If you like staycations and you’re into the offbeat, the unusual and the eccentric, book into one of these unforgettable Airbnbs immediately.

There was a time when Airbnb was just about booking an affordable night or two away in someone else’s home. It was inexpensive, it felt homey from the off, it worked. Times have changed since those innocent days. Pandemics come and go. Prices soar. And Airbnbs are no longer the cheap option. However, as the costs have risen, so too has the eclecticism on offer; sure, the usual holiday homes are still available but so too are the unusual, the historic and, at times, the downright bonkers. And, after a couple of years when we’ve all felt hemmed in by our own four walls, who doesn’t want to experience something… a little out of the ordinary?

A Riverside Tree Pod

Llanafan-fawr, Wales

Axe-swinging, moon bathing and fire building: these are just three of the activities on offer for all those who book a weekend away in this Moon Conker treehouse, a must-visit destination for anyone in search of shedding urban life and re-wilding amidst beautiful landscape. More spaceship than typical terrestrial home, there is a pair of bath tubs outside (that’s the moon bathing taken care of) and, as owner Anja says, ‘I don’t know if it is the team work involved in heating the water, the druids, negative ions or plain Celtic magic but the feeling of heating the ghillie kettle and drawing a bath from the pure mountain water cannot be easily equalled. And breathe…’ Book it.

A Cave House

Loch Tay, Scotland

Another unusual home, another total retreat from city life. The Warren, situated on the edges of the remote freshwater Loch Tay in the central highlands of Scotland, is a self-described ‘hobbit house’ built into a hillside by the water. It may be a departure from the urban existence, but not from a contemporary one. After all, there is a chi-chi hot tub and a private river pool to enjoy. But if you’re going for the wilderness, you will not be disappointed. Seven miles from the nearest village, the eagle-eyed are likely to spot badger, roe deer, pheasants and red squirrels meandering freely around. Book it.

A Converted Boat

Near Ely And Cambridge

How do you fancy a night as a skipper? Happily, no sailing skills are required at this converted 1945 boat – originally made in Penzance and named the Anthony Stevenson – which is situated in private woodland overlooking the fenlands. Attached to the vessel is a boat shack, which houses an industrial-style kitchen – all set on a large deck constructed of repurposed sleepers. Rustic, fun and totally unique. Book it.


Donegal, Ireland

Known as The Birdbox, this cosy handmade treehouse teeters atop mature oak and scots pine trees. Wake up to the call of birdsong amidst the branches that hold it and take your morning coffee overlooking Glenveagh National Park. Access is via a 30m wooden walkway through the trees, with the last five metres tapering into a rope bridge. It may, then, not be one for those who don’t do well with heights. For everyone else (children excluded alas), it is a magical retreat. Book it.

An Air Ship

Sound of Mull, Scotland

Fancy a spot of star-gazing? This aluminium pod is the perfect place to do it, as host Amanda invites you to grab a tartan blanket and sit out on deck with eyes trained upwards to the constellations above. By day, however, the views are no less good: through Airship2’s dragonfly windows you look out as far as the Sound of Mull. Mountains, lochs and total peace. They say: ‘Airship002 is comfortable, quirky and cool. It does not pretend to be a five-star hotel. The reviews tell the story.’ Book it.

Tiny Eco Home

Plush, Dorset

The perfect cabin to unplug and restore your senses. Beautifully and simply designed, the dark-stained timber structure, which sits on iron wheels, is entirely off-grid – and that means no laptops and no phones. Got it? Which is just as well, since it’s situated in a private meadow – who’d want work or social media to distract from that? Yet despite its wilderness feel, there is a village and cosy pub within walking distance for the times when you need a break from all that communing with nature. Book it.

A Castle Gatehouse

Winchcome, Cotswolds

Want to live like royalty for the weekend? You can do so – in a manner of speaking – by checking into this mini castle just on the edge of Sudeley Castle. Ok, with its two-bedrooms, it may be more cottage than castle size-wise, but the proportions and the history are all there. Plus, it’s dog-friendly and you get a good view of the main castle – with none of the upkeep. Ideal in our books. Book it.

By Nancy Alsop
November 2022

Nancy Alsop


Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.