Let’s talk UK & Eire some more. If there’s one thing pub quizzes have made me realise, it’s that I’m much more familiar with places on the other side of the world than I am with the country I actually live in. I can tell you ten ways to have fun in Da Nang, Vietnam, but I can’t picture in my head where the Lake District would be on a map. I know where to find Melbourne’s Pink Lake, but I’ve never been to Cardiff.
With that in mind, I thought it was probably time to bring the spotlight back to the UK, and to my dual nationality second homeland of Ireland. I also thought it would be more fun to pick out weird accommodation options than to just say ‘here are some things you can do in Cornwall’ – so I picked the brains of the internet, filtered out anything ludicrously expensive (including an actual fortress that was ‘price on application’) and came up with this list of fun and unusual places to stay. Funusual? I’ll see myself out. Without further ado – my favourite picks of some weird and wonderful British & Irish accommodation.
1. A cabin on an alpaca farm in Cork, Ireland
Yeah, seriously. You had me at alpaca. Priced from £70 a night for four to six people, this place is as budget-friendly as it is awesome. If you’re in the mood for a genuinely rustic getaway in the beautiful Irish countryside, and you like alpacas as much as I do, a cabin on an alpaca farm from Glamping Hub is probably the one for you. Swimming spots and rivers, rolling fields, cool old ruins nearby… yep, definitely rustic.
Situated just outside of Drimoleague, there are pubs and restaurants nearby if you don’t want to make use of the BBQ and kitchen facilities every day, and you’ll also be a mere 20 minutes away from Dunmanway and Bantry. Check out the Drombeg stone circle, Ballinacarriga Castle and the Hobbit House at Glenview Gardens while you’re in the area.
2. A tree house in Cornwall, England
Everyone loves a good tree house, and I particularly like this one because even though it’s secluded enough that you can forget the rest of the world exists, it’s also within walking distance of other human life. A 10-minute walk through the woodland is all you need to find places to eat and drink, and the location on the Lizard Peninsula puts you a stone’s throw from some beautiful Cornish beaches as well as in the heart of all things leafy and green. Included at no extra cost: unbeatable views over Falmouth Bay.
3. An in-library B&B in Flintshire, Wales
As in, you can stay in a real library, full of books and whatnot. Not one of those venues that’s named after the thing that used to be here until everyone got bored of that thing and wanted something else. Gladstone’s Library in Hawarden is a ‘residential library’ where you can attend creative writing classes, hear political and literary speakers, try your hand at things like ‘Hebrew in a week’ and ‘Taming Shakespeare’ – and it’s also a really great bed and breakfast.
Guests staying at the B&B are welcome to take library books back to their room, and are granted access to walking trails through the nearby Ewloe Castle grounds that aren’t open to the general public. There’s an on-site bistro – who are happy to cater for vegans and other dietary requirements – and if the various courses and events aren’t your thing it’s no biggie. Head to nearby Wepre Park to spot waterfalls instead.
4. An RAF control tower in Norfolk, England
This one is hardly a test of my UK map knowledge, on account of the fact it’s less than an hour from my house. But it’s a good one, okay? The Control Tower is a fully vegetarian B&B on the north Norfolk coast, it always gets glowing reviews and the rooms are, to put it simply, gorgeous.
You get to stay in what was once a fully functioning control tower, situated on the site of RAF North Creake Airfield, and killer veggie breakfasts are included in your stay. If you’re in the Stirling Suite – an annex separate from the main building – a freshly cooked breakfast is delivered each morning so you don’t have to worry about stepping outdoors until you’re really ready.
Situated just three miles from the gorgeous seaside town of Wells-next-the-Sea, The Control Tower is in prime position to hook you up with top pubs and sandcastle-building opportunities.
5. A Dutch cargo ship – also in Norfolk, England
I can’t believe I’m including two places in Norfolk on this list but what can I say, you get to know the best tip-offs when you actually live in the area. So next up, it’s the Albatros.
I like the Albatros because before I gave up dairy, cheese&bean pancakes were one of my favourite comfort foods – and the Albatros, an actual pub/restaurant/b&b, sells them. Most people think I’m weird when I say that cheese and beans are an ideal pancake combination, so the fact you can actually buy them here makes me feel like these guys know what’s up. But I digress.
The venue sells lots of delicious things to eat and drink, but that isn’t why it’s exciting. The fact it’s a piratey-looking old ship, permanently moored in the waters of aforementioned Wells-next-the-Sea is what makes it exciting. That and the range of live music they regularly put on.
If you’re looking for a place to crash with friends and the Control Tower is a bit too romantic for your liking, bunk up at the Albatros instead. Pick from the beds and bunks of six onboard cabins, and relish the choice of an English breakfast or Dutch pancakes included in your stay.
6. Lighthouses basically everywhere
Shout out to Little Roads Europe for the tip off here – and you’ll notice one of these is actually in Norfolk too! (I see you, Cromer, I see you.)
There are lighthouses all over England, Ireland and Wales that you can go and stay in, living out any lighthouse keeper fantasies you might have. They range from venues where you’ve got the whole place to yourself in the middle of nowhere, to spots like Loop Head Lighthouse in County Clare where you’ll find you’ve got your own lighthouse apartment in an otherwise public sightseeing destination, manned by a genuine, real-life lighthouse person. Bonkers.
Check out a list of lighthouses you can holiday in, over on the Little Roads Europe blog post here.
7. A futuristic dome at Loch Ness, Scotland
Yes, the home of the Loch Ness Monster. Sightings not guaranteed. If you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to colonise another planet, maybe staying in one of these groovy geo dome thingies at Inver Coille in Scotland is the pick of the list for you.
For a few extra quid you’re welcome to take a pet with you, and together you can all admire the mountain views afforded to each and every futuristic bedroom by the raised platforms they’re built on. Perfect for summer hikes on the Great Glen way, you can either couple up or share a pod with friends/family as they accommodate up to four people at a time.
(For the record, there are actually a LOT of camping pod type options in Scotland and around Loch Ness… so if you want something bigger, smaller, more wooden, more canvasy, whatever, check out the Visit Scotland website and filter accommodation by ‘camping pods’!)
… and all kinds of other good stuff.
This list is the tip of the iceberg, and I know this because I refused to talk about the floating fortress that costs about a million pounds to stay in, but that is definitely an unusual place to stay. Google it if you must. If you know of anywhere else weird and wonderful that’s worth mentioning please do let me know! All budgets considered – apart from million pound floating forts.