With its coastal charms, tranquil countryside and adventurous escapes, Essex has it all. If you’re planning a getaway and looking for accommodation, then how about opting for something a little less ordinary? From an authentic WW2 barge, to a hotel where you have to solve puzzles to check in, here are some of the most unique places to stay in Essex.
Browning Bros Teybrook Orchard
Surrounded by an apple orchard and 20 acres of woodland is the Browning Bros glamping site. Accommodation includes charming bell tents and yurts, the romantic Grain Silo and the Log Cabin. The bell tents and yurts have real double beds, and can sleep up to four people. The Grain Silo sleeps up to two people and has a double bed, carpets and rugs, making for a cosy surrounding. Right on the edge of a lake, the Log Cabin has three bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen area and a lounge, with a hot tub on the deck. The site has indoor and outdoor dining areas, and a fully equipped communal kitchen and BBQ facilities. There is also a restaurant at the farm, as well as a covered games area.
Mojo Houseboat Bed and Breakfast
Moored on Mersea Island on the edge of the River Blackwater, Mojo Houseboat is a modern barge conversion. Located on a site of special scientific interest, it offers scenic views of the beach and Blackwater Estuary from its deck. The guest room has an ensuite bathroom and toiletries, with a comfortable king size bed. The highlight of the room is the ceiling glass dome, allowing you to stargaze as you fall asleep. Although the property is shared with the owners, the houseboat benefits from a private guest living room on the lower deck, complete with a TV and tea and coffee making facilities.
Grebe’s Nest is a unique floating pod on a 15 acre trout lake. Located on Chigborough Farm, the 130 acre rural getaway is short drive to the historic town of Maldon. Grebe’s Nest accommodates two adults, and is fully furnished with a king size bed, lounge space and kitchen area with full appliances. The pod comes with a covered deck where you can relax or have a BBQ, and showers and bathrooms are shared with other guests. The campsite’s facilities include a games room with pool and table tennis, tea rooms, a restaurant, farm shop and gift shop, pottery painting, yoga and massage treatments. You can also hire bikes and head along the Blackwater Estuary, or hire boats and stand up paddle boards.
The Raft at Chigborough
Also located on Chigborough Farm is The Raft, a two storey wooden cabin. The cabin floats at the bottom of a small lake, surrounded by reeds, woods and fields. The cabin sleeps four, with a double bedroom upstairs and a sofa bed below. The cabin has a fully fitted kitchen with BBQ facilities, and you can fish for trout straight from your deck. The secluded surroundings of the cabin means you can fully relax in the hot tub, or put your feet up on one of the bean bags on the deck. If you fancy exploring, Blackwater Estuary is a short walk away, with sea views, sailing and canoeing. You can also walk along the sea wall to Heybridge Basin, or enjoy a fresh seafood meal at one of the restaurants.
The Clockwork Hotel
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay with a group of friends, family or colleagues, head to the Clockwork Hotel for a truly unique and memorable experience. When you arrive, you’re greeted with a glass of bubbly before you take on a fun challenge to find your hotel keys. Working with your team against the clock, you will get to solve puzzles and peek around the rooms to find clues. After the challenge, a three course meal is served by your private chef. The hotel sleeps up to 22 people with king, double and twin bedrooms, and has a cocktail bar, spa area and sauna.
Lady of the Twizzle
If you’ve always wondered what it would be like to stay on a salvaged WW2 barge, then this is your chance. The 85 ft barge has been renovated to the highest standard and offers four ensuite rooms which can sleep up to 14 guests, a lounge area, and a modern kitchen with dining area. The highlight of the boat is its spacious deck, with a six seater hot tub, comfy seating areas, sun loungers and beautiful views over Hamford Water and Felixstowe. The Lady of the Twizzle is moored in Titchmarsh Marina in a peaceful Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so there are plenty of scenic walks around the coast. You can also go seal watching, or try fresh seafood at one of the local restaurants.
The Shepherds Hide
Tucked away on a farm just outside Colchester is the Shepherds Hide, two luxurious self-catering shepherds huts, perfect for a romantic getaway. Located on Mill Farm, the area is within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and is surrounded by plenty of wildlife and scenic walks. Its proximity to Colchester means there are plenty of nearby places to visit for days out.
Inside, the huts each have a king size bed, a fully fitted kitchen, dining area and bathroom. The huts also come fitted with a log burner for an extra cosy feel. The outside patio areas are great for relaxing during the warmer months, and if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to spot kingfishers swooping over the Mill Pond.
Lee Wick Farm Cottages and Glamping
If you want to get outdoors but prefer a bit of comfort, then Lee Wick Farm is the place to be. Based outside St Osyth, Lee Wick Farm offers a variety of glamping pods, from large family cabins sleeping up to 12 people, to cosier pods for just you and your other half. All the pods have kitchen and bathroom facilities, and outdoor deck areas for BBQs. You can also bring your own home with you, as the farm offers five pitches for caravans. Lee Wick Farm is close to the beach, as well as beautiful countryside and nature reserves. It’s an ideal location for exploring north Essex and Suffolk, with the Suffolk Heritage Coast only a short drive north.