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.
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.