There’s nothing quite like dining on a boat. Whether you’re docked in the harbour or cruising down the river, floating eateries give your meal that extra pizzazz, that special something. Luckily the capital has a flurry of restaurants on water, from grand superyachts to cosy barges, which offer great food as well as the fun factor. Here’s our pick of London‘s best boat restaurants.
London’s Best Boat Restaurants
Hawksmoor Wood Wharf
Fifteen years since the famed steak restaurant first opened in Spitalfields, Hawksmoor has launched a new branch – this one on the water. The three-floored space is set on a floating pavilion on the river at Wood Wharf in Canary Wharf, complete with an indoor restaurant, bar and roof terrace. It’s been created with the planet in mind too: the pavilion itself will be made from sustainably sourced materials, while the roof hosts a garden designed to encourage local insects and bees.
1 Water St, London E14 5GX, thehawksmoor.com
Buzzy drinking and dining spot Barge East is a floating restaurant located on a 118-year-old Dutch cargo barge, which was sailed over from Holland by its founders. It’s been moored in Hackney Wick ever since, with views overlooking the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and space to dine on both the sun trap upper deck and inside the boat. Food comes from Italian chef and l’Enclume alumni Stefano Camplone, who puts local produce at the forefront of his dishes – often taken from the gardens surrounding the venue.
River Lee, Sweetwater Mooring, White Post Ln, London E9 5EN, bargeeast.com
London Shell Co. and The Grand Duchess
The brainchild of siblings Harry and Leah Lobek, London Shell Co began – like many modern culinary successes – as a series of pop ups. However after gaining huge popularity, the owners decided to open a permanent restaurant on The Prince Regent, a bright blue barge docked in Paddington, followed by a second branch, The Grand Duchess. While The Prince Regent cruises down the Thames, The Grand Duchess stays docked on the Grand Union Canal. Like its older sibling, seafood is the focus, which can be enjoyed alongside sparkling wines, cocktails and Sangria in the sunshine. Sophisticated without being pretentious, fun without being gimmicky, these floating restaurants get boat dining just right.
Union Canal, Sheldon Square, London W2 6EP and The Grand Duchess, London W2 6PY, londonshellco.com
Darcie & May Green
Part of the ever-growing Aussie-inspired Daisy Green collection, Darcie & May Green is housed across two brightly coloured sister vessels outside London’s Paddington. You’re in no danger of missing them – the barges are bold and eye-catching in design, courtesy of pop artist Peter Blake, known for designing album covers for The Beatles. Brunch takes centre stage here, with standout dishes including their legendary sweetcorn fritters, a healthy Full English called The Bondi, and an award-winning banana bread dish, served with fresh berries and mascarpone. The boat stays docked, but you can ride your own wave by opting for the bottomless brunch party.
Grand Union Canal, Sheldon Square, Central W2 6DS, daisygreenfood.com
The Cheese Barge
There is great news for British cheese lovers. The latest venture from Mathew Carver, founder of The Cheese Bar and Pick & Cheese is The Cheese Barge, a double decker barge moored on the Grand Union Canal and catering to cheese lovers all over the capital. The barge itself was designed by Adam Richards Architects, with the vessel’s design inspired by the Electa bookstore in Venice with a copper ‘veil’ acting as an awning for the 40 cover lower deck dining room. The space is light and airy, with views across the canal on one side and onto Paddington’s bustling banks on the other. There is also an upper deck that seats 20, perfect for a drink and a bite on warm, sunny evenings.
Sheldon Square, London W2 6DL, thecheesebar.com
Can’t afford your own superyacht just yet? Fear not, at Sunborn London you can have a taste of the good life without the million pound price tag. Located on the revitalised Royal Victoria Dock right by the ExCel London exhibition centre, hotel and restaurant Sunborn London is perfectly placed for spectacular views of the city. While the Finnish-built yacht has never actually graced the ocean waves, it sure looks the part: a gleaming white, five-decked creation, with shiny brass fittings and grand interiors. The Lands End restaurant offers a Mediterranean-inspired menu, with elegant dishes to match the surroundings. Mains include grilled corn-fed chicken breast with spring cabbage, seared tuna steak niçoise, and lobster tagliatelle.
Royal Victoria Dock, London E16 1AA, sunbornhotels.com
Feng Shang Princess Restaurant
Upgrade your Chinese takeaway by heading to Feng Shang Princess Restaurant, a three-tiered pagoda-style boat floating on Regent’s Canal. A little gimmicky, but fun nonetheless, with an extensive menu of not just Chinese cuisine, but also Japanese, Thai, Malaysian and more. Claim to fame – it’s apparently Paul McCartney’s favourite restaurant.
Southern Star Cumberland Basin, Prince Albert Rd, London NW1 7SS, fengshang.co.uk
Main image: London Shell Co