Boats to stay on in London


Boat stays are a great way to experience London. They're also very popular with tourists, so it's easy to find information about them online. This guide will give you a basic overview of what boat stays are, how they work and why they're so popular with visitors from all over the world. We'll focus on boats to stay on in London, particularly central London.
You'll experience something really special by staying in this type of accommodation in London so we cannot recommend it highly enough, but then of course we are a boutique barge business!

Planning Your Trip

  • Choosing the right boat stay
  • Budgeting for a boat stay
  • Understanding the regulations and restrictions
  • Walking distance to key locations

What to expect from a Boat Stay

There are several different types of boat accommodation in London so do read the listing very carefully, and don't be distracted just by free wifi! Some boats are shared accommodation so you might just be renting a double bedroom, which may or may not have an en suite bathroom. Many boats are full houseboats which will be solely for your group as your own entire boat. This is how we offer our boats and is always our preferred way to stay on a houseboat.

There are many types of boat to choose from too. You might be staying on a yacht on the thames, or a barge on the canal. Most barge are narrowboats, and as the name suggests, are rather narrow, but look out for your boat's description noting a 'double dutch' or a wide beam which means it's wider than usual and we think a better choice for a bigger group.

Be sure to check what facilities your boat comes with. They won't all have a full bathroom or a fully equipped kitchen. Some won't have outdoor space either, if that's important to you. Check if bed linen is included as that's quite a lot to fit in your suitcase!

London's Main Boat Stay Locations

In London, you also have three canals and one main river (The Thames) where your boat stay may be located. The Thames is tidal and can also be quite choppy so be sure to bring your sea-legs. The canals tend to be flatter and calmer, which makes them our favourite option.

Regent's, Grand Union and Paddington Basin are the three canals in London, and of those Regent's and Grand Union are the main one's where you'll find boats to stay on. Our Boutique Barges boats are moored in Little Venice, where the Grand Union and Regents Canals meet. Find out more here.

Types of Boat Stays

There are many types of boat stays to choose from. Houseboats are the most popular option of boat accommodation, with luxury yachts and sailboats coming in second. Catamarans and canal boats are also available if you're looking for something different!

We are seeing lots of new boutique boat accommodation, which we prefer to a floating super yacht hotel. Personally we don't need a private hot tub, but it's easy to find almost any kind of boat stay! This image shows the bedroom on Boutique Barges stylish widebeam, Big Boat. It’s beautifully and thoughtfully designed.

Cruising or a Fixed Mooring?

Check also if your boat can go 'cruising' which means you can travel on it, or if it's in a fixed mooring. If it's a cruising boat you'll need an expert on board, or to have some guidance. We think a fixed mooring boat stay is far less stressful, which is why that’s what we, at Boutique Barges, offer.

Of course, you might have brought your captain's hat with you and be looking forward to getting the engine running or the sails unfurled! Cruising boat rentals tend to be more common out of London in places like the Norfolk Broads, but you can sometimes find that as a boat stay option in central london too.

Best Areas for Boat Stays

London is a city of many boroughs and districts, each with its own unique atmosphere and history. If you're looking for a place to stay that reflects your personality, there are plenty of options in London that will let you explore the city from a new perspective.

Here are some of our favourite areas for boat stays:
Thames River - The Thames River runs through central London, making it easy to access any part of town by water taxi or boat tour. You'll find plenty of hotels here too!

East London - This area has undergone rapid gentrification over the past decade due to its proximity to Canary Wharf and other major financial centres (and also because it's cheaper than other parts). There are lots of great restaurants here too!

Docklands - This is the traditional and historical heart of London's boating community with areas that are near to Tower Bridge, the Tower of London and St Pauls. It's a place to see super yachts and huge boats that have travelled from all over the world.

Little Venice - stay here on the grand union canal, near to paddington station, on a beautiful canal boat, or similar boat accommodation. Here you'll find some of the best houseboats in london in a lovely west london location, including boathouse london and

lovely houseboats. Little Venice is between Maida Vale and Paddington, in a great location where Regent's canal meets Grand Union Canal. Vacation rentals here offer a relaxing getaway whilst being within easy reach of central london, and public transport is easy to places like St paul's cathedral, hyde park, tower bridge, and even london city airport.

Popular Boat Stay Destinations

  • Tower Bridge
  • Canary Wharf
  • Greenwich
  • Hampton Court Palace
  • Katherine's Dock
  • River thames
  • Victoria park, East london
  • Royal victoria dock
  • Little Venice

Things to Do on a Boat Stay

  • Cruise along the Thames
  • Explore local markets
  • Take in the views of London from your boat, like tower bridge, iconic canary wharf and the olympic stadium.
  • Attend cultural events, such as concerts or festivals
  • enjoy a floating pocket park

make the entire boat your personal party space

Tips for a Successful Boat Stay

  • Book early. The most popular boat stays are booked months in advance, so if you want to stay on a particular boat, make sure to book it as soon as possible.
  • Plan your itinerary. You can use this guide or other resources (like TripAdvisor) to find out which boats are close together and plan accordingly so that you don't end up with too much walking between them!
  • Bring the right supplies for your trip--and don't forget any important documents like passports! It's also good to have some cash on hand if there isn't an ATM nearby; many boats accept credit cards but not all do.* Stay safe while exploring London by boat!
  • check for free wifi as that's key to happy travelling!

Costs of Boat Stays

The cost of a boat stay can vary greatly. Factors that affect the price include:

  • The length of your stay
  • The number of people in your party (the more people, the more expensive it will be overall but potentially less per person)
  • Whether or not you're staying on board during high season (if you are, expect to pay more)

Find out more about our rates by looking here.

Getting a Good Deal

To ensure you get the best deal possible, it's important to do some research before booking your stay. Look at reviews from previous guests and ask questions about their experiences with each company--this will help give you an idea about what kind of service they offer and whether or not it's worth paying extra for. Once you've narrowed down which companies seem like good options for your needs, compare prices between different sites where boats are available for rent; often times there will be great deals available on sites like Airbnb or Homeaway!

Finding the Perfect Boat Stay

Finding the perfect boat stay can be a daunting task. There are so many options and you want to make sure that you find the one that meets all of your needs, and suits everyone in your group. Here are some tips on how to do just that:

The first step in finding the right boat stay for you is doing some research. Look at different websites and compare prices, customer reviews, etc... You want to make sure that whatever site or company you choose has great customer service and high quality boats/marinas with reasonable rates!

Consider your and your party's needs. What are your priorities? Do you want a be near tower bridge? If you want to be in central london, do you want somewhere busy or quiet? This city centre offers both. Within walking distance of london bridge underground station, canary wharf underground station, the river thames, west london or be a short walk to westfield stratford city, excel london or iconic canary wharf?

What is it important your boat consists of? Do you want all mod-cons like laundry facilities, a private bathroom, walk in shower and free toiletries? Perhaps you want luxe like en suite bathrooms, a dining area, double cabin, a flat screen tv, concierge services, a freestanding bath and a rooftop terrace? And of course everyone wants a great location and free wifi access! There will be houseboats in london that suit every one of your needs, and nearly all are boasting free wifi access.

Travelling as a group?

What size is your group? Are you looking for somewhere just for two or is it a holiday location for a bigger group? There are many choices that sleep up to four guests, and you can even find a house boat or two that will work for much bigger parties. If there's a few of you, then a stylish houseboat with an open plan living space would suit you better, along with at least one double bedroom with a double bed, a sofa bed, a fully equipped kitchen and perhaps a wood burning stove would be a great option.

A boat for two?

If you're a party of two looking for a floating home that offers boutique boat accommodation, you might want a smaller, more romantic houseboats in london, with an indoor fireplace, city views, luxurious bed linen, a free standing bath, a top deck for night time cocktails and an indoor living area for spending time alone. If your looking for romance, we'd suggest you choose a boat on regent's canal in little venice, near paddington station over one near victoria park and brick lane in east london. Houseboat living can feel quite different when you're mored in different areas.

What will make you and your group happy?

Have a think about what your holiday focus is as well as thinking about what makes you happy in your every day life. Do you need a coffee machine in order to start your day right? Some people need central heating in order to feel at home on a houseboat. Will some of your party feel happy sleeping on a sofa bed perhaps or would you all like to have a double bed bedroom and fancy bed linen? Do you want to hang out in your own seating area watching a flat screen tv? It's important to ensure you've thought about all of these things in order to plan the best vacation for everyone that will be on board your central london house boat.

Location, Location, Location

What does a great location look like to you? Is it one within walking distance of the sky garden or would you prefer to have your boat accommodation within easy reach of london city airport? One thing we know will make almost everyone happy is free wifi (yes, free wifi!), so look out for that on the listing info.

Things not to miss when you're exploring London

  • visit Brick Lane for vintage shopping
  • have a drink at the sky garden
  • walk over tower bridge (it's amazing trip back in time)
  • go to westfield stratford city for all the shops and restaurants but also see the olympic stadium.
  • go food shopping at Borough market, just over tower bridge. (buy supplies and cook up a storm in your floating home if you have a fully equipped kitchen.)
  • see St Paul's cathedral, and be sure to walk up to the high gallery for an amazing view down.

get cheap tickets to european destinations from London city airport, and enjoy a spectacular view as you take off.

Experience the Water without staying on the Water

Of course, you can also stay on land and explore London by boat, there are plenty of options available as well! You can use London's network of water buses up and down the Thames, which are a cheap option being part of the public transport network. You can explore the canals on London's touring canal boats, many of which leave from Little Venice and travel up to Camden via Regent's Park. If you want something more speedy, why not rent a super fun Go boat! You can book one easily and take a ride along the waterways from Paddington.

Nature in London

Boat stays in London are a great way to experience the city from a different vantage point. You'll be able to see things from a totally new angle, quite literally, and you might even get some fresh air! You'll experience nature and waterbirds up close, and really see a unique ecosystem. The Thames and the canals in London are greener than many other locations in London, and generally more peaceful too.


London is one of the most popular cities in the world, so it's no surprise that there are plenty of boat stays available here, from luxurious, spacious and modern to vintage, compact and authentic. We like to experience the authentic house boat vibe, but with all the modern amenities like central heating and a well equipped kitchen and we've found loads of great options like that.

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