New to Host Unusual: Ten unique Rural Retreats holiday homes
If there's one thing we appreciate here at Host Unusual it's how precious and hard earned holiday time is, and those important breaks from the norm have to be just perfect. Luckily we have just the ticket with our recent additions through Rural Retreats. Innovative restorations, buildings of historical significance and truly enviable settings in some of the country's finest scenic spots - need we say more? So here is a brief overview to help you find out a bit more about these unique holiday properties - and don't forget that each offers a free welcome hamper to get you quickly settled into holiday mode!
Perhaps the most talked-about property of the moment, Sally Port Cottage is located at St Anthony's Lighthouse which featured as the external location for the popular 80s children's TV show by Jim Henson ‘Fraggle Rock'. The show has just been confirmed for a highly anticipated small-screen comeback, so here's your chance to stay in the same lighthouse for a nostalgic overload! The cottage has an observatory, perfect for stargazing or storm watching, and since the lighthouse is still operational, you can even listen out for fog signals. Check out the latest drone footage from the property here - that's if you weren't already sold:
So we've told you how to relive your childhood TV memories, but what about going that extra mile and staying in a converted village primary school, complete with features such as the old school bell (so you can signal when lunch is ready!), vaulted ceilings and mullion windows. The Old School's grounds are idyllic, with a pond and private gardens, and you can even arrange for spa treatments within the cottage itself. Gold stars all round from us!
There is always something quite special about a property that fully utilises its environment and setting instead of just removing it. At The Gate Lodge you'll find exactly that; its Grade II listed lodges deftly extended and built into the undulating hills they are set in. You cannot get a much more sympathetic property conversion than that, and this is a great example of neoclassical design by architect James Wyatt. Access to a stunning outdoor swimming pool within Sibton Park grounds is the icing on the cake.
You'd be hard pushed to find a more unique thatched hideaway than this former forester's cottage. What also makes Hex Cottage so extraordinary is its off-grid, serene setting. It's not located in a British village somewhere with a post box and tea rooms as you'd expect. This is peace and quiet as its most extreme artistic creation, within a 4000-acre wilderness reserve in Sibton Estate in Suffolk and comes with no electricity - so if it's digital detox you're after, you've definitely come to the right place.
Another historic gem, Higher Lodge is a thatched cob cottage which dates back to the 17th Century, and is the former gate house of the elegant Cockington Estate which Agatha Christie regularly visited during her youth. Close to Dartmoor and the Devonshire coast, there is a lot to explore here both inside and outside of the Manor, including galleries, Norman churches and the ancient monastery - a real life history lesson in English heritage!
A favourite of ours here at Host Unusual, the historic Temple of Diana in Weston Park is a grand design of epic proportions and a true one-off. Originally created as a multipurpose garden room, the style here is very much classical, designed by architect James Paine who is also known for his work at Alnwick Castle and Chatsworth. An octagonal former music room, now a great dining and hosting space, elegant columns and a truly awe-inspiring ornate ceiling design are just some of the features that make this building really stand out from the crowd.
Also set in Weston Park, the Knoll Tower is a visually striking old hunting lodge built in 1865 so the sense of history is palpable. From the tower's roof you'll even manage to spy Temple of Diana in the distance! The buildings are actually in two halves, joined by a connecting hallway. Once inside you'll be teleported back in time, navigating spiral staircases joining rooms of the tower, which are packed with old world features; stone walls, arched doorways, long drapes and fireplaces await you.
A shining example of how something with a somewhat chequered past can be brought back to life again, the distinctive Llancayo Windmill was originally built in 1813 and stood abandoned for over 150 years due to a fire which engulfed it 17 years after construction. It wasn't until the 1990s again that it was bought for restoration, reopening in 2009 - and what an end result! Set over 5 floors, this secluded retreat is ideal for a group party or event that everyone will remember.
We've all seen enough period dramas and episodes of Game of Thrones to fantasise over being king or queen of our own empire, looking out from the castle turrets. Well dream no more! Tawstock Castle occupies a gorgeous spot, close to some of the country's most picturesque Devon beaches. Tower bedrooms, spiral staircases and brick features abound, and on the off-chance you own your own helicopter, you can arrive at the property's own helipad - just saying!
An indoor spa, outdoor hot tub, huge brick barbecue and sleeping space for up to 14 people - these are ingredients for an incredible group holiday, and that's before you've even clocked the building itself! Dating back to 1849 The Pumphouse (there's a clue in the name!) was used to pump water to River Wessey, but was forgotten about when a newer pumping station took over in the 1970s. It's refreshing to see new life put into a restoration like this, meaning guests can now enjoy and experience this exceptional space in the heart of Norfolk for themselves.