From ornate Victorian water towers to quirky old railway stations, Britain is bursting with unusual places to stay. Try one from this list below, and you'll refuse to stay in a Travelodge ever again. These are some of the most interesting places to stay in England, Scotland and Wales.

La Rosa, Whitby, Yorkshire

La Rosa, Whitby
Way before the “glamping” revolution, a campsite near Whitby started putting people up in vintage caravans, ranging from an Elvis-themed period piece to an authentic chrome Roma full of etched glass. The kitsch factor proved so popular they’ve now opened a hotel in town and stuffed it full of high-camp Victoriana – think Naughty Nineties meets eBay – with themed rooms dedicated to everyone from Bram Stoker to Angela Carter.

Appleton Water Tower, Norfolk

The Victorians were a clever bunch. Instead of wasting their energy on a heating system to stop water towers from freezing, they just re-routed flues from below, channelling hot smoke up through the centre of the tanks. But as the ornate iron railings and twisting staircases of Appleton Water Tower attest, they still had a taste for fanciful design. When you gaze out over the Sandringham Estate from your warm octagonal bedroom, you might just thank them for it.

Livingstone Safari Lodge, Kent

Stick your neck out of Livingstone Safari Lodge at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park and you might see a giraffe sniffing around in the early morning light. Here, in the hundred or so acres of Kent countryside that rolls away from your private veranda, there are herds of grazing wildebeest, zebra and antelope. Keep your eyes on the glistening watering-holes and you might even spot a hippo poking its nostrils above the surface. The accommodation is fairly basic, but who cares when you’re waking up to one of the best views this side of Africa?

Old Railway Station, West Sussex


There used to be a time when train travel was fun, even glamorous – and a far cry from today’s dreaded commuter run. At the Old Railway Station at Petworth, near Chichester, the golden age of rail lingers on, from the gorgeous vaulted guest hall, once a busy ticket office, to the chocolate-brown Edwardian Pullman carriages, which house colonial-style guest rooms. All that’s missing, in fact, is the railway line, which closed in 1966. So drop your bags, stop for a cream tea, and thank God you’ve got nowhere to go.

Cley Windmill, Holt, Norfolk

The flat, marshy landscape of north Norfolk does wonders for Cley Windmill. Those white latticed sails just wouldn’t stand out as well among rolling green hills. But the flat terrain has caused problems too; in the 1950s, a great flood put the mill under eight feet of water. Now, the eighteenth-century tower has been graciously restored, and guests are invited to curl up with a book under the beamed ceiling of its circular sitting room.

Cley Mill B&B, Norfolk

Cley Mill by Derek Lee via Flickr (license

Hotel Portmeirion, Portmeirion

Interesting places to stay in the UK don't get much better than Hotel Portmeirion, in the Welsh village of the same name. Designed by Clough Williams-Ellis, the eccentric Italianate community blends a Mediterranean piazza with Neoclassical colonnades and a Jacobean town hall. Guests at the hotel itself, meanwhile have included Noël Coward and George Bernard Shaw.

Badrallach Bothy, Wester Ross


When you’re trekking in the cold and rugged Scottish Highlands, finding somewhere warm to spend the night can be a matter of life and death. Step forward the splendid Mountain Bothies Association, who have converted dozens of ruined old buildings into bothies – simple, free shelters left open to all. Though it continues the tradition, Badrallach’s bothy, in remotest Wester Ross, is a little more homely than most, with smouldering, peat-fired stoves warming the cold stone walls, but you’ll still need to cook for yourself – and bring your own sleeping bag.

Star Castle Hotel, Isles of Scilly

Star Castle Hotel, St Mary's, Isles of Scilly, EnglandStar Castle Hotel, St Mary's, Isles of Scilly, England © Andrew Roland/Shutterstock


From down on the ground, it’s not immediately obvious where Star Castle got its name from. But arrive on St Mary’s by whirring helicopter and you’ll see its jagged outer walls etching an eight-pointed Cornish star into the hilltop. The garrison was built in 1593 to protect the islands from the Spanish Armada and subtle reminders of its tumultuous history can still be spotted to this day.

Hotel Pelirocco, Brighton


Hotels don’t usually mix well with rock’n’roll – just think of all those TVs that have crashed out of bedroom windows. But at Hotel Pelirocco, near Brighton’s pebble-fringed seafront, the rock star ethos has been embraced, drizzled with sauciness, and then packaged into nineteen uniquely sexy bedrooms. There’s the flagship sleazy Play Room, with an eight-foot-wide circular bed (complete with mirrored canopy) and an in-room pole-dancing area. Then there’s the Pin-up Parlour, where tasselled lampshades and drapes pay homage to Fifties bombshell Diana Dors. Or maybe the Nookii Room’s more your style, drenched in black satin, with its own peep-show sign.

Clavell Tower, Dorset

If nature was given its way, Clavell Tower, near Wareham, would probably be somewhere at the bottom of the English Channel by now. But in 2006, the Landmark Trust embarked on a project to restore the 180-year-old folly and rebuild it 82 feet back from the crumbling cliffs of the Purbeck coast. It worked, and nearly £900,000 later, it’s available to rent – a dinky little house with unparalleled views, it's one of our favourite unusual places to stay in Britain.


Make The Most Of Your Time In Britain includes 500 great British experiences - find out more.


Book your trip with Rough Guides

Tailor-made travel planned by local experts

At Rough Guides, we understand that experienced travellers want to get truly off-the-beaten-track. That’s why we’ve partnered with local experts to help you plan and book tailor-made trips that are packed with personality and stimulating adventure - at all levels of comfort. If you love planning, but find arranging the logistics exhausting, you’re in the right place.

Learn Morechevron_right

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

chevron_leftPrevious feature
Cities which aren't the capital – but should be

Cities which aren't the capital – but should be

Next featurechevron_right
Top cooking breaks

Top cooking breaks

Sign up for weekly travel inspiration

Sign up to our newsletter for weekly inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook

Privacy Preference Center


Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.



Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.



Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs