Quirky homes challenge holiday cottage market

The converted bus at Bankrugg Farm, Gifford is priced from �133 per night, www.thebusstop.scot
The converted bus at Bankrugg Farm, Gifford is priced from �133 per night, www.thebusstop.scot
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Holiday lettings have changed radically in recent years with a rise in popularity of large houses that can accommodate family reunions, groups of friends splitting the cost of a weekend away in a mansion or even do-it-yourself wedding parties.

But at the other end of the size scale, there has also been a growing market for quirky properties that may be small, but offer an experience that is out of the ordinary.

The cosy interior of the bus

The cosy interior of the bus

Specialist companies offering properties that are far from the run of the mill have sprung up and you can now choose to spend a cosy weekend with a loved one in any number of converted buses, trains or lorries, or lay your head in repurposed lighthouses, electricity substations or churches.

At one end of this trend is glamping, which encompasses all things luxury in the world of camping, while at the other are some of the most expensive and unusual holiday homes on the market.

The range on offer has grown at a phenomenal rate as owners realise that they can convert almost anything into marketable accommodation.

Farmers and landowners are making use of the spare space or underused buildings they have to diversify into offering staycation holidays. Yurts, tipis, caravans and bothies are all proving popular with weekenders and can be a cost-effective use of land.

The buses at Bankrugg come with hot tubs on the decking

The buses at Bankrugg come with hot tubs on the decking

In East Lothian, Balfour Stewart of Bankrugg Farm near Gifford, completed the conversion of the first of three single-decker buses to provide very special rural retreats.

The ingenious accommodation has been hand-crafted by his son-in-law Jason Baker of Good With Wood.

Stewart says: “As a bus enthusiast, with a small collection of old and vintage buses, I was delighted the local planning department shared our vision and felt bold enough to approve our rather novel proposal to turn these into accommodation for a new holiday business.”

Angus Dodds of Savills’ planning team who advised Stewart on the project said: “This has been one of the most enjoyable and creative projects I have had the pleasure of working on.

The stargazing window above the bus's bed

The stargazing window above the bus's bed

“The initial bus has already seen its first visitors and the second will be ready soon – it’s wonderful to see the plans become reality.”

A third bus is scheduled to be complete for 2017’s tourist season.

With a glass roof, allowing holidaymakers to sleep under the stars, when complete each bus will include a wood-burning stove, creating a cosy, romantic atmosphere for cooler nights and each will even have a wood-fired hot tub on a private decking area.

In Perthshire, guests at Craighead Howf can choose to spend their nights in a traditional steading, a wood cabin on stilts, a summer house or the spectacular treehouse, built high in an ash tree but also with a wood burning stove and star gazing window above the double bed.

The treehouse at Craighead Howf, Dunblane is available from �175 per night. www.craigheadhowf.co.uk

The treehouse at Craighead Howf, Dunblane is available from �175 per night. www.craigheadhowf.co.uk

For those who would prefer to keep their feet on the ground, however, the Signal Box at Newtonmore is a very quirky property which sleeps four in accommodation that is upside down in order to take advantage of the views.

Perfect for a rail enthusiast.

The treehouse's interior

The treehouse's interior

The Signalbox at Newtonmore is available from �475 per week. www.sykescottages.co.uk

The Signalbox at Newtonmore is available from �475 per week. www.sykescottages.co.uk

Interior of the Signal Box.

Interior of the Signal Box.