Case Study: Unique Homestays

Case Study: Unique Homestays

By Megan Scott

Jan 17, 2024

Step into the world of interiors with Jess Clark, Creative Director of Unique Homestays. She discusses the company's aesthetic, emphasising meticulous design, thoughtful colour palettes, and the art of storytelling. Join us for a glimpse into the transformative details that make Unique Homestays truly unique..

Tell us a little about Unique Homestays

The company was founded by Sarah Stanley (who comes from a farming family and studied agriculture at college) back in 2001 on her return to Cornwall. Sarah still heads up the company today and is very much the creative brain behind the brand. Having spent much time travelling on a shoestring and being hosted by families in the countries that she visited, Sarah realised just how invaluable such stays were to enjoying an authentic experience when in a new country, and that there was no-one offering such in the UK at that time.

In the early days, as the company name suggests, the homes that we marketed were private homes at which the owners hosted paying guests; affording a real through-the-keyhole experience. We then expanded our offering to focus on House Party properties, larger homes where group gatherings, often celebratory occasions, would be held.

Today, while we remain Cornwall-based, our portfolio spans the length and breadth of the British Isles. Our selective portfolio features a diverse collection of homes ranging from boltholes in Ireland to sprawling manor houses in Surrey, complete with Antony Gormley sculptures, cinema rooms and swimming pools. The homes that we market simply cannot be found elsewhere, and as such we are able to command the highest tariffs for the owners whose homes we feature. Primarily private homes, there are some properties within our portfolio that we market for just a couple of months a year. Our owners range from financiers to interior designers, polo players to architects. 

You have a varied array of properties - what do they all have in common/what boxes does a property have to tick to become a Unique Homestay?

There’s no list of must-haves when it comes to what makes a Unique Homestay, but we know it when we see it. Broadly speaking we are seeking homes with the wow factor that will afford our guests, who often have beautiful homes themselves, something different. From homes immersed in woodland to coastal cliffhangers, bold interior design schemes to standout architectural designs, out of the ordinary buildings with owners who go the extra mile to ensure an inimitable guest experience is key.

Who are your guests? How do you ensure your portfolio has something that will appeal to them?

While we do have a percentage of overseas guests, the majority of those who holiday with us are London-based professionals seeking homes to inspire. While the brand is synonymous with luxury – and there would be a certain expectation when it comes to all of the ‘basic’ touchpoints - it is more the personalities behind the homes and the experience that guests enjoy that ensures our repeat guest base continues to grow. Ensuring a broad geographical reach, and a collection of homes distinct from each other, whilst ensuring that we continue to be more selective than ever in terms of the new homes that join the collective will ensure we maintain our USP in a noisy market. 


How would you describe the Unique Homestays aesthetic?

Individualistic. There isn’t a Unique Homestays ‘look’. We have rustic homes that we market alongside pared-back minimalist properties. The most bombastic of maximalist interiors rub shoulders with linear architectural abodes. The success of who we are is down to the personalities to whom the homes belong, they are storytelling properties, at which we encourage owners to showcase their life well lived.

Tell us about your interior design service…

We assist with owners looking to make the transition from private home to luxury rental, alongside those who might be bringing their home to us from another agent, or with existing owners to afford a fresh look and feel to a property we have marketed for many years. We seek to create individualistic schemes that reflect the owner’s taste and preferences, whilst at the same time creating schemes that are editorial-worthy and striking.

What’s your approach when working with a client to turn their property into a luxury rental?

It’s very much a collaborative approach. We look to the setting and the style of the home for inspiration and create a scheme that is reflective of these elements whilst exuding the personality of the owner to whom the house belongs. It’s important for owners to remember that they won’t be waking up at the home that we market every day, and with this in mind the design schemes we create can afford to be bolder.

What leads the design of the space - your aesthetic or the bones of the home?

As above, it’s creating a scheme that at once reflects the setting and bones of the home and the character of the owner; then you can be assured that your creation is truly distinctive.

We’re thrilled you chose to include our tiles in Suki. Please tell us about this property…

Which tiles did you select?

Reclaimed terracotta. We were seeking something that felt very organic, and the irregular nature of these tiles, no two are the same, sat well with the hand-crafted artisan aesthetic of the whole. The fact that they were suitable for indoor/outdoor use meant that we could create a feeling of space in what is a bijou abode flowing the flooring through from in-to outside was a real positive too.

Discover our Terracotta Collection 


What do they add to the space?

The warm tone of the tile creates a space that is welcoming on the dourest of winter’s days. Underfoot, the undulating nature of the tiles, individually and as a whole, creates the organic edge that we were seeking.

What led you to use Bert & May/What do our brands have in common?

We have used B&M tiles on a number of projects, as whether we are sourcing tiles for a pared back Cornish beach house or property with a more rustic aesthetic the range encompasses a wide range of styles and tones. Whilst keeping abreast of the latest design trends, it is integral that the spaces we create have a timeless allure, in which well-crafted items feature. The unique colour palette, and ‘can’t find elsewhere’ nature of the tiles resonates with our exclusive marketing message. Both brands celebrate the who.. it’s the people and personalities behind the homes that are so integral to our success… the idiosyncrasies that set the homes that we feature apart from others is key. B&M tiles work as well in contemporary spaces as they do in rustic abodes, for both brands I feel that embracing the individuality of the setting to create distinctive spaces is important. 



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