Here be dragons, hobbits and windmills - 20 unusual places to stay in East Anglia
PUBLISHED: 12:02 13 August 2018 | UPDATED: 09:11 17 August 2018
Looking for a holiday home with a difference? East Anglia boasts all kinds of weird and wonderful homes from home.
A House for Essex, Wrabness
Artist Grayson Perry’s unique creation, overlooking the river Stour near Harwich, is one of the most famous holiday homes in the region. It’s described by Living Architecture, who commissioned it, as “architectural eccentricity at its most creative”. The house pays tribute to the life of the fictional character Julie Cope and her life in Essex, featuring artworks including Perry’s colourful tapestries, decorative timber panelling, furniture, pots and mosaic floors.
If you are lucky enough to spend some time here as a guest, you’ll be able to soak in a large sunken bath in the first-floor bathroom, and admire the riverside views from the two bedrooms. The house sleeps four, with prices varying from £870 to £1,870 for a two to three-night break. It is in such great demand that people wanting to stay there have to take part in a ballot. Sadly, the latest ballot has now closed, but you can sign up to a newsletter from the Living Architecture website if you want to enter for a chance to rent the house next time around.
The Dragon House, near Westhall, Suffolk
You’ve never seen anything quite like this bed-and-breakfast property, which won The Daily Telegraph building awards, and featured on TV shows George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces and Salvage Hunters. Built in 2011, the oak-frame building has two bedrooms both with en-suite bathrooms, while the staircase winds around a raw tree trunk. It also includes a cluster of 40ft Douglas fir poles from nearby Dunwich Forest, a sedum roof and many reclaimed materials.Guests receive a welcoming glass of wine, breakfast and use of TV and study. You will also receive a guided tour of the whole house in company with the hosts who are the designers/self-builders.
It costs from £295 per night to book a private room via airbnb, sleeping two, for a maximum of one to three nights. Availability is extremely limited.
House in the Clouds, Thorpeness, Suffolk
One of the most famous follies in the country, this striking cottage among the trees was originally built as a disguised water tower. The water supply was needed to serve the unique fairytale holiday village of Thorpeness, which was built by Glencairn Stuart Ogilvie in the 1920s. The water tank is no longer used, but the cottage lives on in the top of the building. It overlooks the village’s golf course, the Peter Pan-themed Thorpeness Meare and the Suffolk Heritage Coast. The accommodation includes five bedrooms, three bathrooms, and the “room at the top”, which offers spectacular views of Suffolk.
The charge per night starts from £570 and the minimum stay is normally two nights, except at high season. You can see more details and book via the House in the Clouds’ own website.
Treehouses, West Lexham, near King’s Lynn, Norfolk
Living in a treehouse is a childhood dream for many of us. You can make that dream come true by staying at one of six treehouses on a private Norfolk estate. With names like Sunrise Tree House and Ash Tree Temple, each house has its own character. They all use the local wood, and are decorated in a rustic chic style, with stained glass windows, colourful bedspreads, balconies and other features. The tree-houses sleep between two and six people depending on size. They are part of an eco-friendly site which also includes bell tents and offers glamping holidays.
Stays are for a minimum of two nights midweek or three nights at weekends. Prices vary depending on which property you choose, with prices and availability details available from the West Lexham Treehouse Holidays website.
Lupin shepherds’ hut, Blyford, near Southwold, Suffolk
Shepherds’ huts have become increasingly popular as holiday accommodation over recent years. This wooden hut is in the grounds of the site owner, but offers privacy and has its own garden and parking area. It has an open-plan room with a built-in four-poster bed, a kitchen area and shower room, and a garden with outside lighting and a bistro table, as well as a barbecue area.
The hut sleeps two, and can be rented from Suffolk Secrets, with prices varying from £410 to £450 per week
Mustard Pot Cottage, Felbrigg estate, Norfolk
One of the National Trust’s quirky one-off holiday lets is Mustard Pot Cottage, which has an appearance living up to its name. This cosy two-bedroom cottage is among the woodlands of the Felbrigg estate, offering direct access to the park and lake. As well as its octagonal sitting room and bedroom, it has a second bedroom and a large fenced garden.
Minimum stay is three nights, and, again, prices vary depending on the season. For more details, visit the holiday accommodation section of the National Trust’s website.
The Giraffe House, Ipswich
You can enjoy a stay in a giraffe-themed home, with quirky touches including bedclothes featuring giraffes in sunglasses! This property sleeps two guests, so is great for a couple’s break. It is located within walking distance of the town centre and the Waterfront.
The Giraffe house has spacious rooms as well as a secluded garden and patio, ideal for a barbecue.
The cost for this property is from £85 per night, and you can book via airbnb.
The Old Station, Heacham, Norfolk
This summer’s TV show Mortimer and Whitehouse: Gone Fishing showed comedians Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse staying at the Old Station, which was once part of the King’s Lynn to Hunstanton railway line. If you’re a rail buff, how could you resist staying in a refurbished 4-star Mark 1 first class railway carriage, including carriage-style seating and the original sliding-door compartment? However, along with these vintage features, the railway carriage, which sleeps four, also has a fully-fitted kitchen, two modern en-suite bedrooms and plenty of mod cons.
Alternatively, the station waiting rooms have been turned into a smaller unit sleeping two. The station is within walking distance of the beach. Prices are from £573 to £742 per week for the railway carriage, and £320 to £428 per week for the waiting rooms. See The Old Station Heacham website for more details.
St Michael and All Angels Church, Booton, Norfolk
You’ve probably heard of glamping (glamorous camping), but what about champing? This means church camping, and is a trend being promoted by The Churches Conservation Trust. The idea is that you spend a night camping in ancient churches and enjoy a cooked breakfast the next day. One of the churches currently available for Champing is St Michael’s, in the village of Booton, near Reepham.
The church was built in the later part of the 19th Century and was designed by the Rev Whitwell Elwin, the rector of the church from 1849 to 1900 and a descendant of John Rolfe and Pocahontas. You’ll need a group of at least 16 to book St Michael’s. and the cost of Champing starts from £49 per adult, plus £12.50 for breakfast. It’s also possible to hire bedding. For full details, see the Champing website.
Mettingham Castle Lodge, near Bungay, Suffolk
Feel like you are part of a fairy tale as you enjoy the view of a castle from the comfort of this cosy home. This gorgeous property has nine bedrooms and can sleep 19 guests. Do you have a special occasion coming up? Why not all stay here.
Enjoy the two terraces which over look the castle and the park, and look out for the horses in the parkland. The house has nine double bedrooms and two entirely separate kitchen areas, dining rooms and sitting areas. Lettings are from two nights minimum, and prices are from £500 per night via airbnb.
Cley Windmill, Norfolk
For a really different holiday idea, why not stay in a converted windmill? At Cley, the mill, a local landmark, has been converted into a bed-and-breakfast hotel with views of the River Glaven, reeds and marshes. The ground floor has a circular sitting room and a beamed dining room, which is part of the original warehouse built in the 18th century. The Wheel Room at the top of the mill offers wonderful views from four windows, and also has a four-poster bed. Other rooms have names like the River Room, Miller’s Room, Wheat Chamber and Barley Bin.
Prices vary depending on your chosen room and the time of year. As well as the bed-and-breakfast accommodation, the original stables have been turned into a self-catering holiday cottage. For more details, visit the Cley Windmill website.
West Stow Pods, near Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk
Ever dreamed of living in your own hobbit hole? You can do just that at this unusual family-run glamping site in West Suffolk, which includes Pod Hollow, a subterranean dwelling built into the side of a grassy knoll. Owner Jan Lengyel, who runs the site together with wife Ed, said they were inspired to create a hobbit hole because they have close links with the nearby Anglo-Saxon village. “A lot of Tolkien Society members work at the village and the intention is to make West Stow the capital of all things Lord of the Rings and hobbit in the UK,” he said.
The hobbit hole, known as Pod Hollow, includes two double bedrooms, a sitting room and kitchen, mingling old-world charm and modern comforts. The site also includes four Megapods and a Woodland Lodge. Prices for the hobbit hole start from £150 per night for two adults. You can book direct from West Stow Pods.
Old Warehouse, Woodbridge, Suffolk
Not all unusual properties are in remote rural spots. Dating from the 1820s and converted into a home in the 1970s, this converted warehouse is in the centre of the historic market town of Woodbridge, in a quiet street tucked off the main Thoroughfare. Despite its Suffolk location, it has the feel of a New York loft apartment. It is spread across two main levels, with three bedrooms and three bathrooms, as well as a main living area which is all open plan, with exposed brick and a massive skylight.
Prices to book the property range from £725 to £1,245 per week. Three-night breaks are also available. For more details, see the Suffolk Secrets website.
Yurts, Waveney River Centre, Burgh St Peter, Norfolk
If you’re looking for an unusual camping destination in the Broads, this camping site has nomadic Mongolian-style yurts, which measure 5 metres across and feature an insulated roof. They are fixed to wooden platforms and connected to electricity and equipped with woodburning stoves, double beds, sofa beds and other furniture. You can put a barbecue or camping stove on the decking in front, or use the site’s shared cooking tent. The site also includes a swimming pool.
The cost is from £55 per night, and you can book direct with the Waveney River Centre.
Freston Tower, near Ipswich
Just as its name suggests, the Landmark Trust specialises in letting out landmark buildings, and this six-storey Tudor folly looking out over the River Orwell certainly fits the bill. It may possibly have been built to mark the visit to Ipswich by Elizabeth I in August 1579. It has a single room on each floor, and amazing views from the sitting room on the top floor. The building as a whole has no less than 26 windows.
The building sleeps four, with prices for four nights starting from £453. See the Landmark Trust website for more details.
The Bull, Long Melford, Suffolk
One of Suffolk’s many historic inns, The Bull, was built in 1450, and has moulded oak beams, open fires and carvings, as well as period furniture. This picturesque pub is especially popular with fans of the much-loved 1980s and ‘90s TV series Lovejoy, starring Ian McShane as the roguish antique dealer, which had its production office based there. The village featured strongly in the show.
As well as the Lovejoy connection, it has also been claimed that the hotel has a ghost wandering its corridors! The hotel has two restaurants and 25 bedrooms. Prices vary depending on the room and the dates.
Appleton Water Tower, Sandringham
This Victorian water tower is on the edge of the royal Sandringham Estate. The 60-foot Victorian tower was constructed in 1877 to supply clean water after the future King Edward VII, then the Prince of Wales, fell ill with typhoid at Sandringham, as did his eldest son. Today the structure has been converted into accommodation for up to four people. Appleton consists of one twin and one double room, one bathroom, living room, kitchen and boasts stunning 360-degree views over the surrounding area from the terrace.
The property can be booked via the Landmark Trust, which specialises in restoring historic buildings and making them available for self-catering holidays. Prices for a four-night stay start from £513.
The Tower, Blickling Hall estate, Norfolk
This quirky property is one of a number of self-catering homes available to rent on the National Trust’s estate in north Norfolk. The Tower is a “mini castle”, which was built as a race stand for the second Earl of Buckinghamshire. It has its own Rapunzel-style tower and a rooftop terrace offering spectacular views across woodland, rolling fields and Blickling lake. It has two double bedrooms, two bathrooms, large arched windows and a spiral staircase.
Minimum stay is three nights, with prices varying depending on the time of year. For more details, visit the holiday accommodation section of the National Trust’s website.
Dedham Retreats, Essex
A house with history, The Tallow Factory is a former Tudor candle factory, as its name suggests. The owners say that the last witch to be burnt at the stake was burned at the bottom of their garden, and her ghost is said to haunt the Sun Inn pub next door.
The building is now a holistic health retreat centre including a yoga studio, with a private two-bedroom suite which sleeps four people. The whole house is also available for some dates. If you go and stay here, you are invited to join in the yoga, meditation and pilates classes, while holistic health treatments such as massage and reiki are also available, but advance booking is advised. During your stay, you can also take a 10-minute walk to see the River Stour or hire a boat and row to Flatford Mill.
The price for the two-bedroom suite is from £216 per night from airbnb.
Modern country retreat, Flowton, near Hadleigh, Suffolk
Why not stay on a farm in a converted grain-store? Guests can stay in a top-floor industrial studio apartment.
The property, which is located five miles from Hadleigh, has one bedroom, a fully equipped kitchen, and a living/dining room. It is in a great location if you enjoy walks and bike rides, and offers use of a Felixstowe beach hut if you would like this. It is only a five-minute walk away from a hide above a badger sett, where it is possible to see the day-to-day activity of badgers, subject to agreeing this with a local charity.
You can book this property via airbnb.