Mired in lockdown, our Host Unusual members have sadly stopped welcoming guests for the time being.
But why let a perfectly good holiday home go to waste?
As ever, we were particularly intrigued to know what each of them had learned from playing host to themselves. We think you’ll enjoy their answers as much as we did – so why not brew yourself a lovely cuppa, maybe add a biscuit or two, and settle in for the journey?
(Note: each property featured is located on the owners’ home site, meaning no unnecessary journeys were made).
Main image: Jo and Steve outside Will’s Tree House, Winchcombe Farm
Author: Nina Jervis
Location: Finca de Arrieta (Lanzarote)
Owners/Guests: Michelle and family
A friendly family-run finca that’s home to a luxurious range of eco-accommodation, set in a charming, unspoilt fishing village.
The site is also home to a swimming pool and a comfy Wi-Fi lounge, so your every holiday need is perfectly catered for!
How was the stay?
Michelle and her family chose to stay in the Eco Luxury Farmhouse. The staycation was something of a reunion, as the Farmhouse was their original family home, and the four ‘kids’ (the youngest being 18!) had all returned for lockdown.
The family spent their time together working on the farm, planting lots of fresh produce to welcome their new guests.
They also enjoyed lots of fresh-air activity, including beach tennis, volleyball, and of course, plenty of swimming pool laps! Meanwhile, evenings were spent attempting to complete a 3,000-piece jigsaw puzzle… a task that came with lots of laughter.
We’ve most enjoyed collecting fresh eggs and making Spanish tortilla brunches that last for ages, then counting shooting stars from the dining gazebo later on.
Not to mention listening to the waves on the beach, and the palm leaves swaying in the breeze at night… what bliss.”
Location: Coastal Cabins (Devon)
Owners/Guests: Janet and John
Ten self-contained wooden cabins, beautifully positioned around a scenic fishing lake amongst North Devon countryside.
The gorgeous cabins sleep families and couples alike, with a ‘Wild Spa’ hot tub area and a handcrafted barbecue cabin for guests to enjoy on site.
How was the stay?
Janet and John began lockdown by faithfully working on their cabins, painting everything in sight to prepare for opening once again.
Then an idea occurred… why not take a little break in one themselves?
They promptly fired up the barbecue cabin, enjoying a hearty al fresco meal, before pouring a cool gin on the deck to complement the sun sinking over the sparkling lake.
So, we decided, since life had given us a bunch of lemons, to start making some lemonade!
We thoroughly enjoyed being our own guests in the ‘field next door’, waking up to the sound of the geese, and spotting wild deer. We even took advantage of the amazing summer-like weather to enjoy a relaxing dip in the hot tub.”
Location: Five Acre Barn (Suffolk)
Owners/Guests: David and Bruce
Five luxurious suites centred around a beautiful 19th century barn, a stone’s throw from the ever popular Aldeburgh.
Each suite boasts soothing garden views, with 100% cotton sheets to snuggle in, and a delicious, locally sourced breakfast to savour in the barn each morning.
How was the stay?
Although David and Bruce spent lots of time toiling in their five-acre garden, they also took full advantage of staycationing during the sunniest April they could remember.
Choosing Room Five to rest their heads in, they indulged in garden-view bubble baths (a particular treat, since they only have a shower at home!) and made sure to mix themselves a well-earned G&T from the honesty bar as the evenings drew in.
What did David and Bruce learn from being their own guests?
“When we’re working, we speed our way around the rooms as quickly as we can. Being our own guests made us stop and appreciate what a quiet, relaxing space we’ve created.
On our first morning, we realised that we’d forgotten to close the skylight blind – despite that being something we advise our guests to do! But we loved luxuriating in the morning light, streaming in with the dawn chorus.
Oh, and we also realised that we need to find more lovely spaces for our guests to enjoy their sundowners from!”
Location: The Windmill Suffolk
Owners/Guests: Natalie and Steve
Glorious accommodation in a converted Victorian windmill, overlooking idyllic Suffolk countryside.
The windmill is adults-only, meaning you’ve got a perfect excuse to call in the babysitter!
How was the stay?
The staycation doubled as a working break for Natalie and Steve, as they repainted everything from the internal walls to the trellis outside.
Steve also put his green fingers and building ability to good use, creating a new garden space for guests to enjoy, and crafting new fencing, steps, and even a stone circle to house their brand-new patio benching.
During downtime, they revelled in all the things that make The Windmill different from being at home, such as showers-with-a-view, and soaking in the huge bathtub.
(They also found that the regular Thursday evening ‘clap for carers’ felt all the more emotional, as they applauded with neighbours from across the fields, and watched fireworks exploding in the sky).
What did Natalie and Steve learn from being their own guests?
“We haven’t been able to stay at The Windmill for over two years, as we’ve been so booked up with lovely guests. So, it was fabulous to be reminded of just how peaceful and special it is.
We realised that we have to get the same bespoke handmade beds at home – we slept so well that we laid in for much longer than we’d planned to!
But our favourite thing was being able to spend so much time on the balcony, watching nature and listening to the birds as the sun went down – equipped with a glass of wine, of course.”
Location: Winchcombe Farm (Warwickshire)
Owners/Guests: Jo, Steve, and the kids!
Four ultra-luxurious hideaways – Will’s Treehouse, George’s Getaway, Chicken Shed Lodge, and Bob’s Lodge – all soothingly secluded on the friendly, working Winchcombe Farm.
The farm is gorgeously positioned in a Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, meaning stunning views are guaranteed.
How was the stay?
The lockdown had forced the family to cancel their own holiday in Wales, so they decided to indulge in the next best thing – a staycation!
They very much enjoyed the welcome packs (first impressions and all that), stuffed with home-baked cake fresh from the village.
Other staycation treats included ‘make your own pizzas’ whipped up in the charcoal pizza oven, and toasting marshmallows over the campfire later on.
When it was time to turn in, Jo and son Will decided to sleep in the treehouse (Will specifically requested the ‘hidden’ cabin bunk bed!) while Steve slept in the geodesic dome attached to Chicken Shed Lodge, stargazing from the cosy superking bed.
What did Jo, Steve, and the kids learn from being their own guests?
“As we were only travelling to the other end of the farm, there wasn’t much point in getting the car out. So, we threw the bags and the kids in the lawnmower trailer, and off we went!
We most enjoyed seeing the kids revel in the Great Outdoors – they ran around the woodland play area for ages, and spent two hours paddling in the stream. The outdoor shower at the treehouse proved very useful for showering off all the mud afterwards…
We can also confirm that our geodesic domes are warm and toasty enough to sleep in all year round… they provide such a wonderful setting for stargazing, and listening to the owls hoot!”
So, after reading these amazing accounts, which retreat are you most tempted by?
If you’d like some other options to choose from, browsing our many categories makes for a fantastic start.
(You could even start putting together a post-lockdown holiday wish list!)