Do an internet search for “the world’s quirkiest hotels” and you’ll see a magnet-shaped hotel in China, a converted Jumbo Jet in Sweden and ‘spirit spheres’ (posh tree houses) in Canada. At Breakaway we hand-pick each of our hotels and there’s one or two below that we think would give these a run for their money in the “unusual hotel” stakes!
Imagine what it was like for convicts all those years ago as you sleep in an old former prison cell at the Hotel Fronfeste in Bavaria. Upon arrival you’ll be given a welcoming ‘bread and water’ before having a “safe” sleep in your cell. A former 300-year-old prison built into the old walls of Amberg, it’s located just a short walk from the Englischer Garten. The staff even dress as prison wardens, leaving you wondering whether you’ll hear the words “lights out” once it gets late! The entire experience certainly makes for an unusual and quirky stay.
Almost 200 years have passed since this Franciscan monastery on the Amalfi Coast, Italy, was turned first into an inn and then into the gorgeous aptly-named Hotel Luna Convento. The hotel comes complete with original features and the former ancient cloister, which today surrounds a charming inner courtyard where you can relax after dinner and admire the two wall panels that illustrate all the guests (many famous) through autographs, appraisals, poems and images. Each of the hotel’s rooms are the former monastic cells – although today they offer considerably more comfort.
Literally follow in the footsteps of travellers from the past as the Leitner family welcome you to the Gasthof Zur Post in the Austrian Lakes. The building dates back over 600 years and was at one time a stage coach stop off before becoming a hotel. Inside you have a wonderful blend of history and tradition, and even a refined wine cellar housing unique rarities for you to taste during your stay.
The Fuchsbrau in Bavaria has been owned for five generations by the same family. Until the late 70s it was a brewery but has since been turned into a quality hotel, with the original beams, a pool and sauna area. In fitting with its origins, in good weather dinner can be taken in the hotel’s beer garden.
Braid your hair and dangle it from the windows as you enjoy a romantic escape at the Castell d’Empordà in Catalunya. Perched on a rocky outcrop with breathtaking views from its sun terrace, it’s a superbly restored ancient castle. Each of the hotel rooms have been individually decorated with furniture the owners collected during their travels around China, India and Morocco. Albert, whose Great-Great Grandfather was in Napoleon’s Grande Armée, is also a very keen modeller and took nearly 20 years to build Europe’s biggest scale model of the Battle of Waterloo that now can be found in the heart of the castle. The 18 square metre representation includes 2,000 toy soldiers and about 500 horses, all of which are hand-painted. Not only this but Salvador Dali even tried to buy the castle for his muse, Gala, in 1970.
In 1749 this imposing manoir in the Loire, France, was used as a military hospital by the Maréchal de Saxe for the regiment of Uhlans (light cavalrymen armed with lances). Prior to that it was a manor house dating from the early C17, most likely built for an important wine broker of the period.
Transport yourself back to the 1920s when you would have enjoyed a relaxing thermal spa break at the Curia Palace. A lovingly restored ‘Belle Epoque’ building in the centre of the spa town of Curia, Portugal, it is set among 14 acres of formal gardens and parkland, with a pool and spa. Renovated in 2008, it still has the vintage décor and charm of the former 1920s period hotel. A charismatic air stems from the stunning architecture and makes for an unusual yet remarkable stay. Original features such as a telephone exchange, old style elevator (no longer in use) and ballroom remain.
We’re excited to announce that we have teamed up with RidewithGPS and begun rolling out electronic versions of our cycling route directions, which you can download to your smartphone. This tool, similar to a car sat-nav, provides turn-by-turn voice directions along your route!
How does it work?
· You simply download the RidewithGPS app to your smartphone or GPS device and register as a Breakaway customer.
· Once you’ve downloaded your route to your phone, it will be available to you offline – so you won’t need a telephone signal or data connection on your tour.
· The app will track your position along the route, similar to a sat-nav, and provide clear turn-by-turn spoken instructions.
· The app won’t re-route you if you miss a turn but it will alert you immediately if you’re off-track.
· Our bikes are fitted with a handlebar-mounted smartphone holder so you don’t need to worry about holding your phone (or keeping it clean and dry) while riding.
· Routes are provided with both visual and audio alerts – so no unfolding big maps or reading detailed notes while cycling.
· Once downloaded, phones can be set to flight mode and routes will be accessed via local GPS signal, also minimizing battery use.
· Much less need to stop and start while cycling, giving more freedom just to soak up your surroundings and enjoy the ride.
· Minimal paper waste – helping us all to be more “green”.
· Very clear and easy-to-read words and graphics – even on the smallest of screens.
RidewithGPS is currently available in the following regions:
• The Algarve (Cycling in the Real Algarve)
• Alsace (Gastronomic Wine Villages of Alsace)
• Austrian Lakes (Austrian Lakes Cycling)
• Bavaria (Bavarian Castles & Rivers Cycling; Five Waterways of Bavaria Cycling)
• Brittany (Backroads of Brittany Cycling)
• Burgundy (Gastronomic Burgundy Cycling; Classic Burgundy Cycling; Chablis Vineyards Cycling)
• Catalunya (Contrasts of Catalunya Cycling; Catalan Coastal Cycling; Classic Catalan Cycling; Cycling around the River Ebro; Discovering the Ebro Delta by Bike)
• Umbria (Aspects of Assisi Cycling; Medieval Umbrian Cycling)
• Veneto (Heart of Veneto Cycling; Venetian Villas and Vineyards)
• The Loire (Chateaux of the Loire Cycling; Loire Gastronomic Cycling)
• Puglia (Contrasts of Puglia Cycling; Heel of Italy Cycling).