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Boutique barge launches in London by Maggie O'Sullivan

Posted in HOTELS + VILLAS By Maggie O' Sullivan


We’re avid fans of Prunella Scales and Timothy West’s enchanting TV series, Great Canal Journeys. It’s just that we don’t find barging itself quite so appealing – the couple’s living quarters are rather rudimentary and poor Prunella spends an inordinate amount of time struggling with lock gates. Bert’s Barges is much more our thing. Its first ‘designer’ barge – Lyris – opened on London’s Regent Canal earlier this week and with its matt black exterior, Scandinavian vintage interiors and bespoke tiles and flooring, it’s closer to a boutique hotel suite than a canal barge.Which is the precisely the point. Bert’s Barges is the brainchild of Lee Thornley, the founder of interiors company Bert & May. 'I love the idea of providing unique and stylish accommodation on water; it is such a tranquil way to experience a city, whether you are staying for business or leisure,' he says. And he won't have to worry about guests dropping the lock key overboard (been there, done that), or crashing into another barge (done that, too): Lyris doesn't actually move.At 14.63m long by 3.35 wide, Lyris is probably no larger than Prunella and Timothy’s barge, but it is infinitely better laid out, with a fully fitted kitchen, under floor heating, large bathroom with walk-in shower and separate bedroom with a king-size bed. Of course, it helps that there is no engine taking up precious room. Up on deck there is a Bert & May ‘hot box’ BBQ, antique Spanish wash bowl planters filled with Lavender, deck chairs and fold-down railings.There are no staff aboard, but stays include a welcome ‘box’ containing beer, wine, soft drinks and nibbles, as well as breakfast items such as pastries, juice, muesli and yoghurt. There are plenty of restaurants nearby, but if you prefer to make the most of your time aboard, Bert’s Barges will arrange for dinner to be delivered. Lyris also comes with two Brompton Bikes, two Oyster cards and a 4G enabled dongle. Future guests will also have access to a vintage rowing boat for pottering about on the water.Lee hopes to open more city barges in the near future. 'The more I look into it, the more potential I can see for Bert’s Barges expanding across the numerous cities here in the UK which offer really attractive moorings and thriving water-based communities,' he says. 

Bert's Barges probably won’t appeal to Prunella and Timothy – but for those of us who prefer luxury to locks, they could well be the answer.

Prices start at £250 per night for bookings of two nights or more, based on two sharing. Up to two additional guests can stay on board at a cost of £50 per person. One-night stays can be booked at £300 per night. Nearest tube: Bethnal Green. Further information Bert's Barges.

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