If there’s one thing I hope we can agree on, it’s that London is no longer a place where you can turn your nose up about food. First of all, British food has undergone a renaissance; secondly, London’s restaurant scene is one of the best in the world, with incredible chefs and creative menus in every neighborhood and part of town.
While we’re agreeing, let’s also say that London loves a good gimmick: I’ve been to some of the wackiest, weirdest, silliest restaurant and bar concepts in London – and I loved them all. (Champagne and hot dogs? Waited three months for a reservation… no shame!)
Put these two things together, and what do you get? Floating restaurants! The River Thames cuts through London, plus there are a number of other canals and waterways in the Greater London area, so it’s no surprise there are floating restaurants all over the city. And they have great food to match their great views.
If the idea of dining at one of the floating restaurants in London sounds interesting to you, look no further. Below you’ll find a list of the best floating restaurants in London – plus one that might surprise you exactly where it floats.
London Floating Restaurants on the Thames
Londoners have come up with uncountable ways of enjoying the waters of the Thames. So, it was about time that they set up floating dining venues on the river. Check out the loveliest floating bars and restaurants that promise mouthwatering dishes and river views.
Bar & Co Boat
A hidden gem, Bar & Co Boat is a barge moored at Temple Pier that now serves as a bar, restaurant, and nightclub if a place can be all those things. Booking a table at Bar&co Boat is just the ticket for a fun night out with drinks and excellent views of the Thames – expect close-up views of the London Eye, Big Ben, and Oxo tower. The venue is mainly popular among younger generations as it runs as a nightclub, and prices are affordable compared to other bars.
Should you visit Bar&co Boat during the summer, the bar has a gorgeous upstairs deck where you can sit with a drink in the sun. Moreover, this is one of the top floating restaurants on the Thames for private events. You can hire the entire boat and tailor it for all kinds of private functions and even use your own visual equipment and speakers at no extra cost.
At first sight, Tattershall Castle holds no allure, with its old barge structure and slightly discolored blue façade. But don’t let the unassuming facade scare you away. This bar boat is one of the most sophisticated venues to enjoy sunset cocktails or a night of clubbing on weekends.
Moored on the lovely Victoria Embankment, Tattershall Castle has become one of the best London floating restaurants for its buzzing atmosphere and reasonable (and mouthwatering) menu. It serves fantastic food and drinks paired with spectacular views of the London Eye and Big Ben. The restaurant is also open year-round for private events in The Bridge, the boat’s business meeting room overlooking the Southbank and Westminster.
Safely moored between Lambeth and Vauxhall Bridge, Tamesis Dock is an old 1930s Dutch barge turned into a floating pub and live music venue on the Thames River. The floating pub doesn’t look like much. It boasts a tatty appearance and looks rather small.
However, it is everything a pub on an old boat should be: it has a friendly personality, invites excellent jazz bands to perform, and serves delicious snacks and nibbles plus a selection of draft beer and ciders. In a few words, Tamesis Dock is all about the pleasant atmosphere. You’ll soon end up loving that tatty appearance (that only adds to its old seaside charm, to be honest) and spending long nights abroad at the Tamesis Dock.
The Battersea Barge
The Battersea Barge is an award-winning boat bar moored on the Thames in the Nine Elms area. While it’s rather simple, the restaurant has plenty of character with fairy lights, quirky wallpapers, and black and red furniture. The Battersea Barge offers top-quality musical, comedy, and cabaret entertainment.
Gastronomically, it is a different story. The bar is famous for serving the most delicious hand-stretched pizzas in London, but that’s about it. It also has a decent selection of beers and cocktails to enjoy during your stay. Last but not least, the boat’s location requires you to bring your sea legs. There’s a lot of rocking, and you won’t have the best time if you have a weak stomach.
Cruise Restaurants in London
Of course, we can’t talk about floating restarts without mentioning London dining cruises! You’ll find London dining cruises sailing on the Thames every day of the week. I’ve listed a couple below to give you an idea of what to expect.
Setting sail from Victoria Embankment, Bateaux London is a well-established dining cruise that invites you to indulge in decadent dishes while meandering down the River Thames.
The company offers diverse dining experiences. You can enjoy family-friendly Sunday lunches or elegant dinner cruises on the boat’s Glass Room. They also host dining programs for special occasions, like Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve.
Food and drinks are incredible, with a menu serving various dishes that cater to any taste bud. However, the best complement to your food is the stunning scenery outside. Grab a cocktail and head to the deck to sip it while looking at Big Ben pass right in front of you.
My Fair Lady
Forget about sailing the traditional Thames route. My Fair Lady lets you discover London’s historic and picturesque Regent’s Canal. The boat departs from its base in Camden, sailing through the Camden Lock, Regents Park, and around the island at Little Venice. You can choose to enjoy the views at different times of the day as they offer lunch and dining cruise experiences.
Each experience lasts about three hours and offers a three-course meal focused on contemporary British cuisine. There is also a fully-stocked bar on board if you fancy sipping your favorite cocktail. Like other venues, the boat is open for individuals and private charter lunch, dinner, and buffet cruises throughout the year.
Other Floating Restaurants on Boats in London
While the River Thames steals the spotlight every time we mention London’s waterways, there are other equally charming canals whose waters house floating restaurants. Keep reading to know where to find them!
Barge East Restaurant
You’ll love the Barge East Restaurant if you like bars with an interesting history. In 2017, friends Tommo, Ryan, and Blandy decided they wanted to open a restaurant aboard a boat. The only problem was finding the right boat wasn’t so easy. Their gastronomic pursuit would take them to Amsterdam, where they’d finally find the Dutch Barge moored in Den Helder.
Six months and a challenging 80-mile sail back to London, the three friends converted the historic 118-year-old Dutch Barge into one of the most beloved floating restaurants in London. The Barge East Restaurant checks all the boxes: the food is delicious, the decor and setting are brilliant, and the service is outstanding.
As if that wasn’t enough, the owners opened Barge East Gardens in 2020. The gardens are not part of the floating restaurant, as they sit on the land adjacent to the boat, but you can enjoy pretty much the same things. Here, guests can drink, dine and socialize amongst the organic produce that the restaurant grows.
Darcie & May Green
The Darcie & May Green is a restaurant with venues all over London. But the most charming one by far is their floating restaurant housed in a boat on Grand Union Canal.
The vibrant eatery throws in a bit of diversity to the boat restaurant scene. Everything here screams “different,” from the food to the boat facade.
Let’s begin with the food. Its menu doesn’t focus on comfort food or British cuisine; instead, it serves traditional Australian gastronomy, like Aussi BBQ and Melbourne Mars Bar Cheesecake Ball.
The boat also boasts some stunning aesthetics. It ditched the “old barge” look and replaced it with a bespoke artwork exterior that Sir Peter Blake, the ‘godfather’ of British pop art, designed himself. Talk about making a statement.
Darcie & May Green is open from early morning into the evening. Their Aussie brunches are the perfect way to unwind on a Sunday, or you can arrive at sunset to enjoy the buzzing bar and a few cocktails.
Feng Shang Princess
London’s Chinatown isn’t the only place where you can get authentic Chinese fare in London. The docks of Regent’s Canal also have an attractive alternative, Feng Shang Princess. I must warn you; it isn’t your typical Chinese restaurant. There are a few things that set it apart. First, is a floating Chinese restaurant. Second, it sits on trendy Primrose Hill. Third, it is allegedly Paul Paul McCartney’s favorite Chinese restaurant.
The menu is exemplary Chinese food and avoids the cliché that Chinese food is cheap and quick. Instead, you will find entrees such as sweet and sour plates, egg fried rice and duck with pancakes, and stir-fried noodles. The eatery’s ambiance is as authentic as the food. The boat’s structure features traditional Chinese architecture, with a red façade, upturned eaves on roof corners, and rice paper lamps.
London Shell Co.
When it comes to floating restaurants in London, the London Shell Co. is as good as it gets. The restaurant, or should I say restaurants, are aboard the Prince Regent and the Grand Duchess, two lovely boats on Regent’s Canal.
London Shell Co. is on everyone’s lips for serving some of the finest British fares. It makes sense when you learn who created the menu, Stuart Kilpatrick – former chef of Soho’s Hix, and The White Horse in Peckham.
The Prince Regent is a cruising restaurant, while the Grand Duchess is static. Both offer delectable menus, although the static restaurant has more alternatives. Despite the lack of variety, book a table at the Prince Regent, because, as you know very well, the best compliment to a fine meal isn’t wine, but mouthwatering views of London’s landmarks.
Lotus is another floating Chinese restaurant worth trying. Unlike Feng Shang Princess, Lotus is family-friendly and has a more laid-back atmosphere. The restaurant sits on the upper floor of an old barge in the heart of London Docklands. Its menu is a bit limited, focusing on Dim Sum, sweet and sour chicken, and other Chinese staples.
The restaurant’s ground floor is an Asian supermarket selling authentic South Asian food and snacks, so you might as well stay for some grocery shopping. The dock has views over Canary Wharf. If you can, try to snag a table facing the river so you can enjoy unspoiled views while eating.
The Cheese Barge
The Cheese Barge has a specific customer: gourmands with a soft spot for cheese. As the name suggests, this cute little floating restaurant serves cheese-only dishes – starters, mains, and pudding. Once you look at the menu, you’ll definitely over-order, but you have only one life to live, so why not indulge in a table full of cheesy delights?
Moored in the Paddington Basin, the restaurant serves the very best British cheese, like Glastonbury-made mozzarella and Kirkham’s Lancashire. The wine & drinks list is also exceptional and perfectly matches the menu.
The restaurant also owns The Cheese Truck, which serves the most delicious grilled cheese in all of Britain –or at least that’s what reviewers are saying. The food truck uses the same kinds of cheese you find in the floating venue, so you’ll find an enormous variety to fill your toasti as the British call them.
The Oiler Bar
The Oiler Bar is a must-stop for anyone roaming around Royal Victoria. Moored in Victoria Dock, the Oiler Bar is a floating beer garden, offering spectacular views of the Royal Docks and the nearby city skyline of Canary Wharf, and the swimmers and wakeboarders on the water at WakeUp Docklands.
It is wildly popular, and it’s clearly understandable! It has a stunning location and serves tasty pizzas and beer from the local brewery. The best way to reach it is by taking a ride on the Air Emirates Cable Cars from the O2 as it leaves you right on Royal Victoria beach.
Set amongst the greenery and wildlife of picturesque Little Venice, Waterside Café is a quaint floating restaurant in the historic pool of Little Venice. The peaceful retreat opened in 1995 and offers an assortment of coffees, breakfasts, light lunches, and afternoon teas.
The canal boat has only an interior space with ample windows to see boats gliding down the water. During the summer, the café set up tables on the quayside, inviting passersby to enjoy a decadent nibble before continuing their walk along the dock.
London’s Best Floating Restaurant: London in the Sky
Few floating restaurants in London embody the concept of an elevated dining experience, like the London in the Sky. Get ready, as this will be an experience like no other.
For London in the Sky, Elevated means enjoying gourmet dishes on a table attached to a crane that hoists diners and cooking staff 100ft in the air. If that’s not an elevated dining experience, then I don’t know what is.
Opened in 2006, London in the Sky is a seasonal restaurant opening for just 76 days every summer. The staff runs eight flights a day: two Breakfasts, Prosecco & Cake, two Lunch flights, two Cocktails, and finally, two evening Dinners.
Each flight is 45 minutes to an hour long and accepts twenty-two guests. The Chef serves a specially crafted premium menu of food and drinks, which you get to indulge in against the iconic London skyline.
Which of these floating restaurants in London will you be making a reservation at – three months in advance?! (Kidding, most don’t require that – just those land-locked ones with champagne and fancy hot dogs! Have any questions about these floating restaurants? Let me know in the comments!