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Lighthouses, Windmills and Castles, OMG – Travel Accommodations with a Twist, Part I

Years ago our family took a trip to merry England. We were looking for something different to do and a different place to stay. We landed at a unique lighthouse in a corner of South Wales. It was the experience of the trip. Where in the world can you see beautiful water views, admire collectibles and walk to a pub via a newly used cow lane? Well, it turns out in quite a few places.

The Trip Planner, a trusted book on bed and breakfasts in the British Isles, took us to West Usk Lighthouse, situated in the Bristol Channel near Newport, Gwent, Wales. Designed by Scottish architect James Walker and built in 1821, the lighthouse features a central stone spiral staircase above a former collection well, now a wishing well. We all had beautiful wedge shaped rooms overlooking the water. At one time the lighthouse stood on an island where the Severn and Usk run into the sea, but land has since been reclaimed and the lighthouse now stands alongside the Channel.

The West Usk Lighthouse offers unique features such as a flotation tank, a chauffeured Rolls Royce, rooftop hot tub and BBQ facilities, an infrared sauna and various wellness therapies. There is also a Mongolian yurt, an eco-friendly living space, available for meetings and conferences. After being decommissioned in 1922, the lighthouse became private property, but fell into disrepair and remained so until Frank and Danielle Sheahan bought it in 1987. Its unique and welcoming style is a must-see. Just remember: if you want hot water, you’ll have to pull the cord.

Lighthouse lodges occur in many areas of the world. From Maine to Washington and from Lake Erie to Marathon, unique and historic inns are dotted across the United States. The Big Sable Lighthouse in Michigan will give you a two-week stint as a keeper. Volunteers can sign up to be the Keeper of Light and go through orientation to learn their roles. The Whitefish Point Light Station is the oldest operating lighthouse on the eastern end of Lake Superior. The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald lies 15 miles northwest of Whitefish Point along with more than 200 other wrecks of the 550 known to lie on the bottom of Lake Superior.

There are more than 50 historic and replica lighthouses and bed and breakfast inns with keeper’s cottage accommodations alone in the U.S.A. Other areas where lighthouses offer a unique visiting experience include Canada, Scotland, the Caribbean, South America , Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Europe. Almost everywhere in the world, there are lighthouses to stay or visit.

The Bengtskar Lighthouse at the entrance to the Gulf of Finland has a rich history spanning 100 years. The lighthouse was completed in 1906 after architect Florentin Granholm presented his design at the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris. The unique granite structure boasts stunning sea views from the top of the 252-step spiral staircase. . After the Soviet attacks of 1941, the lighthouse fell into disrepair and in 1968, the special gasoline lamp was extinguished in favor of unmanned automated operations. After years of repair, the lighthouse was reopened in 1995 and features a conference room, chapel, cafeteria, and post office on the ground floor. The former living quarters on the upper level offer conference rooms and accommodation for 24 people. The Bengtskar Lighthouse welcomes 10,000 tourists a year to see the most famous feature of the archipelago.

Southwest of the southernmost cape of Istria is the islet of Porer, located in the Adriatic Sea, a few kilometers from the mainland city of Premantura. The Porer Lighthouse was built in 1833 on this 80 meter cliff surrounded by strong currents and layers of hot and cold water. The area is rich in fish and attracts divers from all over the world due to the surrounding historic shipwrecks. Other places of interest near Porer include the dinosaur footprints of the Fenoliga islet, the beautiful bays of Unije, and the Kamenjak Nature Site, home to more than 500 species of flora, including endangered endemic orchids. Porer’s accommodations throughout the year are two apartments: one with two double rooms with kitchen and shower and another with a double room, a bunk bed, kitchen and shower. The islet takes about a minute to walk around, but be sure to stay long enough to enjoy one of Porer’s beautiful sunsets.

On the southwest coast of England, just six miles north of Land’s End, is Pendeen Lighthouse. This operational landmark was built in 1900 and automated in 1994. This includes the foghorn that sounds when fog moves into the area. Guests are advised to bring their earplugs when visiting Pendeen. The lighthouse and cabins face the rough water, but are separated from the cliffs by a four-foot wall. Accommodation is for four people with two bedrooms and one bathroom, living room, kitchen with dining area, hallway and washer and dryer. Guests can stay close to home, visit the nearby beaches, or drive the scenic, narrow roads of the southwest coast.

Built as a replica of the Thomas Point Lighthouse on the Chesapeake Bay, Katie’s Light is a unique experience on the jewel of Florida’s east coast, Amelia Island. The 3-bedroom, 2 ½-bath facility features a 360-degree terrace with hardwood floors and ceilings throughout. Relax in the ground floor kitchen, dining and entertainment level, then head up the spiral staircase to two well-appointed bedrooms to enjoy the ocean views. The deck extends over the beaches of Amelia Island and is a romantic place to watch the sunsets.

Whether your vacation takes you around the world or just out your back door, consider the possibilities of a lighthouse stay. And if lighthouses are too much for you, opportunities abound at some of the world’s oldest windmills and castles. Stay tuned for part two, where we snuggle up to historic windmills from England to Denmark and back.

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