Perhaps you’ve already asked yourself the question "Hotel or houseboat?". The answer isn't clear-cut and both ways have their pros and cons. However, nothing truly equals holidaying on the water. We've put together nine reasons why it's worth choosing a houseboat over a hotel this year.
This is, without a doubt, the number one reason! If you've ever rented a houseboat (or even a sailboat or caravan), you’ll understand how having mobile accommodation is a completely different thing to a fixed hotel. Imagine that you’ve chosen a hotel that looks stunning in the photos, only to discover that the luxurious rooms are in miserable surroundings. Or there’s a rock festival happening right outside your window? Or there’s a noisy family next door? Either way, you’re pretty much stuck there for the rest of your holiday. But a houseboat is the ultimate in flexibility. If you don't like it somewhere, just weigh anchor and head somewhere else. And if you happen upon a spot where you’d like to spend more time, simply stay there a day or two longer.
If you choose a quiet place to moor, then it's just you and the houseboat surrounded by water. No running into annoying neighbours every morning at breakfast and you can savour your morning cup of coffee watching the sunrise in total peace with nothing to disturb you, apart from the dawn chorus of birdsong.
But even if you’re travelling with some rowdy kids, there will be no one else there to care and at worst they'll scare off a few ducks. In fact, they could be running around the deck from 6 am screaming their hearts out … although you yourselves might prefer to sleep in...
3. Active holidays
Holidays in a hotel are more about lazing around, but a holiday on a houseboat is all about active leisure time. Here, you’re always on the move, driving and manoeuvring the boat, exploring and discovering new places. It can be a bit of a step out of your comfort zone, especially for the first time, but each new place brings new experiences, joy and challenges that will enrich your life.
Combining a stay on a houseboat with cycling. is also a popular choice. Not only is there plenty of space to store bikes on board, but rivers and canals are lined with bike paths with rarely one that goes uphill. Having a bike also opens up a whole new world of opportunities.
4. Extraordinary experiences
How many of your friends have shown you their holiday photos from one of those typical hotels? Are there any real differences between them? But a houseboat is something unique. Your tales of boating along the canals in Holland or exploring Venice from the deck of a houseboat will be utterly compelling, and although piloting a houseboat is a bit of a challenge, it’s simple to master and to others you’ll always be a captain.
If you’re travelling with kids, holidaying on a houseboat will be an unforgettable experience. A cabin is not just any old hotel room, everything on a houseboat is just so practically and cleverly thought out! Children will even be fascinated by the shower or toilet. And what about the joy of going through locks... After the fifth time, they may get tired of it, but at first they'll sit on deck in wonder, carefully watching what's happening and trying to help out. If you encounter a friendly attendant, maybe they’ll even let the kids press some buttons. Plus, there are even self-service locks, which are quite the experience!
5. Without Covid
In these days of safety precautions, regulations and social distancing, there is really no better way to spend a holiday than on a houseboat. Everyone is more than two metres away and there’ll be no stray droplets landing on your breakfast. Many hotels today require certificates and declarations, but as a boat is not considered accommodation, rather a means of transport, such restrictions don’t apply. The only problem you might come across is not being able to travel to the destination country in the first place.
If you're sociable and love making friends, this type of travelling is perfect. This is not just a way to spend a holiday, it's a lifestyle. And the community around houseboats is warm and welcoming with everyone willing to advise and help or even just chat. You’ll quickly find that fellow houseboaters want to know where you're from and where you're going, and you’re sure to get some tips on amazing places in the area that can't be found in the guidebooks. And that is priceless!
7. Master of your own time
Except for a few mooring rules or opening hours, no one can dictate anything to you. We’re all familiar with working around a breakfast served from 7 till 9, when all we really want to do is sleep in or get up early to explore the region. On a houseboat, you cook your own meals and you decide when to have breakfast, lunch or dinner. Having to keep the noise down from 10pm to 7am also doesn't apply on a houseboat. As long as you find a quiet spot to moor where you won't disturb anyone, there's nothing stopping you from having an all night party. When boating, you’re simply free of any imposed daily schedule with no constraints imposed by the hotel's schedule or by other guests and staff. On a boat you are both the guest and the staff.
8. More range and flexibility
Did you set out to get to know the region? When you go to a hotel, you always have the same starting point, and from there you arrange excursions. Perhaps you can change hotels, but that means constant packing and unpacking. On a houseboat holiday, you can sleep at a different spot every single night. Moving along the river or canal, you take your stuff with you at all times, discovering more and more places on your adventure, further and further away from your starting point: a new place to moor and a new experience every day...
9. And the icing on the cake...
Water! A holiday on the water is something else altogether. Nowhere will you sleep as well as on a boat or houseboat, even if there’s a water bed in your hotel room. Gazing into the water is just amazingly relaxing, and the best part is that even if you're just sitting still on the deck of a houseboat, you're always on the move. Here, even the most steadfast workaholics forget what day of the week it is, the relentless pace of life calms down, your mind relaxes and the river flows...