From riverside living in The Gambia to a ship-shaped
hotel in London, Wings explores creative accommodation at Arik Air destinations
Words Emma Woodhouse
1 HOME FROM HOME
Rent rooms and homes for short let
WHERE Destinations including Lagos, Dakar, Johannesburg, New York, London, and Accra
How to raise enough money to visit London for the Olympics? Let someone else pay your rent and use the spare cash to travel. With over 5 million users, Air bnb, has been a runaway success. Hosts list the type of accommodation they are offering which could be anything from a room in a shared flat in Joburg or a Miami mansion. Places are offered for a night, a week or a month at price points ranging from $15 a night to over $1500, in hundreds of cities worldwide. Listings include images, direct contact with the host and user reviews. Funds are not deducted from your account until 24 hours after check-in. This is a brilliant way to make money or stay somewhere unique and cheaper than a hotel. Airbnb.com
2 SAFETY IN NUMBERS
How to host a crowd on the cheap
WHERE The UK
Whisking a large family or a group of friends away for a country weekend in England usually equates to a choice between pitching a tent or shelling out on a pricey cottage. Group Accommodation fills the gap with large properties starting at £15 per person per night such as the beautiful Milden Hall, a Tudor barn in Suffolk that sleeps 24. It has beamed ceilings, a wood-burning stove, banquet tables and miles of rolling hills to explore. Pony trekking, cycling and paint-balling can be arranged locally.
3 Ship, ahoy
London’s most coveted room
You may have seen it all when it comes to playful living, from treehouse hotels to Sweden’s Ice Hotel made entirely of ice and snow. Now London is offering up it’s own childlike wonder of a hotel in time for the 2012 Olympics.
A Room for London, is the brainchild of writer Alain de Botton, who said the project began with a simple idea, “To put up a temporary building which would be an observer on the capital in a rather tumultuous, exciting and dramatic year.” Measuring 14ft by 48ft the ship is perched atop the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre where it will stay until 2013.
Designed by architect David Kohn with artist Fiona Banner, the one-bedroom hotel perched as if retreating by floodwaters, is described as “unusual, poetic and life-enhancing.” The lower and upper decks offer unparalleled views stretching from Big Ben to St Paul’s Cathedral. Inside, the boat is an artfully crafted timber object, full of nooks and crannies to explore – and all the creature comforts that one would expect in a good hotel. Guests are encouraged to use the logbook in which to detail what they have experienced during their stay, out of the window as much as within themselves.
4 Many rivers to cross
A romantic riverside escape
WHERE The Gambia
Voted ‘Best New Eco Hotel In the World’ by the Sunday Times, Mandina River Lodge is set amongst a tropical garden in a hidden corner of The Gambia’s Makasutu Culture Forest.
Guests stay in one of four solar-powered floating lodges or one stilted house nestled into the privacy of the encompassing mangroves. The private lodges are reached by elevated walkways or by dugout canoe – paddled by your own ‘man Friday’. The lodges offer 180-degree views of the Mandina Bolong (an idyllic tributary off the main river Gambia). Each handcrafted lodge features a four-poster carved bed and ensuite eco-friendly bathroom with tiled shower, state of the art composting toilets and solar-heated water. You can swim in the river, snooze to the sounds of the bush and awake to the distant call of the Muezzin from the neighbouring Kembujeh village. There’s a lot to explore locally including the Baobob cultural centre and wildlife treks where you can see baboons. Bookings can be made through Gambia Experience (Gambia.co.uk) or Makasutu.com
5 Simple life, Amish you
A farmhouse in Amish country
WHERE Pennsylvania (2.5 hour drive from New York City)
The town of Intercourse (no sniggering in the back), is an unincorporated village in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, founded in 1754. The Mennonite Amish community of under 2,000 residents live now pretty much as they did then, getting around by horse and buggy and wearing modest homemade clothes. If you’re longing for a taste of the simple life, you can hire a deluxe 5 bedroom farmhouse that sleeps 16 people, set on scenic farmland in the heart of Lancaster’s Amish attractions. Owned by lifelong residents Tina and Daryl Pilon, the spacious home comes with modern amenities. So if chatting with your friendly Amish neighbours over the white picket fence isn’t entertaining enough you can always loosen your bonnet and jump in the whirlpool Jacuzzi before watching a movie on your iPad. Promise we won’t tell.