Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Anyone who has ever stayed
at a "design hotel" will know that aesthetics and hospitality are not
necessarily happy bedfellows. Luckily, the founders of Bert's Barges
(doubles from $389), a contender for London's most stylish new digs, have
some serious hosting cred, as well as a great eye for detail. Amelia and
Lee Thornley honed their craft at the much lauded Casa La Siesta in Spain
(near Cadiz) before setting up the Bert & May reclaimed Spanish tile
business, in a handsome but crumbling old warehouse on a quiet part of the
Regent's Canal near Bethnal Green in Hackney. When the moorings outside the
warehouse came up for rent, the couple jumped at the chance to create a unique
place to stay, on a custom-made matt black barge, just along the water from
the hipster playground of Victoria Park.  
David Butler The one-room hotel, which opened earlier
this month, nods to the couple's Spanish connections (their tiles line the
roof and bathroom) but the vibe is more Scandinavian than east London, thanks
to marble counters, white washed wood paneling, and carefully chosen interior
products, from the leather dustpan and brush to bespoke bowls, some of which
are for sale. Though it's more a stylish home-from-home than a hotel,
breakfast (supplied by a local café) will be delivered to the door, and there
are complimentary bicycles and a vintage rowing boat for exploring the area by
towpath or water. Coming soon are four more barges at the Hackney location,
including one for families, as well as additional sites in Little Venice (west
London), York and Bristol. Emily Mathieson is on the U. K. beat for
Travel + Leisure. Based in London, you can follow her at @emilymtraveled.
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The couple behind the Bert & May tile company have opened Bert's
Barges, floating hotels, in London.

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