The Landmark experience

What it's like to stay in a Landmark by writer Gabriella Bennett

Landmarks are manmade fossils, brought back to life by a charity with its eyes on the future. If it wasn’t for Landmark’s work, such structures would have crumbled to dust. 

Places to recharge and breathe a little depeer

Holes would be left in Britain’s architectural tapestry, with no way to patch them back in. Given new life as weekend or week-long boltholes, they now host birthday celebrations, anniversaries, time spent reconnecting with loved ones and oneself. Guests – Landmarkers - come to recharge and to breathe a little deeper in a place that feels both familiar – and yet also invigorating, a burst of inspiration in a world dominated by big brands and the conventional.

Living temporarily in a Landmark prompts self-reflection. We have no choice but to look more closely at what’s around us. Cooking, reading, conversing and simply being present are among the pleasures of booking a holiday in a Landmark. WiFi remains in the lives we leave behind. In its place are books chosen to reflect each building’s setting; the bookcase is a compass full of clues to orientate guests with their surroundings, in both space and time.

Books on the language of trees jostle with those on local folklore or the flight paths of wild birds; with a well-chosen biography or a locally based novel. They bridge gaps in our knowledge as well as satisfy our reawakened curiosity about our new temporary place in time.

 

A pilgrimage to our own pasts

Other signature touches make arriving feel like coming home. A blue and white Old Chelsea china tea tray awaits travelers who have journeyed halfway across the land – sometimes across the world – often to fulfil a long-held dream, a fantasy inspired by the Handbook. White embroidered bed spreads and kingly wooden headboards give a glimpse into the way our ancestors slept. Blackened timbers, time-worn stone steps and scars in woodwork prompt questions, answered in the pages of each specially researched History Album

Lessons learned are surprising, varied. We discover that previous guests are our closest allies. Their stories, handwritten in green-bound Logbooks, reveal tips on how to get the most from a stay. They lift the lid on where wild garlic grows nearby or the grazing patterns of Muntjac deer that frolic in the grounds around the Bath House in Warwickshire.

At Cul na Shee, a corrugated tin cottage lapped each high tide by the waves on Saddell Bay the Logbook tells of a young couple who first visited in the late 1990s then returned a decade later with their children. A stay can be a pilgrimage to our own pasts if we like, not just one to the lives of the people who crossed the threshold weeks, decades or centuries before us.

 

Landmarks are addictive, and it's easy to see why

Landmarkers bag buildings in the same way as mountain walkers do Munros. It’s addictive, and it is easy to see why. They are hideouts for the curious, secret residences with decorative eccentricities and only one rule: tune into the space you inhabit. Pause to watch a woodpecker darting through the branches of an oak tree in Derbyshire. Crouch to lay a hand on the cool stone floor of a Shropshire chapel. Breathe in the smellscape of ancient Northumberland woodland after rain. Notice coloured shapes on the floor as the sun curves past a stained glass window. This is mindfulness at its most simple.

Since most Landmarks can be rented for less than £50 per person per night, Landmarks are egalitarian in nature. Some belonged to workers of loom and lock, some were inhabited by miners or military men, while others started off as follies for local aristocracy. Many, such as the Banqueting Houses at Chipping Campden, are all we have left; surviving fragments of grandeur long since destroyed. Thanks to Landmark all now open their doors to anyone with an interest in heritage. 

Perhaps the most important part of a holiday is that we are never really just guests. For a few days, or a week, or more, we have the chance to be custodians of astonishing structures. Where else is it possible to plunge into a natural spring pool set within a shell grotto than a Landmark, or sleep next to a giant stone pineapple? Their historic quirks are what enriches the experience. The past always shapes the path of things to come. When leaving a Landmark, one wonders where next?


Learn more about the Landmark experience

Furnishing the details - how are buildings are arranged and furnished

Restoring historic buildings - our approach to saving Britain's built heritage  

Explore and book - browse 200 historic buildings