Guarded by a tall hedge on a quiet cul-de-sac in Great Dunmow, 8km from Stansted Airport, is the UK’s most weird and wonderful Airbnb. A converted council house with intricately decorated themed rooms, Talliston is owned by writer John Trevillian.
‘I created this house to be like my perfect place,’ he says. ‘The rest of it is people saying, “Hey, we want to stay there. Let’s see what you’ve done.”’
A passion project that took 25 years to create, Talliston features 2,000 objects from 27 different countries. The collection encompasses crime drama, Egyptology, Asian mythology and voodoo ritual.
’If you took Fox Mulder back into the 1920s...,’ Trevillian summarises, before he’s interrupted by a whistling kettle playing the panpipes.
Access is limited to a few days a month when you can stay in one of the eerie upstairs bedrooms. Naturally, fans of the paranormal and design buffs stay here, but often there’s the odd visitor looking for an unusual night’s stay on an airport layover.
Guests can book The Haunted Bedroom. Decorated in Scottish art nouveau style, this room recreates in creepy detail the bed chamber of a seven-year-old Edwardian child – complete with real books, toys and ephemera. Ain’t no fake Halloween props here.
The corners of the bedposts are even carved with angels hiding their faces, and there’s moody period wall-lighting and candles. Once you climb into bed, you can even clock a tiny tartan kilt hanging on the back of the door.
Or if this proves too terrifying, you can opt for the Moroccan-inspired Room of Dreams, with faux bedouin tent, ominous wall-hangings and moonlight night-light settings.
Renting one of the upstairs rooms also gets you access to The Voodoo Kitchen. Modelled as if stuck in time on a January morning in New Orleans, 1954, this fully functioning shared kitchen space features real Spanish moss woven into the ceiling and wall hangings devoted to voodoo rituals.
Enter the nineteenth-century Welsh Hall living room and it’s like you’re on the set of a creepy period drama. Complete with sumptuous drapes and tapestries, you can have your own banquet around the luxurious carved dining table.
Not jetting off from Stansted? Visit these secret spaces in central London.
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