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Staying in a Narrowboat in London

When it comes to accommodation choices – especially in a big city where camping might not be an option – you’re generally limited as to the type of place you stay. Sure, you can choose between a hotel, hostel, B&B, apartment, guesthouse or inn, but really these are all just variations on a theme – a building with multiple compartmentalized rooms that offer a bed, a bathroom, and if you’re lucky, access to common room and kitchen.

But there are other options. In fact, there is a whole host of unusual places to stay in Europe, from convents and cave hotels to prisons, castles and mountains huts. You can stay on a farm, in an igloo, in a barn, and on a boat. If that last one piqued your interest, check out the narrowboats in London.

London’s narrowboats are generally about 7 feet wide, made to fit the narrow canals of England. You can rent one for a weekend or longer and pilot your way through the many canals in the London area. Stay in one spot for the whole trip or travel around, stick close to London or venture father afield – the choice is up to you. Prices range according to the length of the rental, the size of the boat and the season in which you’ll be traveling. Of course, the more popular the season (summer) and the more people with whom you’ll be sharing the boat, the more expensive the rental will be. But if you come in off season, you can score a boat that sleeps 2-4 people for as little as 200 pounds per night.

Booking in off season can help you save big. Even if you book a boat that sleeps seven people in shoulder season (May and October) you’ll pay less than 80 pounds per person, per night; it’s more than a hostel, but comparable to the cost of many hotels, and you can save money by cooking your own meals on the boat. Plus, since the boat also serves as your transport, you’ll save on the cost of a car rental or train tickets if you plan to explore outside of London. That actually makes a narrowboat stay one of the better London travel deals available.

Photo by James K Thorpe