9 unique budget stays in the UK

Updated April 15, 2021
(Published September 16, 2020)

By Heidi Fuller-love

Think that the words Britain and budget don’t go hand in hand? Well think again, because good old Blighty is buzzing with great value stays, if you know where to look (luckily, we do). Here’s our pick of the crop.

1. Sleep near sheep in Shropshire

Brown Clee Hill at sunset, Shropshire

Dig out your crook and get baaa...ck to nature in a cosy shepherd’s hut hidden among centuries-old trees in the grounds of Walcot Hall. You won’t be roughing it either: your bijou, pet-friendly accommodation has a double bed, cooking facilities and outdoor dining area.

The property is in lush Shropshire countryside, just over the border from Wales and while you’re here, you can’t miss a historic tour of the 17th-century Walcot Hall.

Want to explore the area? Tackle part of the long-distance Heart of Wales Line Walking Trail, a fabulous hiking trail that weaves between the region’s railway tracks. Be sure to pack rosewater- and cinnamon-flavoured Shrewsbury biscuits for the journey.

Price: A warm and woolly night in one of these bite-sized folds starts around £38.

2. Get high near Skegness

RAF Wainfleet Helicopter

High flyers will love this glam-packed pad in a renovated Lynx Helicopter standing in the grounds of RAF Wainfleet, a former 19th-century weapons range which dates back to 1890. With double sofa bed, television and mini bar, comfort is guaranteed.

The digs are just around the corner from the seaside town of Skegness in Lincolnshire, known as Bomber Country for its pivotal role during WWII. Immerse yourself in its history at the Battle of Britain Memorial flight visitor centre at RAF Coningsby, or try the fauna-packed Lincolnshire Wildlife Park to mix it up. End the day with the special brews on offer at the Woolpack Pub and Kitchen in Skegness.

Price: From £50 per night for two, it’s a snip to stay in the Helipod. They also have a renovated WWII watchtower and several WWII planes if you want to splash a bit more cash.

3. Drop anchor in Carmarthenshire

Farm near Llandeilo in Carmarthenshire

If hiring your own yacht for the price of a decent meal sounds too good to be true, it’s time to sling anchor at Mr Imp, a renovated yacht docked on a private 22-acre nature reserve near Llandeilo. You won’t be a galley hand either: facilities include a comfy double bed, kitchenette and a wood burning stove. Quirky stays are the estate's forte - you'll also find a converted double-decker bus and a giant yellow boot (coming soon).

The area is prime for exploring, so do check out the lakes and wooded spaces of your vast private nature reserve. You are smack in the middle of Carmarthenshire though, and as the so-called ‘Garden of Wales’ it’s a region worth getting to know. Stay up past bedtime to enjoy clear, star-filled skies in one of the UK’s darkest night sky areas and don’t miss the crumbling 12th-century Dinefwr Castle. For foodies, the three-course lunch at Wright’s Food Emporium in Llanarthne is must. 

Price: You can set off for a bargain, with prices starting at £45 per night for two.

4. Sleep central in London

Tower of London

Expect beer pong, table football and hammocks at this vintage-hip hostel housed in a 19th-century sailor’s boarding house, which is perfect for flashpackers and travellers who don’t fancy flashing much cash. Fab facilities here include a shared kitchen and a lively bar.

Wombat’s is a short stroll from the Tower of London, making it a great budget base for exploring one of the world’s most exciting cities. Don’t miss a gory history trip through Victorian London at the Jack the Ripper museum, while the neighbouring Spitalfields area is packed with succulent street food, cool art work and vintage buys. Fancy a drink? Grab a cocktail during the extra-long happy hours (4pm-9pm) at Simmons Bar near Liverpool Street.

Price: Stay in a 6-bed dorm from £22 a night or splurge on a twin room with bathroom from £70.

5. Be a beach babe in South Devon

Shaldon beach in South Devon

Bring your deckchairs and a knotted handkerchief and enjoy sand between your toes (or in the sandwiches) as you stay at one of the beach huts for which beautiful Ness Cove Beach in Shaldon, Devon is famed. Amazingly, your Wendy House has a king-sized bed, kitchenette, and (small) shower.

During your stay, don’t miss a trip to Teignmouth on the UK’s oldest ferry, and stretch your legs on the South West Coast path leading to lovely Labrador Bay. Then, treat yourself to a luscious traditional cream tea at Shaldon’s Strand Café.

Price: Getting your feet in the sand here is a snip at around £65 per person, per night.

6. Hang out with thoroughbreds in Northern Ireland

Mourne Mountains in Country Antrim

Horse lovers will want to hoof it to one of Northern Ireland’s loveliest regions for a stay in this off-grid horsebox in the grounds of a working farm. Keep an eye on the spacious trailer's return this spring - it comes complete with box bed, fully equipped kitchen and a wood burning stove.

Hosted in Lackan Cottage Farm near the glorious Mourne Mountains in County Down, you’ll be right by the Brontë’s ancestral home and the striking watery trails of Silent Valley Reservoir. Foodies can’t leave here without sampling delicious Lough Neagh eel and ripe blue cheese from Rathgore.

Price: From £55 per night, there’s no need to hold your horses on this one.

7. Be a happy camper on the Isle of Wight

Freshwater Bay on the Isle of Wight

Road trippers will have a (disco) ball in this Bollywood-themed 1970's Split Screen VW Campervan with cushy double bed, kitchenette and gas fridge on a site where facilities include a steam shower with disco lights.

It’s located on the Isle of Wight, the English atoll that inspired Lewis Carroll to write Alice in Wonderland. Get in touch with your own creative side with a ride on the Isle of Wight steam railway, at the photogenic Needles chalk stack or at medieval marvel Carisbrooke Castle. When it’s time to dine, beef and ale pie and sumptuous crab pasties are musts.

Price: At around £20 per person per night, a campervan stay on this magical glamping site is a real bargain.

8. Live like a nomad in Suffolk

Alde Garden caravan

Nomads will adore this quirky campsite just a two-hour drive from London, where you’ll stay in a gaily decorated caravan with double bed, wood burning stove, and your own barbecue area. You can even garnish your home-cooked meal with food foraged from the hedgerows.

Alde Garden is located in beautiful lush Suffolk countryside, near the pretty village of Sweffling, and makes great base for exploring the region’s countless historic houses and gardens. A trip to the beautiful town and cathedral of Bury St Edmunds is highly recommended, as is the owner’s real ale served in his own pub, The White Horse in Sweffling.

Price: You can kick free and live the nomad life here for around £50 per night.

9. Go off grid on Iona

Isle of Iona beach

For an ideal way to escape the world and go off grid, you can’t do better than one of these cosy cut-price pods close to the beach on the diminutive, car-free Isle of Iona. With room for four and a fully equipped kitchen (including microwave oven), why not bring the whole family?

This three mile-long Hebridean island on Scotland’s western coast is a ferry-hop away from the neighbouring Isle of Mull. Make the most of the journey and tick off the highlight: Iona’s ancient abbey and museum, the spectacularly picturesque St Columba’s Bay and of course, the brine-fresh local seafood.

Price: From £35 per person, per night, this glamping island paradise offers excellent value.

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