As Wind in the Willows would have it, there is ‘nothing half so much worth doing a simply messing about in boats’. And with such a grand river as the Thames in our midst, some enterprising folks have put it to good use for our entertainment. Fortunately for us, as summer draws to a close, you can enjoy the river life no matter the weather. Whether stationary or cruising along it, here are a few popular boat pubs on the Thames.
Given the quirky use of moored boats in London, it is nice to know there are some people who still use a boat as, well, a boat. Riding the crest of the river-restaurant wave is Bateaux London, a premium cruise provider that has London’s largest dining vessel, Symphony, as its flagship.
A beautifully ornate Parisian lady, she offers a range of Thames Cruises throughout the day. At the bottom end, an array of sandwiches, pastries and cakes can be enjoyed on the afternoon tea cruise or with a spot of bubbly thrown in for ten pounds more. Slightly more grandiose, the lunch cruises feature three-course set menus and a special Sunday lunch service complete with serenading live jazz band.
However, Bateaux London is meant to be a treat, and to get the best out of the whole experience, go for the dinner cruise. Although more expensive, it includes a welcome drink and four courses from the á la carte menu. The dinner cruise will take you into the night with live entertainment and dancing afterwards.
Understandably, the dress code ranges from fairly smart at lunchtime (no denim) to full-blown suit and tie in the evening. Dress up and have a blast.
If you like laughing and pointing at people from afar, you’ll love the view you can get from the RS Hispaniola boat restaurant and bar. Moored directly opposite the London Eye, you can sit in fully air conditioned bliss, sipping from a cocktail as you chuckle at the queues of punters melting in theLondon summer sun.
If you’re not that cruel, you can just enjoy the impressive array of food choices that are on offer from their excellent menus. Early birds can enjoy afternoon tea or set/pre-theatre menus (around £25 for three courses), and there are well-priced light bite and tapas menus to satisfy smaller cravings. If you can spend a little more, there is also an à la carte menu that offers delicious, accomplished dishes such as roast stone sea bass with candied tomato and deep fried basil or tenderloin of pork with apple & sage purée and Calvados sauce.
If that’s still not enough, you can then grab a drink from their cocktail bar or – impressively – floating fine wine cellar and head to the sunny deck to sit back, relax, and watch the world go by.
When summer comes around, what could be better than eating, drinking and generally being merry out on open water? Staying still while you do it – in some people’s opinion. Luckily, there are now several moored boats inLondonthat offer the ambience of the water with added convenience.
One of the best is definitely the Tamesis Dock, named after the ancient word for the River Thames. This Thirties Dutch beauty has several levels, all offering a different experience. Start off the evening on the main deck at the large, central bar flanked with comfy leather sofas and large windows. Live acts and entertainment are often on show.
When you start to feel peckish, head down to the lower deck to try some simple and tasty bites from the food menu. These include crowd-pleasing classics such as nachos, fish and chips and Aberdeen Angus burgers, lighter wraps such as tuna, cheese or bacon, sharing bowls (olives, mixed platters) and lip-smacking ice cream desserts. Even better, the prices are kept to a minimum, with many items for under £5.
As the sun sets, pop up to the al fresco top deck to bask in the ambience of the river and the beautiful illuminated vista on the other side.
The boat is also an events space hosting events from country rock to the infamous Torture Garden.