The Harpy Houseboat

England / Tower Bridge, London
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The Harpy Houseboat - welcome aboard London's oldest houseboat, with majestic views of Tower Bridge.

For a floating break with a difference; in the heart of London but with a sense of getting away from it all - a stay aboard the amazing four-bedroom Harpy Houseboat.  The Harpy spent much of the last century as 'HMS Harpy'; an Edwardian Customs & Excise pontoon office, built in 1904; a grand old lady she is. King George V paid an official visit in 1920; there's a photo of that on board.  In private use for the past 36 years she has been restored and transformed into an exceptional London home, now available as a holiday let. With 1,850 sq. ft. (172 sq. m.) of internal space and 2,500 sq. ft. (232 q. m.) of external decks, The Harpy is one of the largest Thames houseboats.

Heal's 1920's oak furniture, Egyptian linen, eclectic art & objects, fibre optic Wi-Fi, Sky Q TV & Sonos sound system, and that view, make staying on board a memorable experience.

The Harpy has mains water (with an alkaline water filtration system), mains electricity, mains gas (with gas central heating and gas cooking), landline telephones in each room, (connected to the security entryphone at the gate), fibre optic Wi-Fi and Sky Q TV. 

The upper deck living space is a 60ft (18.3m) x 16ft 9" (5,13m); a 926 sq. ft. (86 sq. m.) open plan living/dining/kitchen; with 22 windows and exposed timber trusses to the 11ft 9in (3.6m) high ceiling. 

The living area seats 10-12; an enormous B&B Italia sofa, 1928 'LC2' Le Corbusier chairs, 1935 Alvar Aalto bentwood chairs and a Muji sofa. The dining table was designed in 1922 by Heal's for Winston Churchill's Chartwell country house. 

The study area has large pedestal desk, a 1920's oak and leather office chair, 1925 Savoy Bar chair, a large curved monitor screen and printer. All the lighting is LED. On the upper deck, most of it is on dimmers.

From the living-dining-kitchen, there are 2 doors and a French window onto the 1,259 sq. ft. (117 sq. m.) upper deck, with an eight-seater teak dining table, a serving table and two benches, with the postcard view of Tower Bridge and City skyline down to Canary Wharf. There is external upper deck bulkhead lighting and stainless steel safety wires between the deck rails.

The kitchen is packed with top quality kit including a Neff gas hob & oven, a big (or is that bigly?) American fridge/freezer/ice-maker, microwave and Miele dishwasher, a ground coffee cappuccino machine, rice steamer, juicer and all the basics; chef's knives, kettle, toaster, blenders, cafetieres and Le Creuset pots and pans, graters, measuring jugs, mixing bowls, oven gloves, tea towels etc; making a fine place to cook. It is also equipped with a Conran beech kitchen table, Emeco 1944 aluminium US Navy chairs and a 1950s Hygena kitchen unit.  There is plenty of crockery/serving dishes and cutlery; generally 18 of everything.  Guests are welcome to use the herbs, spices, oils and dried foods on board. Off the entrance hall is a laundry cupboard with a Miele washer/dryer.

There are Turkish kilims, tribal fabrics from the Congo, a unicorn (coming out of the wall) in the dining area and a model of a 1940's American Corsair fighter plane over the stairs. The art on board includes works by Gladys M. Black, Eric Rimmington, Patrice Moor, Michael B White, Keggie Carew, Julie Wadsworth and Rosannah Wadsworth. There is a set of original 1890's photos of Tower Bridge under construction and (in Cabin 4) a collection of historic maps of the area, the earliest being 1720.

Unlike most houseboats, all cabins are above deck with river views. Master Cabin 1 has a large window (with remote control electric curtains), overlooking Tower Bridge.  The king size bed, 6ft (183cm) x 6ft 6in (198cm) is a 1920's Heal's oak four poster originally owned by Daisy Fellowes, a well-known socialite of the time and Great Aunt of Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes, no less.

Most of the furniture on board is 1920's early modernist Heal's oak; an impressive collection of 52 pieces at the last count.

Cabin 1 has two bedside tables, two wardrobes, a full length 1930s draper's shop mirror, oak desk, stool and a sofa and three kilims. The ensuite bath has a riveted cast iron free-standing tub (if Captain Pugwash made baths, they would look like this), with hand shower, a separate shower, loo, large basin, mirrored cupboards, side lighting and two heated towel rails.  Sonos speakers, a new Sony HD TV, SKY Q, electric curtains and limed oak wooden Venetian blinds make this an exceptional bedroom: ‘The bed with best view in London'. Master Cabin 1 also has a private deck area, with two deck chairs and side table.

Cabin 2 has a queen size double bed; 5ft (150cm) x 6ft 3in(190cm), two bedside tables, touch controlled bedside lights, wardrobe with full-length mirror, bookcase cabinet, small table, stool and three kilims. 

Cabin 3 has a standard size double bed; 140cm (4ft 6ins) x 190cm (6ft 3ins), two bedside tables, touch controlled bedside lights, wardrobe with a full-length mirror, dressing table, stool and two kilims. 

Cabin 4 has two 2ft 6in (75cm) x 6ft 3ins (190cm) single beds with zip-linked mattresses to make a queen size double bed; 5ft (150cm) x 6ft 3ins (190cm).  With single beds, there is one bedside table and light, with a double there are two bedside tables and lights. There is a wardrobe with a full-length mirror, a chest of drawers, desk, stool, Sony TV and TV cabinet and two kilims.

The sprung mattresses have all organic British wool fillings with cotton covers and no fire retardant chemicals. The linen in all cabins is Egyptian white cotton, professionally laundered and pressed before each letting. The duvets are feather and down, as are the pillows, with anti-allergy covers. There is an ample supply of towels and bathmats.

Bathroom 2 has a bath with overhead shower, separate hand shower, mirrored cupboards, side lighting and two heated towel rails. The guest loo has a basin, mirrored cupboard, and heated towel rail.

Floors throughout are oak. All the doors are French polished mahogany. There are curtains and/or blinds in all rooms and loads of cushions.

Location-wise, you are in strolling distance of Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, HMS Belfast and St Katharine Dock. Tate Modern, Shakespeare's Globe and St Paul's Cathedral are within walking distance. Southbank Centre, the London Eye, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament are easily reached a little further along the Thames. Borough Market (by London Bridge), Maltby Street Market and Bermondsey Antique Market, are all within easy walking distance.

This must be the best houseboat in town - you're sure to be raving about The Harpy long after you return home.

Things to note


Minimum 3 nights, the property is accessible 24/7, laundry service is included, children welcomed, unsuitable for elderly or infirm, smoking is permitted on the decks only, low allergen environment, check-in 4pm, check-out 11am.

Prices are from £550 to £610 per night plus £100 cleaning and laundry costs. £550 is the base price with £10 per person per night after the first two. 

Tried and tested

"The only downside is that I only stayed for 4 nights! What a fantastic place and host, I will certainly be returning."
Richard

"The greatest danger of staying on the Harpy may be that you could prefer to stay at 'home' and enjoy being on the boat rather than getting out to explore London! Floating on the Thames with stunning viws of the Tower Bridge was marvellous."
Philip
 

Premier host
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The basics

Region: Tower Bridge, London
Cost (from): £550 per night
Sleeps: 8
Bedrooms: 4
Bathrooms: 3
Minimum stay: 3 nights
Property ref: 294

Facilities

Sleeps up to 8, double bedroom, 2 queen bedrooms, king bedroom, baby crib, 2 single beds (which can be configured as a queen size), Egyptian linen bedding & towels included, 3 bathrooms, hairdryer, fully-equipped kitchen, grill, stove, oven, microwave, dishwasher, fridge, toaster, utensils, rice steamer, water cooler & purifier, coffee machine, blender, vacuum cleaner, washing machine, iron & ironing board, clothes dryer, lounge, SkyQ TV, DVD player, Sonos/Bose sound system, fibre optic WiFi, telephone, private balcony, terrace, deck chairs, parking.

Local activities

Tower Bridge, The Shard, art galleries, restaurants, theatre, river cruises, museums, St Katherine's Docks, kayaking, canal tours, tennis, yoga, cycling.

At a glance

  • Luxury four-bedroom houseboat with exceptional views of Tower Bridge, on the south side of the River Thames with car parking available.
  • Children are welcome, however the boat is not suitable for the infirm.
  • Linen and towels are provided.
  • Smoking is permitted only on the external decks.
  • The closest Underground station is Bermondsey; a 10 minute walk and London Bridge; 15 minutes. A wealth of dining, drinking, shopping and entertainment venues are nearby; there are nine restaurants in the 400m between The Harpy and Tower Bridge alone, including Blueprint, Le Pont-de-la-Tour and Chop House.
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