It was the table that caught my attention on AirBNB. It is a massive picnic table style solid wood sculpture. The picture did not show that it was set in a 110 square metres kitchen overlooking a large terraced garden with spectacular views across the countryside. Rockaway House is a spectacular self-build in a great location with beautiful rooms and lush communal spaces filled with plants, passion and musical instruments.
Price: £30 (twin) – £45 (double) per night
Included in the box: A double room with en-suite shower room or twin with shared bathroom, free parking, use of the kitchen, lounge and outdoor areas, coffee and tea.
Paid extras available: Vegan meals on request by prior arrangement
Airbnb host, Marta “moved from Poland to the UK in 1998 and lived in London until several months ago when I met my partner Mark and ditched the city to become a country girl.” The house is situated in large grounds that also has a scrapyard and “another part of the site is populated by friends engaged in Circus, Theatre and Prop work for places such as Glastonbury, Boomtown festivals etc.” Read more on Airbnb.
The house is an eco-self build, the owners are vegan and have made very creative use of the space and grow their own vegetables.
The Ergohacks Evaluation
Rockaway is accessible to people with diverse abilities. It is a warm and welcoming place with an unique artistic design throughout the large, open rooms that invite adults and children of all ages.
It’s design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and circumstances. Check-in and check-out was flexible and plenty of options were available. Guests can have as little or as much contact with the hosts, make use of the extensive communal spaces as much or little as they like and spend as much or little time in their room as they prefer.
The rooms are cool on a hot day, very comfortable and let in enough light to be pleasant in the day, but dark at night. There is no light or sound pollution.
There is a cat or two that live in the house and no dogs are allowed.
The kitchen is meat-free, soya milk is provided (if not suitable, bring your own non-dairy alternative which can be stored in the kitchen fridge) and rooms are fitted with a fire alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and there is a first aid kit on-site.
Rockaway house is a versatile space open to a large range of people with varied interests, requirements and accommodates different or changing circumstances.
Rockaway has an ergonomic design with mostly level access and the facilities, including the kitchen and bathroom, can be used efficiently, comfortably and with minimal exertion.
There is a small half-step at the threshold, which should be fine for manual wheelchairs, but not electric ‘chairs. Wheelchair users have access to the atrium and bedrooms, but there is a small step from the atrium to the kitchen space and another to the south-facing terraced garden. The en-suite is small and not wheelchair accessible and the lock on the door is high near the top. The kitchen work surfaces are quite high with high shelves, but assistance available and during our stay there was someone in the kitchen area from 7 am until after 10pm.
There are many free-standing items and it isn’t possible to hold onto the walls when walking, but the space is large and the walkways are clear. The switches, shower and toilet is standard and the taps are ergonomic with adapted handles that make them easy to use even with dexterity issues. A choice of seating is available with and without a back, soft and rigid seats, but there is none with comprehensive back or neck support.
It is a beautiful house with facilities that most users will find comfortable and ergonomic.
Environment & People
Rockaway house is an eco self-build with owners that are environmentally conscious and vegan. Recycled, reused and repurposed materials are heavily used and guests are invited to join in their lives and lifestyle.
There are many walking paths nearby as well as good public transport links despite the rural location, but the house is built on a steep hill and walkers will require at least a basic level of fitness, physical ability and endurance.
Rockaway House is a cost-effective choice. It is a unique venue, no additional charge for extra occupants and the little things are included – shampoo, soap, towels, bedding and complementary hot drinks. It offers very good value for money and similar guesthouses has a much higher overnight rate.
It is admirable to see a quirky eco house at a price that welcomes a much larger set of guests who can afford to stay overnight.
Travel season: Summer
Location: Temple Cloud
Booking: Airbnb accessible on-line booking, correspondence through e-mail
Check-in Time: Flexible by arrangement
Check-out Time: Flexible by arrangement
Temperature: There is no air-conditioning in the summer, but the windows face into the hill and when open lets in a cool breeze on hot days. The atrium gets hot on summer days, but the kitchen remains quite cool and with the large oak trees on the property, cars are parked in deep shade and when in the shade, it is cool even on a very hot day. Our room was fitted with a radiator for winter use.
Two rooms currently available – a double with small en-suite and twin with shared bathroom. Extra guests, including children, can be accommodated on request.
Sleep quality is fantastic. There is no light or noise pollution, the mattress was supportive, pillows firm, the bamboo bedding soft and luxurious and the room temperature perfect. The bedroom has glass doors with a curtain that does let in some light and a large window with a bamboo roller blind.
Recommend packing: For those who require absolute darkness to sleep, bring a sleep mask or black-out material to place over the glass doors and windows.
Shower and dress
The en-suite was perfectly adequate with a shower (with small step), sink with adapted handles and standard toilet. If the door is open, there is just about enough space for someone to provide assistance in the bathroom. There are no grab rails fitted and the toilet paper is not on a roll.
It is a perfectly compact bathroom with soap, shampoo, conditioner and plenty of towels provided.
Recommend packing: Own body products for those reluctant to share reusable containers with other guests. Extra toilet paper – there was less than half a roll for a 2-night stay in our room (I am sure the owners would happily have replenished on request, but we always pack essentials when traveling and didn’t ask).
The kitchen is available for use, including basic ingredients like soy milk, coffee and tea. We were offered freshly ground coffee regularly and meals are available by arrangement for an additional fee.
There are many restaurants, pubs and places to eat nearby, as well as a small shop in Temple Cloud that sells basic convenience foods. Farrington’s, a fantastic farm shop with cafe and play barn is also nearby and sells many delicious things.
Recommend packing: Small travel kitchen, like a Mealkit 2.0 for opening, slicing and eating snacks and light meals.
Connectivity: Internet access via an open wifi access point is included. This was slow but serviceable. Signal in the room was spotty but good in the atrium.
Electric: There are multiple sockets in the room, but no desk space and few vertical surfaces.
Rockaway House is unique, quirky, inspirational and beautiful. It is a generous space filled with creative energy. From the moment we made the sharp turn up the hill to the house until we said goodbye to a very friendly cat and closed the huge front door behind us on our way out, we felt inspired by it.
It is a tranquil haven for a weekend getaway, great place to sleep whilst appreciating the local area by day and most definitely a place we would love to visit again.
The review is based on a 2-night stay in a double bedroom with en-suite during August 2015. First published on 20 September 2015.