Cruising in luxury on Britain’s historic waterways

Cruising Britain’s beautiful history-steeped canals and rivers is a very memorable and special experience in itself. However, when you then add in the luxury of an impressive super-size Hotel Boat, Kailani, 5 star accommodation and exceptional hosts, you will be booking your next trip before you have even got off the boat back onto dry land.

For myself, someone with very little experience of life on the waterways, locks or towpaths, a short break meandering through the Warwickshire countryside on Hotel Boat Kailani was the perfect option for getting a taste of this idyllic lifestyle – and it certainly left me wanting more, and recommending the experience to my family and friends.

Kailani was named by Gordon, husband of Dorenda, who together make-up ‘Team Kailani’, and was chosen for the meaning of the word ‘sea and sky’. Together they made their palatial floating dream, the perfect lifestyle business, a reality, bringing them both back to the UK following meeting while working in hospitality and management in Spain.

The impressive duo have the most remarkable work ethic; nothing is too much trouble, they are friendly and warm, and I can only imagine the effort which must go on behind-the-scenes to guarantee their guests have a seamlessly wonderful time, cooking beautiful meals, ensuring guests comfort – all while negotiating river bends, steering and operating the locks – and in all conditions, no matter what the weather.

Kailani is the newest of only three 5 star hotel boats in England and her route covers the widest geographical area, spanning four canals and three rivers. Kailani cruises from Birmingham to London, around London’s canal network, out to Hertford and Bishop’s Stortford, along the navigable River Thames to Lechlade in Gloucestershire and from Reading to Bristol. A modern luxury wide beam hotel boat – five feet (1.5 metres) wider than a traditional narrowboat – cruising Southern England’s waterways, she sleeps up to four guests in two spacious cabins, each with private en-suite facilities, and with the touches you would expect from 5 star accommodation but with an ever-changing location that you wouldn’t get elsewhere.

All home comforts can be found aboard Kailani including full central heating, power for electrical appliances, Wi-Fi throughout and a comprehensive entertainment system complete with satellite TV and DVD. Filtered water and fresh fruit are also available throughout the day.

The home-cooked food, homemade scones, cakes and biscuits prepared for you throughout the day are simply delicious – the menu changes daily, including dishes such as Peach, Parma ham and mozzarella bruschetta for lunch, and for dinner, asparagus rolls with herb butter sauce for starters, chicken breast stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes and pesto, wrapped in prosciutto ham served with new potatoes and steamed vegetables for your main course – followed by Blueberry baskets with white chocolate sauce.

3 Highlights of the Trip

Sitting out playing cards on Kailani’s padded-seating, open bow deck as it sailed in style along the historic canals and rivers, taking in the sights and sounds of the waterways, and seeing the most beautiful blue kingfisher.

Taking out the bicycles, cleverly stored on the boat roof, a great way to venture off and explore the nearby surroundings, before meeting up again with the boat at a next lock.

Helping the wonderful hosts, Gordon and Dorenda, with the locks. It is enjoyable to learn, and as a major part of this idyllic lifestyle, it feels good to get involved. The stairgate locks, (a set of several locks together) are especially fun, as well as being an excellent form of exercise!


Further information:

Kailani has two spacious cabins for guests – one double and one twin. Both cabins have private ensuite shower rooms. Cabins are fully carpeted and include bespoke, pocket-spring mattresses, high quality bed linens, fluffy towels and robes, toiletries, wardrobe, dressing table and storage.

After a busy day of sights and experiences, guests will be lulled to sleep by the sounds of nature and lapping water against Kailani when she is moored for the night. There is also a spacious lounge and dining area, with a hardwood floor, comfy sofas and a selection of board and card games and DVDs – an ideal place to relax after a delicious dinner and a day spent cruising or exploring the local area by bike or on foot.

Kailani was awarded the prestigious Lionel Munk Trophy for the best commercially built boat in 2013. She was built and fitted out by Aqualine Marine Ltd, Europe’s foremost wide beam boat builder.

Dorenda and Gordon would be happy to discuss Kailani’s suitability for guests with specific accessibility needs, having previously welcomed guests with mobility scooters and other aids. Dorenda and Gordon welcome families with children. Pets may also be accommodated.

Prices start from £445 per person, based on a 3 night stay in a Twin Cabin. Double and/or Twin Cabin available, and prices include all on-board meals and accommodation and wine or soft drinks with dinner.

Kailani spends April to October each year exploring a route which covers 1,250 miles. Guests can choose the length of their stay and the areas they’d like to cover from the available itineraries detailed on Kailani’s website (


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