There can barely be a better feeling than spending a sultry summer’s afternoon floating along the River Thames, jazz soothingly being played as you sample some of the finest cuisine the capital has to offer.
Unfortunately, for many of us this will seem more like a historic reference from decades passed as opposed to a current reality. Bateaux London, however, still today delivers some exquisite archaic class to the resplendent ripples of England’s longest and most prestigious river. Far away from the traps of floating tour boats or the crazed chaos of “New Year’s on the River”, Bateaux London brings sophistication to one of the world’s most splendid scenes.
History is anchored deep within the fleets foundations, having first been formed as part of the Catamaran Cruisers, which began operating on the Thames back in 1967. Initially established to bring an “unrivalled portfolio of sightseeing, dining and private event cruises”, the company’s three vessels – Harmony, Symphony and Naticia – still continue to bless the waters today.
We were lucky enough to be invited to experience the Premier Sunday Jazz Lunch Cruise last week on the largest of the boats, Symphony. We were picked up at the Embankment Pier at around midday and entered into an elegant and traditional environment, with the glass walls presenting fantastic views across the River as the slow sliding landscapes revealed history on the banks. You get half a bottle of quality wine each and a 3 course meal served gradually over the two and a half hour cruise.
This Jazz band played throughout the experience with piano and saxophone and the staff were professional, friendly and welcoming. Our waiter, James, had a great knowledge of London and was always happy to stop and chat.
For starters we had Whipped Goat’s Cheese & Ham Hock Terrine, which was beautifully prepared and well proportioned in preparation for the Roast Leg of Lamb with Squash and Potato Hash main. All the ingredients tasted fresh and delicious, and perfectly accompanied the elegance of the experience. The Sticky Toffee Pudding dessert was a tip-toe towards even greater indulgence, which harmonised with the historic hedonism to perfection.
The boat was full, but spacious and not too loud. You can pleasantly talk and certainly there was enough romance in the air to make it a great date location. The boat journeys first to the west as far as Putney before turning round and heading back up towards Canary Wharf, giving you a great view across Tower Bridge. The journey is smooth and free from any sea-sickness inducing sways or wobbles.
There are a great variety of cruises to choose from, including lunch, dinner and even afternoon tea, with prices from as little as £31.50. The prices do, of course, shoot up with the addition of meals, but this is well worth it, with the food rivalling any of the city’s best restaurants and the views smashing the competition out of the water – excuse the pun. There are special cruises for Valentine’s Day, Christmas and New Years, and the boats can be exclusively chartered for weddings, parties, events and music. Group bookings are also possible on the organised cruises if you don’t fancy hiring the entire boat.
There truly is no better way to take in the nostalgic splendour of such a delightful river, with the rich history of England’s capital running deep within its current. Whether for a lunch time treat for all the family or a romantic evening meal for two, there can be very little comparison made anywhere else in the world.