A country as old as the UK, with so many ghosts, castles, medieval villages, and dramatic landscapes, is going to have a lot of unusual places to stay. Some of the most quirky hotels in the UK hide secrets behind their bookcases or are so haunted that they’ve appeared on national TV. Here are some of those unusual places to stay in the UK.
From glamping spots in Wales to 500-year-old Tudor cottages; from Harry Potter-inspired huts and hotels to actual historic lighthouses, these are some of the most unusual places to stay and quirky hotels in the UK.
*Many of these unique places to stay and quirky hotels in the UK use Airbnb. Get £25 off your first stay using our link.
1. Live in Hagrid’s Hut, North Shire
Living in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is just a dream for most but staying at the Ground Keeper’s Cottage in North Shire is the next best thing. This replica Hagrid’s Hut is the only one of its kind and it’s totally awesome. Inspired by the Harry Potter books and films, this three-room cottage takes elements from Hagrid’s Hut, the Ministry of Magic, the Gryffindor Common Room and the Burrow to create this magical accommodation.
The attention to detail inside the cottage is phenomenal. In true Hagrid style, there’s a large set of keys hanging by the door and all sorts hanging from the ceiling – pots, pans, crates and more. There’s a fake fire flickering in the fireplace (magical!) and you can sign the guest book with a quill and ink. North Shire is a glamping site so the kitchen in the cottage is well stocked with all the utensils you’d need. Whilst there isn’t a hob, there is a little oven and a mini-fridge, which was more than sufficient for a few days. The bathroom is stunning with dark green tiles and an enormous copper bathtub.
Located around 1.5 hours away from York, Hagrid’s Cottage is in a very remote location. You won’t be able to get there without a car but it’s worth making the effort for. The accommodation sleeps 6 (four adults and two children) so it’s the perfect getaway for a family of Potterheads. They’ve even provided a variety of Harry Potter-related activities including checkers, Cluedo, Trivial Pursuit, the books & all eight Harry Potter films. To top it all off, there’s even a light blue Ford Anglia outside!
– Laura, What’s Hot?
Read More: Explore Harry Potter’s London.
2. Discover History at Burton Stone Inn, York
The Burton Stone Inn, located in York, is a hidden gem that flies under the radar with its fascinating history. Although at first glance it looks like any other average inn in England, there is something special on the property that separates it from the rest.
The Burton Stone Inn is actually named after the Burton Stone, which is a large rock that sits in front of the inn’s property. The stone dates back to the 17th century when York was hit badly by the Black Plague. During that time, the Burton Stone sat at the entrance to the city, and a hole carved into it was filled with vinegar. York residents purchasing goods from the outside would put their coins into the vinegar for cleansing to avoid spreading disease to the merchants.
Today, the stone sits lonely on a street largely frequented by tourists and college kids. The only thing marking it is a small plaque, which the average pedestrian likely wouldn’t notice. If you stay at the Burton Stone Inn, not only will you have a front seat to this incredible piece of history, but you will also have the joy of staying in a cozy inn with a pub and a hearty breakfast served in the morning. To top it all off, the Burton Stone Inn is walking distance from almost all of York’s highlights, including York Minster and The Shambles.
– Theresa, Fueled By Wanderlust
Read More: 6 Literary Places to Visit in Yorkshire.
3. Relax in a Shepard’s Hut in Dorset
When my partner suggested Dorset as a winter trip in December I was very reluctant. I hate the cold! However, when he showed me the shepherd hut overlooking rolling fields I quickly changed my mind. This is still one of the most unique places in the UK I have stayed.
As you enter the farm, there are around 5 shepherd huts, all with lots of space around them. They are fully equipped with a stove, fridge, a table and chairs, and a huge bed. I couldn’t imagine the huts would be big enough for such a huge bed. Another plus was that under the bed there was enough storage space for two large suitcases. My worries about being cold were quickly put to rest.
Each hut had a wood-burning stove and you are provided with enough wood for at least 2/3 days. It was so much warmer than I expected. The best part was the outdoor toilet, which was actually inside a red telephone box! Not the most practical but such a fun idea! The main showers were a bit of a further walk away but it was such a peaceful place to stay.
There were always animals coming up to the fence from the main farm and it was one of the most romantic places to spend new years eve for us! It was around an hour to Durdle Door from here, so if you’re looking for somewhere closer then Roy’s Shepherd hut is the perfect option in Dorset! Same concept but without the red phone box! You can visit their website to book.
– Hanna, Solar Powered Blonde
4. Stay in a Wooden Pod in Wales
Wales is popular for its beautiful nature and rugged landscapes. The best way to explore this part of the UK is to stay in amongst nature and enjoy the Welsh countryside. Staying in a wooden pod and glamping is the perfect way to relax and enjoy your stay in nature. There are various private modern wooden pods with a wooden pod with hot tub in Wales, which are available on the Airbnb website.
Of course, there are some glamping sites where you can book a wooden pod, but the downside of this is that you won’t be alone. Unlike camping, when it comes to glamping you don’t need the public facilities; you can have your own bathroom, a small kitchen, and a bed. That is why I would recommend you to book private ones, so you have more privacy.
We stayed in a very modern wooden pod in Cenarth in north Wales on a weekend in the winter. You know how cold Wales can be in January, but we didn’t feel cold since the pod had floor heating. We also used its hot tub when it was dark, unfortunately, it was cloudy and we couldn’t see any start. But since the pod was near the river, we could hear the sound of water running, but nothing else.
The pod comes with a microwave, a small fridge, some cutlery, some dishes, and an outdoor fireplace, where you can do barbeque. It is also 15 minutes far from the famous Cenarth waterfalls.
– Mansoureh, Travel with Mansoureh
Read More: Haunted Castles Houses, and Hotels of Wales.
5. Discover Longworth Hall Hotel near Hereford
Road tripping around the UK is one of my favourite things to do. It’s easy, it’s affordable, and the landscapes are stunning. On one of my recent trips, I found myself coming back from Wales and exploring some more of central England. I have a thing for old castle-like hotels and when I came across Longworth Hall Hotel, I knew I wanted to stay there.
When I arrived it was during the late afternoon and I absolutely loved it. The hotel is surrounded by meadows where sheep are enjoying their life and curiously observing the visitors. The rooms of the hotel are gigantic and make you daydream at different times when only one family lived here with their staff.
Longworth Hall Hotel today is also a very popular wedding destination and if I hadn’t I picked out a venue already, I would have suggested this place to my partner. I would love to return someday to stay for a week and simply bury myself in books and writing and of course tea time. Book a stay at Longworth Hall Hotel.
6. Relax at The Mermaid Inn, Rye
The charming village of Rye in East Sussex is home to one of the oldest and most fascinating inns in England. The famous Mermaid Inn on Mermaid Street has a history dating back to the 12th century and it’s also been named one of the UK’s most haunted inns! It’s even been featured on an episode of the TV show “Most Haunted”.
Over the years, many guests of the Mermaid Inn have reported ghostly sightings including a rocking chair that rocks on its own, a man who walks through the wall and a lady who walks across one of the rooms and stops at the foot of the bed. The rocking chair eventually had to be removed from the inn as it caused too many disturbances to the guests.
Full of character and old-world charm, stepping into the Mermaid Inn is like taking an immediate journey into the past. Its beautiful interiors are decorated with medieval furnishings and feature low doorways, creaky floorboards, oak beamed ceilings, and large fireplaces. Portraits of important historic figures line the corridors, including one of Queen Elizabeth I who visited Rye in the year 1573.
Staying at the Mermaid Inn makes a wonderful way to escape from the busy city life, as long as you don’t mind a ghost sighting or two! The inn’s restaurant serves delicious, award-winning food and the pub is full of character and worth a stop for lunch even if you choose not to spend the night.
-Ann, The Road Is Life
7. Stay in the UK’s Only Authentic Hobbit Hole, Suffolk
If you are a fan of The Lord of the Rings, you will fall head over heels for Pod Hollow at West Stow Pods. This little slice of Middle Earth is hidden away in an enchanting private Suffolk woodland that brings the magic of Tolkien’s world to life.
The hobbit hole certainly does not skimp on detail. In fact, the members of the Tolkien Society at the Anglo Saxon Village in West Stow have said that this is the only hobbit-hole in Europe that is factually accurate. And if it’s good enough for Bilbo, it’s good enough for us! Fans of the books and films will appreciate all of the little details scattered throughout the house, as well as the collection of LoTR figurines, DVDs, books, and card and board games. And that’s not to mention getting the opportunity to dress up in the Gandalf costume or the hairy hobbit slippers.
Whilst it may look like a house fit for a hobbit, step inside and you will discover a luxurious holiday home that has every amenity you could wish for, whilst still retaining that old-world charm. From a fully-fitted kitchen and a spacious living area to two bedrooms and a modern bathroom, this glamping site hardly feels like glamping at all! Perfect for a romantic getaway or a holiday that all the family will love, I couldn’t recommend a stay in Pod Hollow enough. But remember, there’s no admittance except on party business!
– Lucy, Faraway Lucy
8. Stay in the Haunted St Briavels Castle, Gloucestershire
Unique places to stay don’t get much better than a haunted, royal castle. Such places usually have a hefty price tag attached, but not St Briavels Castle in Gloucestershire, England. The Norman castle is run by English Heritage and operated as a YHA youth hostel, making it not just one of the most unusual places you’ll ever stay, but one of the best value.
Legend has it that the 12th-century castle is one of Britain’s most haunted buildings. Over the years it has been a Royal bastion belonging to King John, an armaments store and a debtors’ prison. Graffiti carved in the stone walls by prisoners and an ‘oubliette’ style dungeon mean that this castle has amazing stories to tell. Accommodation is basic, in dorm-style rooms or family rooms with bunk beds and bedding provided. There is a bar, self-catering kitchen and you have several communal areas where you can relax…if indeed you can relax in a haunted castle!
Medieval banquets are sometimes held on weekend evenings. For a very reasonable sum, you can put on a (provided) costume and be entertained by stories about the castle and medieval times, all whilst enjoying a historically themed and delicious meal. This is followed by a murder mystery game which roams over several rooms. We loved this, our host was highly entertaining and the food was excellent. Castle tours and archery are also available and well worth joining in. For a unique stay, at a bargain price, St Briavels Castle is surely one of Britain’s most unusual and fun places to stay. Just watch out for ghosts….
-Jo, Where Jo Goes
9. Stay in a Bell Tent at the Chalky Downs Campsite, Brighton
Chalky Downs Campsite, Brighton. If you are looking for a campsite, just a stone’s throw from the beach and one of the UK’s most vibrant cities set in a national park, then look no further. Chalky Downs on the South Downs offer Bell Tents for hire, or you can pitch your own tent or small campervan. The site is car free but has complimentary parking very close by. Ultimately, this means the site is safer for children to run around and explore.
You can also visit the farm and the animals. While we were there, we were amazed at how happy and free the chickens were. They were free to roam wherever they wanted, and they did! Each pitch has a fire pit for cooking, and in the morning a tractor would come around delivering eggs and sausages. You can also purchase breakfast from them already cooked. Dinner can be arranged for larger groups. Facilities include hot showers and plenty of toilets. The site is two miles from Brighton city centre but feels much further because the area is so quiet and tranquil.
Have a peaceful nights sleep then head into Brighton for a stroll along the beach, a mooch around the Laines, or fish and chips on the pier. The perfect cheap and peaceful holiday by the sea. Find out more about Chalky Downs and book.
10. Learn About Welsh History at Llechwedd Slate Caverns
Last year we stayed in the gorgeous glamping lodges at the Slate Caverns in North Wales. Llechwedd Slate Caverns are situated in the heart of Snowdonia National Park on the outskirts of Blaenau Ffestiniog. The slate caverns are a fantastic attraction that transports you back in time to learn about the regions slate mining, and even better – you can now glamp here.
There are six absolutely stunning safari lodges, positioned high up on the hillside overlooking the rugged landscape and historic quarries. The glamping lodges are extremely family-friendly and absolutely beautifully furnished with bunk beds, sofas, kitchen, and bathroom. Towels are provided and bedding is provided. They are fully equipped with all the cutlery, crockery and utensils – everything you need for your stay.
Whilst staying here there are a number of great activities on-site including LLechwedd Deep Mine Tour, The Quarry Explorer, Walk in the Footsteps Tour, and the Zip world. There is a play park on-site and places to eat including a cafe for a welsh breakfast. There is also a Quarryman’s Tavern open daily for drinks. Pizza cakes and snacks are also available from the Emporium cafe.
Llechwedd slate caverns have earned a gold star award from Visit Wales, and it is not hard to see why. An outstanding and luxurious family friendly glamping at the Slate cavern.
The stunningly beautiful Glenwhan Gardens in the south-west of Scotland are a magical place to visit. They are open to the public during the day but it is possible to have them all to yourself after hours if you book a stay in the quaint Shepherd’s Hut which sits on the grounds.
– Katy, Otis and Us
Read More: Visit Wales’s Charming Booktown Hay-on-Wye.
11. Stay in a Shepherd’s Hut in Glenwhan Gardens, Scotland.
The unique hut is well equipped inside with a double bed, small kitchen, wood-burning stove and an en-suite shower room with a toilet. Outside there is a little private garden with a raised seating area and views towards the Mull of Galloway which is the most southerly part of Scotland. It is also dog-friendly and dogs are also welcome in the garden.
During the day you can make use of the on-site tearoom or drive to the nearby town of Stranraer if you don’t want to cater for yourself. In the evening you can access the entire gardens and spend hours exploring the magical trails, discovering lily pad topped ponds and hidden sculptures among the exotic flowers. At night you can stargaze below the dark skies, away from light pollution.
If you manage to drag yourself away from this peaceful oasis, there are beautiful beaches, historic buildings, cute villages, and several more gardens to explore nearby. You can even climb the tower of Scotland’s most southerly lighthouse. However, if you just want to get away from it all and switch off for a while, the Shepherd’s Hut at Glenwhan Gardens is the ideal place to stay.
– Susanne, Adventures Around Scotland
12. Settle into a Cottage in the Cotswolds
One of the most unique places I’ve ever stayed was a historic cottage in the Cotswolds. This cottage, located in the picturesque village of Bibury, is a Grade II listed historic home and dates all the way back to 1703. The cottage is the perfect base for exploring the Cotswolds region. Bibury is one of the most popular Cotswolds villages due to its famed Arlington Row, a small lane of weavers’ cottages dating back to the 14th century. Arlington Row is often cited as the most photographed spot in Great Britain.
Bibury itself is quite small, with one hotel, a church, and a couple of pubs. But it’s by far one of the most charming villages in the Cotswolds, and the surrounding countryside is gorgeous as well. Bibury is centrally located to many other Cotswolds towns, making it a good home base for exploring the area. I really liked the cottage because it had all the comforts of home and was much more affordable than staying in a Cotswolds hotel. There are two bedrooms, one bathroom, a washer/dryer, and a fully equipped kitchen. Of course, the cottage had its “quirks” like low ceilings and rooms on the small side, but that’s to be expected from a historic home!
– Dale, Wander her Way
13. Enjoy the Sunrise at Start Point Lighthouse, Devon
In the UK there are a number of lighthouses that you can stay in. Most allow you to stay in the lighthouse keepers cottage rather than the tower itself as the towers are still working. One of the easier lighthouses to reach while still being in the middle of nowhere is Start Point Lighthouse in Devon. This is a short distance from the seaside town of Salcombe and is on the South West Coast Path so it is really easy to have a car-free stay just exploring the coast and the hidden beaches.
The lighthouse sits on top of the cliffs and is very exposed. You can drive all the way to the lighthouse compound along a narrow road and park right outside the keeper’s cottages which is welcomed when the weather is rough.
The cottages are beautiful and cosy with stunning views across Start Bay. There is nothing better than coming back to these cottages after a day walking along the coast and swimming in the bay near to the lighthouse. The sunrises and sunsets are magical and can be enjoyed from most of the rooms in the cottages and it is great that you can watch the sunset on the clifftop and be back in the cottage within minutes. The only downside to staying in these cottages are the fog horns which sound when it is foggy (but earplugs are provided!!).
– Suzanne, Meandering Wild
14. Stay in 500-year-old Aikwood Tower, near Selkirk, Scotland
If you’re looking for somewhere truly unusual to stay in the UK then we recommend the magnificent Aikwood Tower, a 500-year-old peel tower in the Scottish Borders near Selkirk, perfect for special occasions and family get-togethers. The tower was originally built to protect the family and their livestock from the notorious Border Reivers, cattle thieves who roamed this lawless area until the 17th century.
There are a lot of original features like the old stone fireplace in the great hall, gun holes in some of the bedrooms and of course the spiral stone staircase leading all the way up to the top of the tower. The kitchen is in the undercroft where the cattle used to live which is cosy and fun to cook in. Despite all this ancient history, the tower has been lovingly furnished with luxurious modern decor and is one of the most comfortable self-catering places we’ve ever stayed in.
There are five sumptuous ensuite bedrooms, most in the tower itself, each with incredible views out over the Ettrick Valley and fun nooks and crannies to explore. The gardens are gorgeous in Spring when the flowers begin to come out, and there’s a summer house and lawn games for when the weather is good. It’s a great location for exploring the local area, with lots of castles, ruins, walks, and reservoirs to discover.
– Heather, Conversant Traveller
15. Stay in a Fisherman’s Cottage in St Ives
St. Ives, a small fishing village at the very end of the Cornish map, is filled with chocolate box whitewashed houses set in narrow cobbled streets. But the absolute best thing about St Ives is that, despite its tiny size, it is surrounded by no less than 4 beaches. My advice, arrive by train for mind-blowingly scenic views of the coastline and leave the car at home. (it will only get stuck trying to turn impossible corners).
Staying in ‘By the Beach’, a fisherman’s cottage for four just behind the fabulous Porthmeor beach was magical. Nautical nick nacks were strung from the slate frontage and there was literally sand on our doorstep. Stepping through the old wooden door, we found our mini slice of heaven for the week -2 cosy bedrooms, a timbered fireplace, floral teacups, and even homemade Cornish scones. Perfect. (Going in a group, you can hire a whole selection of cottages and take it in turns to visit each other’s nook in the evening).
Stepping outside, and literally around the corner took us to golden sands, emerald waters and a headland walk replete with lighthouse and actual seal. The West Beach Bakery serves an amazing breakfast on the sand, looking out to sea.
Strolling a few minutes to the harbor, you can browse arty shops, go for fish and chips (watch out for the seagulls!) or sit outside the historic half-timbered Sloop Inn and watch the world and his boat go by.
– Helen, Holidays from Hels
16. Stay by the Sea at Catchpenny Lodges, Fife
If you thought the weather in the U.K wouldn’t make glamping easy or fun, you’re mistaken! In Scotland, near Fife, you can spend an extended weekend or a city-break in the region, having the best time while staying in a well-furnished glamping lodge which has all the creature comforts you’ll need!
Be it a romantic-getaway or one with the whole family, Catchpenny lodges is located right by the sea and even on a cold night, the lodge has all the items you’ll need to keep you warm and toasty. A well-equipped kitchen, an en-suite bathroom and washroom and a living room complete with board games to keep the family entertained are what awaits you here.
The location is a 5-minute walk away from a farm equipped with the freshest produce. In the opposite direction during certain parts of the year, a food fest is held and you’ll find all the tastiest produce in the region here.
The best bit about staying here are the gorgeous sunsets, probably some of the best in the whole of the UK! If timed right, you can set up your barbeque outside the lodge (available in the lodge) with langoustines got from the food fest and have one of the best evenings of your holiday!
17. Sleep Amongst the Books at Gladstone’s Library, Wales
For lovers of literature, those who want nothing more than a quiet retreat for a weekend away, or those who simply enjoy the atmosphere of being around books, sitting with a glass of red by the fireside on a wing-backed chair, and talking politics, there is no better place than Gladstone’s.
Hidden in a quaint village by the name of Hawarden in North Wales, six miles from the beautiful city of Chester, Gladstone’s Library is a lot of wonderful things: the only residential library in the UK, the UK’s only prime-ministerial library, and the best place, in our humble opinion, to spend a weekend on the whole bloody island. Read our full review of our stay at Gladstone’s Library.
18: Have a Magic Stay at The Wizarding Chambers at Georgian House, London
Georgian House hides a secret: behind a bookcase in this fantasy hotel you’ll find hidden a series of themed hotel rooms known as the Wizarding Chambers. And it’s these Wizarding Chambers that make Georgian House one of the most quirky hotels in London.
The truly magical thing about this fantasy hotel in central London is that it exists on two planes of existence. There are the regular rooms, which come with a regular breakfast and usual access to the bar. Then, there are the Wizarding Chambers, which provide a magical stay, a Forbidden Feast of a breakfast, and witch’s brew potions in place of ordinary cocktails.
Staying at the Wizarding Chambers transforms your stay from a great one into a mystical, otherworldly one, and makes for one of the most truly unique London hotel breaks. Read our full review of The Wizarding Chambers.
19. Relax at The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London
One of the most modern hotels in London is hidden behind the old facade of the Edwardian building. MO London knows how to wow its guests. Namely with the irrepressible charm of the old days, with a perfect location in Knightsbridge and a completely renewed interior.
After a devastating roof fire during the renovation work, the hotel now appears in a new luster. One that is far from heavy pomp, thick chandeliers, and dusty sofa sets. The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park is a hotel that, despite its Asian origin, feels above all “very British”.
The rooms are classy but modern. Contemporary style meets timeless British elegance. You will find deep green velvet sofas and art deco elements such as cupboards and bedside tables. Even small libraries cured by the London bookseller Heywood Hill can be found in the suites. Also convincing is the ingenious mixture of carpets and wooden floorboards and a choice of colors somewhere between brass, bottle green, and soft silver.
With Heston Blumenthals, the Mandarin Oriental London Hyde Park has a real star chef with a two Michelin-starred restaurant. The Boulud Bar, on the other hand, is the bistro in the basement named after the New York chef. A day (and night) at MO London is something truly special.
– Clemens, Travellers Archive
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Jess is the creator and editor of Books and Bao. She's passionate about the world, its literature, food, culture, and people. She enjoys sharing her travel tips with others and capturing those perfect moments.