If you’re looking for a place to stay that’s a bit out of the ordinary, you’ll love these modern architectural rentals that certainly stand out from the crowd. From a fifties lookout tower in Dungeness to colourful eco lodges in the Scottish highlands, there’s something for everyone.
Balancing Barn, Nr Walberswick, Suffolk
While this mirror-clad pad might seem to defy gravity, the Balancing Barn is a shining example of a cleverly cantilevered building, designed by the playful, award-winning Dutch Firm MVRDV. It was created for Living Architecture, which has a whole host of architect-designed properties that architecture fans will adore, from a boat perched on top of the Queen Elizabeth hall at the Southbank Centre to John Pawson’s Life House – a minimalist retreat in Wales. The Balancing Barn, which sleeps eight people, offers incredible panoramic views of its surrounding woodland and ponds, so you get the best of both worlds – contemporary creature comforts and countryside charm. Make sure you also check out Living Architecture’s quirky A House for Essex, designed by Grayson Perry.
From UK£650 (US$832) for a four-night stay.
Long Lane II, London Bridge, London
If you love that warehouse vibe, you’ll feel right at home in this airy loft apartment in the heart of Borough with its cobbled streets and independent foodie outlets. Owned by an actor, this two-bed flat is packed with character – its crowning glory being the huge arched windows – which has been given a suitably industrial-chic makeover, packed with quirky vintage finds and eclectic salvaged items.
From UK£220 (US$282) per night.
The Hideaway Cabin, Callestick, St Agnes, Cornwall
If you want to truly switch off and get away from it all, this ultra-cool cabin is for you. As the latest addition to Unique Home Stays’ portfolio of properties, this cutting-edge cabin mixes wooden shingle tiles and cast concrete for a rough-luxe finish that will appeal to architecture lovers and minimalist fans. Stay put for a soak in the outdoor hot tub that’s tucked away in the ‘wellbeing garden’ or head to the gorgeous sandy shores of Perranporth or St Agnes for a relaxing day out.
From UK£695 (US$890) for a four-night stay.
The Coastguard Lookout, Dungeness, Kent
Well, just look at that view. Known as the desert of England, Dungeness has an eerie vastness that’s bewitching – here you’ll feel like you’ve arrived at another world, with only the open skies and dramatic landscape around you. The former fifties lookout tower was converted into a two-bed dwelling by renowned firm Johnson Naylor and has all the creature comforts you could wish for, including beautiful limestone floors, underfloor heating and a log burner – perfect for a romantic winter getaway.
From UK£536 (US$686) per night.
Natural Retreats, John O’Groats, Scotland
It’s worth travelling to the very tip of the UK just for these colourful eco lodges, situated in the famous hamlet of John O’Groats, let alone for the breathtaking views they offer. Here, you’ll be surrounded by unspoilt, wild Scottish countryside and amazing beaches. Whether you’re looking for relaxation or action, there’s plenty to do here. Stay inside, read a book and simply gaze out of the floor-to-ceiling windows at incredible views of the Orkney Islands, or enjoy a day out at the famous Castle of Mey, or go on a boat trip where you might spot seals, dolphins or even orcas on your travels. The interiors are pretty spot-on, with feature walls made from local Caithness stone and coastal-inspired details including lobster-pot statement lights.
From UK£549 (US$703) per week.
The Welsh House, Bryncyn, Tanglwst, Carmarthenshire
From the front, you’d be forgiven for thinking this small white cottage was an archetypical rural dwelling – step inside and it’s got an ultra-modern and luxurious open-plan interior that spans the entire ground floor. The former cowshed to the side of the property has been converted into a super stylish kitchen, housed in a new modernist-style concrete and glass addition. Outside, you can enjoy views of the Preseli Mountains and a sunken cedar hot tub – it sleeps eight, so it’s ideal for big family get-togethers.
From UK£498 (US$638) for a seven-night stay.
Vista Point, Nr East Preston, West Sussex
Fans of this era will love this fabulous original sixties seaside pad designed by Patrick Gwynne – one of Britain’s most important and innovative 20th-century architects. Everything’s just as it would have been back in the day, plus it’s got a great swimming pool and an impressive spiralling central staircase with a glass-domed roof. Based in West Sussex, there’s plenty to see and do close by – head out for a day of sailing in Littlehampton and then get your cultural fix at the East Beach Café, designed by London architect Thomas Heatherwick. For more design-led stays, check out The Modern House, which has numerous lettings around the world, plus many architectural gems for sale.
From UK£1,700 (US$2,177) per week.