During lockdown, many of us chose to use the extra time we found ourselves with to learn a new skill. Social media posts were awash with proof of baking, vegetable growing and beer brewing; video clips proudly showcased self-taught dance routines and attempts at musical instrument playing.
Those of you keen to continue your self-improvement or just looking to get something more out of your holiday, will be interested to know that many of our Host Unusual partners offer the opportunity to learn a new skill during your stay.
We’ve rounded up some of our favourite learning holidays below, to help broaden your horizons!
Author: Gemma Wilson
Main image: Art courses at Frieda and the Moon | Cornwall
For the foodie…
If you’re anything like the Host Unusual team, holidays tend to revolve around eating and drinking! When you stay at Novanta in the Casentino Hills, just 90 minutes from Florence, not only can you enjoy delicious Tuscan meals but you’ll have the opportunity to meet the locals and learn more about the regional food and wine. From wine tasting at the local organic vineyard with owner Marco, to foraging for truffles with truffle hunter Nicola and his dog Chicca (above). Learn the secrets behind making perfect pasta with Novanta Nonna Nella and the art of curing meat from local butcher Fabrizio. Perfect your Italian language skills along the way.
Image: CorkShack Marvao Ecolodges
For the active…
If you’re an active explorer, not content with simply sitting around on holiday, the CorkShack Marvão Ecolodges are for you. The property’s unique cork-clad roundhouses are situated on the edge of a protected nature reserve in the lesser known Portuguese region of Alentejo. The surrounding landscape is rife for exploration. Learn how to horse ride and trot through the hills or take a leisurely paddle along the waterways in a kayak or on a stand-up paddle board (it’s harder than it looks!) For a more unusual experience, try your hand at rail-biking, which involves cycling along disused railway tracks through the Serra de Sao Mamede National Park on specially designed ‘railbikes’ (above).
Image: Frieda and the Moon
For the artistic…
If that all sounds a little too active and you fancy yourself as the next Picasso, book an artistic escape at Frieda And The Moon, staying overnight in a luxury vintage caravan. Whether you need guidance with your drawing or want to learn to paint for fun, owner and practicing artist Paul will tailor a programme to fit your aspirations and ability. The surrounding ancient woodland, spectacular starry night skies and East Cornwall’s picturesque natural landscapes provide unlimited inspiration.
Image: Crafty Camping
For the creative…
Set in a peaceful West Dorset woodland, Crafty Camping‘s glamping accommodation has been hand-crafted from locally sourced green wood, using time-honoured techniques. The RIBA award-winning Woodman’s Treehouse, set in the branches of an ancient oak tree, is particularly impressive. These beautiful, sustainable structures are the work of owner and expert woodcarver Guy Mallinson and will inevitably inspire you to try your hand at wood carving. Rather conveniently Crafty Camping offers an onsite Woodland Workshop in which you can learn the techniques of wood crafting and create your own small kitchen or garden implement to show off your newfound skill.
Image: Redwood Valley
For the romantic…
Another tranquil woodland hideaway where you can learn the art of green woodworking is Redwood Valley: a family-run, eco-friendly glamping site set in 25 acres of woodland on the Welsh borders. Guided birdwatching courses and yoga retreats also run regularly. However, it’s the bespoke wedding ring making courses that grabbed our attention. What could be more romantic than designing and making your loved one’s wedding ring in a workshop in the heart of the woods?
Image: Craigduckie Shepherd’s Huts
For animal lovers…
Now this learning holiday is a little niche! The two bespoke-crafted Shepherds Huts at Craigduckie are located on a working, family owned farm near Dunfermline. Staying here offers a fascinating insight into farming life (and the freshest eggs for breakfast!) During the spring months you can actually take part in a full ‘Shepherd’s Experience’, which involves a tour of the lambing shed, and if you feel like it, helping with delivering and feeding the lambs.