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. Quaint rooms with comfortable beds and wonderful views. Good birdwatching nearby.
Mawgan Porth, Cornwall
Relaxing, purpose-designed eco-friendly hotel overlooking Mawgan Porth beach. Contemporary furniture and modern local art adorns bedroom walls. Great sea views from the cocktail lounge and stylish hotel restaurant. Fantastic spa facility for ultimate relaxation and great outdoor activities nearby.
Nr Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria
Standing between the Lake District and the Dales rests this eccentric castle welcoming all the family into the countryside and the Eden Valley. Four poster beds and antique furnishings make up the comfortable rooms. Restaurant is open on weekends. Great hideaway and local exploring to be done.
Luxury castle in the Yorkshire Dales. Formal surrounds with a relaxed atmosphere. Award-winning cuisine and cookery school. large individually designed rooms, chintzy fabrics and sash windows. Jam packed with activities and a spa. Ideal for families.
St Mary's, Isles of Scilly
Delightful family-run hotel set in a star-shaped castle on St Marys Island. The newly refurbished rooms are extremely comfortable and well decorated, with quaint details. Fresh, local, seasonal produce sets the tone for the on site restaurant. Totally charming!
This historic hotel overlooking Edinburgh Castle, was formerly the HQ for the Scotsman newspaper. Come for Michelin star restaurant, close promiximty to Princes St and a world-class gym. Chic interiors in traditional rooms.
A quirky designer hotel at Farnborough private airfield. Contemporary rooms (all soundproof) boast every modern connivence, plus the best offer views of the runway. A sleek and opulent luxury getaway for urbanites. Effortlessly cool.
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)
Fantastically modern interiors and stunning atrium in this atmospheric castle and former prison. Sleep in converted cells with original fittings and Gothic colours. New, airier rooms are also available in the additional buildings. Good brasserie food and a smart neon-lit cocktail bar.
Eclectic, eccentric – a one off converted coaching inn. Think padded leather walls, silver beds, copper free standing baths. A London red bus sits decoratively in the garden. The two restaurants serve traditional British or Thai food. Best for wacky weekends away.