Loop Head Lightkeeper’s House
Stunning 360° cliff-edge views of the spectacular rugged west coast with its seabirds, wildflowers and Atlantic surf populated by seals are what you get from this 19th-century lighthouse cottage in County Clare. Sleeping five, it’s beautiful, dramatic and remote (there’s no mains water supply – Kilabha village, with a post office, shop and pub, is 5km away). There are several other lightkeeper’s houses offered by the Irish Landmark Trust, plus an octagonal lighthouse (with 109 steps up to the kitchen!), an old schoolhouse, and a medieval tower house.
Cuevas Pedro Antonio De Alarcón
These prehistoric troglodyte caves near Grenada have been done up beautifully and feature all mod-cons, including Jacuzzis in some. They differ in size for different sizes of families. The site has an outdoor pool, a restaurant and a laundry.
Controversy Tram Hotel
This zany B&B accommodation in an old train compartment or trams (one a ‘little family tram’ specially designed for parents with young kids) is just 40km but a world away from Amsterdam. Farm animals complete the surreal feel.
Jumbo Stay Hostel
Just 15 minutes away from Arlanda airport near Stockholm, this is an airport hostel par excellence – it’s actually set inside a jumbo jet, where you’ll find 27 quirky but cool rooms, most with three beds and flatscreen TVs showing (should you desire) flight departure times. The prize suite is the deluxe one in the cockpit, perfect for two older kids; another option is the family rooms with four bunks.
Advertising itself as ‘Sweden’s most primitive hotel’, Kolarbyn 2hrs from Stockholm offers small, grass-clad forest huts set deep in the forest where you can spend your days taking moose safaris or wolf-howling trips (minimum ages 15 and 12 respectively), or a Troll Family Adventure including a forest hike and fairy tales by the fire.
Open Nov–April each year, this amazing, other-worldly, beautiful and – of course – cold place at Kemi by the Gulf of Bothnia is part of the Lumi Linna (Snow Castle). Rooms, some with up to five beds, have thick sleeping bags. Kids are VIPs here: there’s a busy programme of events, a snow tube slide and a merry-go-round.
Kakslauttanen Hotel and Igloo Village
Situated in Finnish Lapland, this place offers the choice of log cabins for up to 10 people or snow/futuristic glass igloos for up to 5. There are husky, reindeer and snowmobile trips, the aurora borealis (if you’re lucky), plus the all-year-round Santa’s Resort.
Propeller Island City Lodge
A ‘museum to spend the night’ or ‘habitable work of art’, this wacky place in central Berlin is a great place to bring teens as well as younger children. Rooms, in which everything has been made and nothing bought, include a cell (complete with in-room loo) and a coffin room (you sleep in them). Room 42, the biggest, has a double bed plus two cages on stilts – perfect for kids!
Atelier Sul Mare
Another ‘art hotel’, the Atelier takes itself a bit more seriously than Propeller Island, but it’s a great place to bring older kids, who will appreciate its quirky beauty and its location right by the beach in a delightful part of Sicily.
Rogner-Bad Blumau Hotel and Spa
Another art hotel, this fantastic rainbow-coloured spa near Graz in the south-east looks like Gaudi-meets-Disney on acid. Children are very welcome, with special rates and apartments with kitchenettes for up to 4, plus kids’ swimming courses.
Almost too good to be true, this 16th-century ancestral home of Count Tibor Kalnoky, who returned to Transylvania after his family’s exile to run cottages for guests, is also an ecological retreat supported by Prince Charles, who owns one of the cottages. It’s in a beautiful area at the foot of the Carpathian Mountains, and guests are brought to the estate by horse and cart before dusk falls (optional vampires). See Andrew Eames’ feature on a family stay at Kalnoky Castle.
Dream Cave Hotel
A lovely place to spend a couple of nights, this budget B&B in Goreme, Cappadocia, has some of its rooms located inside the region’s famous ‘fairy chimneys’ (conical rock formations).
This ramshackle, but rather special place in Olympos on the Mediterranean coast, a mass of charming tree houses, bungalows, dorm rooms and a campsite, with two bars, a seafood restaurant and a snack bar, is much loved, with a charismatic owner and a friendly backpacker vibe. It is situated very close to a glorious beach with an entire ancient city to explore.
What could be better than living the life of a Greek sailor? This beautiful yacht is moored in a working marina in Leros and so you and your family immediately become part of island life. It is a rustic, homely vessel offering a unique stay in this lovely Dodecanese Island. Book through Airbnb.
- Unusual Places to Stay in North America (www.takethefamily) (allengeorgina.wordpress.com)
- Top 5 Scandinavian Ice Hotels You Can Enjoy Year Round (epicatravel.com)
- Michelberger Hotel – the most wunderbar place to stay in Berlin (wirkinderfromlondon.wordpress.com)
- SnowCastle in Lapland (photovide.com)