The UK’s 10 best quirky hotels for when the travel ban lifts

Plan the perfect overnight stay with these one-of-a-kind digs, says Jane Knight

Friday 26 March 2021 13:55
<p>The Dial House in Norfolk</p>

The Dial House in Norfolk


on’t settle for any old hotel once we can travel again – make your next break really special, by booking one of Britain’s most unusual places to stay, from a former train station to an old watermill.

Here, the Good Hotel Guide picks the quirkiest top 10.

Room rates are for the lowest available price in May

Belle Tout Lighthouse, Eastbourne, Sussex

Decommissioned in 1902, Belle Tour lighthouse now has six rooms

Climb up to the lantern room in this remote B&B for a 360-degree lookout of both the English Channel and the Seven Sisters and South Downs. Decommissioned in 1902 less than a century after it was built, the lighthouse now has six rooms. Only one is in the tower: the atmospheric Keeper’s Loft, with exposed brick, small window, and double bed on a mezzanine reached by a ladder. It’s a tight squeeze though, so if you want more space, plump for the bigger, lighter and brighter five rooms in the adjoining house. Whichever you choose, be sure to watch sunrises over Beachy Head Lighthouse and sunsets over the Birling Gap either from the lounge or the lantern room, with its outdoor walkway. Or take a nightcap up the stairs for a spot of stargazing.

Doubles from £175, B&B

The Dial House, Reepham, Norfolk

Pick your room from your favourite part of the world at The Dial House

Pick your room according to your favourite part of the world here, from China (a celebration of Willow Pattern) to Africa (with vaulted beams and slipper bath) to Paris (a garret complete with antiques). Whichever of the eight bedrooms you choose, it will come with a record player and homemade biscuits. A revolving bookcase reveals a secret dining room, where you can tuck into local produce that tastes all the better for having been cooked over sustainably sourced charcoal (note that the restaurant is closed from Sunday to Tuesday). Part of the hotel is a shop, and there’s even a hairdressers on site. The market town of Reepham is half an hour from the Norfolk coast.

Doubles from £120, B&B (

Talland Bay Hotel, Talland-by-Looe, Cornwall

The whimsical Talland Bay Hotel has a spectacular coastal setting

It feels a bit as if you’ve fallen down Alice’s rabbit hole at this whimsical hotel with its spectacular coastal setting. Whether you’re sitting inside on a zebra-print sofa looking at a 3D Mickey Mouse on the wall, or out in the clifftop garden on a wooden bench with carved budgies, it’s “curiouser and curiouser”. While there’s plenty of fun amid the fairytale, they take hospitality seriously here, with slick service and light and airy rooms (bag one with a sea view to really appreciate the setting). Better still, you can take your four-legged friends and explore the South West Coastal Path before returning to a taste-packed meal that’s big on Cornish seafood.

Doubles from £270, B&B

The Star Inn, Harome, Yorkshire

The Star Inn is an idyllic thatched pub

You know the food is going to be good at this idyllic thatched pub with its flagged floors and low beams – it’s well known for the Michelin-starred meals of chef patron Andrew Pern, who delights in serving the best local food in unusual combinations, such as black treacle-glazed duck with lovage tortellini. What’s less expected are the quirky rooms in farm buildings across the road – there’s a snooker table in one and a piano in another, should you feel compelled to give a night-time rendition of the Moonlight Sonata. The pub is on the edge of the North Yorkshire moors, where you can work up a healthy appetite during the day.

Doubles from £150, B&B

Enter a world of eccentricity at No 15 Great Pulteney

Step through the doorway of this Grade I listed building with its traditional Georgian facade and you enter a world of eccentricity. You get a taste of what’s to come at check in, where room keys are kept in a large doll’s house. Bedroom walls feature bold murals and artwork, there’s a lost earring chandelier, and the Dispensary restaurant holds the entire contents of an antique chemist’s shop. Everywhere you look there’s a different curio. It’s all elegantly stylish and spoiling rather than kitsch – there’s a spa in the basement, part of which was the old coal cellar, and even the smallest of the 40 bedrooms has a larder of complimentary soft drinks and snacks.

Doubles from £260, B&B

Tuddenham Mill, Tuddenham, Suffolk

The 18th-century Tuddenham Mill

You can still see the waterwheel in the bar of this 18th-century mill, and the gearing apparatus is on show in the dining room. It’s here, beneath the original beams, that chef patron Lee Bye keeps his nose to the grindstone, cooking imaginative dishes inspired by the Suffolk countryside, such as Holkham estate deer, or bream with bouillabaisse. After dinner, retire to one of 21 rooms, many of which feature Italian-designed furniture and a Philippe Starck bath. Two of the hobbit-style huts in the garden have a terrace with a hot tub, while other bedrooms have access to the millstream, where swans glide in sight of the enormous brick chimney.

Doubles from £165, B&B

The Old Railway Station, Petworth, Sussex

The Old Railway Station’s romantic Pullman carriages

The romantic Pullman railway carriages, with colonial-style furniture, mahogany fittings and shutters in this former station are just the ticket to take you back to the golden age of travel. Built in 1892 to enable the Prince of Wales to travel to Goodwood Racecourse, the pretty white station is a far cry from London’s Waterloo. Today, you can take afternoon tea as well as breakfast in the timber-panelled Waiting Room, with its high-vaulted ceiling and polished wood floors. Check in at the original ticket window for either a night in one of the eight Pullman rooms or in the old station master’s house.

Doubles from £150, B&B

Twr y Felin Hotel, St Davids, Pembrokeshire

Twr y Felin Hotel

Take one Georgian windmill on the edge of the UK’s smallest city, add a contemporary art museum, and you have what is possibly Wales’ most unique place to stay. Among the 100 original art works on display are Marcus Oleniuk’s photographs of St Davids peninsula – views of the real thing can be seen from the observatory above the showpiece Tower Suite. The stylish, contemporary bedrooms in the mill and Oriel Wing have a chocolate-and-cream palette, some with a terrace or Juliet balcony. While the restaurant has been designed to reflect the simplicity of the former mill, there’s nothing plain about the food, from the smoked eel to the crab linguine.

Doubles from £250, B&B, with a two-night minimum stay

The Ceilidh Place, Ullapool

The Ceilidh Place in a fishing village on Loch Broom

There may be only 13 rooms at this hotel in a fishing village on Loch Broom, but there’s plenty of activity – it has its own bookshop, coffee shop and events space as well as the usual bar and restaurant. There’s even a bunkhouse across the car park for those travelling on a budget. Make yourself free coffee and tea in the upstairs lounge, with its library and piano, then move on to the bistro-style restaurant, which also serves kippers for breakfast in the morning. The simply decorated bedrooms have a Roberts radio and books but no television.

Doubles from £150, B&B

Hazlitt’s, London

The former home of English essayist William Hazlitt

If it’s not surprising enough to find a slice of literary history just two minutes from Oxford Street, this former home of English essayist William Hazlitt has plenty of unexpected treats within. The Duke of Monmouth duplex suite has a courtyard garden with a sliding glass roof, while a wall panel in the Teresa Cornelys junior suite springs open to reveal a dressing table. The hotel creaks with authenticity, with ornate carved beds, rich fabrics and even a loo concealed in a Jacobean-style love seat. There’s a panelled library with a real fire and an honesty library, and Soho is right on the doorstep.

Doubles from £209, room only

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