Top 10 Unusual places to stay
If you're looking for something more than just a traditional B&B or hotel, here's our pick of the most unusual, quirky, innovative places to stay, including airstreams, pods, romany caravans, treehouses, yurts, tipis, threepis(!), and safari-style camps:
Gypsy Caravan, West Wales
Managed by famously eco-minded accommodation provider Under the Thatch, this Romany 'Vargo' caravan was first built in 1924 and was used by travellers up until the 1970s. Having since been refurbished and pulled to its current resting place overlooking the river Ceri, the caravan's interior is minimal - namely a small wooden stove and a double bed on a raised platform, though there's a separate wooden cabin with an oven, fridge, shower room and toilet. You'd be hard pressed to find a better location for a secluded holiday, tucked away in the corner of a wild-flower meadow with the beaches of Llangrannog Bay only a short walk away. Prices start at £249 per week
Big Sky Yurt, Devon
Inspired by the legendary American yurt builder Bill Coperthwaite, Big Sky Yurt teeters proudly toward the more luxurious end of the yurt scale. Having been entirely constructed from locally-sourced recycled and natural materials, owner Scott even handcrafted the impressive, Swedish-style enclosed king-sized bed himself. One of the best features is the view out over the Devonshire hillside from the comfort of the spacious living area. There is also a large ornamental grass garden to explore, plus a few landscaped ponds suitable for swimming. The yurt sleeps 2, costing around £190 for a 2 night stay.
Fforest Camp, Pembrokeshire
Tents perched on elevated timber decks, luxury modern stable conversions and a spacious geodesic 'Dome' boasting floor-to-ceiling bay window and wood-burning stove - this is more like staying at a hotel than a campsite, albeit one with woodland corridors and canvas rooms. At the centre of it all, fforest lodge serves fantastic locally-sourced breakfasts, plus guests are free to grab a book from the library and warm up next to the cosy woodburner. Activities on site range from sedate reflection in the hidden woodland sauna to raft-building, surfing and canoeing. A dome costs from £117; Crog loft £148, Threepi £86, Nomad £67. All rates include breakfast and can be booked as a weekend, midweek or full week only.
Écovallée yurt camp, Dordogne
A stone's throw from the medieval market town of Lalinde in the heart of Dorgdogne, this family-friendly yurt camp may be beautifully isolated, but the yurt interiors may trick you into thinking you're bedding down in a city hotel. As of 2012 you'll find two 18-foot coppiced chestnut yurts with space for up to four (complete with comfortable double beds), a solar shower, a woodland play area and a 12-foot 'Play Yurt' (filled with kids' toys, games and puzzles). Guests can also rent out the 'Roaming Yurt' for €80, which can be delivered to any location within a 50-km radius of the site. Yurts cost around £427 per week (Saturday to Saturday in July and August). Off season, £64 per night, based on a three-night minimum stay.
Meadow Keeper's Cottage, Sussex
At first glance, this unique accommodation resembles a miniature cottage on wheels. Once you get inside, however, you'll find that Meadow Keeper's Cottage is surprisingly roomy, with plenty of space for a family of 4, plus an ample kitchen area and even some miniature wood beams in the bedrooms. Found alongside the bell tents on Swallowtail Hill Farm, there's a wealth of family activities to get involved in, ranging from green woodworking and wild foraging to longbow archery. Explore a little further afield and you'll come across the beautiful Rye Nature Reserve. From £315 for three nights, £420 for four nights
>> See all our Green Places to Stay
The Summerhouse, Northern Pennines
Surrounded on all sides by the wonderful Eden Valley, on 16 acres of private and organic farmland, Summerhouse is an innovative shepherd's hut located on the grounds of a traditional millhouse. The cosy timber waggon has been kitted out using a high percentage of sustainably-sourced, recycled materials, with enough room left over for a full-size double bed, a seating area and a kitchen complete with oven and stove. Best of all, you're in the enviable position of having both the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales within easy reach, so you'd better pack those walking boots. Prices start at £162 for two nights, based on two people sharing.
College Farm, Norfolk
College Farm has been owned and run by the Daniels family for the past 20 years. Right at the heart of the Norfolk Broads, many of the south-facing tents overlook the river Waveney, just visible over a verdant field of swaying sunflowers. Activities on site range form pony grooming and cycling to fishing, canoeing and boating. As part of the Featherdown Farm family, you can expect large, safari-style tents whose luxurious interiors include a central wood-burning stove, spacious double bed, kitchen area and dining table large enough for the whole family. Weekends start from £405, Midweek from £465, Week from £635
Vintage Vacations, Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight may seem an unlikely place to find ten vintage American caravans, but these spacious trailers are the ideal choice for anyone looking for a quirky, green getaway. Each caravan is surprisingly well-equipped, with the likes of the refurbished 24-foot 'Tradewind' offering two double pullout 'Gaucho' beds, refrigerator and cooker. For anyone looking for something a little closer to home, the site now boasts three refurbished quintessentially British caravans, including 'Gloria' with two single beds and a dinette that converts into a double. Weekends start at £160, midweek breaks from £145, entire weeks from £360.
>> See our Guide to Treehouse Holidays
The Roundhouse, Cornwall
Have you ever wondered what it might be like to bed down in an authentic Iron Age roundhouse? In fact, while the exterior may accurately resemble a campsite crafted in 600BC, the interior is nothing if not the height of modern luxury. Chances are, not too many of our ancestors spent the night in a handmade four poster bed, tucked up in Egyptian cotton sheets underneath a duck down duvet. If you do manage to tear yourself away from your lavish dwelling, the surrounding area has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with much walking, sailing and surfing on offer, too. Prices start at £150 per night
Whitepod, Swiss Alps
Tucked comfortably beneath the Dents du Midi, just above the Swiss alpine town of Les Cerniers, this fantastic collection of 15 low-impact domed 'pods' and a separate Refuge lodge offers an inspired alternative to crowded ski resorts. Each one boasts a double bed, thick duvet, log fire and panoramic views of the surrounding peaks, and it is just a short walk to the restaurant and spa at Chalet des Cerniers. Starting at €325 a night, the pricetag may seem nearly as steep as the camp's 600m private run, but it does include all meals, lift passes and two private mountain guides. The pods cost from €325 per night, the Refuge from €75 per night for two beds (June to October), €25 per night for a single bed.