Last week we were invited to spend a few days onboard the luxury Hotel Boat Kailani on its journey from Braunston to Blisworth on the Grand Union Canal. Having never cruised any of Britain’s canals we really didn’t know what to expect from our trip. We arrived at Braunston Marina at 2.00pm to find the beautiful 5* Hotel Boat Kailani, a 65 ft long x 12 ft wide beam narrowboat and her owners Dorenda and Gordon together with their beautiful dog Bonnie.
A glass of fizz appeared as Gordon ran through the necessary health & safety information before Dorenda showed us to our gorgeous double, en suite cabin complete with dressing gowns and slippers. As we settled in our journey started with Gordon at the helm. There is also a twin cabin onboard, again with an ensuite bathroom therefore allowing Hotel Boat Kailani to comfortably take four guests at any time.
Gordon and Dorenda explained to us that they had designed, originally with pen and paper, and commissioned Hotel Boat Kailani in 2013 with her maiden journey taking place in 2014, making this the start of their third season on the canals. She is one of only three 5* hotel boats in England and she is an absolute beauty. From the second that you jump on board you appreciate that she deserves every one of her 5 stars.
We headed to the bow deck to sit, relax and take in our beautiful British countryside surroundings. With that Dorenda jumped into action as we approached the first of six locks. Mr ESLT, to my surprise, joined her and under great tutelage learnt how to work them, whilst I took (lots of) photographs.
As Dorenda and Mr ESLT walked between the locks I happily chatted with passers by who all commented on how beautiful Hotel Boat Kailani is. We came across lots of volunteers at the locks who were happy to help together with parents teaching their children how to operate them too. Having never seen locks being operated I was mesmerised.
Six locks passed we moored for the evening and Dorenda served us afternoon tea consisting of yummy scones with lashing of jam and clotted cream, the timing was perfect as it had just started raining. The living area of Hotel Boat Kailani is perfect to relax in, complete with a large range of books and DVDs which you are free to read/watch together with free wifi.
Gordon quickly converted the TV unit into the dining table making full use of the storage and space on board. At 7.00pm on the dot the dinner bell rang and we were served an amazing four course meal consisting of asparagus rolls with butter sauce, chicken stuffed with pesto and sun dried tomatoes wrapped in parma ham, fruit crumble and cream followed by a cheeseboard and all washed down with a bottle of white wine.
Whether it was the few hours of fresh air or the culinary delight that wouldn’t have been out of place in a high end restaurant, we were exhausted. Gordon informed us that not many people make it past 10pm before retiring for the evening and I’ll admit even that was a struggle for us. We crawled into the lovely comfortable bed and both slept like babies, excited for what awaited us in the morning. Dorenda woke us the next morning at 7.30am with a cup of tea and explained that we were heading towards Braunston Tunnel. As Hotel Boat Kailani is a wide beam boat passing through the tunnel needs to be booked in advance as she takes up the whole tunnel. With only inches to spare at either side, Gordon proved himself to be an expert at navigating the tunnel.
Once out on the other side Dorenda set about preparing and serving breakfast consisting of cereals, dried fruit, yoghurt and a full English. Whilst we tucked in Dorenda transformed from chef to chambermaid and cleaned our bathroom, dried our towels and made our bed. Bellies full, we set sail again heading towards seven more locks. Dorenda, Mr ESLT and I jumped off and repeated what had been done the day before. A point to note, guests are not expected to help with the locks but it certainly is a fun experience. Locks passed, we hit the prow again and relaxed and simply watched the world go by. We enjoyed elevenses out there, happily chatting and feeling the stresses of ‘normal’ life slipping away and throughly enjoying our new pace of life.
We moored at lunch time, Dorenda, Mr ESLT and I hopped off and walked to the Heart of The Shires, a lovely shopping village, home to a number of independent shops. We spent some time looking around before heading back to Hotel Boat Kailani. We then tucked into homemade tomato soup and chunky bread before taking our seats back on the bow deck. We sat for hours simply admiring and enjoying our surroundings and before we knew it Dorenda was serving us afternoon tea in the lovely sunshine. It amazed us how quickly timed passed considering we weren’t doing anything, never has the saying ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ been more true.
That evening we were served yet another fantastic four course meal of field mushroom with goats cheese and pine kernels, salmon and mashed potato, a zingy lemon delight followed by cheeseboard and again washed down with a bottle of white wine. Full and fit to burst we hit the hay early having thoroughly enjoyed our day and feeling so relaxed. After another solid nights sleep we were greeted by the set table and another hearty breakfast, which set us up for our last day of chilling out and enjoying Gordon and Dorenda’s outstanding hospitality.
Time ticked away (too quickly) and the end of our journey was fast approaching. We spent the day trying to spot an elusive kingfisher that Gordon had seen from his vantage point, sadly to no avail. We moored in Blisworth late afternoon where Mr ESLT and disembarked Hotel Boat Kailani for the last time on our trip. We truly had a fantastic time and we sincerely cannot thank Gordon and Dorenda (and Bonnie of course) for one of, if not, the most relaxing break we have ever had.
It was hard readjusting to the rat race the next day and I kept expecting Dorenda to serve morning tea. We highly recommend taking a trip in the more than capable hands of Gordon and Dorenda. If you are wanting 5* luxury and hospitality surrounded by beautiful English country scenery – then this is for you! I think we have been bitten by the canal cruising bug, it’s also happened to a number of their guests as many have made repeat bookings one gentleman has been aboard 5 times in 3 years!
Cruises are offered on The Grand Union Canal, Tidal River Thames through London, River Thames, Kennet and Avon and River Lee Navigation.
There are still a number of cruises available for 2016 and bookings are already being taken for 2017.
Prices start at £445pp for 3nts in twin cabin/£475pp double inc all meals and wine or soft drinks with dinner.
5% Discount for returning guests and their party.
CONTACT DIRECTLY FOR DISCOUNTS ON LATE AVAILABILITY CRUISES – 07447 051558 or email@example.com
- Supplement for single occupancy of the twin cabin, please add 50%
- For bookings of 3 persons, add 25% to the third person’s fare
- Ask about reductions for children under 13 years.
- A deposit of £200 per person is required within 7 days of making your reservation. Full payment is due 8 weeks before your cruise date.
- Prices do not include transportation to and from the boat, car parking charges, entrance fees to attractions, meals taken away from the boat, drinks from the bar.
- Bookings are accepted only from persons over 18 years of age.
* Mr ESLT and I stayed aboard Hotel Boat Kailani on a 2 night complimentary basis (including all food) in return for a review. As always all opinions are honest 🙂