Marianna Hunt

The Great British Getaway: unusual staycations for the summer

The Great British Getaway: unusual staycations for the summer
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Bookings for summer staycations have boomed since Boris Johnson said that domestic holidays would be possible from as early as April 12.

There has been no mention yet of when overseas travel restrictions may be lifted, so it is looking like a very British summer. But a staycation doesn’t have to mean sitting in a dreary caravan park. Make your summer holiday a memorable one by booking one of these unique breaks:

Port Lympne Safari Park, Kent

Guests at Port Lympne will often wake up to a tiger rubbing its face against their window or a giraffe resting its nose on their balcony. The safari park offers a number of accommodation types, including glamping tents, wigwams, shepherd's huts and coming soon, Giraffe Hall (pictured above). Rest assured that the tents and the tigers are kept far apart. Choose your favourite animal to decide which enclosure to sleep alongside.

Booking also gives you access to the 600-acre park, which you explore via golf buggy. The giraffe lodge glamping package for two costs from £445 per night and includes welcome drinks, an African-inspired dinner cooked over an open fire pit and a full English breakfast. All meals are enjoyed with views of the giraffes, zebras and rhinos taking their own refreshment at the watering hole.

Port Lympne is also a charity and proceeds from the park are used to fund conservation projects abroad. All bookings are protected under their Covid guarantee, which allows you to change your dates free of charge if you have to cancel because of the pandemic.

Burgh Island, Devon

While self-contained accommodation is likely to roepen from mid-April, hotels will have to wait until at least May 17 to welcome guests again.

But Burgh Island is certainly worth the wait. The hotel occupies its own island, which is only accessible by foot or car at low tide. When the water cuts off the isle from the Devon mainland guests are ferried over by sea tractor.

The art deco building dates back to the 1920s and has a ballroom, with live music twice a week.

There is also a spa, snooker room, tennis courts and rowing boats to keep visitors entertained. Swimming spots are ten a penny, including a natural sea water lagoon.

The hotel has hosted many notable guests during its history including Agatha Christie, Noel Coward and The Beatles. There are both rooms in the main building and self-contained accommodation dotted across the island.

Prices for a double room start from £515 including dinner and breakfast.

Red Kite Conker, Childerness

The Red Kite Conker looks much like an enormous alien football has crash landed into the Welsh mountains. Given that the local area is a dark skies reserve, the shooting stars and wisps of Milky Way overhead reinforce the sense of being out of this world.

The copper conker is actually a glamping pod with a cosy double bed, its own heated shower and a self-composting toilet next door. It was designed using techniques pioneered by the likes of Bentley and Rolls Royce.

Larger groups can choose to stay in a converted barn on the site, which sleeps up to six, or book a couple of the floating tree tents.

A ten-minute drive away there is a village with a local butcher, who can provide some local treats to barbeque on your private fire pit.

Fowey Hall, Cornwall

This boutique hotel, which overlooks the Cornish estuary beloved by Daphne du Maurier, is said to have been the inspiration for Toad Hall in Kenneth Grahame's Wind in the Willows. What better location, then, for a family-friendly hotel?

Fowey Hall, which is family- and pet-friendly, has extensive grounds and play areas including a 30-metre zip wire, nest swings, and an outdoor theatre. There is also an Ofsted-registered creche and spa.

Fowey itself is full of quirky independent shops and the nearby coastline dotted with secluded coves. Rooms cost from £279 per night on a bed & breakfast basis.

Amberley Castle, Sussex

History buffs can snuggle up in a four poster bed within the same stone walls that King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth II once stayed in.

Now a hotel, parts of Amberley Castle date back to the 1300s. Crumbling, ivy-clad walls surround a lush inner courtyard, water features and the main manor house.

The rooms are stuffed with quirky antiques yet the bathrooms are refreshingly modern. Suits of armour guide you to the grand dining room, with its stone fireplace and fascinating portraits.

There are family-friendly rooms and a children’s menu – as well as the option to have picnic baskets made up for little ones to enjoy in the 12 acres of garden at lunchtime.

Outside there is an 18-hole putting course and tennis and croquet lawns. Be careful not to hit one of the castle’s white peacocks, which roam the grounds, with a poorly aimed shot.

Prices for the Bramber Room, which has some of the finest views in the hotel, start from £235 per night for two.

Pendeen Lighthouse, Cornwall

This lighthouse, the last on Cornwall’s north coast before you reach Land’s End, has looked out for ships from the Atlantic for more than 100 years. Now it is open to visitors, who can stay in one of two cottages on the site.

One, Argus, has one double bedroom, a single and pristine sea views from the patio. A travel cot and highchair are available for families.

There are plenty of attractions around, including St Michael's Mount, the tidal island; swimming in Penzance’s art deco lido or surfing at Sennen Cove.

The cottage can be booked via Kiddie Holiday from £349 per night. The minimum stay is three nights and there is a surcharge for bringing dogs.

Cloud Nine Glamping, Gloucestershire

For the post-Covid holiday, privacy is key. Each tent on Cloud Nine’s new glamping site, which will open to visitors on July 19, comes with its own private toilet and hot shower. The tents come in all shapes and sizes and levels of luxury to suit all family types. There’s plenty of space around each one for children to play – as well as a kids’ cooking club, den making workshops, climbing equipment and pottery classes.

While the children are occupied, parents can sneak off to the site’s own spa, which has hot tubs and yoga sessions. Street food vans will keep the whole family well fed.

The site has a refund guarantee so you can get your money back if coronavirus forces you to cancel your trip. Prices start from £132 per night per family.