The Airbnb phenomenon
The Airbnb phenomenon has meant that an increasing number of us are turning our homes into holiday lets and a quick look on the website shows some of these Berkshire-based bolt holes can offer high end quirky stays. Here are some of the homeowners who’ve transformed their spare space into inspirational interiors.
CHURCH HOUSE, GRAZELEY
Ann Lacey and partner Tim Self bought Church House in February 2016. Book a stay here and you will love the state-of-the-art, bright and spacious conversion of a Grade II Listed chapel. There are four bedrooms and plenty of unique original features. “We felt it would make a very special holiday let,” says Ann.
This wasn’t a simple conversion: “The roof is entirely new, we had to create a floor structure and essentially it is a brand new house built inside the walls of a Victorian church. Not only did we construct a new house with underfloor heating and mechanical ventilation, it has a smart-home system that controls mood lighting, security, access, heating, shading, window opening and entertainment systems. We used the old church roof slates on the barn-style garage and had major landscaping to do.”
Freestanding baths, mood lighting, open plan living, sumptuous bedrooms and outside entertaining space, guests staying at Church House relax in luxury, but what’s Ann’s favourite thing about her holiday let? “We love the lighting. It enables the creation of different moods and the ability to highlight specific aspects of the fabulous architecture, like the pulpit and stained glass windows. The bespoke feature light above the dining table cascades three floors. The external lighting creates a textured wash across the flint right to the top of the bell tower, accentuating the buttresses and the recessed windows.” It’s certainly an inspirational property with lots of take away design ideas. “One of the most common comments we have from guests is that if they were to play the lottery and win, they want to buy Church House,” says Ann. Church House can sleep up to 12 and costs £500 per night.
Some very quirky properties are now welcoming visitors to Berkshire, so we went to meet the people who gave immaculate attention to their fabulous conversions
THE OLD SCHOOL HOUSE, ASCOT
This holiday home is small but perfectly formed. This cute cottage belongs to Caroline and Sean
Lynch who moved into their much larger detached house nearly 30 years ago. “Within the garden there is this lovely little Victorian cottage. We discovered from census records that the building had been used in the early 20th century as a small private schoolroom run by two spinster schoolmistresses who lived in our house.” At the time it was a games room/granny annexe and the couple turned it into a soundproof music studio and filled it with music equipment. It remained as such for 25 years.
“In 2017 the roof needed replacing and we decided to take out the recording equipment and return the room to how it had originally been.” It was a huge undertaking removing all the layers of soundproofing and then re-plastering the walls and vaulted ceiling. “At the same time we replaced the WC and also put in a shower cubicle and renewed the kitchenette with new units.”
They renovated the room with a new wood floor, skirting and architraves and even managed to restore the original cast iron fireplace as a decorative feature. “It was at this point we decided to furnish the room with the purpose of letting it as short term Airbnb overnight accommodation and set about deciding ‘the look’.” ‘Interesting and quirky’ is how you would describe this bolthole built for two. They mixed up a combination of old and new and threw in some vibrant colours too. “We also added different styles of wall art, including our much loved abstract portrait of David Bowie.”
Above all it’s about offering their guests a comfortable stay: “We’ve had nothing but lovely comments from our guests who have been great. We really enjoy meeting all sorts of interesting people and discovering why they want to stay in the Ascot area. They love the building, and nearly everyone comments on the decor and style, which they seem to like. It’s been described as cosy, beautiful, stylish, private, and a little gem.” The Old School House sleeps two and costs £79 per night.
‘It’s been described as cosy, beautiful, stylish, private and a little gem’
THE HOUSEBOAT, WINDSOR
Holidaying on the water… what could be better than messing about on the Thames for a few days? The Houseboat ‘Haulfryn1’ was purchased by Haulfryn Group around 18 months ago and has been moored at Willows Riverside Park ever since. “It was only in April this year we decided to start renting her out on Airbnb,” says owner Chris Welch. “The Houseboat was sitting doing nothing with the potential of bringing in extra income, so we thought why not start using it as a self-contained luxury rental property?”
The house part itself is a park home that’s been specially converted to be more spacious with the open plan layout, maximising storage space without compromising living space. Sleeping up to six people, the interior is decorated in white with modern splashes of colour on the soft furnishings and grey oak flooring. It’s fitted onto a bespoke boat hull specially made to take the luxury of the home above. This is all powered and fully navigable via the 90bhp outboard engine.
If bobbing about isn’t enough, this home from home has lovely views onto the river thanks to bi-fold doors: “They open out onto the deck which faces the sunset across the river. It was a strategic part of the planning and its mooring location,” points out Chris.
Thanks to its quirky location and super luxurious interiors, The Houseboat is a popular choice for holidaymakers: “Normally they say the best thing about the boat is its location on Willow Riverside Park and how accessible everything is around us. But everyone is always taken back by the size inside The Houseboat and the high standards of the furnishings. The most repeated comment has to be ‘it’s exactly like the pictures and such great value’.”
The Houseboat sleeps six and costs £200 per night.
Bathe in style at Church House
Ann Lacey and Tim Self have carefully converted a Grade II listed chapel
ABOVE: Church House: an amazing property to stay in BELOW: The conversion at Church House mixes the likes old wes with modern styling
ABOVE: The Old School House: country cottage cuteA cosy and inviting spot at the Lynches’ Ascot hideaway
Caroline and Sean at The Old School House
Boat owner Chris Welch decided to put Haulfryn1 to good use Views straight out on to the river from The HouseboatThe Houseboat at Windsor has a high standard of furnishing
All the kitchen equipment you need is waiting on The Houseboat