With waterside views as pretty as the Thames but with fewer people, some of London’s most charming local pubs can be found nestled in these leafy-covered waterways. We’ve handpicked the capital’s best canalside boozers to sink a pint or two in.
From Hackney Wick, the epicentre of canalside drinks in the sun, to Gordon Ramsay’s famous pub and restaurant, and a bursting with colour barge that’s been designed by none other than Sir Peter Blake himself, here are 11 places to slip back into your social life this weekend.
Away from the crowds of busy Upper Street in Angel, you’ll find this gem of a neighbourhood boozer nestled between the leafy Islington residential streets and the N1 Regent’s Canal.
Narrow by name and nature, it’s not the biggest of pubs but the long, banquet-style tables are perfect for boozy birthday lunches and long overdue catch-ups post-lockdown. Plus, the food is decent pub grub fare.
Book a table outside on the canal and pack your suncream – this is true London suntrap. The Narrowboat will re-open on 20th July 2020
The Narrow Boat, 119 St Peter’s Street, London, N1 8PZ
Head to Paddington’s Grand Union Canal for a rainbow-hued burst of colour and an Instagram opportunity for some of Britain’s most iconic artwork to go along with your Aperol spritz. The Darcie & May Green is a barge-cum-pub-cum-restaurant that has been designed in collaboration with none other than Sir Peter Blake – yep, the guy that only designed the most famous album cover of all time, The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
The food is as colorful as the barge itself, with an Australian-inspired menu of healthy, brunch-friendly options – think plenty of avo. They also do a mean banana bread and coffee if you’re not on the hard stuff.
Grand Union Canal, Sheldon Square, Paddington, Central W2 6DS
This Clapton pub is loved by locals for it’s tasty food – they do a great burger – sun terrace and location – it’s right next to Hackney Downs, some gorgeous canal walks and Europe’s largest urban wetland reserve, Lee Valley Park.
Head there for a long lunch, some G&Ts on the terrace before walking it off in the surrounding walking paths, long grass fields and winding canal walks.
It’s a real gem if you’re seeking some country R&R but can’t escape the city.
The Princess of Wales, 146 Lea Bridge Road, Clapton, London, E5 9RB
Hackney Wick is London’s number one choice if you’re serious about canalside boozing – the East London hipsterville plays host to a wealth of cool breweries, boozers and cafes.
Crate Bar & Pizza is a favourite, serving up stone-fired pizzas, craft ales and endless people watching.
Crate Bar & Pizza, Unit 7, Queens Yard, Hackney Wick, London, E9 5EN
This stunning, airy restaurant, bar and art space is the perfect place for weekend brunch, sundowners or pit stops post a canal walk.
Sitting between North and East London, it’s ideal if you’re taking a stroll from Angel to Victoria Park.
Start off with one of their famous Breakfasts in Bread. The dish that’s taken social media by storm takes a hollowed out, warm loaf and stuffs it with delights such as smoked salmon, crème fraiche, spinach, slow roasted tomato and leeks, or smoked bacon, slow roasted tomato, leeks, and oyster mushrooms, both topped with oozy cheese and a golden glossy egg.
Then move on to some of their epic cocktails from Bloody Marys to Breakfast Martinis.
The Barge House, 46a De Beauvoir Crescent, N1 5RY
Up to King’s Cross now and Granary Square where you’ll find some of London’s favourite dining haunts, from Dishoom to Caravan as well as Coal Drops Yard, which is full to bursting with shops, boutiques and cafes.
The Lighterman stands tall on the edge of the square looking over the famous water fountains and canalside amphitheatre seating, and gets its name from the industrial past of King’s Cross and the Victorian Lightermen who worked on flat-bottomed barges, known as “Lighters”, on the canals and rivers of London.
Now it plays host to gloriously long lunches and sun-filled drinking sessions on the open terrace.
3 Granary Square, King’s Cross, London, N1C 4BH
Famed for its market, music scene, punks and some of the best dive bars in London, iconic Camden is also home to some stunning Regent’s Canal walks.
Stop off at the Lockside Camden and take in some of the most eclectic people watching in the capital, from NW yuppies to original punks and tourists lapping it all up. The pub’s terrace overlooks the canal boats sailing past and the stunning weeping willow trees on the other side of the bank.
Find a table and don’t move – a good spot is like gold dust on a sunny afternoon.
Lockside Camden, 75-89 Upper Walkway, Camden Lock Place, NW1 8AF
Head north west from Camden and you’ll eventually hit Little Venice – one of London’s hidden gems. Its leafy waterways and A-list residents make it one of the capital’s most sought after postcodes, but even if you don’t dwell in the area, take a trip there come the weekend and book in at all-day dining and drinking spot The Waterway.
The outdoor terrace has spectacular views overlooking the beautiful Grand Union Canal and was even voted the best terrace in London. When the weather is on your side, an al fresco table will make you feel like you’re on holiday, but should the heavens open, seek shelter inside which is suitably cosy and feels a little like a ski chalet. The best of both worlds.
The menu is great too, with plenty of hearty dishes served straight from the grill.
The Waterway, 54 Formosa Street, London W9 2JU
This sweeping canalside bar and restaurant offers a little outdoor green oasis (although the astro turf grass is charmingly fake) in an otherwise very industrial part of town.
Watch below as the barges drift past and order from the seasonal, British classics menu, that features mouth-watering meat cuts from their own farm in Northumberland and fresh fish caught earlier that day.
Rotunda Bar & Restaurant, Kings Place, 90 York Way, Kings Cross N1 9AG
Gordon Ramsay’s Limehouse-located posh pub and kitchen is reopening from 4th July, offering waterside drinks in the sun and a delicious menu of Ramsay-style dishes. Think creamy mussels, pan-fried sea bream or one of their famous burgers.
But it’s the views that are really worth lapping up as the Narrow sits where the Regent’s Canal hits the Thames, making it a unique waterside watering hole what sits on both the canal and the river. Come nightfall, The Narrow looks particularly pretty with Limehouse’s flickering light reflecting on the water below.
The Narrow, 44 Narrow Street, Limehouse E14 8DP
Back at Hackney Wick, you’ll find one of London’s most unique dining spots, Barge East, which basically looks like a pirate ship-turned-restaurant. The floating boat restaurant AKA the De Hoop, is a historic 114-year-old Dutch Tjalk, that’s been lovingly restored using reclaimed materials and sailed on an epic journey across the North Sea from Holland to Hackney Wick.
It’s well worth a visit, but for a more casual affair, hit up their sister Street Kitchen and Gardens where you’ll find small plates such as panisses (chickpea fries) piled with decadent toppings and sharing dishes such as Masterstock braised beef, asian pickles and sriracha mayo burgers and comforting buttermilk fried chicken.
Take a seat at one of the tables amongst the plant beds and tuck into a long, lazy lunch and drinks in the sun.
Barge East, Sweetwater Mooring, White Post Lane, Hackney Wick E9 5EN