Fairy statues, top hats, dentist chairs and huge Mickey Mouse heads are just a few of the off-the-wall features you’ll find in some of the kookiest hotels in the UK – all bookable on Culture Trip.
Brits may be known for their stiff upper lip, but it’s not all stoicism and seriousness over here. Britain has a playful side and it’s showcased best in its quirky hotels, from London to Belfast. Between Cornwall in the south and Scotland in the north, you can stay in everything from a wizard-themed room to a lighthouse, a castle or a big, green bus in the forest.
Expansive gardens surround this country house hotel on the Cornish coast, strewn with whimsical statues of fairies, imps and a pig called Chris P Bacon. To the front of the hotel, there’s an infinity lawn, which drops off a ledge, leaving uninterrupted sea views behind. Inside, every room is a one-off and the eccentric art continues. Pieces like the huge Mickey Mouse head will make you look twice – especially if you’ve visited the bar to try the hotel’s own-brand gin.
The Mermaid Inn has celebrated more than 600 birthdays. Inside, it’s a time capsule of sloping beamed ceilings, creaking floorboards, antique art and period bedrooms with dark-wood furniture and four-poster beds. Sip a drink in the Giant’s Fireplace Bar, where smugglers once met in the 18th century. Sit down to dinner in the Linen Fold restaurant complete with wood-panelled walls and cast-iron chandeliers – and don’t miss out on the Côte de Boeuf with bone marrow jus.
Wizard Chambers are the highlight of the room offering at this Grade II-listed Victorian hotel. Located on the lower ground floor, it features faux castle details like stone walls, stained-glass windows and cauldrons. A Wizard-themed afternoon tea, with dishes like Eye of Newt Scones and Lemon Cursed Tart, is also available to book in the hotel’s Pimlico Pantry – as are cocktail-making sessions, where a Head Wizard theatrically shows you how to make drinks like Dragon Blood.
The rooms at this boho hotel near Belfast Botanic Gardens, are named after writers, poets, inventors, musicians and eccentrics like Denise Austin – who kept a rescued elephant in the backyard of her Belfast home during World War II. The whole place is festooned with bold prints, plush fabrics, wall murals, antiques and curios like top hats, typewriters and vintage costumes. The Aristocrat Rooms, including the Bronte and Yeats suites, top all of this off with period-style freestanding baths for you to soak in style.
Perched on top of the sheer cliffs at Beachy Head near Eastbourne, the Belle Tout was a working lighthouse between 1834 and 1902. Today, it’s a B&B with room names such as Captain’s Cabin and Old England. At the top of the lighthouse tower – where the light would have been – is now the Lantern Room lounge. It’s circled with windows, full of plump seating and serves up 360-degree views of the East Sussex countryside and coast, including the iconic Seven Sisters.
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Built in 1547, Castle Levan has held onto its medieval looks – especially outside, where it’s all toothy parapets and turrets. Inside, the guest rooms feature exposed stone walls, spiral stone staircases and arrow-slit windows, alongside 21st-century luxuries like twin washbasins and freestanding baths. Visitors can take in views of the Firth of Clyde from the battlements whilst tucking into their hearty Scottish breakfast in the Great Hall, with its painted ceilings, suits of armour and detailed tapestries.
Morgan sports cars are the inspiration for this retro hotel, where rooms have names such as the Aero, named after the Morgan Aero 8. The ‘help yourself’ breakfast room at the Pit Stop is kitted out like an American roadside diner, with a chequered flag floor, chrome and red leather seating and a pinball machine in the corner. The highlight for car fans, however, has to be the classic car showroom – full of classic motors, including a Morgan 4/4 in lipstick pink.
The Bell in Ticehurst, East Sussex
Boutique Hotel, Budget Hotel, Independent Hotel, Hotel
The trunk of a silver birch tree, an old dentist’s chair, a retro record player and a ceiling of roses are just a few of the curios you’ll find in the seven rooms and four garden lodges at the Bell. The quirks continue beyond the bedroom doors: look out for the trombone urinals in the toilets, the pillar of books and the top hat light in the restaurant – along with Jeremy, the egg farmer who delivers his produce barefoot and on horseback.
Swathed in privately-owned woodland in the Sussex countryside, the Big Green Bus is a double-decker that’s been converted into a three-bedroom holiday home. While there are plenty of original features on board – check out the steering wheel and mileage counter with 689,000mi (1.1m km) – the bus is also home to comforts like a fully-fitted kitchen, log burner and wet room. Outside, there’s a hammock, wood-fired hot tub and even a disco ball that hangs from one of the trees.
This B&B is located on the restored site of the 18th-century Petworth Railway Station, a 10-minute drive from South Downs National Park. The reception is inside the old ticket office, and breakfast is served in what was once the waiting room, with its 20ft (6m) vaulted ceiling, or on the platform in warmer weather. Bedrooms, meanwhile, are located inside the station house itself or in restored Pullman railway carriages that are all dark wood, brass bedsteads and art-deco style.