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SiloStay, New Zealand

For quirky eco-luxury, bunk down in a grain silo, a stylish conversion on the Canterbury plains of New Zealand's South Island.

You can stay in a transatlantic liner in California, an oil rig in Malaysia, or a prison cell in Berlin. But it took a visionary from New Zealand's Canterbury province - famous for its extensive grain plains - to create a hotel out of grain silos.

Stuart Wright-Stow, of Little River, halfway between Christchurch and the popular tourist destination of Akaroa, has a long track record of inspired design through F3 Design, which he runs with his children, Pippin and Ella. At Little River, his SiloStay complex offers sleek designer accommodation in nine silos operating as serviced apartments. The keyword in the SiloStay experience is "bonhomie". "There's not enough bonhomie around these days," says Wright-Stow. "It's fundamental to hospitality, so why don't more establishments display a few touches of idiosyncrasy to appeal to human perception?"

His eye for dramatic architecture has changed the appearance of Little River's main street, where he and his wife Ange run an art gallery in a dramatic building that also houses a store and café.

Wright-Stow admits to having a brain that is wired in such a way that he has to ponder alternative uses for everyday things. "There's something very sociable about silos," he says. "You see them standing around in fields in little groups looking like they're having a conversation. They're convivial on the outside and warm and inclusive on the inside."

The silos stand nearly nine metres tall and have two floors connected by an interior curved stairway that follows the contour of the silo wall.

The lower floor has a living area, kitchen and toilet, while the upper floor features a queen bed, shower and balcony that juts from the exterior wall like an open drawer. Natural macrocarpa timber flooring and whitewashed plywood panels break the corrugated lines of the steel. Furniture and fittings provide splashes of bright industrial colours that echo the palette of the farm equipment shed. The clever skylight lid is opened by a simple lever mechanism. Each silo is positioned for private views over bush or farms.

Rooms from about $160. SiloStay, State Highway 75, Little River, Canterbury, New Zealand. +64 27 325 1977.


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