Are these the quirkiest hotels in the UK and Ireland?
By Sarah Marshall
If 2020 has been the year of discovering great hotels on our doorstep, then 2021 will no doubt provide an opportunity to delve even deeper into the welcoming world of domestic hospitality.
Every year, The Good Hotel Guide cherry picks the best properties on offer in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and never before has its expert recommendations been in more demand.
We asked the editors to select their top quirky overnight stays – from lighthouses and windmills to former railway carriages, because right now, we could all do with a bit of escapism. Here’s a selection of the most imaginative sleeps beyond your wildest dreams.
The Old Railway Station
Where: Petworth, Sussex
A first-class stay at this converted station is just the ticket, especially if you book one of the rooms in the four romantic Pullman carriages, with their colonial-style furniture, mahogany fittings and plantation shutters. Breakfast, drinks and afternoon tea can be delivered to your carriage door. Two more rooms can be found in the original Station House, of which the largest, with an impressive vaulted ceiling, is up a spiral stairway.
Talland Bay Hotel
Where: Porthallow, Cornwall
Whether you’re sitting on a zebra-print sofa looking at the 3D Mickey Mouse on the wall, or are perched on a wooden bench with giant budgies in the garden, you’ll find this hotel with a spectacular setting by the coastal path ‘curiouser and curiouser’. It is a fun place, although owners Teresa and Kevin O’Sullivan are very serious about hospitality. The service is slick, there is locally-sourced food in the restaurant, and some of the light, airy rooms have sea views. You can take your four-legged friends, too.
Belle Tout Lighthouse
Where: Eastbourne, Sussex
You won’t know which way to look from the lantern room of this unique B&B on the South Coast: there are superb sea views in one direction and all the beauty of the South Downs in the other. It’s the perfect place from which to watch sunrises over Beachy Head Lighthouse or sunsets over Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters. If it’s mild, there’s a walkway outside the lantern room, or the lounge below is home to a crackling fire. Only one of the six rooms is in the tower, with the bed reached by a ladder.
Where: Tuddenham, Suffolk
The waterwheel is in the bar and the gearing apparatus of this 18th-century mill is on show in the beamed dining room, where creative field-to-fork meals are served. In among the history, the mill’s bedrooms are stylish and contemporary. Hobbit-style huts in the meadow have hot tubs on the terrace, and enormous rooms in the beamed eaves come with a double-end stone bath in sight of the enormous bed. Other rooms have access to the millstream, where swans glide beside the enormous chimney.
The Quay House
Where: Clifden, County Galway, Ireland
Don’t be surprised to find a Buddha statue rubbing shoulders with a Cupid in the Foyles’ B&B, packed with curios. There are clocks – broken and working – a collection of bovine horns and family photos a-plenty in the former Georgian harbourmaster’s house and three of its neighbours, overlooking Owenglin estuary. Most of the elegant bedrooms boast harbour views, as well as antiques, original artwork, and perhaps a four-poster or half-tester bed.