A truly unique experience
What is hotel barging? Despite the growing popularity of cruising, particularly on large river boats, this is still a little known niche concept within the vast cruise industry. Maybe the term “barging” deters interest, conjuring up images of narrowboats or coal lighters. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
Most hotel barges started life as cargo vessels but have since been painstakingly converted to offer luxury boutique accommodation for small groups of up to 20 passengers. This is cruising, but in a very different style to ships plying the big rivers or oceans. The pace is slow, with a 6 day cruise often covering little more than 50 miles along a rural canal.
Passengers can walk or cycle the towpaths and never be left behind as their floating hotel glides gently along. The idea is to offer guests full immersion into the culture, history and gastronomy of one of a number of fascinating regions of Europe such as Burgundy, the Midi, Alsace, the Italian Veneto and the Scottish Highlands. Every day, when not cruising, there is an escorted excursion, perhaps to a vineyard for a wine tasting, a market where the chef might buy fresh local ingredients for the gourmet evening meal, or a visit to a unique “off the beaten track” location that you would probably never find on your own. These could be perhaps to still-inhabited troglodyte cave dwellings, a private château, or to see an olive oil press at work and sample its produce.
Surprisingly for such a largely unknown travel concept we, European Waterways, Europe’s leading hotel barging company has been offering its exclusive floating hotels for nearly 40 years. There are 17 vessels in the fleet, the best known of which is Anjodi, star of Rick Stein’s award winning BBC TV series “French Odyssey”, which transported him along the Canal du Midi on a voyage of culinary discovery. Our other hotel barges offer the same intimate atmosphere, all with high levels of personal service and access to the tranquillity of smaller waterways which larger vessels cannot reach.
About half of our bookings are for whole boat charters. The small passenger capacity offers a unique opportunity for groups of friends or family to enjoy their own bespoke private cruise.. A wide range of themed charter cruises is also on offer, such as golf, walking, wine appreciation and opera. Otherwise, our clients book a cabin to join the floating house party, hosted by the Captain and pampered by the chef and the rest of the crew.
Whether you charter or book a cabin on one of our hotel barges, you will enjoy gourmet meals, fine wines, an open bar, escorted excursions in a chauffeured minibus and local transfers – all included in the price.
Whether you fancy a soak in the on deck spa-pool, a game of boules on the bank or just to sit and watch the sun go down over the countryside with cocktail in hand, a “slow boat” European Waterways hotel barge cruise offers the ultimate in experiential travel.