If the idea of lording it in a real castle, snuggling up in a converted railway carriage, or staying in a windmill by the sea appeals, these unusual UK hotels are for you. Dotted across the country, they also include former newspaper offices, an ex-prison and an eco hotel.
Our first choice for unusual UK hotels by the seaside would have to be Cley Windmill in Norfolk: a romantically restored 18th Century windmill with beautiful views, which is now an upmarket B&B with access to an excellent chef. Those who prefer the west country could try The Scarlet in Mawgan Porth, Cornwall, a purpose built eco friendly grown-up retreat overlooking the beach - no children allowed at all! Or slightly further afield, in the Scilly Isles, you'll find the Star Castle Hotel, created from a fantastic 16th century star shaped castle on St Marys. The owner's two great passions are lobster fishing and wine.
Many an unusual UK hotel has been converted from a drafty old castle, but two of the best are Augill Castle, near Kirby Stephen in Cumbria, which is stuffed with antiques, four poster beds and roll top baths - children and dogs are welcome - and dinner is taken round a huge communal oak table.
And Swinton Park in Yorkshire, which is a more traditional, luxurious affair, set in 200 acres complete with lakes, walled garden and spa, and with an award winning menu.
Themed hotels are certainly unusual, but many seem to miss out some of the essential pleasures of a hotel stay. Our selection of themed unusual UK hotels is different, starting with The Scotsman, created from the offices of said newspaper in the heart of Edinburgh, which maintains the newspaper theme, but effortlessly combines old and new - think Victorian oak panelling along side ultra modern glass and steel. In addition it has Michelin starred food..
The Avaitor at Farnborough airport is another highly successful example of a theme hotel, with top end design throughout and great views of the airfield from its Sky Bar.
If railways are more your thing, then we can suggest the Old Railway Station, just outside Petworth, West Sussex, which offers rooms in both the old station or a converted train carriage.
The Malmaison in Oxford has been imaginatively converted from a prison. Converted cells are now modern bedrooms but the original doors and window bars remain! The Exercise Yard has become an attractive outside space and you can enjoy pre dinner drinks in what was once the Visitors’ room.
There’s an element of eccentricity to all of our selection of unusual UK hotels, but the Crazy Bear Hotel in Stadhampton deserves special mention. This eccentric creation was originally an old coaching inn, but now the reception is a double decker bus, champagne flows from a tap in the bar, there are pink padded walls and leopard print carpet in the restaurant…
Not found an unusual UK hotel that takes your fancy? Check out our Ultimate Guide to the best Party Hotels instead!
Characterful windmill B&B overlooking marshes of Cley, a pretty village near shingle coast where locals swim. Good birdwatching nearby.
Mawgan Porth, Cornwall
Relaxing, purpose-designed eco-friendly hotel overlooking Mawgan Porth beach, for fabulous sunsets. No children.
nr Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria
Eccentric, fabulous family castle hotel stuffed with antiques and four posters in pretty rural setting midway between the Lake District and the Dales. Good base for expeditions if you have a car. Excellent for children and families.
Impressive castle hotel with a relaxed atmosphere and award-winning cuisine and cookery school. Set in a 200 acre park, ideal for families, packed with activities, plus a spa.
St Mary's, Isles of Scilly
Delightful family-run hotel set in a star-shaped castle on St Marys.
Former HQ for the Scotsman newspaper, large-ish on North Bridge road. Come for Michelin star restaurant, close promiximty to Princes St and a world-class gym. Chic interiors in traditional rooms.
Designer hotel at Farnborough airfield, booked full during the Air Show. Sleek and opulent, it's an unusual luxury getaway for urbanites, as well as an impressive conference location.
As close as you’ll get, in a b&b, to the romance of the Orient Express. Quirky property for train lovers, just outside Petworth. Book a room on the old station or in a carriage.
Oxford (3 New Road)
Spectacular central atrium in this classic Malmaison, a castle and former prison. Sleep in converted cells, ultra modern with some original fittings. Good brasserie food.
Padded pink walls and leopard print carpet. Eclectic, eccentric – a one off converted coaching inn just outside Oxford, for wacky weekends away.