Sleeping in a converted church is not everyone’s idea of heaven, but disused chapels, churches, tabernacles and other ecclesiastical buildings often pop up in those accommodation listings which specialise in the unique, the quirky and the ‘extraordinary’. Across various denominations, around 2000 decommissioned churches have been sold in the UK since 2011; thousands more preceded them; most end up as homes of one sort or another and inevitably some are turned into holiday lets or – as in one case here – hotels or B&Bs. The online booking company, Host Unusual, lists nearly 50 examples, including camping in historic working churches (otherwise known as ‘champing’). Coolstays offer around 15 more (including the Tabernacle, pictured above). And there are others…

GOTHIC REVIVAL: The Chapel Finstall in Worcestershire

Flagstones, oak floors, vaulted ceilings, an original font…holiday lets don’t get more churchy than this place. This rustic, converted chapel has one romantic double bedroom, a roll-top tub in a stone-lined bathroom, a wood-fired, sherry-barrel hot tub and access to an orchard. Three-night stays from £452. More info at Host Unusual.

HOME AND COLONIAL: The Tabernacle at Aberfeldy, Scotland

The 19th century Tabernacle is a fine example of the tin-clad, flat-packed churches built to serve small congregations and shipped to remote locations – here and in the British colonies. This one has, at some stage, been dismantled and relocated to this heavenly spot, among the meadows and woodland of Perthshire’s Tay Valley. The conversion has kept the building’s churchy height, its lofty altar windows and varnished timber-lined interior, creating a voluminous open-plan living space, a mezzanine master bedroom under the rafters and a two-berth bunk room in the former vestry off the main hall. Add a roll-top bath, a wood-burner, a fire pit, a hot tub under the stars and lovely views. From £172 per night through Coolstays.

NEW TESTAMENT: The Hidden Chapel in Devon


Tucked away in a corner of the wilds-of-Devon village, Zeal Monachorum, this snazzy conversion of a 19th century congregational chapel is a masterclass in church modernism: keep it simple, light, woody, open plan, respect those leaded windows, furnish with a mix of vintage and comtemporary, paint the whole thing white. Indeed, the transformation from chapel to home was featured in a Channel 4 series (they don’t say which one – Grand Designs, perhaps?). Enjoy three bedrooms (two en suite), a stylish kitchen (made from the chapel’s original pews), the loooong dining table (seats 10), terrace, woodburner, downy bedding… From £170 a night (minimum stay 2 nights). For more information visit Host Unusual

DIVINE ROOMS: At the Chapel at Bruton in Somerset

Combining restaurant, artisan bakery, wine-store and rooms, this converted, Grade II listed congregational chapel in the heart of Bruton, was recently sold to West Country pub and hotel group, Stay Original, who have kept it more or less as they found it. Long before the sale, At the Chapel’s foodie reputation (wood-fired, sourdough pizzas, biodynamic farm produce etc) helped put once-sleepy Bruton on the map as a dining destination; and the building’s transformation is a model example of sensitive church conversion combining original Georgian windows, old oak and the odd bit of stained glass with crisp white décor, contemporary lighting and cool contemporary furnishings (pale wood, leather chairs, marble tiles, white walls). The restaurant is housed in the original chapel (think voluminous double-height space) and there are eight gorgeous rooms. From £145 per night, At the Chapel.  

CHURCH SLEEPOVERS: various UK parishes

In terms of church accommodation this is hard-core. ‘Champing’ (or church camping – the name has been trade-marked by the Churches Conservation Trust) means bedding down in a working or disused church; no fancy conversions here but you do get loos (or Champlavs), camp beds and the run of the place for a night or two. Your group (between 6 and 16 people, depending on the venue) gets exclusive use and the cost is £49 per person a night (special rates for children), plus £25 each per stay for the hire of bedding (budget champers, can bring their own). This one (pictured) is redundant St Cuthberts in Holme Lacy in Herefordshire’s Wye Valley. More info here: champing.co.uk or Cuthberts in Holme Lacy in Herefordshire’s Wye Valley. More info here: champing.co.uk or Host Unusual.

TIN TABERNACLE: The Chapel at Walcot Hall in Shropshire

Another fine example of the non-conformist, colonial-style, tin-clad chapels that proliferated in the 19th century, this little beauty is hidden in woodland in Shropshire’s 30-acre Walcot Aboretum. The chapel sleeps four in two woody bedrooms (from £575 a week) and features stained-glass chapel windows and a spiral staircase. Guests are advised to take a torch and sensible footwear. For more info, see Coolstays.

RELIGIOUS COVERSION: The Old Chapel at Slad in Gloucestershire

This ‘fairy-tale’ chapel has its own graveyard but don’t let that put you off. The Cotswolds-country building is a mix of original Victorian features, cool interior design and enchanting views of the Slad Valley. It sleeps 10 people in four bedrooms and costs from £1440 per week. More info from Coolstays.

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