1 Converted Places to Stay - The Battered Black Book

Converted Places to Stay

By Anya Cooklin-Lofting

One of my 2022 New Year’s resolutions was to take a trip outside of my comfort zone, so my partner and I hired a campervan and toured some of the most beautiful parts of the Scottish Highlands. At the time, life in the van felt like enough of a departure from my aggressively urban existence in London, but having returned to the metropolitan hubbub of the capital, I want to take my out-of-comfort-zone travel experiences one step further. Having researched the subject of unusual places to stay for comfort zone-averse holiday-making, I am continually drawn to the weirder, more wonderful accommodation available, especially in the form of converted planes, trains, forts and even machinery.


First up is SiloStay, a collection of purpose-built grain silos converted into apartments in Christchurch, New Zealand. Each of the 9 silos available to hire is sustainable and stylish, breathing new life into the industrial, corrugated complex. The complex won the ADNZ/Resene Architectural Design Award in the Commercial Interiors category in 2014, and the timeless, utilitarian schemes still feel modern, fresh and design-led. Staircases wind seamlessly around the curving, blonde wood-clad walls, and the raw effect of the corrugated metal walls serves as an exciting reminder of the structures’ history. 

From $200 per night, www.silostay.kiwi.nz

Das Park Hotel

Not for the fainthearted, Das Park Hotel in Ottensheim, Austria, is perhaps the ultimate ‘converted stay.’ The rooms, designed to provide the most space and comfort as possible, are set in converted sewage pipes. So successful has the innovation been with younger travellers and holiday-makers looking for something different, that a second location has been established in Bernepark near Essen in Germany. The amenities are limited and guests are provided with only the minimum necessities (think light, power, a sleeping bag and a blanket and local bathrooms at the nearest petrol station…), but there is an honest and rare ‘pay as you wish’ system that takes the edge off. 

Pay as you wish, www.quirkyaccom.com/das-park-hotel

The Old Railway Station

Everyone is familiar with the converted train carriage – they abound on AirBnB and can be hired for cosy weekends away with the family or a loved one all over the UK, in fact. The Old Railway Station in West Sussex, UK, is a train carriage hotel comprising four Pullman train carriages at the former Petworth Railway Station is a beautiful example of how charming these converted carriages can be. There are several other examples across Yorkshire, Norfolk, and in Wales that simply ooze quintessential British charm.

From £300 per night, www.old-station.co.uk

No Man’s Fort

For the most unique, memorable family holiday, party or event, the ominously named No Man’s Fort, built in the late 19th century as a fort to protect Portsmouth, reopened in  2015 as a hotel. It sleeps 44 guests and can hold up to 200 people for parties. Although the hotel is currently closed to the public, it’s certainly one to keep an eye on for the rare opportunity to stay. The spacious rooms, a selection of bars, elegant dining rooms, jacuzzis and spa treatments in this eerie and historic setting surely make for a totally unique stay.


Helicopter Glamping

Finally, and continuing along the military theme, you and five friends can now head to Stirling in Scotland to stay in a 17 metre-long aircraft, the Sea King ZA127. Its active service in the Royal Navy as a search-and-rescue helicopter ended in 1994, and shortly after a stint in naval training, was purchased by a couple at a MoD auction. Its dimensions are surprisingly generous, and although its owners have created a warm, homey feel with soft furnishings and thoughtful details, original elements of the aircraft have been retained and restored, including the exterior, the cockpit (painted with an RAF roundel and complete with the original dashboard, roof panel switches and foot pedals) and the original lighting. 

From £170 per night, www.helicopterglamping.com