Staycations are looking increasingly popular for the foreseeable future. Travel abroad remains uncertain and, not surprisingly, a lot of families simply feel more comfortable staying closer to home this year.
Fortunately, not only does the UK offer plenty of beautiful destinations, it also hides some wonderfully wacky places to stay.
From treehouses and old railway stations to double-decker buses, gypsy caravans and more, there are plenty of quirky and unique accommodation options perfect for families. So, the next time you go on holiday, forget booking a hotel and choose from one of these seven unique places to stay instead.
Note: Check the current government guidelines on travel before booking. Some of the properties listed are not currently taking bookings owing to Covid-19.
Meadow Keeper’s Cottage in Sussex
This wonderfully whimsical cottage on wheels is located on Swallowtail Hill Farm in Sussex. It was built by hand by a local craftsman and is a thoroughly charming place to stay.
There’s room for four people in the cottage: two adults and two children. You’ll find a double bed and two narrow benches that double up as single beds (with a dining table in between). There’s a cooking area – although you’ll have to collect water from outside – a small wardrobe and a log burner. Your compost toilet is nearby and there’s a hard-working log-fired shower outside.
You’re completely off-grid here meaning that it’s a wonderful way to escape electronics and get back to nature instead. Enjoy a guided walk around the farm and meet the animals or head to nearby Bodiam Castle and the beach at Camber.
Higgledy Tree House in Blackberry Wood
This family-friendly tree house in Blackberry Wood looks like something you would find in a children’s story book with its crooked walls and witch-turret tower.
Located in the quiet Sussex countryside, at the foot of the South Downs National Park, this rural retreat is just one hour away from London. The tree house sleeps four adults, or two adults and two children, in a double bed and a loft bed. The shower room is in the turret and there’s even a fully-equipped kitchen.
If you need more space for your crew then don’t worry, this campsite has plenty of other fun accommodation options. There’s an old helicopter, a double-decker bus and a 'curvy' wood cabin that are all available for overnight stays.
Gypsy Caravans at Fisherton Farm
One of the most unique places to stay in the UK has to be these beautifully restored bow top Gypsy Caravans. Located in Umberleigh in Devon, Fisherton Farm is an off-grid farm stay perfect for families and groups of friends (the wagons can’t be rented individually).
The three Vintage Vardos are a delight. They have been individually decorated with comfortable bedding, duvets and fresh flowers. They differ in size but can generally sleep between two and four people. If you need more space then there’s a 1960s farm tip up trailer that can sleep an extra four people. It can also be used as a living room for smaller group stays.
You’ll find a woodland ‘living room’ outside where you can cook (there’s a fully equipped camp style kitchen) and the outdoor shower offers the chance to scrub yourself clean while enjoying views over the valley.
If it rains then there’s always Tinny, the games shack, to retreat to.
Glamping Orchard, Severn Vale
Camping is definitely not for everyone but most people are happy to glamp. Especially if it’s somewhere as lovely as The Glamping Orchard.
Located in the heart of the Severn Vale and surrounded by the Cotswolds, this is a wonderful place to stay. Belle is a bell tent that can sleep up to five people in beds. There’s a double bed – with a proper mattress – two single futon beds and an extra bed can be added if needed.
There are rugs and cushions; fairy lights and bunting; and even a wood burning stove. The whole effect is quite magical and feels more like staying in a luxury hotel than under canvas.
There is a kitchen on site but The Glamping Orchard can also provide breakfast, BBQ meals and picnic hampers. After all, you are on holiday!
The Big Green Bus, Sussex
Definitely one of the most original places to stay is the jolly Big Green Bus.
Located in a private woodland in the Sussex Countryside, this holiday home has been created from a 1982 West Midlands metro bus.
Today, the retro double decker can sleep six people. Downstairs there’s a kitchen and a lounge/dining area as well as a toilet and wet room. Upstairs you’ll find three bedrooms; two double bedrooms and one bunk room. There’s also a cosy nook at the front of the bus, perfect for reading or playing a board game.
Plenty of original features remain including two of the original bus seats. Relax here or one of the striped deckchairs outside. It’s quirky and a lot of fun.
Alton Station, Staffordshire
Perfect for a unique stay with a sense of history is Alton Station in Staffordshire. Once upon a time this railway station welcomed day-trippers by the trainload, all eager to visit Alton Gardens.
Today, however, the country estate has been turned into a theme park and the railway station into a holiday home. Guests sleep in what was once the ticket office or in the Stationmaster’s house. The kitchen is housed within the former ladies’ waiting room and the porter’s room is now a shower room.
There are plenty of original features left plus all the mod cons you might need including a dishwasher and washing machine.
Alton Station can sleep eight people and is managed by The Landmark Trust.
Leeds Castle Knights Glamping
Photo credit: Harriet Whiting
Camping fit for a king can be found in the grounds of Leeds Castle. This castle was often used by King Henry VIII and, when he arrived, he would bring his convoy with him.
Today, during summer months, you’ll find eight colourful striped tents pitched on the grass much like the ones used by his entourage. Unlike King Henry’s Knights, however, these tents come with four-poster double beds.
Inside, you’ll also find dressing gowns and towels, a log burner to make sure you’re warm, and even the chance to make coffee and tea.
If you do manage to drag yourself out from under the duvet in the morning then you’ll have the castle grounds to yourselves until the day visitors arrive at 10.30am. You also get after-hours access once non-glamping guests have gone home at the end of the day. Even King Henry would approve.