From a penthouse suite in Clifton to a shabby chic houseboat docked at Millennium Harbour, Bristol has some rarities when it comes to unique and quirky homes. Not only do they scream independence, they are also aspirational and affordable. Yes, you too, can own a slice of decadence via property haven Air BnB.
San Francisco based Joe Gebbia started up Air BnB with Brian Chesky and Nathan Blecharczyk in 2008 partly out of necessity, and partly to fill a gap in the market which aimed to bridge the hostel/hotel options available to travellers. With modest beginnings, featuring just three airbeds and a pop-tart breakfast (our preference would be the Smores variety), Air BnB grew to meet its demand, and now has rolled its concept out across 30,00 cities in over 190 countries, with an impressive portfolio of over 2,000,000 properties offered out by hosts.
Joe Gebbia also works in digital communications, strongly influenced by the work of Jean Prouve, Charles and Ray Eames, and the Bauhaus movement. Gebbia has long been immersed in the art of designing for the human experience and wanted Air BnB to offer a cohesive experience, guiding the user through a seamless process, connecting people to unique travel experiences.
For travellers, booking via Air BnB offers you full control – with the option to select your budget, special features and location. You can browse property profiles, meet the hosts (albeit virtually), connect with the home owners and make a booking – all without leaving the comfort of your own home. All of this, adds up to make Air BnB the preferred option for seeking alternative accommodation.
For hosts, registering your home on Air BnB is a simple process, with a one-off flat rate of 3% service fee when you confirm a reservation. Adding your listing page is free. Eligible hosts are protected to cover up to £600,000 with the Air BnB Service Guarantee. What’s there to lose?
Whether you’re living it up in a converted loft space in Brooklyn, or soaking up the atmosphere in front of a roaring log fire in the depths of Wales, Air BnB gives home owners a platform to promote their own unique spaces and find the people out there who will love and appreciate their homes, as much as they do.
Bristol has a wealth of luxurious properties up for grabs on Air BnB – from barge houseboats to eco-warrior cabins in the woods, there’s something for everyone. We’ve scouted out some of the most decadent and individual abodes on offer currently, and caught up with their owners to find out more about what inspired them to offer out their personal homes to – let’s face it – relative strangers.
Location: 20 minutes (by road) to Bath and Bristol.
Accommodation: Sleeps 16+.
Extras: Pool, Hot Tub, Spa, Gardens.
The Spa House forms part of the Manor House in Petty France, and was completed in 1812 – originally built for Robert Jenkinson, Prime Minister from 1812 to 1827 and 2nd Earl of Liverpool. Since then, the Spa House has been in ownership of the poet Wordsworth family, Lord and Lady Apsley and the Duke of Beaufort.
Although records date back to the early 19th century, the house does have a rich history that begins as early as 1480 – with original documentation existing for a windmill which occupied the site. Features of this period can still be seen today in the Eastern side of the house – with its beamed ceilings and mullioned windows.
The Spa House has featured in various television programmes and films, including Most Haunted (but don’t let that put you off) and has hosted guests over the years including Lord Wellington, Anthony Hopkins (hopefully not in his Silence of the Lambs days) and Emma Thompson.
Accommodation at The Spa House starts at £1100 per night (minimum 2 night stay) – for more information: http://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/3776715
Description: With spectacular views across the River Avon, Brecon Beacons and Avonmouth, Huntersdale offers accommodation for up to 8 people.
Location: Sneyd Park – Clifton, Bristol.
Accommodation: Sleeps up to 8.
Extras: Pool, Hot Tub, Gym, Treehouse, and Zipwire (for the young at heart!)
Tasmin Summers is an independent film producer, with her own film company, ‘Drummer TV’, on Whiteladies Road, Bristol. After moving to Bristol from London, 12 years ago, she discovered a real gem when on the property hunt. Tucked away in Hope Square, a beautiful Georgian building which hadn’t been sold for 250 years (still retaining its original features including an outside toilet) marked the beginning of Tamsin’s enduring relationship with property development, subsequently purchasing two properties, which she refurbished and rented out.
Tamsin also owns a house in Spain which she converted from what was originally a stable, for its far reaching views (not dissimilar to those across Long Ashton in Bristol) across the mountains and towards the sea. For Tamsin, it has always been the view that has been the main selling point for her, when deciding on a property either to make her home or for an investment opportunity. Huntersdale, available on Air BnB is Tamsin’s latest project.
“Being able to look down or across a vast space makes me feel most at peace. I had it at Hope Square too as the house looked over the city and river and across to Dundry. I got itchy feet and went looking for somewhere in Bristol with this kind of aspect. I found Huntersdale on the internet and the first time I went there, I knew this was the place for me.” Tamsin explains.
Huntersdale is situated in the Sneyd Park area of Bristol which is just a stone’s throw away from the Clifton Downs. When Tamsin purchased the property in the January of 2012, she was also in the midst of starting up her own production company in what would become ‘Drummer TV’. The project of Huntersdale turned into a mammoth enterprise, as Tamsin recalls:
“We moved into the basement at Huntersdale for the 6 months it took to refurbish the top level. I opened it all up, put in new floors and underfloor heating, I put on a new roof and solar panels, I built a new garage which we use as a gym/games room. Outside, I built a deck with lovely wood from Bali and took the giant shed by the disused pool down into the woods to make a great treehouse with a zip wire through the pines.”
A labour of love, Tamsin knew that it was the right decision to take on Huntersdale, and the long renovation process has now paid off, with Huntersdale offering 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms in the style of a ‘topsy-turvy’ (aka upside down) house. There is a 2 bedroom flat on the ground floor which Tamsin rents out:
“My favourite spot is probably sitting on the balcony and looking out to the river. You can see Wales one way and Leigh Woods ahead. Although the hum of the Portway is always there I quite like that, having a city background. I like the contrast of seeing the cranes at Avonmouth and feeling like I am in the countryside. I’m only ten minutes from the town centre but have wild deer in my garden – I love it.” Tamsin says.
Huntersdale really is a family home and a place which Tamsin has invested heart and soul into, with her childhood home bearing a significant influence on her decisions to create the home she has longed for:
“My one regret is that my Dad never got to see the house as he died soon after I bought it. He was an architect and we grew up in a house he designed which had massive windows and was solar heated. I have the dining table and Eames chairs that we had there. Sadly, my Dad never got to see it but I think he’d be happy with what we’ve done. I have stolen many of his design ideas.” Tamsin says.
Successfully proving that property development is a tangible and lucrative option in life, Tamsin now offers her home to rent via Air BnB.
“My plan has always been to make my houses work for me. I started small and grew. I’ve only been able to do that by having no emotional connection to the house. That is, until now – now I am totally in love with Huntersdale! Air BnB has allowed me to rent out my house in Bristol for the summer and go to Spain and vice-versa.” Tamsin explains.
Not only is Huntersdale the perfect pad for a luxurious, rural break with the added bonus of being right on the edge of the buzzing and vibrant city of Bristol, it has also proved very popular for photo shoots, film locations and other obscure bookings, as Tamsin tells us:
“I’ve had all sorts of great bookings – I had a girl who was learning to be a mermaid for a movie who hired out the pool to practice swimming with her mermaid tail. I also had a booking from a group who were being baptised in the pool.”
Photos: Mano at Good Spaces: www.goodspaces.co.uk
Accommodation at Huntersdale starts at £300 per night. For more information and to book: http://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/1337681
Description: Modern loft conversion in centrally located and creative hub of businesses and apartments overlooking the River Avon.
Location: Paintworks – Bath Road, Bristol.
Accommodation: Sleeps up to 3.
Extras: Wireless internet and intercom.
Paintworks is the vibrant hub of artists and creative businesses on the outskirts of Bristol, right on the edge of the River Avon. Within close proximity to the American Tube Diner and the vibrant Bocabar, you’ll find its convenience pleasantly surprising.
The River Loft is a spacious and modern conversion with a Japanese themed interior. Think clean, simple and industrial – a place to clear out the clutter and absorb some much needed clarity. Joe has taken the time to create a place of tranquility, though only a stone’s throw from the busy city centre of Bristol:
“It’s a spacious corner loft with very big windows, so it benefits from lots of natural light. It’s also great to throw open the double balcony doors and look out onto the river whilst having a morning coffee.” Joe says.
The River Loft has everything you could possibly need – from open-plan living to floor to ceiling windows, it is a convenient and comfortable choice for the creative person commuting from or visiting Bristol.
“I’m a bit of an addict when it comes to cutting out pics and ideas from architecture and boutique magazines and books so I’ve tried to make sure the River Loft is kitted out to a very high standard. Whether you are staying for a relaxing weekend or are heading to Bristol on business during the week I’m sure it will be a great space to kick back and relax in.” Joe says.
The River Loft offers stylish, industrial, open-plan living with a balcony overlooking the River Avon. It includes 20mb wireless internet, Sky TV, street art, large overhead rainfall shower and all the mod-cons. The River Loft also benefits from a free, dedicated on-site parking space based directly opposite.
We also LOVE the New York style Loft – open-plan loft apartment designed to be the perfect home away from home. With two double bedrooms and equipped with all manner of gadgets and mod cons, it’s ideal for discerning, corporate guests and weekend visitors looking for something a little extra.
Accommodation starts at £110 per night. For more information and to book: https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/6347144
Description: Secluded, characterful charm set in idyllic, rural surroundings.
Accommodation: Sleeps up to 15.
Extras: On-site spa, steam room and sauna, therapist, on-site catering and butlers, golf course, gym.
Ian and Joanna Brown own Henfield Barn, where they have lived since 2000. As their children grew up and eventually flew the nest, they decided to offer out their home to let via Air BnB.
The main building is a beautiful barn conversion, which has undergone a real transformation since its original state of disrepair when the Browns took it on. Ian, who works in the building trade, was able to renovate and save the building – with many original features still standing strong today.
“It was literally a pile of rubble when we bought it. It was originally a working farm in complete disarray. It took over a year to complete.” Joanna says.
Extending the kitchen, and landscaping the gardens was only a fraction of the aesthetic changes that Henfield Barn has seen. Since introducing a cover on the pool, it has opened up a whole new opportunity for letting their property out – with greater appeal to guests to come and stay not only in the summer months, but in the winter too.
Joanna is dedicated to creating a luxurious space for her guests to relax into. Choosing thoughtful interior design, and offering simple, quality homeware including Denby and Robert Welch crockery, she aims to generate a feeling of complete well-being:
“Our guests have the option to have a beauty therapist included in their stay, as well as a personal trainer in the gym and in-house taxi facilities, and on-site catering facilities. We offer the whole experience.” Joanna explains.
The barn offers six, en-suite bedrooms all of which are tastefully decorated with a simple Scandinavian alpine lodge feel – with plush, soft towels and crisp Egyptian cotton bed linen. With the option of your own personal, holistic therapist during your stay, this really is a retreat to escape from it all.
The original building, which dates back to the early 19th century still retains the original features from when it was a working farm. There is a photo album available for guests to flick through, documenting the renovation process from its original condition to completion. The most attractive part of this property is its unique location, allowing you to truly relax into your stay:
“Living next to the golf course, it’s as though you’ve got an extended garden. There is so much wildlife and Canada Geese fly over every day. It’s very tranquil here and there are some lovely walks nearby.” Joanna says.
Henfield Barn is situated in Coalpit Heath, just north of Bristol. Accommodation starts at £1000 per night. For more information and to book: https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/7588683