When you choose a holiday destination would you rather stay in a distinctive property too? Dawn Crawford and Alex Wilson have made finding exceptional and extraordinary accommodation easy with their website Host Unusual. They only list quirky and out-of-the-ordinary properties, whether you want to stay in a tree house, lighthouse, folly or funky flat.
Dawn has a vintage clothing business and came up with the holiday rental idea when she stayed in a retro property in Margate, complete with jukeboxes and space invader games. She thought it would tie in nicely with her business.
Alex says that British people seem to love design and quirkiness. “It’s a growing trend in the UK,” he says. “We have a fascination with unusual places, with television programmes like Amazing Spaces and Grand Designs, and we also like unusual properties. It’s spilled over into the holiday market and people want something a bit different now. It’s a growing trend and we see some of our partners announcing new unusual places to add to their existing properties.”
Dawn adds that people like to share pictures of the properties on social media and if the accommodation is cool or quirky, your timeline will be filled with likes. “If it’s somewhat unusual you get a lot of interest from your friends and family wondering where you are. It might be a bit of an attention-seeking thing. It is on my part!” she laughs. Alex says most of the places are comparable with hotel prices, but you get somewhere with a lot more character than a bulk standard hotel.
So what unusual places do they have on their books? As well as the retro-fitted flat in Margate, the Kent coastal town also boasts a basement room conversion made to resemble a prison.” A lot of the properties are quite historic,” says Alex, “like old toll houses or schools and we’ve just added a new category to the site which is unique conversions. Some are old towers. It’s really interesting to find out how they’ve been used in the past.”
The site also has a windmills category. I joked that I’d love to stay in one of those and pretend I was ‘Windy Miller’ from the old kids TV show Camberwick Green. Sticking with a TV theme, you can stay in the lighthouse from Fraggle Rock, which is just outside Truro in Cornwall, says Alex. “It’s been trending recently because they’re relaunching the television show in the States.”
So is there a property that is so authentic you could pretend you’re holidaying in the past? Dawn says there is – a former RAF control tower near Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk. “That’s completely 1940s. They’ve got original art deco bathrooms installed so you’ve not just got the historical elements, with it being the former control tower, but also the 1940s fittings that appeal to many people.”
I asked both Alex and Dawn to share their favourite properties. Alex likes the Escape Podz near St Ives in Cornwall. “It’s one of those geodesic domes that looks a little like the Eden Project but on a smaller scale. It’s a great place for stargazing. You can look out to sea as well. I like the style and we’re adding a few more of those because there are others in the UK.”
Dawn’s favourite is Kaywana Hall near Kingswear in Devon. “It’s a contemporary remodelling of a vintage 1960s, architect-designed house. They’re called butterfly roof houses and this one is absolutely beautiful – very luxurious – but it still has the elements of the 60s design.”
The website also includes articles so you can find out more about the owners of distinctive properties where you might be staying. Visit Host Unusual to find all sorts of interesting options for your next holiday.
Listen to Alex describing his website here: