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London by the Water

From canalside cafés to floating record shops and cruising restaurants, London’s waterways are dotted with quirky addresses and imaginative barge conversions. Here’s our pick of the capital’s best places to chill out on – and by – the water.

  • Barge House

    46a De Beauvoir Cres, London N1 5RY

    The weekend brunch at this buzzy Haggerston venue is worth working up a hangover for.

    There’s not much their ‘breakfast in bread’ (literally a full English encased in a loaf) can’t cure, especially washed down with a house Bloody Mary. Sharing boards and cocktails make it fine choice for summer evenings, too.

  • London Shell Co

    The Prince Regent, Sheldon Square, London W2 6DS

    Seafood heaven awaits at this pop-up-turned-permanent restaurant on a boat in Paddington Basin.

    Lunches are static but dinner guests get to cruise the canal as they knock back oysters and tuck into perfectly-prepared fish dishes. The menu changes daily, and advance booking is essential.

  • Puppet Theatre Barge

    35 Blomfield Rd, London W9 2PF

    Moored on the canal in beautiful Little Venice for most of the year– with a summer sojourn in Richmond (July–Sept) – this quirky barge theatre is a waterways treasure.

    Imaginative, transporting and utterly charming, the shows prove puppetry isn’t just for kids.

  • The Record Deck

    Check website to find location

    Owned by affable vinyl fiend Luke Guilford, this floating second-hand record shop sails East London’s canals, mooring up on sunny afternoons (it’s generally closed in bad weather).

    Fancy a rummage? Check the Facebook page for a list of this month’s stop-offs.

  • Tamesis Dock

    Albert Embankment, SE1 7TP

    Summer drinking spots don’t get much better than the wooden deck of this eccentric 1930s Dutch barge, with views of the Houses of Parliament and Battersea Power Station.

    The rest of the year, head below deck for live music, fuss-free bar snacks (burgers, nachos, sandwiches) and a chilled-out vibe.

  • Towpath Café

    42 De Beauvoir Cres, London N1 5SB

    Off the beaten track and perfect for people-watching, this unassuming canalside café has been a locals’ favourite since it opened in 2010.

    Watch cyclists, swans and the world go by while you decide between a virtuous superfood bowl or the oozy and delicious grilled cheese sandwich.

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