Sometimes you just want a little bit extra from your hotel stay, right? Something truly unique, an experience you will treasure forever. Forget four poster beds and luxury spas and take your pick from staying in a former prison cell, sleeping alongside leopards and African elephants, a wild treehouse built on a family farm overlooking a vineyard, an eco-friendly city-centre crash pad, to stepping inside your favourite Harry Potter movie. All are new for 2021 – we hope you enjoy our pick!
Bodmin Jail, Cornwall
Wondering how you can combine your experience of being locked up at home for months on end with your first holiday after lockdown? Why not book yourself a stay in a former 18th century prison nestled in the heart of Cornwall?! After almost 100 years of ruin, the renovated jail, once used to house the Crown Jewels in WW1, has now opened to offer you a unique hotel experience. There are 70 beautifully elegant and spacious bedrooms at Bodmin Jail Hotel, designed by combining three cells still with many of their original features including bars on the windows and the original guard tower. Inside the weathered stone walls you can expect to find free-standing baths, walk-in showers and sumptuous bedding. It’s OK, you won’t want to escape here, comfort and luxury create the perfect setting for a luxurious stay. Indulge in a traditional afternoon tea or sample some hearty British classics in the Jolly Hangman Tavern or relax in The Chapel Bar with a glass of Champagne.
British Travel Journal Top Tip: Give yourself a break from being locked up indoors. Head out to explore the rugged beauty of Bodmin Moor, wander the sandy beaches of the North and South coastlines or delve into the delights of Padstow or Fowey. Then why not and dine alfresco? Jolly Hangman Tavern eatery has an outside seating area, where you can enjoy breakfast, lunch or an evening meal – or simply pop in for a coffee and slice of homemade cake.
Leopard Creek, Kent
Following the successful launch of the sought-after Lion and Tiger Lodges, Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve are opening their next big cat accommodation, Leopard Creek this April. This is the 14th accommodation to be unveiled at the award-winning, 600-acre Kent reserve. Nestled within a tranquil corner of the reserve, surrounded by landscaped gardens with sweeping views across the Kentish savannah and out to sea, Leopard Creek neighbours with a pair of critically endangered Amur leopards and two white rhinos. Choose from a cosy cub hut, stylish family cabin, to luxurious four-person wigwam. What’s more, guests can enjoy their stay knowing they are directly helping The Aspinall Foundation’s conservation work with all profits from the parks and short breaks going back into animal conservation charity work that takes place around the world.
Prices to stay in Leopard Creek’s wigwams from £699 a night.
British Travel Journal Top Tip: Make your stay extra special by booking a private ranger-guided safari experience or once in a lifetime animal encounter during your stay.
Looking for a stylish city-break where you can stay environmentally responsible, and where being green is valued higher than guests being offered a pillow menu? With successful city-centre crash pads launched in London, Brussels and Amsterdam – and the latest to open in Manchester – Qbic have not been afraid to roll out their innovative eco-friendly approach to this hip collection of hotels. And we’re talking electric car charging points, responsible cleaning materials and sustainable and renewable mattresses here – this is much more than just green thinking. As in all their hotels, Qbic Manchester appeals to their modern, savvy, eco-friendly guests, by applying ethical values and sustainable practices wherever possible. The 261 bedrooms have been designed using recycled materials, all their lighting is LED and energy efficient, the roof solar panels are a constant source of green energy and the showers feature an innovative eco-friendly design that creates a water-efficient high-pressure shower. All-day restaurant, Motley, offers locally-sourced produce and seasonal specials conceived for sociable sharing with a ‘Waste Not’ section that uses leftovers. There’s even ‘The Qbic Coin’ concept rewarding those who do not need their rooms cleaned on a daily basis with free drinks. Expect ridiculously comfy beds, free ninja-fast wi-fi, great coffee and complimentary gym access too. Located on Deansgate in the heart of the city’s liveliest strip and with some of the best bars, shops, restaurants, galleries and nightlife right on its doorstep, the hotel is set to become Manchester’s most creative hangout.
Prices from £72 per night for a small double.
British Travel Journal Top Tip: Like the sound of Qbic then join the Revolution! As a club member you benefit from 25% off everything, Qbic coin, flexible check-in, and a whole host of other good things – at all of their locations.
Wild Escape Treehouse, Hampshire Downs
There’s nothing quite like staying in a luxury treehouse on a beautiful working farm and 1000 acres of countryside to get away from it all. Over lockdown Will Hardy, who has spent years creating treehouses for the rich and famous, set to work on creating four eco-friendly luxury treehouses, The Fallow, Damselfly, Poppy and Périgord. Each individual styled cabin in the trees overlooks the vines of the Black Chalk vineyard. Think outdoor baths, warm, cosy living spaces and sumptuous bedrooms. Nature is woven into the space everywhere, from the perfectly positioned sycamore branch to rest your glass on, to the local materials of the build and the artisan produce in the welcome hamper. Look out for deer, and an abundance of wildlife from your private deck, or head out to enjoy the beauty of the Test Valley right on your doorstep. Take a hike along the riverbank and climb to stunning viewpoints, and if you visit between November and December, join in a truffle hunting adventure.
Prices from £280 per night for 2 adults.
British Travel Journal Top Tip: Book a Treehouse Tasting experience with Black Chalk vineyard – an idyllic wine tasting experience designed especially for Wild Escapes Treehouse guests. The tour includes your own private guide, a vineyard tour, followed by pairing the wines with locally sourced cheese sat amongst the trees on your treehouse terrace. With a location in the Hampshire Downs that has views and vistas second to none, sample award winning wines whilst you watch the sunset over the vines.
The Dorm Room, North Shire
Harry Potter fans can now indulge their love of Hogwarts in a new Harry Potter-themed holiday in North Shire on the edge of the North York Moors National Park. Fall under the spell and step back from reality for a short time and be comforted in a world of make-believe at The Dorm, a look-alike castle tower bedroom, and live like a wizard in Hogwarts. Or hire the roundhouse cottage with six handmade wooden four poster single beds with red curtains and bed spreads, and golden roman numerals etched on the front of their frames, and opulent bathrooms complete with mermaid stained glass windows and lounge areas that mirror the Gryffindor common room with a large stone fireplace and squashy sofas. There’s a kitchen area tucked off to one side with a large breakfast bar enabling Potterheads to enjoy their morning glass of pumpkin juice or a hearty cooked meal. North Shire is a beautiful family farm set amongst 6 acres of old English countryside. Expect to see a variety of free-range hens, peacocks, chickens, miniature ponies, horses and goats!
The Dorm is available to rent for £50 per night per person based on six people sharing.
British Travel Journal Top Tip: North Shire is located just 20 minutes from Whitby, a lovely seaside town in Yorkshire. Visit for a day out, to include whale watching, souvenir hunting and of course – eating fish and chips.
Elephant Lodge, Kiddermister
You can now spend the night at the much-loved wildlife attraction West Midlands Safari Park, staying in one of their eight new luxury safari lodges, overlooking African elephants and cheetahs. An unforgettable up-close experience which hopefully doesn’t keep you awake all night! The elephant lodges are authentically themed with thatched roofs, sleeping six with large, open-plan living areas and large balcony with plenty of outdoor seating. From the first floor there are spectacular views across the brand-new elephant habitats. Breakfast and evening meals are included, and guests are encouraged to make use of the outdoor terrace to enjoy their meals, whilst watching the elephants approach the pool in front of the lodges. Prices from £171 per adult per night.
British Travel Journal Top Tip: Visit in the summer months and as a guest you not only receive admission to the park during the day, home to four miles of drive-through safari and the largest dinosaur exhibit in the UK, but you are also provided with Theme Park wristbands – test your nerves here on Kong, plummet 30m back to earth on Venom Tower Drop, get truly soaked on Wild River Rafting or Zambezi Water Splash or take it easy aboard the Congo Carousel or Desert Convoy!
Jessica Way is an award-winning travel journalist, Editor of British Travel Journal and Dream Escape Magazine. She spends most of her time visiting extraordinary cityscapes, countryside and coastlines across the British Isles