odd holiday homes

Strange stays: Bunkers, barracks and jails

In Travel Inspiration, Unusual by Kai

Odd holiday homes

No scenery. No daylight. No windows. Who’d want to live in a bunker?

That all depends on what’s happening outside. Sunshine and social order? No thanks. Rampaging hordes and nuclear fallout? Jump in and lock the door!

An ammunitions bunker that stored nitroglycerin atop a Pakistani mountain 

When the apocalypse arrives – be it man- or zombie-induced – we’ll all be bunkered down with a stash of canned goods and a shotgun. Until then, the world’s subterranean lairs serve as fascinating places in which to temporarily stay.

Yes, of course you can holiday in a bunker, barracks or gaol. And the best part? You don’t even have to give up daylight. Follow us behind bars and back in time as we explore the world’s weirdest lairs.

Bunker down in this odd holiday home

Bunker down in this odd holiday home

It may look unprepossessing from the outside, but this former film set is surprisingly spacious and cosy on the inside. What this bijou holiday home may lack in luxury it more than makes up for history: New Zealand’s Funky Bunker has the coolest backstory of all. In the mountaineering film Vertical Limit, it served as an ammunitions bunker that stored nitroglycerin atop a Pakistani mountain. It’s completely safe to stay in though because – spoiler – that was just a film and in real life this bunker hasn’t stored anything more hazardous than a couple of sixers and a box of party poppers. If you’re looking for an unusual getaway, this one’s about as quirky as it gets.

Learn more about the Funky Bunker

Bright and airy? A bunker?

A bright and airy bunker

This U-shaped home in Marseille’s Calanques is bright, airy and blessed with ocean views. Did it really used to be a bunker? Yes. Yes it did, but it’s come a long way since then. From the roof terrace you can watch boats passing in the bay – plus the occasional dolphin nosing its way out to sea, while in the centre of the U is a patio that serves as a sun trap, though most corners of this rejuvenated bunker see their share of daylight. This would make a rubbish bunker for seeing out the zombie apocalypse, but as a holiday home it’s absolutely great.

Learn more about this Calanques home

Go to gaol without passing go

Go to gaol without passing go

The Gaolhouse is a formidable looking building and no wonder; it doesn’t take an architecture graduate to determine its former purpose. The window bars and stout walls remain intact, but in all other respects this two-bedroom abode has been reborn. Cosy, snug and homely, this Norfolk cottage nevertheless retains the original features that lend this building its unique character.

Learn more about the Gaolhouse

Standing to attention for 6am roll call is no longer required

Live large at the old Fratelli Cairoli residence

Live large at the old Fratelli Cairoli residence

Another one to file under ‘Cosier than it looks’, this 19th century barracks has seen some changes in recent years. Built by the Royal Guard of Finance in 1800, this Sicilian holiday home looks imposing but feels inviting thanks to its open plan living room and panoramic terrace with sea views. Standing to attention for 6am roll call is no longer required.

Learn more about Fratelli Cairoli

Some buildings are just born lucky

Courthouse > Jail > Chalet

Courthouse > Jail > Chalet

More functional than luxurious, this Colorado chalet is perfect for ski holidays. Inside, it’s snug and warm while outside the snow gathers on the front porch. Built in the 1800s, the former jail and courthouse was one of only three properties to survive a fire that swept through the mining town of Garfield over a century ago. Some buildings are just born lucky.

Learn more about this chalet

Enjoy a jail break on Cushing Island

Enjoy a jail break on Cushing Island

Most of the rooms in this ex-military jailhouse are spacious and airy. The Casco Bay property does retain three original cells though that have just enough room for a single bed. The mattresses are a sight thicker and the food a heap better than that meted out to the building’s WWII residents however. The privately-owned Cushing Island is home to just 45 families and is prized for its hiking trails, fishing and tennis. Where’s the punishment?

Learn more about this former jailhouse

Roam free in the jailer’s house

Roam free in the jailer's house

Another property with a past, this Nantucket cottage was once the residence of the jailer who oversaw the town’s gaol. Built in 1726, the four-bedroom home is prim and patriotic on the outside, plush on the inside. If walls could talk they’d tell some tales about this place; as it is you’ll just have to use your imagination.

Learn more about this cottage

The tap of telegrams and the chatter of civil servants 

Savour the silence in this former telegraph building

Savour the silence in this former telegraph building

120 years ago, this Swedish villa echoed to the tap of telegrams and the chatter of civil servants. Since then, the government telegraph centre has been converted into a five-bedroom holiday home whose simple limestone exterior belies a plush family dwelling. Soak up the sun and take in the history as you explore Gotland, the largest island in the Baltic.

Learn more about Villa Telegraf

Estate carriage house welcomes weary travellers

Estate carriage house welcomes weary travellers

Back in the day, Chappaquiddick was a remote outpost, its only visitors arriving on horseback. Today, you can reach this romantic getaway by car before marvelling at its running water and electricity. The former carriage house wasn’t always this piped in and switched on, but then visitors to Martha’s Vineyard these days have higher expectations. Chappaquiddick meets them comfortably.

Learn more about this estate carriage house

Spend the weekend in the police station

Spend the weekend in the police station

Some people become extremely loquacious once inside a police station; others refuse to say a word. Inside this Tuscan police station you can relax: your words won’t be used as evidence against you. The enchanting view of Val d’Orcia hasn’t changed, but inside, the former cop shop has undergone a dramatic transformation: modern amenities, plush bedding and a gorgeous open plan dining room. Oh, there’s also a pool in the garden – we’re pretty sure that wasn’t an original feature.

Learn more about this former police station

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Kai

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KaiStrange stays: Bunkers, barracks and jails