There are a lot of things one can say about London, and here’s another: there’s rarely a shortage of places to stay! From hotels to hostels to vacation rentals like Airbnb and VRBO, the only way you find yourself without accommodation while visiting London is if you wait too long to book – or try and visit during a major sporting event like the Olympics. (Which have already happened, so you’re set there!) You could go ahead and book one of those conventional options, but if you’re up for an adventure, I’ve got a better option: booking a London houseboat on Airbnb.
My husband and I actually live on a houseboat in California, and we love the lifestyle it affords us: being right on the water, connected to the tides and nature around us. It’s not for everyone, but it is an epic adventure!
That’s why I’ve pulled together this list that combines two things I love: living on a houseboat and London. Read on to learn about the best London houseboats on Airbnb, plus details for each one, including location, price, and what makes each special. Don’t be surprised if, after a stay in one of these, you’re keen to try houseboat living long-term!
This post was originally published in January 2021, and was updated in March 2022.
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Featured image by Gary Knight via Flickr
1. The Harpy Houseboat (Tower Bridge)
When it comes to highlighting the best London houseboats on Airbnb, it is impossible not to start with The Harpy. This is an incredible five-star luxury houseboat with space for up to 10 guests. But really, the selling point is the location: the former HMS Harpy is moored in Southwark on the west side of Tower Bridge. From the outer decks – and some of the cabins and interior rooms – you can see Tower Bridge and the City of London!
As you might suspect with a location like this and room for so many guests, The Harpy isn’t budget-friendly. But if you have the resources, this is by far the best houseboat in London on Airbnb.
- 10 guests, 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths
- From $942 per night
2. The Boathouse (Paddington)
Okay technically this houseboat isn’t on Airbnb, but it’s too nice to skip just because you to reserve your stay on Booking.com. Called The Boathouse, this beautifully designed narrowboat is moored in Paddington and is a short walk from Hyde Park. But that good location will compete with your desire to hole up and enjoy this one all to yourself.
If you do want to explore, you can make use of the two bikes to explore on land – or the row boat that lets you continue your temporary life on the water.
- 4 guests, 2 beds, 1 bath
- From $430 per night.
3. Secluded Designer Houseboat (Kings Cross)
While the first two London houseboats on Airbnb and Booking that I’ve profiled, they’re gorgeous and the price is set accordingly. For the rest of this list, I found a bunch of other houseboats and narrowboats that are beautiful and fascinating and much more in line with pricing for London accommodation.
This narrowboat is moored near King’s Cross, which is convenient if you want to spend your days in London exploring the city’s top sights. For rest and recovery, you’ll have a beautifully designed space with tons of light. On nice days, you can also relax in the nearby hammock on land.
- 5 guests, 2 beds, 2 baths
- From $283 per night
4. Historic Houseboat on the Thames (Wapping)
Want to stay in my old London neighborhood? I loved living in East London near the Thames, and I didn’t even know that there were houseboats on the river!
This historic houseboat is a 10-minute walk from Tower Hill, making it a perfect base for exploring London and still escaping the crowds at the end of each day. (Wapping is a predominantly residential neighborhood, so it gets nice and quiet in the evenings.) You’ll have enough space for two people and all the cozy fixtures you need – including a small kitchen, record place, and stove heater. Best of all, the starting price per night for this houseboat is below the average cost per night for most London accommodation!
- 2 guests, 1 bed, 1 bath
- From $172 per night
5. Jessie the Narrowboat (Little Venice)
As you might be able to guess, Little Venice gets its name from its canal culture – so it’s no surprise that there’s a great London houseboat on Airbnb that you can rent in this area. This narrowboat, named Jessie, is chic with wood paneling and a modern design. It can also cozily fit four people between the double bed, bunk beds, and a convertible sofa-bed. (It may be able to accommodate one more person – double-check with the host Meg if you’re a family of five!)
Best of all, Jessie is moored close to Paddington station, which is one of the central hubs for the London Underground (Bakerloo, Circle, and District lines), regional trains, and the Heathrow Express. Oh, and it’s another affordable option.
- 4 guests, 3 beds, 1 bath
- From $122 per night
6. Barbara Houseboat (Kensal Town)
Located on the Grand Union Canal which divides Kensal Town from North Kensington, this cute London houseboat on Airbnb is one of two I found in the area (so you should expect to have neighbors on other similar boats nearby). Named Barbara, this narrowboat has one of the homiest feelings of any on the list – and it seems like the kind I’d love to rent for a week and tool around the canals and locks of this part of England.
The space inside the 57-foot boat is cozy but has everything: a heater stove, a mini-fridge and small kitchen, a dining area, a double bedroom, and a full bath. Barbara can fit up to four guests using the sofa bed, too.
- 4 guests, 2 beds, 1 bath
- From $204 per night
7. East London’s Snow Goose (Hackney)
Note: As of August 2022, Snow Goose is no longer available. I’ll be updating this post soon!
If you love the idea of staying in East London and the idea of staying on a houseboat intrigues you too, a stay on Snow Goose will blend the best of both worlds. This narrowboat is moored in Hackney, one of the city’s trendiest areas, and will definitely offer you a unique experience.
While this London houseboat vacation rental says that it can fit up to four adults, my instincts from previous houseboat living tell me that three is a more realistic maximum – and two will be much more comfortable – so that’s just something to keep in mind.
- 4 guests, 1 bed, 1 baths
- From $170 per night
8. Wot Not Floating Home (Hampton Court Palace)
Note: As of August 2022, Wot Not is no longer available. I’ll be updating this post soon!
Here’s another London houseboat on Airbnb that’s located a bit out west in the Hampton Court Palace area. Wot Not is considered a floating home – so much less boat-like than others on this list. Inside you’ll find beautiful spaces to relax after exploring Central London: a big, full kitchen, a colorful couch area, and space for your whole group. There’s even a small study area if you need a workcation space (and a sofa bed).
Best of all, the entire second story (aka roof) has been converted into a usable patio space with seating and tables. It’s perfect for those glorious sunny London days when you’re taking a break from sightseeing.
- 4 guests, 1 bed, 1 bath
- From $163 per night
9. Velvet Morning Narrowboat (Kensal Town)
Here’s the other London houseboat on Airbnb in Kensal Town; Velvet Morning is a century-old 57-foot narrowboat that still retains a lot of her 20th-century charm. There’s room for a couple in the king bed (a real treat in most London accommodation) plus space for one child if needed (in a bunk).
There’s also a gorgeous claw foot tub, a lounge-worthy sitting area, and a heater stove to keep the place cozy all year long. This boat does have some quirks that the host can explain, so it’s worth reviewing the listing and reaching out if you’re up for an adventurous yet relaxing stay.
- 4 guests, 2 beds, 1 bath
- From $179 per night
10. OZ’s Floating Hotel (Poplar)
Note: As of August 2022, Oz’s Floating Hotel is no longer available. I’ll be updating this post soon!
If you have a larger group looking for a place to stay and are up for an adventure, this wide-beam houseboat is a great option. Called “Oz’s Floating Hotel,” it has two bedrooms plus a sleeper sofa such that up to six people can stay here. From that perspective, it’s also great for an adventurous family.
Located in Poplar Dock Marina near Canary Wharf, this is also a great location away from the hustle and bustle of Central London but easily able to access it: it’s a five-minute walk to nearby Blackwall station on the DLR (which connects to Central London via Bank station). If you’re up for a cozy stay that allows you to try houseboat life with your travel companions, consider this London houseboat on Airbnb.
- 6 guests, 2 bed, 1 bath
- From $203 per night
11. Gorgeous Boat Studio (Battersea)
Battersea isn’t one of the places I typically recommend to stay in West London, but being on the water makes up for that! This 1923 Dutch barge has skipper’s quarters and gorgeous views on the river – especially from the roof where there’s a small seating area setup.
It’s worth noting that the owners also live on this boat, but you have your portion to yourself with a private entrance and ensuite.
- 2 guests, 1 bed, 1 bath
- From $133 per night
12. Experience The Spectrum (Multiple Locations)
If you’re sold on this houseboat adventure and less picky about where to stay, consider booking your stay on The Spectrum. This narrowboat has multiple moorages, so when you request to stay, you’ll provide your first and second choices for where to stay and the boat’s owner will confirm where the boat (and you!) will end up.
When it comes to the boat herself, there’s lots of character on this one; think colors, quilts, plants, and plenty of quirks. The couch folds out into a double bed which transforms the sitting area into a bedroom each evening, and it has all the other accouterments (and curiosities) of houseboat living – or staying, as it were.
- 2 guests, 1 bedroom, 1.5 bath
- From $90 per night
13. Cosy House Boat (Regent’s Canal)
Last but not least, this cozy houseboat on Regent’s Canal makes the list not necessarily for its aesthetic. Unlike others on this list, this London houseboat has not been updated to the same design standard. However, its location on Regent’s Canal is great, right near Cambridge Heath Overground station – and the price can’t be beat.
This one isn’t going to be the most luxurious, but past guests say it is comfortable and a good escape from the urban jungle in the rest of London.
- 2 guests, 1 bed, 1 bath
- From $68 per night
There you have it: the ultimate list of the best London houseboats on Airbnb (and elsewhere). These houseboats, narrowboats, and floating homes give you the chance to experience a completely different side of life in London during your stay – and are located all over the city, making them a convenient and unique choice for everyone!
Do you have questions about what living in a houseboat is like, or any of these Airbnb London houseboats? Let me know in the comments or ask it in my London Travel Tips Facebook group!