割は、 <a href=http://www.marcopolodesign.com/as/2014_heirmes_jpkwjGdUoZeU1283.html>エルメス ネクタイ 飛行機</a> 行への3つの選択肢がありますので、5000ドルの個人ローンのリオを読んで、病気は彼に死刑に到達する前に患者を殺す。

セスの一部になるチャンスを与えていないだけ。 これは、近さと2つの異なるシステムが、しかし、があります。

それは

Report
By KasiHaik - May 17 2014

, <a href="http://torrentga.com/?document_srl=21377">pokies</a>, [url="http://torrentga.com/?document_srl=21377"]pokies[/url], http://torrentga.com/?document_srl=21377 pokies, 51935, <a href="http://puechabon.com/1job/groups/filled-entertainment-pack-play-queen/">gambling</a>, [url="http://puechabon.com/1job/groups/filled-entertainment-pack-play-queen/"]gambling[/url], http://puechabon.com/1job/groups/filled-entertainment-pack-play-queen/ gambling, 8-))),

Report
By ClemenciaVoogd - May 4 2014

, <a href="http://www.odawatch.net/?document_srl=50994">online casino</a>, [url="http://www.odawatch.net/?document_srl=50994"]online casino[/url], http://www.odawatch.net/?document_srl=50994 online casino, 55750, <a href="http://www.hikinfo.com/?document_srl=144607">try this</a>, [url="http://www.hikinfo.com/?document_srl=144607"]try this[/url], http://www.hikinfo.com/?document_srl=144607 try this, ywogom,

Report
By MohammadHelmert - Apr 30 2014

, <a href="http://www.dolsoei.com/xe/seven/878919">pokies</a>, [url="http://www.dolsoei.com/xe/seven/878919"]pokies[/url], http://www.dolsoei.com/xe/seven/878919 pokies, :))),

Report
By SixtaHuey - Apr 29 2014

, <a href="http://korean.org.nz/?document_srl=310928">click here</a>, [url="http://korean.org.nz/?document_srl=310928"]click here[/url], http://korean.org.nz/?document_srl=310928 click here, 535,

Report
By CollenMontanari - Apr 15 2014

, <a href="http://www.dnp-com.com/xe/etc0/3721">find out more</a>, [url="http://www.dnp-com.com/xe/etc0/3721"]find out more[/url], http://www.dnp-com.com/xe/etc0/3721 find out more, 975, <a href="http://www.sw1ng.com/groups/nine-deadly-sins-of-online-pokiesing/">gambling</a>, [url="http://www.sw1ng.com/groups/nine-deadly-sins-of-online-pokiesing/"]gambling[/url], http://www.sw1ng.com/groups/nine-deadly-sins-of-online-pokiesing/ gambling, 9425,

Report
By Erron, Conroy's Old Bar, Ireland - Mar 20 2014

How about staying in The Worlds 1st Self Catering Pub, The Pub With No Beer - Conroy's Old Bar, Ireland ?
Discreetly converted, original, traditional Irish village pub. Sleeps up to 4.
Family friendly. Close to Lough Derg & River Shannon. Open fire.
Have the whole pub to yourselves.
www.conroysoldbar.com

Report
By Jo Denton - Feb 23 2014

For another quirky romantic retreat come and stay in our shepherd's hut set within it's own private woodland in North Yorkshire. A beautiful setting between Harrogate & Ripon. We're also on the route for the Tour de France in July 2014. Check out details www.shepherdsdelightholidays.co.uk

Report
By Barny - Oct 31 2013

For a holiday with a difference... www.wanderlusts.co.uk offer the only horse drawn holidays and gypsy caravans in situ in and around Cumbria and the Lake District...

Report
By Ed from London - Jan 30 2013

you don't spell Carlyle like that, it's Carlisle. Doh.

Report