Aaran Chapman and Sharon Peach are the husband and wife team behind Boutique Narrowboats. They set up the company following a brief two night stay on a narrowboat back in 2016. They went on to create a small fleet of high end holiday hire boats which now runs from Union Wharf in Market Harborough.
“We were complete novices, but adored the whole experience of canal boating around Market Harborough,” says Sharon. “But the interior of that first hire boat was bleak. We did our research when we got home and it felt like narrowboats in general were stuck in a gloomy varnished plywood time warp. We knew we could do better.”
The idea for Boutique Narrowboats was born.
A new way of design
Aaran and Sharon began to apply contemporary interior design techniques to the uniquely-narrow spaces of a canal boat. This involved finding suitable materials that would withstand the vibrations and environmental conditions on a boat, as well as designing interiors that would stand up to the rigours of holiday hires. Engineer Aaran, investigated ways of maintaining power during a holiday so that additional luxury items such as coffee machines could run easily.
Within the first year of trading, the first Boutique Narrowboat virtually booked out and the couple knew they were on to something. When the holiday business at Union Wharf came up for sale, they realised it was the perfect fit.
Building their own
Of course you can’t buy narrowboats already designed like this, so the couple has concentrated on fitting out their own designs, especially for two people. A small team of craftspeople has joined them, so that each boat features bespoke carpentry. Demand is high for the Boutique Narrowboats and the company also occasionally fits out boats for private sale, too.
After many thousands of guests over the first few years, the company – which now includes a manager, officer support, engineers, housekeepers and boat trainers – has a clear picture of their customers’ needs. The contemporary interiors and modern fit-outs have attracted a whole new audience to the canals, something which has breathed new life into the industry.
“Our guests tend to be younger and a more diverse demographic than most traditional boaters,” says Aaran. “Many are novices just like we were. We are proud to say that makes Boutique Narrowboats very different from other hire companies.”
Holiday and day boats
The small fleet at Union Wharf now includes four day boats for families, as well as the four Boutique Narrowboats for couples and a more traditional family canal boat. They run all year round and each booking includes a free online course to help prepare for the experience, as well as practical training on the day.
Boutique Narrowboats for holidays
Day boats for 2-12 people
Our address is 1a Canalside, Union Wharf, Market Harborough, Leics, LE16 7UW.
Tel 01858 432123
You can also contact us via email on this page.