The top UK staycations with a nautical theme


Tall ship St Hilda at sea

Tall ship St Hilda at sea (Image: St Hilda Sea Adventures)

Offering great views and the relaxing sound of waves – or ripples – against the hull, Chill has rounded up nine of the best staycation spots on boats, from high-end luxury in London to Scottish cruises, floating glamping pods to a miniature Titanic.

Tower Bridge, London

One of HMS Harpy’s bedrooms, with a view of Tower Bridge (Andrew Wadsworth)

Built in 1904 as the world’s first floating Customs & Excise house, HMS Harpy now provides elegant four-bedroom self-catering accommodation for up to 10 people, with a perfect postcard view of Tower Bridge. 1920s oak furniture and vintage prints and maps enhance the luxurious interior – and outside is just as stunning, with a dining table on deck to make the most of the view.  If you can tear yourself away from the gorgeous galley kitchen and Egyptian linen bedding, Borough Market is nearby, and across the river you’ll find all the attractions the City of London has to offer. 

Book it.

St Katharine Docks, London

Formerly a navy tender, Mandy Sue is a beautiful 1930s pinnace located in trendy St Katharine Docks close to Tower Bridge. Offering two spacious bedrooms to sleep four people, the boat is fully equipped with everything you’ll need to enjoy a short break. A previous guest commented that her young children loved their stay, calling it ‘an adventure’. There are plenty of eateries around the marina, and the dock is within walking distance of attractions such as the Tower of London and St Paul’s Cathedral.

Book it: Mandy Sue on Airbnb 

Gloucester Quays

LV14 Sula Lightship, Gloucester (Credit: Jayt74)

For a holiday with a difference, stay on the Sula – one of the few surviving lightships that operated in the waters around Britain. Built in 1959, Sula was stationed at Spurn Sandbank at the mouth of the Humber to guide shipping through the estuary. Now she’s moored in Gloucester Quays and offers accommodation in its stylish, two-bedroom Humber Suite for up to four people. Full of charming details – such as the original ladder leading to the restored escape hatch – Sula also has two deck spaces for guests to relax and watch the world go by. Explore the boutiques and restaurants around Gloucester’s historic docks, or use the Sula as a base from which to venture further afield – South Wales is less than an hour away by car.

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Beccles, Suffolk

A floating glamping pod in a marina, Secret Water sleeps four in two bedrooms. Stylish, contemporary decor makes the pod a welcoming place to stay, and there’s a deck offering al fresco dining overlooking the quiet waters. Hire a boat or kayak for the day and explore the River Waveney on the South Broads, or go fishing or birdwatching. The gorgeous Suffolk beaches are within a short drive, while for retail lovers and history buffs, Norwich is only 16 miles away.

 

Book it: Secret Water –

https://www.watersidebreaks.com/description/secretwater.htm 

Liverpool

The Titanic Boat at Liverpool (ell brown)

All aboard the Titanic – no, not that one! A miniature version of the ill-fated cruise liner, the Titanic Boat is firmly moored at Liverpool Marina. This gloriously kitschy vessel sleeps up to nine people in three bedrooms and has a quirky style to make you smile. Lots of options for eating and drinking around the marina, with The Beatles Story, Maritime Museum, and Tate Liverpool nearby. The city centre is approximately a half-hour walk away, where you’ll find cool independent shops at Bold Street and Red Brick Market, plus high street names in the UK’s largest open-air shopping centre, Liverpool One.

Book it: Titanic Boat

Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire

Ideal for couples seeking a romantic getaway, the Misty Lady is a houseboat moored on the Rochdale Canal at Hebden Bridge. A little deck at the prow offers views across the water, and the interior is cosy and relaxed. Explore the creative spirit of Hebden Bridge, with its cobbled streets and scores of independent artisan shops, organic cafes, and country pubs serving locally brewed ale. Climb up nearby Hardcastle Crags or enjoy miles of walks across the moors. Haworth, home to the Bronte sisters, is only five miles away, and the town of Halifax is less than half an hour by car.

Book it: Misty Lady

Oban, West Highlands 

Through the porthole on St Hilda (St Hilda Sea Adventures)

Enjoy the rugged coastal landscape of the Western Highlands and the Hebrides from the deck of St Hilda, a wooden ketch that’s taken part in several Tall Ship Races. Choose to remain at berth in Dumstaffnage Marina near Oban for a chilled stay, or book a cruise and explore islands such as Skye, St Kilda, and Arran in the company of a professional skipper and onboard chef. Sleeping six in three cabins, cruises on St Hilda still available for 2021 include a Mull Odyssey, sailing to Iona, Staffa, and the Ross of Mull in mid-July, and a wildlife cruise in the Inner Hebrides in September. St Hilda’s sister ships are also offering berth-stay accommodation as well as cruises – check the website for availability.  

Book it: St Hilda Sea Adventures.

Edinburgh

Luxury houseboat The Four Sisters accommodates up to four adults and two young children at its berth in Lochrin Basin, close to Fountainbridge in Edinburgh. An oak-lined interior provides a backdrop for the sumptuous styling – there’s a modern galley kitchen, a library for those rainy days, and a barbeque on deck for when the sun’s out. There’s even a massage chair in case you need to unwind after a hard day’s sightseeing! Edinburgh’s many attractions are a short distance away, from the iconic Royal Mile with Holyrood Palace at the bottom and Edinburgh Castle at the top, to the ghostly Mary King’s Close. Grab a coffee at The Elephant House, one of the birthplaces of Harry Potter, or check out the pubs and eateries in the Grass Market.

Book it: The Four Sisters https://www.thefoursisters.co.uk/ 

Machynlleth, Powys, Wales

The Boatel at Machynlleth. (Airbnb)

For those who love boats but feel seasick away from dry land, maybe this is the answer? Firmly in dry dock (unless it’s raining!), this ‘boatel’ is found in an acre of wildflower meadow in the beautiful Welsh countryside. Winner of Shed of the Year in 2013, the Boatel is full of rustic charm, perfect for a romantic getaway. A wood burner will keep you toasty as you enjoy views of Cader Idris, and when you want to explore, you’re on the edge of Snowdonia National Park and within an hour or so of Harlech, Barmouth, and Ludlow. 

Book it: Machynlleth Boatel



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