Unique and unusual places to stay in London

Narrowboat house, unusual places to stay in London

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Last Updated on June 18, 2023 by London City Calling

Looking for accommodation in London can be overwhelming.

There are thousands of hotels, hostels, B&Bs. private rentals, and more to filter your way through. It’s unsurprising that there are a few unique little gems in there somewhere. You just need to know where to look.

From charming floating homes to spending the night inside some of the city’s most famous attractions, these are the most unusual places to stay in London…

The most unique and unusual places to stay in London

The ZSL London Zoo Lodges, Regent’s Park

Without a doubt, one of the most unusual places to stay in London has to be the Gir Lion Lodges at London Zoo. These nine private lodges can be found in the zoo’s Land of the Lions exhibit, where you can stay overnight within ‘roaring distance‘ of the lions themselves.

The unusually located lodges are decorated in the theme of the lions’ native Gujarati home in India. Each lodge has an en-suite bathroom and private veranda to enjoy an evening drink alongside your ferocious neighbours.

As well as entry to the zoo both days of your stay, guests also get three exclusive after-hours tours at sunset, after-dark and the following morning, plus dinner and breakfast at the zoo’s Mappins Pavilion.

Regent’s Park’s Lion Lodges are an absolute must-do for animal lovers. They’re also great for families looking for a fun way to surprise the kids with a unique London staycation.

See availability and book here.

Clink78 Hostel, King’s Cross

Clink78 is currently closed for renovation until March 2022, but you can book its sister hostel Clink261.

Clink78 is a trendy London hostel located inside a former Victorian courthouse and prison.

The grand English Heritage building has been updated with a bold and colourful interior design, but still retains many of its original courthouse features. This is sure to be one of the most extravagant hostels you’ve ever stayed at.

At Clink78, you can sleep inside one of the cells where the accused were kept before their trial, or watch a movie in one of the original courtrooms where London’s criminals were prosecuted for over 200 years.

The cool London hostel also has an on-site bar called the Clash Bar which was named after the famous punk band who were fined in the courthouse in 1978 for shooting some expensive racing pigeons. The lively bar is a great place to meet other travellers. It runs a busy schedule of events throughout the week, including pool tournaments, quiz nights, karaoke, live DJs and free gigs by emerging artists.

See availability and book here.

Water Millie Narrowboat, Regents Canal

Certainly one of the most unique places I’ve ever stayed in London, this lovely little narrowboat lets you experience life on the capital’s canals.

Docked along the Regents Canal between Paddington and Little Venice in the west and Hackney in the East, the narrowboat is available for either static or self-drive stays. Perfect for a cool London staycation or a unique place to base yourself in the city.

You don’t need driving experience to take the boat out along the canals. Although you will need some confidence and a few friends to help you out – it was tougher than we expected at first but you get the hang of it. The boat moves slowly so if you’re planning on travelling around, you’ll want to book it for a few nights.

The large narrowboat is just as charming on the inside as it is from the outside, with colourful upcycled furniture and quirky thrifted decor giving the floating home a fun and welcoming feel. The boat can sleep up to 5 guests and has a fully-equipped kitchen, small living and dining area, and bathroom with a shower.

Make sure to sit out on the deck of an evening with a glass of wine and experience London at its most peaceful. There’s really nothing like it.

See availability and book here.

Sunbourn London Yacht Hotel, Royal Victoria Dock

For a more luxurious stay on London’s waterways, treat yourself to a few nights at London’s stunning super-yacht hotel Sunbourn Yacht.

Docked in Royal Victoria Dock, close to London City Airport, the 4* floating hotel features spacious rooms with handcrafted wooden furnishings and beautiful river views framed by large french windows. All rooms are decked out with smart-tech and a centralised multimedia system for a relaxing and hassle-free stay.

The super-yacht also has an elegant lounge bar for enjoying evening drinks and a restaurant serving an international menu based on local and seasonal ingredients.

Sunborn Yacht is an ideal place to stay in London for those celebrating a special occasion or for business travellers who need to be close to the high-rises of Canary Wharf.

See availability and book here.

Like being on the water? You might also like these amazing floating restaurants in London.

Hazlitt’s Hotel, Soho

Dating back to 1718, Hazlitt’s is an elegant boutique hotel that invites you to experience the days of London past. Affluent, upper-class London that is.

The charming Soho hotel features priceless antiques and period features throughout, with details including glass chandeliers, Victorian bathtubs, historic artworks and carved wooden four-poster beds. There’s even a library lounge complete with a working fireplace for you to retire to of an evening.

For those who enjoy a splash of sophistication and old-world charm, Hazlitt’s is the London hotel for you.

See availability and book now.

For another beautiful 17th-century hotel in London, check out Hazlitt’s sister hotel in Clerkenwell; The Rookery.

Sleepover at the Natural History Museum, South Kensington

Free Museums in London - Central Hall with Whale skeleton in Natural History Museum London

Ever wanted to experience ‘Night at The Museum’ for yourself? Well, now you can.

Dino Snores at the London’s Natural History Museum is a unique sleepover that gives kids aged 7 to 11 – and their parents of course – the opportunity to explore the Museum after dark.

You’ll get to wander around the London museum by torchlight, enjoy an educational science show presented by a Museum scientist, and take part in fun workshops, all before setting up camp for the night in one of the amazing galleries.

Don’t have kids but still want to experience a night at the museum?

The NHM also runs occasional Dino Snores for grown-ups, with fascinating science workshops, pub quizzes, stand-up comedy, movie marathons, and more. And don’t worry, there’s a cash bar so you can enjoy a few drinks while you’re there. You also get a cooked breakfast and the opportunity to join a yoga session in the museum the next morning.

St Christopher’s Inn Village, London Bridge

London Capsule Hotel. Unusual places to stay in London

Looking for somewhere to stay in London on a budget but still like to have your own space? Look no further. St Christopher’s Inn Hostel in London Bridge is now home to the UK’s very first capsule rooms.

A concept made popular in Japan, capsules are tiny pod rooms complete with their own door, bed, sockets, and storage area. Bathrooms and living spaces are shared with other guests. Capsules are a lot like a hostel but with a little more privacy and security.

Located in London Bridge, close to the Shard and Borough Market, St Christopher’s Inn also has private and regular dorm rooms if the capsules aren’t your thing. The hostel has a communal TV lounge, roof terrace, restaurant, and bar with karaoke nights, fancy-dress parties, and live music.

See availability and book here.

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Unique and unusual places to stay in London

London City Calling

Emily is a born and raised London girl, starting life in the north of the capital then moving down to Fulham in the southwest. She has a master’s degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology from University College London and now works full-time running this blog and as a freelance travel writer, splitting her life between London and travelling the world as a digital nomad.

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