If you are a seasoned traveler, it is entirely possible that the hotels that you frequent have started to blur together. In the fast-paced, high-volume world of chain hotels, homogenization is often one of their perceived keys to success. If you are honestly objective, you would admit that you could interchange the names of most of the top chain hotels, and most people wouldn’t be able to tell a whit of difference.
That kind of bland standardization might be fine when you are traveling for business, but when you are on holiday, you want something a little bit more out of the ordinary. The “same old same old” offered by corporate chains can tend to get a tad bit boring, and boredom simply will not do when you are traveling for pleasure.
Thankfully, the whole of the United Kingdom offers an abundance of themed hotels, catering to almost any level of personal idiosyncrasy. With available choices that are influenced by literature, popular culture, history, and even cars(to name a few), you are absolutely certain to find a unique hotel that is sure to delight you.
Here are but a few of the more singular themed hotels in existence. For an unforgettable experience, let capriciousness and whimsy guide you when next you travel. One thing is guaranteed – there won’t be any blurring together afterward.
Crazy Bear Hotel – Beaconsfield
As the famous pianist and showman Liberace said, “Too much of a good thing is WONDERFUL.” The Crazy Bear Hotel in Beaconsfield seems to have taken that sentiment to heart. The theme of this hotel seems to be the product that is derived when you multiply opulence by decadence.
Dating back to its days as a 15th-century coach house, the Crazy Bear is the oldest building in Beaconsfield, but there is nothing old-fashioned about these accommodations. Every room has a different décor, following the revised adage of “Less is not more. MORE is more.”
Nearly every room has a full-size polished copper bathtub that fills from the ceiling, but that is where the commonalities cease. In one room, you may find a moose wearing a tiara, and then another, you may find the walls covered in 24 karat gold leaf. The most popular suite piles texture upon texture, with leather floors, imitation alligator skin walls, rich velvet curtains, and a mirrored ceiling.
The Pavilion – Hyde Park, London
When you want the funk, and gotta have that funk, this is the hotel that you choose. There are 30 differently-themed rooms available at the Pavilion, each with quirky decor and eccentric furnishings that are absolutely unique. On the website, the Pavilion bills itself as a “fashion rock and roll hotel”.
For example, the Honky Tonk Afro room has a mirrored disco ball on the ceiling and eye-popping lime green walls. Brightly-colored glass beads, fuzzy dice, and even pink feather boas are all part of the kitschy appeal of the hotel. Other cheekily-named-and-themed rooms include Funky Zebra, Better Red than Dead, Enter the Dragon, and Casablanca Nights, among many others.
La Rosa Gypsy Campsite Extraordinaire – Whitby
When you want to try something truly different, why not stay in “gypsy” wagons and tents, made from recycled and reclaimed vehicles. Quiet, rest, and relaxation are in ample supply as you are surrounded by the natural beauty of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. Eco-friendliness and environmental sensitivity is both preached and practiced here, and going green means using composting toilets and candles at night.
The tents and wagons are decorated and furnished in an eclectic, bohemian – yet – luxurious style, allowing you to get away from it all without giving it all up.
The Pit Stop – Hertfordshire
If you are a driving enthusiast, then this bed and breakfast/boutique hotel in Hertfordshire was custom-made for you. That is not an exaggeration, because the owner’s original vision was to provide top quality lodgings to his Morgan car customers. He personally oversaw each meticulous step in the design and construction process, resulting in a painstaking three-year and ten month building project.
The final product is a small set of suites inspired by and dedicated to this “driver’s car”. Each suite draws its look from the feelings that are invoked from various models. For example, the “Super Sports Suite” is heavily influenced by the Art Deco period, and relies on symmetry and bold geometric patterns.
Not to be missed is the communal dining room/kitchen available to all guests, which is a striking replica of a 1950s American diner, heavily decorated with red leather and chrome.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of staying at the Pit Stop is the chance to rent a Morgan coupe for your driving pleasure. Once you sit behind the wheel, you will see how a car could inspire a hotel.
Thornbury Castle – Gloucestershire
Of course, one cannot think of enjoying a luxury vacation in the United Kingdom without at least consider a stay at a real castle. Thornbury Castle in Gloucestershire is over 500 years old, and is the only Tudor castle that serves as a hotel. Guests who are history buffs can thrill to the fact that they are walking the same stone halls and stairways as Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. There are 26 rooms available, including the Tower Suite, with a four poster bed that measures over 10 feet across. The grounds and walled garden make for an excellent stroll, especially when your path take you through the vineyard, which is more than five centuries old.
The Titanic – Merseyside
This replica was custom-built as a testament to the tragic luxury liner that went down 100 years ago. Even the most minute detail took its inspiration from the most famous ship ever built. From the crystal chandeliers to the replica flooring, you will swear you are staying in the original first-class lounge. This floating hotel is docked in Liverpool, where the original ship was assembled.
The Joker – Merseyside
Inspired by the Batman villain, this is a custom-built floating boat hotel festooned inside and out with the the Royal purple that is the Joker’s hallmark. Luxurious appointments are provided, and the boat is within convenient walking distance of many Liverpudlian attractions.
Hard Day’s Night Hotel – Merseyside
Strategically located next to the world-famous Cavern Club, the establishment where the Fab Four first became grew to fame, this 110-room luxury hotel is the only Beatles-themed hotel in the world. The art and decorations are all specially-commissioned pieces that feature the historic musical group and their music.
The Yellow Submarine – Merseyside
In keeping with the theme of Beatles-inspired lodgings, the same area offers a converted 80-foot submarine, completed with the iconic paint job and kitschy interior decor. The sub/hotel is kept at Albert Dock in Liverpool, the hometown of the Beatles. Only one party of guests is allowed on board at the time, but there are three bedrooms, with total accommodations for up to eight people. In an interesting bit of trivia, this submarine was also used in the film, The Hunt for Red October.
Fernie Castle and Treehouse Suite, Fife
What’s better than staying in a castle? How about staying in your very own treehouse! At the 450-year-old Fernie Castle you don’t have to choose. Many guests choose this as an ideal location for their dream wedding, and arrive ostentatiously by helicopter or by chauffeur driven Rolls-Royce. Guests in the castle proper can enjoy salubrious libations at the cavernous Keep Bar, which dates back to 1530, and then retire for the evening in one of the 20 custom-appointed rooms.
The Treehouse Suite was built atop six mature sycamore trees that grow through both the flooring and the ceiling, and is akin to something out of a fairytale. The roof has great character and is topped with copper roofing tiles. Entry into the treehouse is via a winding staircase that opens up into a octagonal suite that has such one-of-a-kind touches as a ceiling mural featuring unicorns and fairies.
The Witchery by the Castle, Edinburgh
Cosmopolitan magazine called the Witchery by the Castle “the seventh wonder of the hotel world”, and Condé Nast Traveller declares the hotel suites are “an operatic fantasy”. Those descriptions are as accurate and as apt on as you are likely to find. Rich leather, crushed velvet, draped four-poster beds, gilded ceilings, and tapestried walls all combine in the lavishly appointed interiors.
As sumptuous as these suites are, the food in the Witchery’s restaurant is even more so. When offered in tandem, the over all experience is redolent of a standard of luxury and hedonism not commonly found elsewhere.
The Witchery, originally built in 1595, draws its dark and Gothic influences from the equally dark history of Castle Hill, where several hundred women were put to death as suspected witches during the 1700-1800’s.
Llancayo Windmill, Monmouthshire
For a real rural retreat, you and eleven of your closest friends can relax in a wonderfully restored windmill in Monmouthshire. Although the windmill was originally built in 1813, it was destroyed by a fire 17 years later, and simply stood as ruins until 2008, when the restoration began. Now, the gleaming white façade of the windmill disguises a solid country inn, complete with six bedrooms appointed in a “country luxury” style. Here, you can slow the pace of your everyday life amid idyllic and bucolic surroundings.
There are, of course, many, many more unique and quirky hotels located throughout the United Kingdom. Castles, yorts, converted churches, remodeled prisons, and absolutely anything else you can possibly imagine is out there for your lodging amusement and pleasure. The best way to find your favorites is to simply get out on the open road and embrace all the eccentricities and oddities that exist just around the next unexplored bend.