London Highlights Cruise


Kailani becomes the only hotel boat certified to navigate

central London sights via the tidal River Thames

We are delighted to announce that Kailani has become the only hotel boat certified to navigate the tidal section of the River Thames. This follows the completion of modifications required by the Port of London Authority (PLA) to any small commercial craft wishing to access this stretch of the Thames. This means Kailani is the only hotel boat allowed to travel through Tower Bridge and see sights from the water including the London Eye, Westminster Bridge, HMS Belfast, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, and many more.

Kailani on the River Thames entering Tower Bridge

Kailani cruising along to Tower Bridge

The work on Kailani (which is five feet, or 1.5 metres, wider than a traditional narrowboat) follows the banning of small commercial craft and hire boats from this section of the River Thames in 2014 by the PLA due to a number of hire boats getting into difficulties on this tidal stretch. Those travelling from Limehouse to Teddington must now be fully qualified like your crew – Gordon and Dorenda – who are both qualified RYA Inland Waterways Helmsmen and crew; and also take on board a Local Knowledge Expert (LKE) to ensure safe passage.

Safety work including the installation of extra water and fire alarms was carried out by Lee Valley Marina near Ware in Hertfordshire. Additional emergency procedures were planned and written as part of the modifications. Kailani was inspected by PLA surveyors and is now certified as a ‘Category C’ boat meaning she complies with PLA rules for this stretch of the Thames. Hire boats still cannot go on the tidal stretch, except between Brentford and Teddington to get on and off the Thames from the Grand Union Canal due to the modifications needed.

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament from Kailani

View from Kailani of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament

Kailani is one of only three 5 Star hotel boats in England and guests on the home-from-home luxury boat, which sleeps up to four guests, can see the capital in style as part of a three to six night fully-catered break. The route through the waterways of central London is part the London Ring canal network. Kailani joins the Thames from her route on the Lee and Stort Navigation and continues to Lechlade, a small market town on the southern edge of the Cotswolds which is the furthest navigable upstream point of the Thames. She also travels on the Grand Union Canal and the Kennet & Avon Canal.

After Kailani’s inaugural Thames trip Gordon Horry, who designed the boat with partner Dorenda Wrigley, which won the prestigious Lionel Munk Trophy for the best commercially-built boat in 2013, said “We’re really proud of Kailani – she handled extremely well on her inaugural Thames trip since the modifications and attracted admiring glances from hundreds along the route, especially on the Millennium Bridge. We love offering holiday makers something different, and which – at the moment – is unique to Kailani.”

Hotel Boat Kailani