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Sleep on the water with these 8 unique European boat rentals

Aug. 08, 2020
8 min read
Sailing on the Mediteranean Sea
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As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip.

This summer has been a little different. Instead of hitting Ibiza's night life scene or jetting off to far-flung Asian islands, maybe you're considering a staycation. Either way, this year's #summergoals include having fun without getting too close to, well, pretty much anyone else.

One way to do something fun and different while maintaining social distance is to rent your own boat. Obviously, we are not referring to a crowded cruise ship, nor are we suggesting you sail around the world. Instead, we've gathered a list of some of the private overnight boat stays (docked) within Europe so one day you can enjoy being on the water, whether that be a houseboat in Amsterdam, a snazzy yacht or a sailboat in the Mediterranean.

This could be you this summer! (Photo by Gary John Norman/Getty Images)
This could be you! (Photo by Gary John Norman/Getty Images)

Before we dive into options, there are a few things to consider when staying on a boat:

  • You can always ask your host, rental company or hotel staff if someone can take you out on a boat ride. Do not attempt this yourself.
  • Cooking facilities, showering facilities and general space will likely be limited, so prepare accordingly -- pack light.
  • Seek out remedies if you're prone to motion sickness. Even though your boat is docked, it will still be rocking on the water, especially if it's docked at sea.
  • Be aware that certain harbors or marinas are not directly in the city center so it may take you longer to get to landmarks or tourist attractions.

It's also worth noting that there are many websites out there for boat rentals, such as Boatsetter, Samboat, Get My Boat and Click & Boat (this one is U.K.-based). Or, you can search on regular rental sites like Airbnb and VRBO. When searching on a site dedicated to boats, make sure to specify that you want an overnight rental. When searching on a regular rental site, head to filters and click the boat or houseboat options. Or, just refer to this handy list of our favorites.

Related: Airbnb, Vrbo and more: Comparing popular vacation home-booking sites

1. Romantic (and sustainable) Parisian escape, France

(Photo courtesy of boat owner/Airbnb)
(Photo courtesy of host/Airbnb)

This renovated houseboat perched on the Seine dates back to 1910 but has been outfitted with all the modern comforts. The boat features a kitchen, bathroom and two separate sleeping spaces for four guests, but the real highlights of this rental are the two spacious, plant-covered terraces that overlook the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and other Parisian landmarks. Those wanting a getaway with all the luxuries will enjoy the double bathroom sinks, full bathtub, Nespresso machine and wine cabinet. But the best part? The owner plants a tree for every stay!

Prices start at $372 per night excluding cleaning fees.

2. Chic houseboat getaway, Belgium

(Photo courtesy of host/Airbnb)

This houseboat which sleeps up to four guests feels more like a stylish loft than a rustic boat. It's docked in the Westhoek Marina, part of the Gravensluis lock of the Yser River. The modern, peaceful space offers a kitchen, bathroom, two bedrooms and a beautiful outdoor deck overlooking the water. There's even a sunbathing rooftop terrace too. The marina features a restaurant and barbecue area, kayak rentals and the option to hire a skipper and motorboat to cruise the river. If you'd like to get out onto dry land, you can rent bicycles or electric golf carts too.

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Prices start at $179 per night excluding service and cleaning fees.

3. Artsy London houseboat, U.K.

(Photo by @claremontvillasuk)
(Photo courtesy @claremontvillasuk)

For a truly shagadelic London adventure, stay on this houseboat near Victoria Park on Bow Wharf. Painted by famous artist Camille Walala, the two-bedroom, one-and-a-half bathroom boat is ideal for travelers wanting a little extra fun, featuring leopard-print wallpaper and a velvet couch. This stylish boat is truly unique -- the kitchen sink is actually a vintage bassinet, and this is one of the few houseboats that has its own British antique fireplace.

Prices start at $157 per night cleaning fees.

4. Canal houseboat holiday, the Netherlands

(Photo courtesy of host/Airbnb)
(Photo courtesy of host/Airbnb)

If you've ever dreamed of an Amsterdam canal houseboat studio experience, this is it. Watch the world go by on your private deck, or walk a few minutes to the nearest bus stop to get out and explore the canals and city of Amsterdam. The houseboat (which is shared, but the studio has a private entrance and own deck) is perfect for two, with a bedroom, kitchenette area and bathroom -- just note you'll need to crouch down through a hatch to get inside.

Prices start at $130 per night excluding service and cleaning fees.

5. Group Adriatic sailboat adventure, Dubrovnik, Croatia

Families or groups will love this four-bedroom, two-bathroom sailboat with a kitchen that can hold up to eight guests. The boat will stay docked at the ACI Marina Dubrovnik unless you request the owners take you out for a sail on the azure Adriatic Sea at an additional cost -- or prepare you fresh seafood for dinner. The walled city center of Dubrovnik is reachable by car.

Prices start at $143 per night excluding service fees.

6. Finnish floating cabin, Porvoo, Finland

(Photo courtesy of host/Airbnb)
(Photo courtesy of host/Airbnb)

Unique boat experiences can also be found in Nordic countries. About 50 miles away from Helsinki, this charming Finnish cabin floats on the Porvoo River. The location is quaint and quiet, and the cabin can comfortably sleep two. The space is small but has a kitchen, bathroom and a small deck where guests can relax and admire the river life. Bicycle rentals are also available.

Prices start at $235 per night excluding service fees.

7. Glamorous French Riviera yachting, Cannes, France

(Photo courtesy of renter/Airbnb)
(Photo courtesy of host/Airbnb)

There's not much that seems fancier than yachting around the French Riviera. Rent this Galeon Fly 380 yacht in Cannes, which has two luxury cabins, a bathroom, kitchen and living area that can sleep four guests. With a few different terrace options, you can have fun in the sun or shade on this gorgeous yacht. Cruise the Côte d'Azur's turquoise waters led by a captain at an additional charge.

Prices start at $569 per night excluding service and occupancy fees.

8. The Titanic, Liverpool, U.K.

This boat on the Mersey River was made to look like the original Titanic -- the living room depicts the grand staircase, and bunk bedrooms for kids are even labeled as second and third class. Best for those wanting a kitschy, original stay for a bit of fun, the boat has three bedrooms which can comfortably sleep nine. Its location in the Liverpool Marina is close to plenty of attractions and landmarks.

Prices start at $476 excluding service and cleaning fees.

Bottom line

(Photo by Westend61/Getty)
(Photo courtesy of Westend61/Getty)

If you want a unique, memorable vacation, renting a boat may be just the right idea -- and it's easy to social distance once you're in your own space in the water. From budget sailboats to midrange houseboats to luxury yacht splurges in varying countries, there's a boat rental right for everyone.

Featured image by Getty Images/iStockphoto