HARLINGEN, THE NETHERLANDS Harlingen lighthouse is an architectural gem . . . the 1920s edifice was restored and the interior remodelled after it was taken out of service in 1998.

It can now sleep two guests -- on the first floor is a bathroom with a circular shower, and upstairs is a bedroom and sitting area with panoramic views of the harbour, the North Sea and the West Frisian Islands. On the third floor, 24m above sea level, guests are treated to spectacular vistas from a small sitting room beneath the original copper lamp. The old VHF radio-telephone can still be used to listen in to shipping communications and there is an external viewing platform at the top of the building. Breakfast is delivered every morning.

Harlingen Lighthouse (00 31 515 540550; www. vuurtorenharlingen. nl). The lighthouse is available to rent from 279 per night, including breakfast PALAGRUZA, CROATIA Palagruza offers the ultimate in seclusion.

Between Croatia and Italy in the Adriatic Sea, the lighthouse (built from the same Brac stone used for the White House) stands on an island just 1,400m long by 300m wide and is the largest working example in Croatia.

Beneath the tower are two apartments, each sleeping up to four people.

Electricity is generated by solar panels that keep the kitchen equipment, heating and lights going. This is about as high tech as it gets, and guests have to bring their food and water with them. A local fisherman can provide fresh fish and boat trips to two nearby beaches that are good for swimming.

Adriatica. net (00 385 1 241 5611;

www. adriatica. net). Prices start at 520 for seven nights' rental. This does not include boat transfers, which cost around 330.

MERMAID COTTAGE, ALDERNEY Alderney's 32m-tall lighthouse still guides ships through the hazardous tidal streams between the island and Cap de la Hague in France. Established in 1912, the imposing blackand-white-striped edifice was automated in 1997, so the adjoining Grade IIlisted Mermaid Cottage, once home to lighthouse keepers, was subsequently converted into selfcatering accommodation for five guests. The cottage has three bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen, dining room, sitting room and enclosed garden, with two of the Channel Islands' best beaches just a short stroll away.

Rural Retreats (01386 701177;

www. ruralretreats. net). Rental of the cottage starts around 900 for seven nights, including a food hamper. Shorter stays can be arranged SMOKY CAPE, AUSTRALIA This two-storey octagonal lighthouse is the tallest, and one of the oldest, lighthouses in New South Wales. Smoky Cape was given its name by Captain Cook, who arrived in 1770 as bush fires were raging.

Built nearly a century later, the unmanned lighthouse is still functional. There are two double rooms in the head lighthouse keeper's house offering B&B accommodation, and the two assistants' houses sleep up to six guests on a selfcatering basis. Both guest rooms have four-poster beds and locally made furniture.

Smoky Cape Lighthouse (00 61 2 65 666301; www. smokycapelight house. com). Double rooms at the head lighthouse keeper's cottage start at A$187 per night including breakfast. Seven nights' rental of the assistant lighthouse keepers' cottages start at A$726.

WICKLOW HEAD, IRELAND Wicklow Head once had two lighthouses, but only the taller now remains; the second was knocked down to build the now ruined lighthouse keepers' cottages. The 30m octagonal tower on Long Hill, restored by the Irish Landmark Trust, provides self-catering accommodation for up to six people. Built in 1781, the tower's interior was gutted by a fire sparked by a lightning strike. Following restoration, it now has two bedrooms, a bathroom, a living room and a kitchen, spread across six floors.

There are 27 windows cut into the thick walls, giving the building an airy feel.

Irish Landmark Trust (01 670 4733;

www. irishlandmark. com). Prices start at 440 for Monday-Friday rental.