Top 10 unusual places to stay near London

If you’re looking for unusual places to stay close to the capital, then where better than down south for some well-deserved sea views and countryside strolls? On the South Downs you can choose from flint barns on working farms, luxury yurts in bluebell woods, and even a lighthouse on Beachy Head. Our top 10 vacations present some excellent ideas.

1. Belle Tout Lighthouse

Imagine falling asleep to the sounds of the English Channel after a good day’s walk followed by fish and chips in front of a roaring log fire. Now picture yourself enjoying 360-degree panoramic views over the South Downs from a room in a lighthouse close to Beachy Head. Grab your chunky knitted jumper and stoke up your pipe – a couple of nights in a lighthouse will do wonders for wannabe salty sea dogs.

Our top selling trip: Beachy Head lighthouse B&B (Belle Tout)
See all our trips: South Downs vacations
Read more: Things to see and do in the South Downs

2. Yurts & tipis

Adhurst is the antidote for any Londoners eager to swap suburban sprawl for something more scenic. Surrounded by 61 hectares of private woodlands – bluebell trails in the early spring are a must – there are five locally built Adhurst yurts to choose from. These yurts are certainly a step up from camping and come with wood burning stoves and even solar powered shower decks.

Our top selling trip: South Downs yurts in Hampshire
Read more: Campsites on the South Downs guide

3. Sussex flint barn

As any Sussex local will tell you, it’s entirely possible to see the Isle of Wight on a clear day; and there’s absolutely no better location than a working farm high on the South Downs to do just that. From harvested rainwater and solar panelling to under floor heating and wood burning stoves, life in a converted flint barn in Sussex is both sustainable and comfortable, surrounded by woodlands, hillsides and sea views.

Our top selling trip: Sussex flint barn, South Downs
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4. South Downs walking vacation

If you’re looking to leave London for a couple of nights, or extend an escape for a 10-night break, walking vacations on the South Downs Way always provide a complete contrast from the capital. From Winchester to Eastbourne, with buzzing Brighton in between, this 161km moderate trail is easy to access with lots of independently owned guest houses, inns and B&Bs along the way.

Our top selling trip: South Downs walking vacation, England
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Read more: Walking in the South Downs guide

5. Self catering farm stay

With London less than an hour and a half away by train, Storrington in West Sussex makes for a superb setting to escape to if you’re searching for some serene South Downs scenery. Self catering cottage farm stays are just as idyllic as they sound, with lesser-known beaches, historic houses, local pubs and loads of undulating walking trails all easy to reach within the surrounding countryside.

Our top selling trip: South Downs self catering farm stay
See all our trips: Farm stay vacations on the South Downs
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6. Wheelchair accessible cottages

Swapping England’s capital city for historic Hampshire is one thing, but finding a suitable southern setting that’s also accessible to wheelchair users is quite something else. Discover the delightful villages of Droxford, Hambledon and Meonstoke, close to the western entrance of the South Downs Way, as you check into a choice of accessible cottages all of which boast their own hot tub and access to an indoor pool and Jacuzzi.

Our top selling trip: Wheelchair accessible vacation cottages, South Downs
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7. Seven Sisters B&B

Settle into the scenic heart of East Sussex as you surround yourself with the country and coastal trails associated with Seven Sisters Country Park. Saltmarsh B&B offers ideal accommodation for anyone eager to explore the South Downs via the flat riverside trail through Cuckmere Haven and the brilliant beech woodland trails through Friston Forest, offering a couple of options for DFLs (Down from Londoners, as visitors are affectionately termed).

Our top selling trip: Seven Sisters B&B, South Downs
See all our trips: B&B vacations, South Downs
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8. Self catering rural cottages

There aren’t many locations in London where you can access a vast network of rural footpaths and cycleways from your back garden. However, head to West Sussex, on the South Downs Way, and you’ll be absolutely spoiled for choice. If you’re looking for beautiful views over the Downs, as well as a local pub just three minutes’ walk away, a rural two-bed cottage down south does just the job.

Our top selling trip: South Downs self catering rural cottage
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Read more: South Downs travel guide

9. Camping & caravans

Unwind at the western entrance to the South Downs, near Winchester, as you check into another world of decadent safari tents and spacious caravan pitches, under an hour’s drive from the M25. Bring the kids, and the bikes, and take off on the effortlessly flat West Meon Trail or just kick back, relax and listen to the chirruping of crickets as the sun sets over gently sloping grassy meadows.

Our top selling trip: South Downs farm camping and caravan site
See all our trips: South Downs campsites
Read more: Campsites on the South Downs guide

10. Vacation cottages

Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside – and there’s nowhere better than Birling Gap and Seven Sisters Country Park if you’re heading out of London. Booking into a flint and oak vacation cottage for four in the village of East Dean places you in-between Brighton and Eastbourne, with loads of coast and country cycling and walking trails to explore at the eastern end of the South Downs Way.

Our top selling trip: South Downs vacation cottages
See all our trips: South Downs vacations
Read more: South Downs accommodation map
Written by Chris Owen
Photo credits: [Page banner: GlennD] [1. Belle Tout Lighthouse: Rob Wassell] [4. South Downs walking vacation: © SDNPA/Rebecca Saunders] [10. Vacation cottages: Andrew Smith]