How to stay on a traditional (but hi-tech) houseboat 

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  • Because everyone should experience London on the canals at least once 

    The way homestay site, The Plum Guide, is different to other rental companies is that they work with the owners to tailor your time.

    In our case, having chosen to stay in one of their North West London houseboats (one of their 870 properties in the capital), it involved our nautical accommodation, a dinner at Notting Hill’s vegan and organic restaurant Farmacy and a day in the life of a skipper driving a GoBoat.

    Stepping out of the tube station, it felt surreal trying to locate the Velvet Morning.

    My phone map could only take me so far and then it was up to me to navigate the London canals.

    Greeted by our host and a generous hamper (filled with champagne truffles, prosecco, strawberries and breakfast fare), it didn’t take long to feel at home.

    While the houseboat offers endless authenticity (a log burner, no TV etc), the subtle addition of a Google Home (via their partnership with The Plum Guide) is almost like having your very own concierge desk. Not only did it save me time, it also enhanced our homestay.


    ‘OK Google, play some Sam Cooke,’ and we immediately had on some soul. ‘Hey Google, where’s our closest supermarket?’ and we could stock up on supplies.

    In the evening of our stay, I got ready in the bathroom, which boasts a freestanding bath and generous views of the canal over the sink.

    A 15-minute walk away, Farmacy impressed us (one vegetarian, one carnivore) with its varied offering. The wine list alone included organic wines, biodynamic wines and sulphur free and minimal intervention wines. And, don’t get us started on the cocktails and a la carte menu. Even if you’re not usually into organic food, or vegetarian food, we defy you not to love this place.

    Heading back for a nightcap at the boat (in front of the fire, of course), we crawled into bed, with hot water bottles warming our feet, and fell asleep to the sounds of nature.

    The next morning, we pottered around the kitchen making mimosas, eggs and avocado on toast (we’re still in London, after all!) before embarking on a GoBoat tour around the canals.

    Starting off in Paddington, our route took us to Camden lock via Little Venice – where we could still see the Velvet Morning (or ‘home’, as I got used to calling it after just one night.)

    Hosting a few friends on our GoBoat, the concept allows you to drive the sustainably built boat, complete with a picnic table, around the canals with whatever catering you’re willing to bring. Playing skipper for two hours is an experience everyone should try at least once.

    Oh, and did I wear Breton stripes for my weekend? You betcha I did.

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