Top image: Hansel & Gretel’s house
Money can buy you comfort, luxury and a view to die for. It can’t muster magic though. It can’t conjure enchanted kingdoms or pink palaces that float on clouds.
To reach those heady heights calls for a little imagination.
Do you remember when you were a kid and a dusty wardrobe could become a portal to another dimension, a sunflower a magic beanstalk that kissed the sky? Let’s play those games again, this time with your own kids joining in. We’ve picked a dozen holiday homes that are a dash of make-believe away from their famous fictional or “literary houses” counterparts.
Brownsea Island. Image: Flickr
Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin…
1. A fab cottage fit for the Famous Five
The Famous Five novels have captivated generations of book worms. Anyone who’s ever been eight will recall voraciously devouring Enid Blyton’s idyllic tales in which every picnic is replete with hard-boiled eggs and lashings of ginger beer. (What is a lashing, anyway?)
Ann, Dick, Julian, George and faithful Timmy’s greatest adventures occur on Kirrin Island, with its ruined castle and sandy cove. The amateur sleuths also explore a lighthouse in Five Go to Demon’s Rocks. This lighthouse keeper’s cottage in Dorset may not boast an island location but – wait for it – just offshore lies Brownsea Island, believed to be the inspiration for Kirrin Island. Take a boat trip to the 1.5 mile-long island and indulge all your Famous Five fantasies.Learn more about Rowena Cottage
2. A quaint little house on the prairie
It has “House” in its title. Of course we were gonna include this little beauty. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s tales of growing up in the Midwest are part fiction, part biography. They’ve been serialised, televised and even turned into Little House-themed cookery books.
Built around the same time as that little house, this cosy Kansas abode sits on the historic Cowboy Trail. Outside, big skies and an endless expanse of prairie land await.Learn more about The Lark Inn
Image: TV screenshot
3. Feel the wind in the willows
One classic novel, two classic dwellings – Toad Hall and Ratty’s burrow. The latter is hard to replicate in real life – HomeAway’s selection of riverside burrows is disappointingly slender. The former, however, is ably represented in the form of this family-friendly apartment in Loton Park, a magnificent Shropshire mansion that bears more than a passing resemblance to Toad Hall.
For the dramatisation of Greene’s novel, Kentwell Hall in Suffolk was chosen to be Toad Hall. Loton Park, with its Tudor and red brick, is every bit as refined. What’s more, there’s no obligation to rent the entire mansion – its gallery apartment will do nicely.Learn more about The Gallery Apartment
4. Face your fears and follow Dracula
Dracula may be 2spooky4kidz, but teens and parents will relish a trip to Bram Stoker’s old haunts. You can’t stay in the Transylvanian castle that inspired the Victorian vampire novel, but this Gothic French chateau comes pretty close. Be sure to hide all the mirrors.
Visitors seek out the location of Dracula’s grave
Closer to home, there’s Whitby, where Stoker stayed in 1890. He found the seaside town enchanting, particularly the abbey, which was to be described in Dracula as “a most noble ruin, of immense size, and full of beautiful and romantic bits.”
The Captain’s Hideaway is a charming cottage with a majestic view of the ruined abbey. Supposedly some visitors to Whitby, confusing Bram Stoker’s novel with real life, seek out the location of Dracula’s grave. Can we take a moment please to laugh at these people? Thank you.
Learn more about The Captain’s Hideaway
5. Swing through the treetops – or live in them at least
From Tarzan to Winnie the Pooh, all kinds of fictional characters have made the forest their home. The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton grew all the way to the clouds and its trunk was pitted with tiny houses. This one-room treehouse in Minnesota could almost pass as Pooh Bear’s home – all that’s missing is a sign above the door that reads “Sanderz”.
Image: Moby Games screenshot
Then there’s Topo’s Treehouse in Costa Rica, which isn’t built into a tree, but rather has a tree built into it! Fall asleep in the arms of a giant rubber tree, its boughs cradling you and its roots permeating every room of the house. Is this close enough to nature for you?Learn more about Topo’s Treehouse
6. Rule the roost at Wayne Manor
Comicbooks are still literature, and Wayne Manor is still the greatest super-hero lair of all time. For The Dark Knight Rises, the brooding exterior of Wollaton Manor was used; indulge your caped crusader fantasies by spending a week in the equally grand Himley Manor. It’s got nine bedrooms, five bathrooms and a large drive on which to park the Batmobile.Learn more about Himley Manor
Image: The Dark Knight Rises
7. Rent your own Misselthwaite Manor and discover its secrets
The novel may have been called The Secret Garden, but the house attached to it should not be overlooked either. The 600-year-old Misselthwaite Manor supposedly had over 100 rooms, most of which were locked. Fertile territory for a bored child with an active imagination.
Sheafhayne Manor is in better nick than its fictional counterpart, but that doesn’t mean it’s devoid of secrets waiting to be discovered. Described by The Sunday Times as resembling “a full-sized game of Cluedo”, the 400-year-old Elizabethan house has 11 bedrooms, 10 bathrooms and a sunken garden that gives way to lush countryside. Character, history and mystery all come as standard.Learn more about Sheafhayne Manor
Fuel your imagination
Bring your favourite stories to life with a HomeAway holiday cottage, treehouse or mansionClick for inspiration
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