Most Innovative Airline and Airport Initiatives Get Top Nods

From the industry's first in-flight double bed, to the debut of facial recognition and self-boarding gates at one of the busiest airports in the world, the world's most pioneering airports and airlines were recognised at a recent event that looks towards the future of travel.

At the Future Travel Experience Awards held in Las Vegas last week, Qatar Airways, KLM, Heathrow and Oslo airports were among the standout winners for bringing innovative new products to the market and shaking up the air travel experience.

The big winner of the evening was Qatar Airways, which took home two awards including best baggage initiative and "best up in the air" initiative, for their QSuite, the industry's first double bed for Business Class.

The customisable suite was described as a game-changer when it debuted earlier this year, for its ability to transform into a four-seat configuration, as well as a double bed.

The individual suites feature sliding doors for privacy, ambient mood lighting and movable TV monitors.

London's Heathrow Airport took the award for best gate initiative for its facial recognition technology at Terminal 5, where 36 biometric-enabled self-boarding gates have helped expedite the boarding process for domestic passengers traveling British Airways. Plans are in place to install more than 300 self-boarding gates across Heathrow Airport in the coming year.

Dutch carrier KLM also took to the stage to receive the award for best passenger assistance initiative for their "outstanding use of social media during the travel process." Flyers can access booking confirmations, check-in notifications, boarding passes and flight status updates in 10 languages on Facebook, Twitter and WeChat, and contact the airline 24/7 via their social media channels.

And for its sustainable, green initiatives, Norway's Oslo airport was named the best airport terminal design. Earlier this spring, the airport opened a newly expanded terminal building featuring a 300m skylight, panoramic curved glass windows, green, living walls and water features that earned it the title of world's greenest airport terminal. It's the first airport building to be awarded an "excellent" in the BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) rating. - AFP Relaxnews

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Can I Modify a Double Bed Frame to Accept a Queen Mattress?
if it's metal, you are stuck. Wood, you could maybe fix it a little but it would take some work. Might as well go buy a new one1. Cheap queen bed frame for guest room?Have you thought of going to your local Goodwill Industries to get the bed frame & headboard you need? Give it a try. The items taken in have to be in good shape & if any cleaning is needed, the employees their do so. Check it out, what do you have to lose? You may find some good used power tools while you are there. fyi: If the Goodwill does not have what you need when you first go there, call there often or ask if they could call you when a frame & headboard come in. edit: Have you ever heard of Freecycle.com? You get on the internet, type in freecycle.com, type in a few things, then wait a day or two, to get e-mails. People want things or are giving things away, & it's all "free." You can type up an e-mail, tell what you are looking for, & watch for many e-mails from Freecycle to come in. You will be on a list so you will get to see what people are asking for/giving away. Again, it's all FREE. Just e-mail the person back, & arrange a place/time to pick up your items. Maybe someone will have some power tools to give you too.2. Sanding and finishing a bed frame?I just did this and I used a really cool metallic spray paint. You do not have to prime and its is a lot faster than using a brush. The metallic spray I used was a rustic "hammered" look, but they have lots of other colors and kinds at paint or home improvement stores. It gave my wood dresser and night stand a lot of character. If you are sticking with a solid white or black then you probably should prime and use the old bucket and brush3. What can I put under wood bed frame legs to stop?you should be able to go to a hardware store or wal-mart and find some rubber furniture floor protectors. they have a sticky back to adhere to bed leg and wo not move or damage floors4. Would white night stands go with my cherry colored bed frame?I think they might work. I think they are pretty. If once you get them they do not look right you could always paint them. Also, maybe you could use them someplace else in the home or switch light wood ones you may already have (such as small end tables)5. what kind of bed frame??from the picture and what I can see (sorry, really bad one) you cannot see what type of bed frame but a headboard of some sort so it's either a headboard with rails or a headboard with a platform6. Painting metal bunk bed frame?Painting Metal Bed Frame7. can you put a king size mattress on a queen sized bed frame?I think it will be both, because queen is a long and king is wide8. What can I do with a twin bed frame to match a Star Wars Themed Room?Paint it Grey, put a few modeling touches and sculpt the legs like AT-AT legs9. Bed frame came apart, Cant get it back together...looks like this...?that website shows a matt covered with a sheet, not bed frame. try Goodwill, and any other store that handles old furniture or donated goods10. What sort of pin or screw do I need to fix this bed frame? Pic included?You would have to get the diameter and length but the head and thread type is right. plus the nut that goes on the other side of the bolt. you can get them at any hardware store or big box store Lowes etc.11. How can I remove stickers from metal bed frame?nail varnish remover - use sparingly12. do I need a box spring with this platform bed frame?Just buy a sheet of plywood to go under the mattress and that will eliminate the spaces. Cost is about $2013. I just bought a new bed and the bed frame broke ... Why won't landlord fix it?Because the landlord is only spose to take care of permanent fixtures in ur place...not ur own furniture...things that belong to him are his responsibility!
Rich Pickings at Lime Wood
Lime Wood would be the perfect hideaway for Sir Fred Goodwin.Set in the New Forest, this country-house hotel and spa offers not only the last word in luxury but the last word in privacy.Originally the site of a 13th-century hunting lodge, it has been five years (and £30 million) in the rebuilding. It officially opens on Monday.Has it been worth the wait? You bet. You'd be hard pressed to find anywhere as close to London and yet so seemingly remote.As you'd expect of a venue designed by David Collins (the Wolseley, the Connaught Bar), the decor and furnishing is stunning.We stayed in the Ash Suite, a self-contained pavilion on two floors that backs on to its own grove.It has a private suite and spare bedroom downstairs with a double bedroom and bathroom upstairs.The colours on the upper floor are exquisite (soft lime walls offset by a black lacquered ceiling), the wooden flooring gives it a light, modern feel, and pride of place goes to a freestanding bath in a bay window at the foot of the double bed.There are few better places from which to watch the autumn leaves turning colour than in the New Forest.Every feature was eye-catching, from the stylish drinking glasses to the handsome desk-cum-dressing table to the one carefully distressed mirror. I could have done with a tad more daylight but that is the price you pay for unparalleled privacy.The attention to detail is impressive, from the wooden toothbrushes to the twig pencil on your bedside table. The forest setting is echoed by tree lamps in the downstairs suite.The hotel proper feels compact (there are 17 suites, and 12 bedrooms all individually styled) and looks onto parkland.No expense has been spared - the central courtyard is covered by a retractable glass roof - and you will covet something in every room, be it the silk wall hangings, the leaf chandelier or the quirky objets d'art.The management - Robin Hutson, formerly co-founder of the Hotel du Vin Group, is chairman - aims for "laid-back luxury." This also applies to the cuisine provided by Michelin-starred chef Alex Aitken.The menu is British fare, focusing on local, organic produce (two-course dinner £38, three courses £48).Highlights were his signature starter: pork belly with griddled prawns on bok choi, and lime and ginger sauce.Sadly, the adjoining Daylseford spa is not open until next summer (a temporary spa is currently available).By then Lime Wood will surely be one of the best luxury hotels in southern England. I can't wait to go back. Yes, it's that special.Lime Wood (023 8028 7177, www.limewoodhotel.co.uk), Beaulieu Road, Lyndhurst, Hampshire SO43 7FZ. Double rooms from £225 room only.
Spice Up Your Life: Stay Overnight in the Iconic Spice Girls Bus, now Listed on Airbnb
It's time to spice up your life, really.Spice Girls fans can now stay in the original Spice Bus from the 1997 movie "Spice World" for a limited time in June-just in time for the highly-anticipated Spice Girls tourstop in Wembley Stadium in London.Suzanne Godley, a Spice Girls megafan, listed the bus on Airbnb."The Spice Girls were my childhood obsession," Godley said in a statement. "My parents were subjected to my tone-deaf performances as Baby Spice, and I must have watched the Spice World movie hundreds of times. And while I have grown up over the years, I don't think I've ever grown out of my love for them."When Godley's boss told her he was considering buyingthe Spice Bus, she wanted to be part of the renovation process."We've worked hard over the past few months to turn the bus into a home, in keeping with its legacy, and I'm so excited to open it up to the public with the support of Airbnb," she added.The bus will be located in the Wembley Park area of London and will be available to book for June 14 and 15 for roughly $127 per night, starting May 22 at 8 a.m. local time. It features "pink Union Jack cinema chairs below a 'Girl Power' neon light installation, and is fully stocked with vintage '90s magazines and CDs. Only three guests will be able to stay at a time, and no pets are allowed. Guests are required to don '90s-era clothing (yes, double denim is allowed) and selfies in the driver's seat are encouraged. The space includes one single bed and one double bed."I'm a huge fan of the band and have tried to include as many little touches as possible inspired by the girls and their music, to make the inside just as iconic as the outside!" Godley wrote in the listing."Inside, guests will have the run of both floors, which have been lovingly renovated with little nods to each of the Spice Girls and some fairly bold interiors."As for some caveats: The bus doesn't include Wi-Fi, and guests will only be able to use a temporary bathroom (the bus itself doesn't include one). It includes a number of steps and is not handicap-accessible. "I'm looking for guests who share my love of the Spice Girls, have a verified Airbnb profile and have great reviews," she wrote in the listing.More: Marriott goes after Airbnb with its own home-rental business, reports sayMore: You can spend the night in a giant potato in Idaho
Raped, Tortured then Told: You Are Going to Die Slowly ...
A 16-year-old schoolgirl was "executed" and her teenage friend left for dead by a drug gang out for revenge, a jury has been told.Yesterday Reading Crown Court heard how the gang kidnapped and raped the girls, forced them to smoke heroin and crack cocaine and tortured them with knives, boiling water, kicks and punches, it was alleged.After an ordeal that lasted hours in a tiny hotel room the girls were driven in the boot of a car in the dead of night to a park where they were made to kneel with pillow cases over their heads.Mary Ann Leneghan was told that her death would be slow. She was repeatedly stabbed as she collapsed to the ground.Her friend lifted her pillow case to see Mary Ann curled up in a ball, screaming in agony, as her attacker continued to plunge a knife into her.Then the second girl, aged 18, was asked: "Are you ready to die yet?" She was shot in the forehead before her attackers fled, believing both to be dead."Miraculously", the second girl survived. She regained consciousness and saw Mary Ann on the grass, making gasping noises. In a dazed state she stumbled out of the park and into the path of a man walking to work, who raised the alarm.By the time police found Mary Ann, in Prospect Park, Reading, she had been dead for 15 minutes.Her family held their heads in their hands and wept as the gruesome events of the night of May 7 last year were recounted by Richard Latham, QC, prosecuting, to a distressed jury.He said that a gang of six men held the two girls responsible for one of their number being attacked by another group of men who robbed him of his drugs.Adrian Thomas, 20, said the girls had "set him up" and recruited five friends in south London to exact a dreadful revenge, it was alleged. They found the two girls sitting in a car chatting to a friend outside a disused pub in Reading. They forced them to get out, bundled them into the boot of a car and drove to the Abbey House guest house in the town.In room 19, not much larger than the double bed it contained, they spread towels on the floor to soak up blood. The girls were made to strip and were repeatedly punched, kicked and stabbed with the points of knives.While Mary Ann was raped in a shower cubicle the other girl was sprayed with boiling sugared water which stuck to her body before she, too, was raped, it was claimed.Both were forced to perform oral sex and to smoke drugs. The men laughed and encouraged each other."Most seriously of all," said Mr Latham, the girls "were told throughout that they were going to die that night when the men had finished with them." They were told: "You must have known that we would come for you." The prosecution has based its case on the account of the surviving girl, who will be a witness later in the trial. "What she describes is simply horrific," Mr Latham said.He said that both girls were "not without their faults". Mary Ann regularly "bunked off" school and neither was the sort of girl you would find "tucked up in bed at 10 o'clock at night", he said. They were "young and naive".The girls knew Thomas, who had rented a flat in Reading. It was there that he was attacked and robbed. He blamed the girls for letting his attackers in by leaving a door open. Mr Latham said that when the gang found the girls in the car, one remarked: "Both of them at the same time. Just the two girls we've been looking for." Once in the hotel they were subjected to "violence and degradation" over a long period.Mr Latham said that not all of the gang members took part in everything that went on in the room and not all were present when the girls were taken to the park. But "they acted together in a joint enterprise to torture and kill these young women".Thomas, Michael Johnson, 19, Jamaile Morally, 22, Joshua Morally, 23, and Llewellyn Adams, 24, all from south London, and Indrit Krasniqi, 18, from west London, all deny the murder of Mary Ann and the attempted murder of her friend, who cannot be named because she is the victim of alleged sexual assaults.They further deny kidnapping, grievous bodily harm and rape.The trial continues.
10 Most Romantic Places in the Uk
Britain can be incredibly romantic. Not the obvious stuff like the Tower of London, Stonehenge, or Shakespeare's Stratford. But there are many, many gorgeous little hideaways and beauty spots that most tourists never see. Here are 10 of the most romantic places to spend a couple of days, from quirky to posh, urban to remote. Whichever you choose, I guarantee no coach parties.Red Kite Tree Tent, Wales For a unique glamping experience, Red Kite Tree Tent looks like a magic ball hanging amongst the forest. It's actually the UK's first tree tent, a lightweight 3m sphere containing a double bed that folds away during the day to create a sofa. Outside, you have a gas camping stove, a sink with running water and shower cubicle. There's a toilet, fire pit and barbecue beside a nearby stream. Three nights cost from £385 ($599) with welcome food hamper.The Scarlet Hotel, Cornwall The Scarlet is a beautiful, adults-only, eco-friendly hotel overlooking Cornwall's Mawgan Porth Beach - like a little bit of Australia on your doorstep. With clifftop hot tubs, a natural reed-filtered swimming pool and an Ayurvedic-inspired spa - all with panoramic views over the beach and Atlantic Ocean - its perfect for couples who want to combine romance with pampering. Rooms start at £280 ($436) for a two-night minimum stay.Castle Cottage Treehouse, Sussex For couples that want to commune with nature, the Castle Cottage Treehouse has a double bed set between the branches of a giant sweet chestnut tree with a thatched roof and glass doors offering spectacular views of a Sussex wood. It's comfortable as well as cosy with a glass-roofed shower room and a large balcony with swing seats. From £160 ($249) per night with breakfast.The Beermoth, Inshriach House, Aviemore This 1956 Commer Q4 fire truck has been converted into a quirky bolthole for two on the beautiful Inshriach Estate.The Beermoth features an oak parquet floor, a Victorian double bed and wood burner. Nearby activities include fishing and swimming in the river and a sauna-in-a-horsebox tucked away on the estate. The truck for two costs from £68 ($106) per night.Anderby Creek, Lincolnshire Tucked between the small seaside towns of Chapel St. Leonard's and Sutton-on-Sea, the beach at Anderby Creek is a beautiful stretch of soft sand backed by dunes - perfect for bathing or strolling hand in hand. The beach is also home to the Cloud Bar which has a viewing platform with 'Cloud Menus' to identify the different formations, viewing mirrors and cloud-viewing seats where visitors can recline and watch the changing skies.Sykes Cottages has cosy cottages for two nearby.Hotel Gotham, Manchester The new Hotel Gotham in Manchester's central conservation area has naughty written all over it. It's set in one of the city's grandest, listed buildings - a former bank premises at 100 King Street, designed by Edwin Lutyens and referenced in Pevsner's Architectural Guide. Along with 60 sultry bedrooms, there's a restaurant, a prohibition-style bar and members-only rooftop club. Book an inner sanctum suite with private inner courtyards for maximum seduction. Doubles from £150 ($234).Harry's Hut, Studland Bay, Dorset The Pig on the Beach is one of those fine boutique hotels that come with romance guaranteed. If you like glamping, Harry's Hut is made up of two shepherd huts, one with a double bed and log burner, the other with a free standing bath. You can dine on locally sourced food up at the main house and indulge in spa treatments in a sheep hut. From £225 ($350) per night.Salcombe Hotel, Devon Overlooking Salcombe Estuary, the refurbished Salcombe Hotel features 50 new bedrooms with private balconies and panoramic sea views (some from a freestanding bath tub), a new Harbour Spa and a mouth-watering restaurant, complete with a Crustacean Bar, which offers fresh fish and seafood. Sea view doubles start from £345 ($537).Lantic Bay, Cornwall Sheltered in a cove along the south-east coast of Cornwall, Lantic Bay is a serene escape from the bustle of the county's more crowded beaches. You can only reach this hidden gem on foot. As you complete your descent into this secluded paradise you're presented with the glorious sight of a white sand beach and turquoise sea. Boutique Retreats has cottages for two nearby.The Birdcage, Cornwall This is one of most unusual cottages owned by the National Trust.The Birdcage in Port Isaac is a Grade II-listed three-storey pentagonal building with low ceilings, tiny rooms and a staircase that narrows to just over a foot wide in places. It sleeps two and has a terrace reached through the bathroom. It costs from £225 ($350) for two nights.
Sleep Under the Stars - in Jaw-dropping Style! From Utah to the Maldives, the Luxurious Hotel Beds T
Sleeping under the stars doesn't have to mean lying on backache-inducing hard ground.That's because there are a host of hotels around the world that offer guests luxurious beds outside. Or in the case of the Cabriolet Suite at L'Albereta in Italy , under a retractable roof.Here MailOnline Travel presents incredible bedrooms where a comfy mattress, a breeze and a view of the heavens come as standard.Tinyeleti Treehouse , Kruger National Park, South Africa Tinyeleti Treehouse is a hideaway on the Lion Sands Game Reserve in the Kruger National Park, South Africa, that will take your breath away.Built to match the height of the surrounding trees, you'll have an exquisite view of the Sabie River, which runs alongside.The deck itself is 50 square metres, and features a large double bed, a sofa, and a small table and chair for dining, plus toilet facilities. The cost per night is £226.Jamtara Wilderness Camp , Pench National Park, India The Machaan star bed is inspired by the age-old tradition of farmers sleeping outside so they're handy for shoeing animals away from their crops.Located on the edge of the jungle, you'll be able to spot plenty of animals from your four-poster bed, including leopards, wild dogs and the odd tiger, too. There are small villages in the surrounding area and a swimming pool and main dining room, available to all guests.Prices vary depending on the camp package you choose, but start from £273 per night for an all-inclusive experience with an added cost of £81 for the star bed.L'Albereta , Bergamo, Italy L'Albereta's Cabriolet Suite is the ultimate choice for those who want the pleasantries of a posh hotel, but want to stargaze too- because the bedroom has a retractable ceiling.Step onto the balcony, meanwhile, and views open up of the surrounding vineyards and Lake Iseo.Other amenities include a hydro-massage tub in your room and a day spa, which is open to all guests. One night's stay for two people is £267.Amangiri , Utah The luxurious Amangiri hotel is hidden away in the Utah desert, a few hours' drive from the Grand Canyon National Park. In your private Mesa Pool Suite, you will have the luxury of two beds - one inside and one outside on the rooftop terrace.Downstairs there is a private terrace with a fireplace, plunge pool, rain showers and personal bar. Additional enhancements for a romantic evening include champagne and traditional campfire s'mores.The price starts at approximately £3,826 per room per night.It includes breakfast, lunch and dinner for two guests, as well as guided hikes and group fitness classes.Las Ventanas al Paraiso , Baja California Peninsula, Mexico Las Ventanas al Paraiso is located in San Jose del Cabo in Mexico, on the Baja California Peninsula.The deluxe resort is on the edge of the beach and there are multiple open air beds to spend the night in, including one that offers access to a private pool and incredible ocean views.Around the resort, there's a plethora of options for daytime fun, including a spa and fitness center, multiple pools and a special tequila and ceviche bar. Prices vary depending on which suite or villa you choose, and there are also private residences available.Loisaba Star Beds , Laikipia, Kenya Part of the Elewana Collection, the Loisana Star Beds in Kenya feature hand-crafted four-poster beds on raised wooden platforms.Each bed has wheels underneath and can be rolled out from under a thatched roof and onto the terrace.Located in the middle of Laikipia county, upon arrival you'll be welcomed by Samburu and Laikipiak Maasai warriors.One night's stay for two people costs £357. For solo travellers it's £741 per night. The price is part of a full board package that includes alcoholic drinks, safari activities, guided bush walks, game drives and more.Forsthofalm , Austria Forsthofalm is an eco-hotel located in the Austrian Alps, with a special add-on for guests who want to sleep outdoors.In the midst of a woodland glade is a double bed, a small table and two chairs.After a night in their forest suite, guests can return to the hotel and enjoy facilities including a heated outdoor rooftop pool and complimentary yoga classes.The experience costs approximately £124, and includes a bottle of champagne.Tswalu Kalahari , Sou th Africa Tswalu Kalahari's sleep-out deck, Malori, which in the local language translates as 'dreamer', offers ample opportunity for stargazing - on a king-sized bed.Located in the middle of a game reserve, this five-star stay has a raised platform with a thatched overhang for protection. Guests can choose to sleep under the thatch or further along the deck under the night sky, with panoramic views of the vast plains of the Green Kalahari.The add-on experience, which is available to guests at the main Motse resort, costs approximately £374.Milaidhoo Island , Maldives As part of their stay at Milaidhoo Villa, which is in a Unesco Biosphere Reserve, guests can book a night on Milaidhoo Island, living as castaways on a private sandbank.But, with the grandeur of sleeping in a canopied four-poster bed and having a private yacht with hotel amenities on standby.A phone is also provided if any issues occur during the night.The opulent experience even begins before you're marooned on the island, with a sunset dolphin cruise and champagne served by a personal butler. And in the morning there's an option for a workout with a Milaidhoo Yogi. Prices start from £1,236.Tubu Tree Camp , Botswana Tubu Tree is part of a small camp site on the border of the Moremi Game Reserve, with eight beds available - each on a private wooden deck.You can explore the reserve during the day and night by car or glide along the waters on a traditional mokoro canoe. There's also an outside bar and a pool.The cost for a nine-night safari adventure through Scott Dunn starts from £9,495 per person, which includes three nights at Tubu Tree, as well as six nights on two other camp sites.Star Bed Experience at Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort , Mozambique Guests at the Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort in Mozambique can nod off under the night sky if they opt for the 'Star Bed' experience.The rate starts from £844 per room per night and includes helicopter transfers, full board and wine.Blissful tranquility awaits.
Meet the Chook Man of the River Murray
HE sails the River Murray on a houseboat that looks like a rubbish tip, all the while singing with a chicken on his head. No wonder that Frank Turton, 69, is known as "the chook man".He has sailed all sorts of things along the river, including "the fastest dunny on the Murray" - a toilet on a raft with an outboard motor.These days the wood carver-turned-river busker spends his days on his home-made houseboat - - complete with a chook house."I'm known as the chook man because I always had a chook," he says, with rooster Sir Shagalot perched on his head.The hens - named simply Chook One, Chook Two and Chook Three - waddle around the old boards of the houseboat, pecking at feed left out for them."I built a chook yard that you tow behind, but that went arse over head," Frank says. "It's in the Murray somewhere. Luckily the chooks survived. They just got wet."There are small vegie gardens on the sides of the boat, a lopsided loo and a double bed inside an old water tank.There is a wood-fired stove in the middle, next to a TV that is mounted inside a frame the shape of the nation - "central Australian television," Frank calls it.He loves his houseboat but his real love is singing and entertaining people."I've always wanted to sing ever since I heard Johnny Cash sing in 1956," he said.Frank and , along with a friend as a deckhand, have just arrived back from the boat's first big trip - to Mildura. "It took 12 days to get there from here," he says, with the boat now moored not far from his Paringa home.He confesses that of the six locks they had to pass through on the trip, they bumped into five.They also lost a day because they accidentally left a couple of chooks at a stopover and had to go back for them."On the trip, we were just inundated with people," he says. "I was singing and carrying on. We went past a caravan park at Wentworth and all the people came out to see us."To have people laughing is absolutely marvellous and this is what I want to do for the rest of my life."
Have You Got Room for One More on Top? | the Independent
Sean Ellis's new hi-tech flat was once the school badminton hall in a grand old converted building on the edge of Victoria Park in east London.When he bought it three years ago, the Edwardian fruitwood floor still had its original spring and was marked out with white court lines. But much of the charm – and the natural light on the lower floor where there are no windows – had been destroyed by the first developers who had unimaginatively turned an impressive lofty space into a rather boring two-storey box.Mr Ellis, a successful photographer, and his architects, Azman Owens, took a year to gut the flat, reclaiming at least some of the 35ft ceiling by cutting away the first-floor bedroom to form a higher, smaller but spectacular sleeping platform.Reached by two flights of steel-coated stairs – "WD40 and an emery board work wonders on keeping them clean," Mr Ellis says – the platform is open save for a waist-high glass parapet on one side and a huge bookcase reaching right up from the sitting room, on the other.Light can now stream down directly from the part-glazed roof into the sitting room far below or through an enormous clear-glass panel in the platform floor. Some 14ft long, the glass was so heavy it took 20 men to lift it, but unfortunately it cracked in the process and had to be cut in two.Yet despite all the glass and the lack of solid walls, the platform feels intensely private from the rest of the apartment, not least because it hangs 25ft high in the air. "I used to live in a really noisy flat in Old Street, and the constant traffic used to drive me mad," Mr Ellis says. "But the first night I slept up here it was such a relief. There's an incredible feeling of peace."The platform is level with a new roof-terrace, commanding views to the west, of Centre Point and the BT Tower, as well as the decorative stone urns on the old school roof. Down one flight of stairs to the rear of the apartment is the bathroom, set on another platform but cordoned off by a wall of cupboards housing Mr Ellis's precisely arranged collection of 75 pairs of (mostly Adidas) trainers.Behind the wall and sited directly above the kitchen is the bath, complete with underwater lighting. Cut into the kitchen ceiling like a conventional skylight, the bath is made entirely of clear glass (yes, really), again aimed at maximising light into the space below. But when in use it can still prove a somewhat alarming feature for unsuspecting guests."It's a bit like a luminous cage," Mr Ellis says. "Friends don't really want to come round here for a bath, knowing they'll be on full view to anyone in the kitchen. They're good friends, but not that good."In another recent conversion – of a former piano factory in Peckham, south London – the study had to double as a guest room, creating a jumble of office equipment, a sofa bed, and cupboards for the owners' shoe collection and work paraphernalia. A narrow room with high ceilings, it felt cramped and uninviting but was transformed with a custom-made desk and tall cupboards supporting a sleeping platform.Ia Hjarrde, of Dive Architects, says: "We created a narrow stairway up to the sleeping shelf, which is so large it carries a bed one and a half metres wide on it. It's a lot more comfortable and separate for guests than the old sofa bed arrangements. Now with tall, custom-made cupboards for the owners' things – including a special storage cupboard under the stairs for golf clubs – the room feels more spacious and calm and the proportions work better too."But while the high ceilings of loft spaces may provide the perfect conditions for a sleeping platform, with a bit of creative thinking, it is possible to carve much-needed extra space out of an ordinary house. Many classic British townhouses have plenty of loft space over their bedrooms that could easily be converted into a simple platform, accessible via a ladder. It's far less expensive than a traditional loft conversion, which in any case may not be possible in all houses; earlier Victorian houses frequently do not have enough loft space to create another floor. But where they are possible, the minimum cost is likely to be £25,000 to £30,000 and a full loft conversion take far more time to build than a platform. Building standards are much tougher too, particularly on the type of staircase used and fire regulations and you are likely to need to get planning permission.The usual method for creating a sleeping platform under the eaves is to support the platform using built-in steel beams (at a cost of between £5,000 and £10,000 and you should seek the advice of a structural engineer before starting) but an increasingly popular option is to build cupboards or tall chests of drawers underneath, with special handles-cum-rungs to climb, rather than a conventional ladder.The 10ft sq platform already built in the smallest bedroom in Rowena Gedye's early Victorian terraced house in West London was among the key factors in her deciding to buy the property 18 months ago.Now occupied by her 10-year-old son Ben, it provides him with a fun sleeping area in the eves while leaving the lower space free for play and study. Mrs Gedye says: "It was a particularly clever use of space, tucked away like that and meant that while my daughter got the bigger room Ben got something that is both fun and rather boyish. We've even talked about him having a rope ladder up to it so he can draw it up and be in his own little castle in the sky."The platform, at present reached by a wooden ladder through a hatch opening at one end, spreads out into the loft space over his sister's bedroom next door and partly over his own room, and is big enough for a double bed, chest of drawers and capacious storage. There is even enough room for a friend to stay on a sleep-over. And although walking upright is not possible, Ben can comfortably sit up in bed or on cushions on the floor."He stores all his most precious things up there, but there is still room for a suitcase or two of mine under the front eaves," Mrs Gedye adds. Ben says: "It's my exclusive little hideaway where I can express all my thoughts. I've got all my best stuff in it."In the Gedyes case, steel wires, rather than a conventional balustrade that might have looked obtrusive, are strung across the edge for safety. Steel or wood guard rails are also popular, as is thick glass sheeting for a more contemporary look, although a short stretch can cost £500 even before installation.The ceiling has been raised to the roof line in the whole room, not just over the bed, where a large skylight has been cut into the roof, but over Ben's desk in front of the window. That way the whole room feels airy, light and spacious. The ceiling has been insulated to keep it warm in the winter and cool in the summer.The previous owners used the platform for their au-pair, providing private sleeping and sitting quarters without intruding on the family. Before that, a teenage girl slept on the platform, which she adorned with fur rugs, opulent cushions and, eventually, her boyfriend.Azman Owens 020-7739 8191Dive architects 020-7407 0955
Homeless Mum Believes Modular Units Will Be 'a Waste of ...
Homeless mum Erica Fleming had hoped the Government would have had a re-think of modular housing and the significant costs associated with building the units.The 30-year-old has been living in a northside Dublin hotel with her nine-year-old daughter since June, and is disappointed to find herself homeless this Christmas. Erica believes modular homes are "a waste of time" and doesn't see them as the way forward in tackling the housing crisis.She said she would say "no" to modular housing if she was offered one.She believes the Government is steam-rolling the modular homes through without actually taking anything else into consideration, including both the views of local residents and homeless people. With Christmas coming, Erica said she won't have to spend it in the hotel."Family and friends have been good to us, and I actually have numerous offers for dinner on the day. It is very nice of people, so we are OK," she said.Erica and her daughter will visit a few different people."At the end of the day, Christmas is people's family day. I don't want to be a burden on anybody," said the Dubliner."I am looking forward to Christmas and so is my daughter."Erica doesn't know where she is on the housing list. However, she pointed out she may be waiting for another year or more for a home, due to the long waiting lists."They don't give you a time frame," Erica explained.In the meantime, until a home becomes available, she remains living in the hotel. There is a double bed in the room that she and her daughter share. "You make the most of the situation and at the end of the day, we could be so much more worse off. We could be in a hostel," she added.The Dublin Region Homeless Executive said it would not comment on individual cases.Irish Independent
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