Whilst devastating for those employed by tourism and hospitality companies, pressing pause on our holiday and leisure time has given many time to rethink the way in which we travel.
In recent times, the ease and affordability of travel has encouraged the belief that the world is our oyster, and we can go wherever and whenever we want, with little thought spared on the vast ecological impact of global tourism. With less human movement globally during lockdown, the planet has literally calmed, with seismologists reporting lower vibrations from “cultural noise” than before the pandemic. As factories closed and motorways cleared, pollution belts shrunk over cities and industrial centres in country after country within days. It was almost as if the planet was breathing in a clean collective sigh of relief. With flight paths opening up again and restrictions on overnight stays lifted, it will be curious to see how eager we as a population are to return to the ways of old. Will there be a degree of caution before jumping back into business as usual, or a longer lasting more considered, sustainable approach to the way we travel?
Self catering apartments offer the ability to maintain social distancing practises, whilst also providing a welcome change of scenery.
After months of lockdown within our own four walls, the appeal of spending a few nights in a space you’re not already intimately acquainted with is naturally alluring. While hotels are having to modify their customer experiences, with the lingering threat of second pandemic waves hanging overhead, it is likely that self-service apartments, cottages and smaller, independent boutique offerings will thrive. These single or two household dwellings offer the ability to maintain social distancing practises, whilst also providing a welcome change of scenery and a chance to explore new surroundings.
Object: The Apartment, located on bustling Beech Road in the leafy South Manchester suburb of Chorlton, would certainly be a wonderful place to relocate for a few days. An extension of the Object lifestyle store below, owner Rachael Otterwell has filled the luxury self-catering staycation apartment to the brim with products curated from the store, ranging from organic skincare and soft waffle bath towels, to handmade coffee cups, books and magazines. Even the artwork on the apartment walls is also available to purchase. “When developing the concept, we thought what better way to showcase the wares we sell, than to create a luxury environment for people to enjoy seeing them in situ. Both the staycation and store help to market each other.”
She cites the modernist homes in Palm Springs she fell in love with on a recent US road trip, with their impactful angular features and stand-out colour schemes, as a key inspiration for the apartment’s unique style. “Although it’s tricky trying to introduce desert inspired interiors in a city as rainy as Manchester!” she concedes. “We’ve also been visiting Scandinavia since 2010, in particular Copenhagen, and will always have a soft spot for the simplicity of typical Nordic design.” The majority of the furnishings in the apartment are from their main Danish supplier, Ferm Living. “I think the innovation and execution of their design is just amazing.”
Rachael was also keen to promote local work by a selection of makers within the apartment, believing this to be the best way to experience what it is to live like a local in the Chorlton neighbourhood. “Rebecca Morris, a local ceramicist who specialises in wheel-thrown pottery, has made a selection of coffee cups for our guests to use. They feel so wonderfully warming in your hand, but are sturdy and robust enough to go in the dishwasher and be used many, many times over.” They are also available to purchase downstairs in the store.
For those wishing to venture outside the four walls of the apartment, Rachael has curated a whole itinerary of recommendations. “For a small suburb, there’s so much to do in Chorlton,” she says. “You can definitely fill a whole weekend with eating, drinking and exploring.” First up, she recommends The Creameries, headed by award-winning female chef Mary Ellen-Matague. The venue has a great selection of natural wines and offers an experimental dining experience focused on a seasonal, locally produced menu using unusual, rare ingredients. “Delicious, and like nothing you will have tried before,” she says.
Across the road from the apartment is Bar San Juan, a micro taverna specialising in Madrid style tapas, and the perfect place to spend an evening reminiscing about holidays spent under the Spanish sun. Bijou table-service cocktail bar Henry C also comes highly recommended. “Excellently made cocktails,” Rachael tells me. “What they lack in size, they make up for in strength!”
Beside regularly sleeping overnight guests, Rachael has always intended the apartment to host creative workshops and monthly gatherings for her engaged local community and beyond. While social distancing measures place restrictions on these plans for now, she is currently working on sprucing up the courtyard area outside the apartment to gauge its potential for hosting these workshops and events outdoors in the interim. “The aim is to expand our offering to include natural wine tasting evenings and supper/brunch clubs alongside their maker workshops schedule.”
⊗ Object apartment, 117 Beech Rd, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, M21 9EQ. View map
All images © Lucy Little Photography, used with permission