Choosing a Canal Boat

When you book your holiday on a narrow-boat, the boat that you choose will have changed very little (on the outside at least) from the narrow-boats people used over a century ago. It is inside where things have changed. These seven ft wide narrow-boats have become intelligently designed to offer comfy holiday lodgings for as many as twelve adults.

Boats available for books can vary in design, size and the equipment that you will have available. This guide has been written to help you with choosing a canal boat.


All boats have got a fixed single beds (berths) and some have fixed double beds (often approximately 4 ft wide). If you want to save some money by hiring a smaller boat for a large party you will often find many which have a table or seating area in the saloon which conveniently converts into a double bed.

  • If unsure, we would advise you to always opt for more room, as opposed to less.
  • If your party is a small one (say 4 adults for instance) it would be a good idea to select a boat with fixed beds for at least 4 or a 6 berth with a transformable saloon (which you would not use).
  • The more expensive boats will often have separate private cabins for sleeping which sometime have en-suite shower and toilet amenities.

Typical Narrowboat Layouts

4 Berths

6 Berths

10 Berths


You will usually find all the comforts of home on a canal boat. although the equipment included can vary depending on the boat.

On most boats expect to find:

  • Beds with sprung or foam mattresses.
  • Bedsheets, duvets and bath towels (usually one per person)
  • Kitchen (galley) furnished with a fridge, cooker, cutlery, crockery, toaster and pans.
  • Shower(s)
  • Flushing toilet(s)
  • Cold and hot running water.
  • Heating.
  • A TV
  • DVD player
  • Music entertainment systems
  • Central heating

On some boats:

  • Microwave
  • Freezer
  • Security safe
  • Mobile Wi-Fi