Planning a weekend away? From secluded treehouses in the charming New Forest to mysterious gothic castles in the heart of Edinburgh, go off the beaten track with these unique properties. Whether you’re planning a city break or a romantic rural getaway, take inspiration from our pick of unusual UK retreats.
No Man’s Fort, Portsmouth
Floating serenely in the middle of the Solent, this extraordinary hotel is set in one of the most unusual locations in the UK. Over 150 years old, the hotel is only reachable by ferry, so once you’re there, you’ll be there for the night. Originally built back in 1867 to protect Portsmouth from an attack against Napoleon III, this sprawling seafarer’s haunt boasts 22 bedrooms and a lighthouse penthouse suite, with access to outdoor Jacuzzis and heavenly spa treatments.
The Old Railway Station, Petworth
You can’t get more unique than a weekend break in an old railway carriage. Stay in colonial splendour in the main station building, which was built in 1892, or step aboard the old Pullman train carriage and curl up in one of the eight luxury suites, all with stunning panoramic views of the Sussex countryside.
It’s hard to believe this trendy city stopover was once an Oxford prison, but the hotel still has a whole wing that retains its original prison cell layout. The converted cells in the prison wing are now kitted out in luxe velvets, elaborate prints and atmospheric lighting –apart from the barred windows and wrought iron doors, you would never know this was once an inmate’s cell. Cool and contemporary, this is a city staycation you’ll never forget.
Appleton Water Tower, Sandringham
This former Victorian water tower hangs on the edge of the Queen’s Sandringham estate. High above the trees, this 1887 tower – that once provided the Royal Family with a personal water supply – has now been converted into a charming country-chic getaway that sleeps up to four people. The views from the terrace and second floor viewing room are phenomenal, and the rooftop is the perfect spot for stargazing or watching the sunrise.
The Net Store, Highland
Perched 10 feet from the shores of Loch Beag, this coastal retreat boasts mesmerising views that stretch across the Minch right through to the Hebrides. From the inside it’s calm and airy with crisp white walls, oak accents and minimal, rustic décor – think warm blankets, leather sofas and wool headboards – whilst the outside is surrounded by coastal views and incredible wildlife. Walk, swim, fish or gaze, then curl up on the deerskin rug beside the wood-burning fire.
The Old Smock Windmill, Kent
Built over four stories, this carefully restored windmill is the perfect base to explore Kent’s beautiful countryside. With striking views spanning across Wealden’s romantic rural landscapes, guests can soak up the views, explore the surrounding gardens or simply snuggle up inside the windmill’s oak-beamed, airy rooms, next to the roaring wood-burning fire.
The Witchery by the Castle, Edinburgh
Embrace your dark, mysterious side at the Witchery by the Castle in Edinburgh. A glorious gothic hideaway in the heart of the city, this unusual property boasts a wonderfully bizarre collection of fantasy suites draped in elaborate velvets and enormous wooden four-poster beds. Edinburgh’s charming Old Town is right on your doorstep to explore at your leisure, but be sure to book into the theatrical dining room, for top-notch food in an extravagant setting.
The Château, Lincolnshire
For a touch of rural France without having to leave the UK, Gate Burton’s beautiful château offers all the charm of the French countryside, right in the heart of Lincolnshire. Perched on a hill above the River Trent, this Georgian gem has high ceilings with an open fire and a balcony that opens up to the surrounding parkland.
Chewton Glen, Hampshire
A luxurious country spa retreat to many, but hidden amongst the trees are a delightful selection of magical treehouses to inspire the ultimate wanderlust. Nestled between the towering, leafy trees, each modern hideaway comes with its own private terrace, whirlpool tub and breathtaking scenery of the surrounding forest.
The House in the Sea, Newquay
Set above Towan Beach, Newquay, The House in the Sea is set on its own intimate island, accessible only via a suspension bridge. Sophisticated and stylish, this romantic coastal hideaway is surrounded by magnificent views of the glistening ocean and quaint English gardens with nooks and crannies just waiting to explored.
The Salt Box, Kent
The only Nature Reserve in the whole of England where you can spend the night, this magical cabin is tucked away in Kent’s whimsical marshlands. The huge glass wall opens up to panoramic views of rolling hillsides, where you can spot herds of cattle, rare hares and birds of prey from the comfort of your king-sized bed.
The ultimate in exclusive rustic retreats, Soho Farmhouse is a playground for the rich and famous. If you want to play at being an A-list celebrity, then this is the place to do it. Set within 100 acres of pristine Cotswolds countryside, this beautiful boho getaway has a selection of quaint lakeside cabins as well as charming bell tents that come complete with wood-burning stoves, an outdoor living area and a six-foot wooden bed. Each bell tent has access to a bath, shower and sauna, which are all located in the Boathouse, just 100 metres away.
The Birdhouse, Shropshire
This whimsical eighteenth-century folly – and newest Landmark Trust property – is perched above a ravine in the most spectacular of natural settings. Nestled amid towering trees and leafy greenery, this romantic hideaway sleeps two, so it’s perfect for an amorous weekend away. Relax on the outdoor terrace with a glass of red and soak up the glorious surrounding views.