Think you know the different types of barges? Know your Luxemotors from your Klippers? Our fantastic collection of 17 luxury hotel barges did not all start their lives as luxury hotels. From identifying different hull-styles to spotting triple deckers – here’s our guide to identifying the different types of barges, and why our guests return to their favourites year after year…
How to Identify Different Types of Barges
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The hotel barges in our 17-vessel fleet have a wealth of history behind them. Most of the vessels are owned by us, and others by experienced hands-on operators who work with us and meet our required high standards. You’ll find a wide variety of styles, sizes and pedigrees within the fleet, due to their specific purpose when originally built.
All of our different types of barge offer a similar cruising experience, with each having its own characteristics and personality. Styles will range from the feel of a traditional, classic cosy floating ‘country house’ with varnished wood and brass, rich textures and fabrics, and interiors to reflect the beauty of the region, to a more spacious contemporary appearance, designed with style and elegance in mind.
Each of our different types of barge have been awarded a cruise rating, with each category primarily referring to cabin sizing. Our Ultra Deluxe cruises enjoy very spacious cabin suites, comparable to luxury hotels. Deluxe barges offer comfortable, slightly smaller cabins, whilst our lead-in First Class barges enjoy compact but cosy cabins.
Vessel sizes also vary, mainly to conform with the dimensions of the locks on the different waterways on which we cruise. Size also influences the number of passengers which are carried, from 6 on our smallest barge, Nymphea, in the Loire Valley, up to 20 passengers on our largest vessel, La Bella Vita, cruising the Venetian Lagoon and River Po. Whatever the size or style, you can rest assured, the level of service remains impeccable throughout your stay.
Our Different Types of Hotel Barge
Most of the different types of barges in our fleet started life as cargo vessels carrying merchandise such as wine, timber or grain. Not only did these vessels serve different purposes before life as a hotel barge, but they also enjoy a variety of different hull styles. Today, these barges have been lovingly converted to offer the ultimate luxury boutique accommodation for small groups, whilst retaining their original character and heritage.
8-passenger Anjodi is a 1929 Luxemotor barge, and the founding member of our fleet – embarking on her first cruise with us along the UNESCO-listed Canal du Midi over 40 years ago. The single-deck design of the barge allows her to pass freely below the canal’s famously low stone bridges.
Originally designed to be towed by horse, the 8-passenger L’Art de Vivre – our oldest vessel – is an English barge, built in 1917 to carry munitions to the trenches of the Great War, before transporting Cognac along the Charente River. She was once owned by the Great Great Grandson of Napoleon!
6-passenger Nymphea’s Dutch Katwijker design, with its shallow draft, makes her the ideal vessel for navigating the beautiful sandy reaches of the River Cher in the Loire Valley. She is the only vessel to be able to cruise this magical waterway.
8-passenger Rosa is an old Dutch Klipper that was originally powered by sail only and carried different cargoes on the offshore waterways of Holland and Belgium.
Although purpose-built less than twenty years ago as a hotel barge, 12-passenger Spirit of Scotland’s contemporary style evokes that of the traditional Steamers that plied the lochs of Scotland in the 19th and early 20th centuries as post and passenger boats.