20 Unusual Places to Stay in the UK

Last updated on January 12, 2024

Unusual places to stay in the UK - Red Kite

We’ve teamed up with Host Unusual to bring you the low-down on 20 of the most unusual places to stay in the UK. There’s even a helicopter in there!

Unusual Places to Stay: UK Edition

What is Host Unusual?

The brainchild of co-founders (and curious wanderers) Dawn Crawford and Alex Wilson, Host Unusual showcases some of the world’s most extraordinary places to stay.

Their website pays homage to hidden gems, with carefully curated categories that include churches and chapels, caves and grottoes, time-warp vintage havens, and even underwater retreats.

It includes regular late-availability discounts, special offers, and ‘Tried and Tested’ personal reviews, plus an award-winning blog.

20 Quirky Places to Stay in the UK

Dawn and Alex have picked 20 of their craziest Host Unusual UK properties especially for Bridges and Balloons readers, with a brief introduction to each one.

So, grab a cuppa, and be inspired to book one of the UK’s most unusual holidays.

1. Kaywana Hall, Devon

Often described as a ‘hidden oasis’, Kaywana Hall is a stunning 1960s master-architect-designed retreat with a butterfly roof, secluded in 12 acres of South Devon woodland.

Guests can relax amongst pristine whitewashed walls and ambient lighting, with plenty of glass to showcase those beautiful surroundings. Take a summertime dip in the dreamlike outdoor pool to make your stay complete!

2. The Boathouse London

West London’s Floating Pocket Park is the first of the capital’s kind – a gorgeous green sanctuary in the city, created by the renowned garden designer Tony Woods.

A cool 60ft wide beam barge, the sleek and contemporary Boathouse London fits right in. Styled in partnership with the interior design brand MADE.COM, you can expect hand-picked furnishings, modern art, and minimalist Scandi-style décor, for an Instagrammer’s dream.

3. The Red Bus, Gloucestershire

Perfect for family getaways with a quirky difference, The Red Bus sleeps up to six guests in first-class comfort.

A cheerful double-decker Metro bus plucked straight from the Eighties, you’ll be surrounded by wide open fields – and plenty of friendly goats! 

Along with all the usual holiday essentials, the pet-friendly bus features a fully intact driver’s seat and steering wheel, and an on-board loo that puts paid to shivery queues in the dark.

4. Happy Days Retro Vacations, Suffolk

Owners Jenni and Kevin call their peaceful retro site “the ultimate in kitsch camping”, and we can’t disagree.

(Neither can The Times, who included it in their ‘Top 20 Coolest Campsites’!)

Their quirky collection of seven authentic vintage Airstreams and caravans will whisk you back in time, with each one carefully and uniquely furnished to capture its original spirit.  Think black-and-white chequerboard floors and flamingo curtains, just for starters.

5. Chillingham Castle, Northumberland

You’ll never feel lonely with a stay at Britain’s “most haunted historic castle”, since there are plenty of resident ghosts to keep you company!

A magnificent 13th century, Grade 1 Star-listed fortress surrounded by soothing countryside just 20 minutes from the coast, you can rest your heads in one of eight characterful apartments. Each boasts its own story to tell… if you’re brave enough to listen.

6. Kudhva, Cornwall

Kudhva means ‘hideout’ in Cornish, and the awe-inspiring, three-legged asymmetrical hideaway you’ll discover here is the coolest and cosiest kind.

Raised eight feet from the ground, and with a wild strawberry-and-heather garden below, you’ll enjoy spectacular views all the way down the coast to the Polzeath headland, as you immerse yourselves in nature (yet with soft bed linen and fresh towels for a well-deserved touch of luxury!)

7. Glamping Helipod, Lincolnshire

A thrilling stay for the daredevil in you, the Glamping Helipod occupies a prime position on the farm-surrounded site of RAF Wainfleet – aka the Dambusters’ old training ground!

A 20ft Lynx military helipod decked in camouflage, you’ll feel as though you’re about to start a secret mission as you step on board. Fully equipped, you’ll find everything from a TV and DVD player, to toasty underfloor heating, to help keep you properly refreshed for battle.

8. St. Curig’s Church, Wales

Sleeping up to sixteen guests, this exquisitely converted 19th century church is nestled in the Welsh village of Capel Curig, with a breath-taking backdrop of the Snowdonia mountains.

A unique blend of historic tradition with modern luxury, you can sleep beneath a carved stone pulpit, play table tennis beneath a stunning mosaic ceiling, or take a bottle of bubbles out to the hot tub, and watch the sun setting over the Snowdon Horseshoe.

9. Campwell, Somerset

A true one-off, Campwell is an off-grid, low-impact village created by green woodworker Tim Gatfield.

Each of his lovingly hand-crafted retreats sleep 2-4 guests, and come complete with a soft-glowing wood-burning stove, and downy, ready-made beds to help you switch off from the digital world.

Whimsical retreats include The Cob Round, with a double-sided deck for you to catch the sun rising and setting, and The Hairy Cabin, with a double bed hidden under the slope of its roof.

10. The Enchanted Faraway Tree, Kent

You’ve guessed right, this absolutely is a retreat that recreates all the charm of Enid Blyton’s much-loved children’s tale, ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’!

A unique, cosy treehouse pod for two, you can relax amongst Kent’s ancient Blean Woodlands, with plenty of grown-up luxury that includes a glass domed ceiling for epic stargazing right from your bed, snuggle-spots with a Bose Bluetooth speaker, and a wood-fired hot tub in your secluded garden.

11. Red Kite Conker, Wales

The brainchild of a former Bentley and Rolls-Royce engineer, the gleaming, off-grid Conker is a unique glamping pod that’s not only been featured on George Clarke’s ‘Amazing Spaces’, but it’s also the proud winner of This Morning’s ‘Staycation Showdown’.

Remotely secluded on a hill that boasts stunning views of rural Wales, no attention to detail has been spared, from the deluxe micro-kitchen to the Scandi-style log-cabin bathroom, complete with a piping hot shower-with-a-view.

12. Fog Signal Building, Kent

Set on the windswept Dungeness coast, Fog Signal Building – complete with grand steel tower – is a dreamily romantic retreat, with all the sights and sounds of the sea almost literally on your doorstep.

The loving restoration of this former foghorn testing station has left plenty of its unspoilt original features intact, yet with contemporary upgrades that include underfloor heating and state-of-the-art Miele kitchen appliances.

13. Aylsham Windmill, Norfolk

Now a luxurious holiday home for six, Aylsham Windmill spent 80 years as a working flour mill, with plenty of history infused within its walls. Close to the Norfolk Broads and the sweeping coast, the mill is beautifully positioned for exploring.

Inside, 21st century additions include a kitchen fitted into the curved windmill wall – a real talking-point! – and a kingsize en-suite bedroom with irresistible green views.

14. Tiger Lodge, Kent

One for the bucket list!  Set partially (and perfectly safely) inside the tiger enclosure at Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve, you’ll sleep just a whisker away from the site’s beautiful Amur tigers.

As if that wasn’t enough, the lodge itself is steeped in luxury, with wood-clad walls to make you feel like you’re on safari, a plush, peacock-blue Chesterfield sofa, a log-burner, and even a well-stocked library and a 4K TV, to help keep you entertained when the tigers are busy!

15. Balancing Barn, Suffolk

If you’re looking for a retreat with serious ‘wow-factor’, the Balancing Barn, dramatically cantilevered over the Suffolk landscape, has it in spades.

Designed by a renowned team of Dutch architects, the amazing exterior is just the beginning. Step inside to discover bespoke-designed lighting and furniture, with creative flourishes inspired by the likes of John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough.

(Though if you’re looking for added fun, the swing suspended from underneath the house will delight kids both big and little!)

16. LV14 SULA Lightship, Gloucestershire

Once described by the BBC as a “local celebrity of the Gloucester Docks”, LV14 SULA is the only lightship in the UK on which you can rest your heads.

The Humber Suite is the result of the owners’ painstaking labour of love… a gloriously luxurious retreat with the original teak doors, and an old wheel you can turn to watch the comings and goings of the docklands as you dine.

17. Ketch, County Down

Live the life of a lighthouse keeper with a fascinating stay at Ketch, a charming cottage set at the foot of St John’s Point Lighthouse on the coast of County Down.

With its bumblebee-esque yellow-and-black stripes, the lighthouse is not only visually striking, but the tallest onshore lighthouse in Ireland.  And you’ll find the homely cottage itself to be just as rich in detail, with spectacular sea views in every direction.

18. The Bunker, Cornwall

A former World War Two operations bunker, you might not expect peace, quiet, and luxury here – though that’s exactly what you’ll get.

Expertly camouflaged by grass, the ‘secret’ hideaway is surrounded by Cornish countryside, with modern glass doors that open into an elegantly rustic, high-end space filled with interesting detail (including an upright piano for a family singsong!)

19. Blue Cabin by the Sea, Berwickshire

Dreamily secluded in Cove Harbour, Blue Cabin by the Sea is only 36 miles from Edinburgh, yet you’d never know it.

Perfect for artists and writers (actual or aspiring!) there’s plenty of creative inspiration to be taken just from your journey to the cabin, which is accessed via a secret smugglers’ tunnel across the beach.

Once inside, you’ll discover windswept harbour views, and plenty of nautical flourishes that include a wall mirror crafted from shells, and handmade bronze ‘seaweed’ hooks and handles, to delight your senses.

20. Craighead Hobbit Howfs, Perthshire

“Howf” is a delightful Scottish word that refers to a favourite haunt of family and friends.  And we think you’ll find Burrow and Bagend Howfs to be aptly named!

Soothingly off-grid, and built right into the Perthshire hillsides, both Howfs are bespoke-crafted from stone and wood, featuring the grassy roofs and colourful round doors that no self-respecting Hobbit would be without.

Surrounded by acres of peaceful gardens, a shimmering lochan, and enchanting woodland, what more could you need?

So, there we have it!  If you’ve enjoyed this wondrous romp through 20 of Host Unusual’s craziest properties, be sure to visit their website and discover many more.

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