Leicestershire canal business beats restrictions
A Leicestershire waterways business is offering a new way to experience a narrowboat mini-break, following the announcement of winter canal restrictions. Boutique Narrowboats runs its unique holiday hire business from Union Wharf in Market Harborough, but has been forced to rethink its business model for a few weeks, because of canal closures in the new year. For a reduced cost, it will now be possible to book a stay on a canal boat for a static stay in the marina.
Based on the popular concept of glamping, Aaran Chapman and Sharon Peach launched their business at Union Wharf in 2019. In keeping with the upmarket boutique craze which has swept through the camping and caravanning world, the couple focused on individual interior finishings, including reclaimed wood, marble and slate. Antiques complement the contemporary fit-outs.
“The response has been incredible,” said co-owner Sharon. “We had no idea if the boutique idea would transfer to canal boats, but since our launch we have seen an extremely strong demand for our boats, particularly from younger couples.”
Unlike many hire boat companies which operate March to October, this business model more closely resembles that of holiday cottages, with many people booking short breaks to celebrate special occasions all year round. But this winter sees the closure of a section of the Harborough Arm of the canal (between Union Wharf and Foxton) for essential maintenance work and the business owners have been forced to get creative.
Static boat stays
“We know that lots of people want to stay on a narrowboat, but lack confidence when it comes to driving the boat. With the closure of the canal, we realised that this would be the perfect opportunity to offer static boat stays at the marina. As a bonus, our guests will have an unlimited electricity supply and the central heating will keep them toasty warm,” said Sharon.
The company has already received bookings for people wanting to visit the town to see relatives over the festive season. Guests will have on-site free parking for the duration of their stay.
Bookings for static breaks via Airbnb
Bookings for self-cruise holidays via www.boutiquenarrowboats.co.uk
More about the canal restrictions on CRT website