Hey Mum, let's check into an unusual space

Do your kids ever get sentimental about the holidays they've been on? Mine do - to the point where they ask to go back to exactly the same places to do exactly the same things, right down to the ice creams and sandcastles. If they had their way, we'd be on a permanent groundhog holiday.

Don't get me wrong - I'm pretty good at holiday nostalgia too. It's just that my children and I don't always pine for the same places. Take my eldest son, Patrick, who has developed a powerful emotional attachment to a motorway service station-cum-hotel on the outskirts of Swansea. It's one of those soulless beige and grey chains you avoid at all costs unless you're desperate (it didn't even have a bar), but for some reason Patrick goes all misty-eyed whenever he recalls the drizzly night we once spent there. This square building, with its commanding views over the M4, seems to have reached parts of him that other hotels have so far failed to find.

I like to think that when Patrick reminisces about his little paradise he's being ironic, or that he knows something I don't. Perhaps urban un-chic hotels are the next big thing, and a fuddy-duddy mummy like me simply needs to catch up when it comes to appreciating cutting-edge architecture.

In reality, though, I suspect my son just has rather odd taste, but whatever the reason, he's taught me one thing: a child's imagination can be kindled in the strangest of places. So I've been on the look-out for some more inspiration - unusual abodes that, preferably, don't involve sleeping on the edge of a dual carriageway.

For starters, I've got my eye on a treehouse in Turkey. It may not have a motorway running through it, but Kadirs in Antalya has a certain charm of its own. It's a real one-off, set deep in a forest, with "rooms" perched high on great umbrella pines - a place to appeal to little monkeys of all ages.

If you don't like heights, you can stay closer to the ground in a choice of unique accommodation including, Noah's Ark style, a beached boat (00 90 24 28 92 1250; kadirstreehouses.com).

Then there are the underground caves-with-beds in Spain to try. Cuevas Pedro Antonio de Alarcon, in the Sierra Nevada, comprises 23 prehistoric underground hidey-holes, each kitted out with mod cons - perfect for those cavemen and women among us who like their creature comforts (00 34 958 664 986; charming-spain-hotels.com).

For something more grandiose, why not hire the kids their own castle? Celtic Castles (0870 050 3232; celticcastles.com) has a number of properties dating back to the 15th century. Check out the Ballyportry Castle in Co Clare, a Gaelic tower complete with its own battlements - "great for pretending you live in the olden days" according to my younger son, Stan.

But no list of unusual places to stay with kids can be complete without mentioning Sweden's famous Ice Hotel (0845 003 2216; icehotels.co.uk). Rebuilt every winter, this ever-changing work of art has average temperatures of minus 9C, so your kids will be well chilled throughout their stay. Everything is carved from ice, from beds to chandeliers, and you can take in the the northern lights through the windows.

It certainly beats views of a logjam on the M4 - and with an ice bar to warm the cockles at night, I shan't mind when the kids demand to go back for more.

Katy's top tip

For inspiration on all things out of the ordinary, visit unusualhotels oftheworld.com, which has a brilliant range of unique establishments to suit all tastes.