The chance to review London's biggest houseboat is one you can't turn down. Matrix Island, a 130-foot long barge moored in the trendy area of St Katharine Docks, Wapping, boasts five bedrooms, five bathrooms and is said to have the largest mooring space in the capital - not to mention its own sauna!
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The houseboat is now available for rent via Smarter, the eco-friendly answer to Airbnb that specialises in high-end, short-term stays. In need of a change of scenery, I gathered together some friends to set sail for a luxury nautical experience. And yes, I did pack a Breton top. Here's everything you need to know…
London's biggest houseboat is available for short-tem lets via Smarter Stays
From the outside, the 1930s steel barge looks like any other boat moored in the marina. Upon crossing the ramp and unlocking the door, however, you're immediately transported into Tardis-like luxury. Matrix Island offers an impressive 5,000 square feet of living space, and sleeps up to ten people in its five bedrooms, all tastefully decked out in minimalist nautical decor.
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The view upon entering (pictured below) is quite something; you're met with an open-plan living room/kitchen/diner featuring ample entertaining areas and modern appliances, leading out to an outdoor deck perfect for dinner parties. Moving down to water level via the central flight of stairs, there is a cosy living room centred around a fireplace and comfy cream sofas, leading onto a corridor with a seemingly endless web of bedrooms and ensuite bathrooms spilling off it. I couldn't get over the sheer amount of space!
The 130-foot long barge feels like a Tardis
I picked the quirkiest bedroom with a queen-sized bed nestled in a cubby hole, boasting the most amazing views overlooking the water. Making the most of the experience, I woke up with the sun, enjoying the morning light and eerily quiet marina as birds floated right past my bed. All the spacious rooms (fully equipped with everything from hairdryers to desks and even a film projector) had floor-to-ceiling glass windows and giant wardrobes.
The five bathrooms were equally epic with dark wood providing a cohesive, maritime look. Each has its own unique features, including a working sauna in the largest en suite. I especially loved the little nautical touches like artwork, porthole doorways and telescopes dotted around the barge - seaside chic without going overboard (pardon the pun).
Space isn't an issue on board the five-bed, five-bath barge
Matrix Island provided us with a great east London base from which to explore. St Katharine's Docks is right next to Tower Bridge and right on the Thames, making it a tourist's dream with all the main attractions just a stone's throw away. Popular options include visiting the Tower of London, taking a river cruise from St Katherine's Pier or enjoying the Tower Bridge Experience. If you're not new to London and are just there for the thrill of staying on a swish houseboat, there's plenty to enjoy on your doorstep.
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Emilia's Crafted Pasta is just across the marina – I've long been a fan as the fresh pasta is to die for – or you could visit Bravas Tapas for Spanish food, which is perfect for a larger group. The boat is nestled right behind The Dickens Inn, a popular pub that will easily see you while away a few hours.
Matrix Island also boasts its own sauna!
The eco-friendly perks
The houseboat is being rented out by Smarter, a newly-launched company specialising in high-end, short-term lets. Smarter is on a mission to offset the carbon footprint of all their stays via funding to their Stay For Good Foundation.
The idea is that service fees are smaller, meaning you can book London's finest homes for less through Smarter instead of traditional listing sites. If it's helping reduce carbon emissions, I'm all for it.
We were so impressed with the open plan living spaces
Upon arriving at the venue, I was given a spiel about the central heating system being eco-friendly, all controlled by a nifty little hub. This proved a little tricky to operate in practice, however, when it came to hot water for showers in the morning.
You're encouraged to recycle your waste upon leaving, and all the cleaning products under the sink were eco-friendly.
If you're looking for a showstopper to impress both your friends and your Instagram followers, this is the accommodation for you.
The views over St Katharine Docks are worth waking up early for
Matrix Island definitely packs a major wow factor punch. I kept details of the venue under wraps and the look on people's faces was priceless as they came through the door.
We spent a ridiculous amount of time taking photos of the swanky interiors and stunning water views from the floor-to-ceiling windows, so come prepared to take lots of snaps for the 'gram. The boat is seriously big... so big in fact that you might not want to leave it at all!
The outdoor deck is perfect for dinner parties
I will say, however, you'll need to be very careful as the barge is decked out in all white – cream sofas, white walls and, horror of horrors, white carpets. So in order to avoid becoming the fun police, red wine and shoes inside should ideally be avoided.
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The uniqueness of the venue is definitely its selling point, offering a luxury short stay experience at a more affordable price point - and knowing you're using a company committed to offsetting their carbon footprint is a real bonus.
For more information about Matrix Island and Smarter, visit book-smarter.com.