The demand for unusual and special places to stay is growing each year. Whether it is to mark a special occasion such as a birthday celebration or to simply spend memorable time with loved ones, we want to make that time count.
Leisure time with friends and family is precious. Many of us are busy with work and household commitments that we never seem to have quite enough continuous quality time to really enjoy each other’s company.
That is why when holiday time comes along we need to make it special – create some magical memories that last long after we return to the reality of everyday life.
Thankfully the travel industry is meeting this increased demand for special places to stay. Unique properties with the special wow factor are springing up all around the world.
Kate Paulwell of Unique Sleeps takes a look at some of the special destinations and experiences available for us all to experience and enjoy when we want to go glamping.
Eco Camel in Andalucia, Spain: Glamping in a Luxury Bell Tent
A unique and beautiful adventure awaits you at Eco Camel in Andalucia, Spain.
Set in a lush mountain side location in Serraina de Ronda. This off grid chestnut farm is the perfect way to experience glamping in a tranquil and rural Mediterranean setting.
The creation of Eco Camel has been a passionate labour of love over the last 10 years by owner Roger Debrett. Roger has turned the site into a luxury camping location for guests to enjoy the rural location and stunning surroundings.
The historical charm of Ronda is a short drive away with its dramatic 130 metre deep El Gajo gorge that splits the city in two. Seek out a top quality restaurant and enjoy some traditional tapas or admire the 14th century Water Mine and fortress carved into the cliff side of the gorge.
If you fancy a cool down, head out to Cueva del Gato, the ultimate in natural indulgence. A blue lagoon with pure clear crystal waters. Or head down to the coast of the Costa Del Sol, a 35 minute drive away.
Perfect For: Walking, mountain biking, mountaineering, star gazing, bird watching, meditation, peace and quiet, historical sight-seeing, romantic break.
Getting There: The closest airport is Malaga (50 miles) with a variety of airlines flying there. The closest train station is Ronda (60 miles)
Useful Information: Turismo de Ronda
Fontaine Chatel in Normandy, France: Tree House Holidays in France
Get back to nature with a hint of adventure with a choice of 4 magical tree houses. Fontaine Chatel is located in Normandy, close to Rouen. Nestled in a 27 hectare forest in Northern France you will be amongst a variety of wildlife. Past guests have spotted wild boar, deer, squirrels, pheasants and buzzards. In respect of the area and to keep it peaceful and relaxing the only way to get around is on foot, bike or pony.
The tree houses are suitable for a range of guests. For the adventurous who don’t have issues with height, there is an athletic entrance via zip wire to the tree house 12 meters from the ground. If you prefer to be closer to terra firma then perhaps opt for one of the easier accessed cabins 5 meters high.
To add to the magic you can have your breakfast (& dinner if you wish) left in a picnic basket at the foot of the tree each morning, ready for you to hoist up on the pulley system. The perfect way to start the day.
The surrounding area won’t disappoint with Rouen a short 20 minute drive away. Explore the historical city rich in culture and heritage. For some outdoor activities experience one of the four beautiful state parks in Normandy and enjoy some hiking, biking or other outdoor pursuit.
Don’t forget to sample a bit of the local cheese, the most famous being camembert. Of course Normandy is also famous for its apples so you could indulge in a little cider tasting or the locally made Calvados (apple brandy).
Perfect For: Romantic breaks, family adventures, historical & cultural sight-seeing, outdoor activities, local gastronomical delights
Getting There: The nearest ferry ports are Dieppe and Le Havre.
Useful Information: Normandy Tourist Board
Pego Ferreiro – Go Glamping in Portugal
Pego Ferreiro is an off grid organic farm located close to the Spanish border. Set in 25 acres of blissful Portuguese countryside in mid Portugal. There is a choice of 3 separate accommodations to stay in. The above picture is The River Lodge which sleeps 2 people and you can see its own private river pool that comes with the accommodation!
Other special places to stay at Pego Ferreiro are The Boar Hide, a wooden wildlife hide where you can lay out some bait for the wild boar and sit back and spy on them from the shutters. The third is The Goat House with solar panels and wind turbines to power it.
Each of the properties are spread out within the grounds so privacy is guaranteed. Keeping true to the land is a priority for the owners. They like to give their guests a different kind of holiday with complete off grid living.
The owners have worked hard over the last 8 years to make the land productive once again after years of abandonment. They are happy to share the skills they have learnt and of course allow you to experience the serenity of the area.
When asked what local activities guests could enjoy, understandably the answer was to just sit back and relax. And why wouldn’t you? If you want to explore this idyllic area, there is plenty of walking, bird watching, swimming and sampling of local beers and wines to be had. Or visit the enchanting medieval mountaintop village of Marvao. Perfect white-washed houses lining the steep and narrow lanes that lead up to the 13th century medieval castle, ready to be explored and marvelled at.
Perfect For: Nature lovers, romantic breaks, family getaways, off grid organic living, hiking, wildlife watching
Getting There: The closest airport is Lisbon who Easy Jet, British Airways and others fly in to.
Useful Information: Visit Portugal
Organic B&B and Yoga Retreat in Tenerife
The newly opened Elska Organics in Tenerife is a finca that has been lovingly turned into an organic bed and breakfast and yoga retreat. Set in the rural tranquility of the Tenerife countryside with amazing sea views.
The owners decided to follow their dreams and leave London to realise a passion for a yoga practice and cooking. Where better place than the great year round climate and clean air living of Tenerife?
There are 3 different types of accommodation to choose from at Elska Organics. A casita (Spanish stone house), a yurt, or 3 cave rooms. If you want to practice some yoga or meditation there is a purpose built yoga platform with the most stunning views of the surrounding area.
As keen food lovers the owners also produce their own organic products for you to enjoy during your stay. There is a chemical free swimming pool and sauna. Why would you ever want to leave?
In the north of the island you can experience some of Tenerife’s famous hiking trails. Head south for some dolphin and whale watching. Other activities include diving, paragliding, surfing, windsurfing and kite surfing.
A short 2 minute drive from Elska Organics is the fishing village of Tajao with a selection of small restaurants serving traditional Canarian tapas alongside the catch of the day.
Perfect for: Organic and green holidays, Yoga retreat, Water sports, Hiking, Local sightseeing on the beautiful island of Tenerife.
Getting there: Various airlines fly to Tenerife from the UK. Skyscanner is a good starting point. Or if you’d rather do the journey overland, check out the amazing route planners at Seat61
Useful Information: Tenerife Tourist Guide
Rail Holiday, Cornwall
A converted railway carriage has got to be the ultimate choice when looking for a unique place to stay. Rail Holiday in Cornwall have 4 lovingly restored carriages across two sites. The owners have worked hard to ensure the carriages provide a fantastic railway holiday with a strong green ethos, whilst not compromising on the character of the trains.
The first location is St Germans in South East Cornwall, a great place to really get away from it all. Close by are the picturesque fishing villages of Looe and Polperro with their family friendly sandy beaches (Polperro has a very small beach only available at low tide).
Guests at St Germans have access to over 10 acres of private woodland and can choose to stay in either The Travelling Post Office (sleeping up to 6 people), Mevy (sleeping up to 5), or The Old Luggage Van which is more suited to single guests or couples.
The other site is in Hayle, West Cornwall where guests can enjoy over half an acre of formal and wild gardens. Located in a World Heritage Site this is a truly stunning part of the world to come and stay. The long 3 mile sandy Hayle beach is only a 20 minute walk away as are the numerous north Cornwall surf schools. St Ives is just around the bay with its golden beaches, natural beaches, art galleries and delicious places to eat.
Harvey, the 1950’s coach conversion, is the railway carriage holiday on offer here. Harvey is 65 foot long and can be rented out as a whole carriage sleeping 9 people. You can just hire out one end if there are less of you (the carriage will only ever be let out to one party at a time). Harvey comes with a large enclosed garden complete with swings, signal box play house/bird hide, butterfly garden and nature area.
Each of the 4 carriages come with enclosed gardens. Pets are accepted in each of the carriages apart from Mevy.
Perfect For: Family holidays, couples, nature lovers, train enthusiasts, eco friendly holidays, quirky and unique places to stay.
Useful Information: Visit Cornwall
A simple search online for unusual places to stay will bring up an inspiring collection of unique holiday stays. Whether you yearn for luxury camping (glamping), railway carriage holidays or something unique and quirky, just make sure you make some special memories to last a lifetime!