Fancy a view of the water and a brew in your hand? The Resident checks out London’s best boat bars for a drink on the water this summer…
Words: Ivy Bridges & Trinity King
1 Alfred Le Roy, Hackney Wick
Find the renovated Alfred Le Roy barge boat moored on the canal in Hackney Wick, just by CRATE brewery. The floating bar offers a multitude of drinks like specialty Jarr kombucha, cocktails, wines and CRATE Brewery beers and ciders on tap. The Alfred Le Roy offers a simple but delicious menu of premium meats and cheeses, olives, roasted veggie dips and E5 Bakehouse bread, as well as open sandwiches, but what you really want to do is hop on board for a cocktail cruise (from £25), where you can enjoy drinks and nibbles as you cruise east London’s waterways. You can even pop your head above deck to feel the wind in your hair. Marvellous.
Queens Yard, White Post Lane, Hackney E9 5EN; alfredleroy.com
2 Darcie & May Green, Paddington
Darcie & May Green are two of London’s newest canal boat hangouts. Launched in November 2017, the two boats are situated directly outside Paddington Station on the Grand Union Canal, and in themselves are floating pieces of art, designed exclusively by the ‘godfather’ of British pop art, Sir Peter Blake. May Green opens from the early hours of the morning for perfectly executed flat whites and banana bread, to the late hours of the evening for local craft beers and live music. Darcie Green is a great spot for canal-side dining, serving an Antipodean-inspired menu, from Aussie brunch to healthy lunch and relaxing dinners. The two boats share a combined 50-meter upper deck overlooking the Grand Union Canal. Bottomless brunch is available from 10am Monday to Saturday, and from noon on Sundays.
Sheldon Square, Paddington Central W2 6DS; daisygreenfood.com
3 The Tattershall Castle, Victoria Embankment
The Tattershall Castle is one of our favourite boat bars. Conveniently located on Victoria Embankment, it’s fuss free with no bells or whistles, but it does offer great views of the London Eye across the Thames, as well as a selection of gins, rums and cocktails. They also offer a whiskey passport, where you can work your way around the world of whiskies, collecting stamps as you go – try four and get one free! On the menu, there are hearty staples like burgers and fish and chips, as well as the option to indulge in afternoon tea. Below deck, The Tattershall Castle hosts events like Jazz on the River, The Boat Show Comedy Club and The Guinea Pig Club, where comedians try out new material.
Victoria Embankment, Whitehall SW1A 2HR; thetattershallcastle.co.uk
4 Tamesis Dock, Albert Embankment
Tamesis Dock is a 1930s Dutch barge turned floating pub. Permanently moored between Lambeth and Vauxhall bridges, the neighbourhood boat bar hosts regular live music events – like the amazing Ukulele Wednesdays Open Mic Night – and special events on the big screen (World Cup, Wimbledon etc). It also serves up a menu of sharing plates, burgers and sarnies, as well as weekend brunches, plus a well-stocked bar of beers, wines, pitchers and processo. There’s room indoors and out, plus views of the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and Battersea Power Station. Open 11.30am-1am Mon-Fri and 11am-1am Sat-Sun.
Albert Embankment SE1 7TP; tdock.co.uk
5 Battersea Barge (currently closed)
The Battersea Barge, sister vessel to Tamesis Dock, is currently closed due to the Thames Tideway Tunnel project. Usually moored in the Nine Elms area of Battersea, with views of the iconic Battersea Power Station, this much-loved bar barge not only offers drinks and a good time, it also hosts a range of activities on board, including comedy shows, cabaret and even flamenco dance nights. Battersea Barge serves food as well as drinks, and is surprisingly spacious. Hopefully, the barge will be back with us by mid October 2018 following a bit of a spruce up.
Nine Elms Lane, Battersea SW8 5BP; batterseabarge.com
6 R.S. Hispaniola, Victoria Embankment
The R.S. Hispaniola is a little bit more grown up than our other boat bars, with a formal restaurant offering – The Upper Deck – serving the likes of Roast Fillet of Cornish Monkfish and Slow Braised Scottish Ox Cheek. There’s also a more casual Bar & Deck menu, with a burger and fish and chips, an afternoon tea menu with option of free-flowing prosecco, and a pre-theatre menu with a guaranteed turnaround time of one hour. There are also a variety of drinks menus, depending on which level you’re on – a good wine list on The Upper Deck, beers and spirits in the Pinkton Parlour, and a more casual, as-you-please approach on the deck. Check out their murder mystery dinners too.
Victoria Embankment WC2N 5DJ; hispaniola.co.uk
7 Bar & Co, Temple Pier
Dubbed as the ‘party boat rocking the Thames’, Bar & Co, moored on Temple Pier, is a bar, restaurant and nightclub. Just five minutes from Holborn, right outside Temple Station, it’s a handy one for the Chancery Lane set looking to cool off after work. With two decks, a dance floor and a DJ area, it’s a great one for those looking for private hire and big boat parties (look out for their New Year’s Eve bashes for great views of the fireworks). There are also five screens are on board, showing big sports matches, and a late license till 3am.
Temple Pier WC2R 2PN, Victoria Embankment; barandcompany.com
8 GoBoat London, Merchant Square
It’s not strictly a boat bar, but the brand new GoBoat London gets out Number One spot thanks to its uniqueness. Central London’s only self-drive boating experience allows you to captain their own boat, pick your own ‘crew’ and chart your own course across the London canals to explore Paddington, Camden, Little Venice, Regent’s Park and the 250m long Maida Hill tunnel. GoBoats are available for anyone to hire and seat up to eight people around a picnic table, so don’t forget the G&T in a tin! The boats run on both the Grand Union and Regent’s Canals and the electric engines produce no noise or pollution.
9 Tom’s Kitchen at HMS Belfast
It’s not strictly on the water, but Tom’s Kitchen sits on the waterfront right by the historic HMS Belfast World War 2 Royal Navy warship. Sip a drink on the rooftop bar with fantastic views of the imposing warship, as well as Tower Bridge and the Shard. The deli and bar offers a range of signature sandwiches, salads and cakes. The bar menu serves an assortment of wine and craft beers and boasts nautical-themed cocktails like the ‘Kraken’ (Four Roses Bourbon, maple syrup and Curious Brew stout) and ‘The Lifeboat Sidecar’ (blackberry and vanilla infused Martel cognac and Cointreau).
The Queen’s Walk, Southwark SE1 2JH; tomskitchen.co.uk