The UK’s Most Unusual Hotels
With Black Friday fast approaching many people are starting to plan their purchases already, while you can get some good deals on things, do you really need more stuff? Wouldn’t a trip away with fun memories be better? Some hotels are just a place to sleep, while others are experiences in themselves. The UK's rich, interesting history offers hoteliers the opportunity to create experiences that are immersive, abstract, or just plain silly. Our selection of unusual hotels in the UK is not for those looking for a no-frills hotel, but if you want to inject some surprise into your stay, here are our top picks.
In Oxford, you may choose a hotel that evokes the city's academic history. The Malmaison is not the first thought of many people unless they've heard of it. There are hotels all over the country, but the Oxford one is a special one. Many of the hotel comforts have been built around, between, and on top of these walkways, cell doors, and many other features. There is now a garden with deck chairs, and the governor's house and former debtor's tower now house larger suites. The basement also has a restaurant, so if you've ever wanted to be a part of your own prison drama, here's your chance.
In the old Manchester Stock Exchange building, this hotel is a celebration of its financial roots rather than eschewing them. A mirrored reception desk and marble pillars create a film noir-style entryway that welcomes guests. A former trading floor has been converted into a restaurant, and photos and items from the building's former life adorn the walls. Although the rooms are not heavily themed, you will appreciate the marble counters and Mad Men-Esque furniture.
A hotel on an island seems like it would be perfect for a spy movie, but visiting Burgh Island feels more like going to an oligarch's private party. During high tide, Burgh is only an island and can only be reached by sea tractor, which resembles an open train carriage with about 4.5m (15ft) between its seats and wheels. Agatha Christie herself wrote two of her books here, so it makes sense that the hotel itself evokes an Agatha Christie novel with its domed ceilings and 1930s décor. You can take classes in ballroom dancing, play tennis or swim in a seawater mermaid pool separated from the sea by a World War I sluice gate. There is a complimentary gin and tonic in each room overlooking the Atlantic, and the rooms have balconies.
HMS Fingal supplied lighthouses along Scotland's coastline. Over the years, the ship changed hands many times before landing in Edinburgh harbour in the care of the Royal Yacht Britannia Trust. Before it opened in 2019, it took three years to convert it into a hotel, and now it shines with all the opulence and none of the peril of the Titanic. There are nautical touches in the rooms such as cabin trunks and porthole windows, and the beds are covered with handwoven throws made by a local weaver. Visitors can enjoy the best views by exploring the upper deck or enjoying a cocktail and dinner at the Lighthouse Restaurant and Bar.
The Beatles are easy to test for newcomers - if you dislike them or are just indifferent to them, don't go. Despite its name, this tribute to Liverpool is awash with Beatlemania, with Yellow Submarine-inspired colours, photos of the four of them in every direction, and their tracks playing throughout the common areas. There are some paintings in the rooms but no busts of John Lennon staring down at you from the bathrooms. There is an unpretentious pub-style menu at the restaurant, and the beds have big, comfortable mattresses.
The Titanic set off from Southampton, but its registration was from Liverpool. Had the ship survived its maiden voyage, it would certainly have visited Liverpool. A shipbuilding warehouse on the Stanley Dock houses the Titanic Hotel, which pays homage to this rich history. There are big metal columns supporting the high ceilings and nautical quirks like cog patterns on the hallway carpets, which have been restored to show off the building's grand features. Imagine yourself in a red brick cellar straight from a Gothic novel when you see the spa and pool area. Every room measures 56 square meters (603 square feet) and comes with an enormous bathroom where you can spend hours in a fluffy robe.
You can walk to the beach from the Hotel Pelirocco which is located beneath the BA i360 tower. Darth Vader's suite has lightsabers; Dollywood's has Stetsons. Various icons and countries have been used as inspirations for the rooms, including Dolly Parton and Betty Page. You'll find a wacky cocktail bar downstairs, open until 3 am at weekends, as well as a karaoke lounge. The front desk can provide hangover kits for those who make good use of the bar and dance floor, as well as toys that can be ordered to the rooms for adventurous couples.
The Rookery, whose design is based on the crime-ridden past of its home - Smithfield - is almost at the opposite end of the London hotel spectrum. Until it was shut down by police in 1855, Smithfield meat market hosted the Bartholomew Fair. In addition to dark colour schemes, carved wood everywhere, as well as red silk and gold leaf, the hotel evokes this history. They have an honesty bar in our relaxed Conservatory bar and a well-stocked library where you can relax and read. A variety of dishes can be ordered from the room service menu, including baguettes, crab tortellini, and more.
In terms of naming, the Good Hotel is straightforward and accurate, and it lives up to its name. The post-modern haunt was brought over from Amsterdam and secured to the dockside, bringing Dutch hipster sensibilities to the area. It is located in Royal Victoria Dock, a bastion of East London urban restoration. Although the wood and industrial lighting give the impression of office space, the building was built as a detention centre, and some elements from its past have been incorporated into the rooms, which come with handy space-saving solutions like charging ports hidden under the beds. There is a rooftop bar with the best views in the house and all the rooms face the Thames. It also has a restaurant with an intriguing menu, which combines high-end dining with street food (and its price).
This fascinating place to stay is a must-see for train enthusiasts; it is literally an old railway station, built in 1892 and now refurbished as a hotel. You can stay in either the old station house or one of the beautifully converted Pullman railway carriages for a uniquely memorable experience with decor and fittings that evoke old colonial-era British splendour. Breakfast is served in the former waiting room, or the platform if the weather is nice, and the splendid afternoon teas are a must-have for that most English of special touches.
As you can see there are many unusual hotels in the UK, so, why not think about booking yourself a trip this Black Friday instead of filling your home with just more stuff. Where will you visit first? Let us know on Insta or tweet us @justhooit!