These unconventional travel destinations are a far cry from the standard beach holiday. From a treehouse swaying in the canopy in Spain to a converted fishing boat in France, spend the weekend somewhere out of the ordinary.
A windmill in Greece
On the northeast coast of the volcanic island of Santorini lie three whitewashed windmills, their canvas sails creaking in the wind (from £225; each sleeps up to five; open from May to October). Designed and built by owners Nikos and Fotini, each has three storeys, with magnificent views of the Aegean Sea from the bedrooms on the upper floors. Much is made of the windmills’ curves – beds, staircases and bathrooms are built into the walls rather than fight against them. There’s little reason to leave your circular home with each boasting a private pool and a terrace, but there are plenty of beaches nearby, including Pori Beach with its unusual black sand.
A houseboat in Amsterdam
From hemp hotels to B&Bs run by former madams, Amsterdam is no stranger to the atypical lodging. A more salubrious take on the city’s clichés is a stay on a houseboat. Hundreds are moored within the inner circle of canals in the Dutch capital and, with costs rising, some are being turned into self-catering properties or B&Bs. Find an Amsterdam Houseboat lists 40 boats, ranging from the rustic to the space age. Favourites include the Prince Royal, with a bar built into the old wheelhouse and views of Anne Frank House (from £180; sleeps four), and a houseboat on the Prinsengracht, complete with sun terrace and roll-top bath (from £100; sleeps three).
A treehouse in Spain
The treehouse has undergone something of a renaissance in recent years, with canopy-level accommodation springing up all over Europe. Cabanes als Arbres takes things up a notch, with a veritable village of houses perched up in the branches of the Forest of the Guilleries in Girona (from £80). Each of the 10 cabins is built around a Douglas fir or beech tree and has its own terrace, perfect for a sunset drink with views of the surrounding mountains. To preserve the natural atmosphere of the woodland, there is no electricity – guests are warmed by a paraffin heater, can read by candlelight and hoist up their breakfast from ground level using a basket and a rope.
A spa hotel in Budapest
People have come to Budapest since Roman times to benefit from the healing properties of the thermal water bubbling up from the 118 springs beneath the city. And the very best way to enjoy that water is by staying at the Danubius Hotel Gellért, a huge Art Nouveau edifice on the banks of the Danube (from £85). Guests have direct access to the Gellért Spa and Bath, with its thermal pools decorated with mosaics, massage rooms and dry and steam saunas. Taking the waters in the main hall, under a galleried glass roof, has been likened to swimming in a cathedral. Rooms in the hotel are comparatively plain, but after all that therapeutic soaking you’ll be too nonchalant to care.
A thatched boat in Brittany
If the idea of a houseboat is just too passé, you could always head to France and stay in a fishing boat. With a thatched roof. Beached in the garden of a B&B nearly two miles from the sea. For that is what you’ll find in Kerlouantec, a small village on the Breton coast. La Caloge is an old seafarer converted into self-catering accommodation (from £85), with a bed built around the masthead and plenty of nautical details. The kitchen is in a fisherman’s cabin away from the sleeping quarters, and the owners will lend out bikes for excursions to nearby eateries.