When the only roads were Roman, the London canal system was the veins to the Thames main artery. The life blood of the industrial revolution, these man-made watery furrows pumped the fuel of modernity to the heart of England. Today, the genteel sway of moored houseboats echo faintly with the ghostly clatter of hooves in memory of the shire horses that once pulled the barges along the water.
5 Things to Do in Little Venice London
One of London’s best kept secrets, Little Venice will bring out the poet in you. This lovely neighbourhood, located in the prosperous environs of Maida Vale, is the point where Regents Canal meets the Grand Union Canal and is lined with weeping willows and flanked by elegant stucco John Nash-designed Regency mansions. Colourfully painted houseboats and barges adorned with window boxes spilling over with floral arrangements overlook the ducks, geese and occasional heron dotted along the canal.
Here are the 5 best attractions of Little Venice…
The Waterway Restaurant Grand Union Canal
For the past 10 years, The Waterway Restaurant has become one of the most popular locations to enjoy the scenic views of the beautiful Grand Union Canal. Possessed of outdoor terracing with 120 seats, it is an ideal place to enjoy brunch in the summer months while waving to the sedate water travelers passing by. In the winter months, clientele can withdraw to the alpine-inspired wooden clad interior to appreciate a superb menu, fine wines and the occasional live music.
The Waterway, 54 Formosa Street, London, W9 2JU; Tel +44 (0) 20 7266 3557; Opening Times – Mon -Fri: 12pm 11pm, Sat: 10.30am 11pm, Sun: 11am 10.30pm; Warwick Avenue Tube (Bakerloo Line)
Just like its sister restaurant The Waterway, The Summerhouse restaurant is situated on the edge of the Grand Union Canal. With its ‘blue-and-white’ with a maritime feel interior design, this fabulously stylish eatery certainly wouldn’t look out of place in Italy’s Venice. Diners can enjoy lovely summer salads or the best fish and chips in town, whilst overlooking the gentle flow of the canal. Open all year round, you can also choose to ensconce yourself in the lounge where you can sip on a crisp refreshing rose wine while sharing a delicious platter of seafood.
The Summerhouse, Opposite 60 Blomfield Road, W9 2PA; Tel +44 (0) 20 7286 6752; Opening Times – Mon-Fri: 12pm-3.30pm & 6pm-10.30pm, Sat: 10.30am-4.30pm & 6.30pm-10.30pm; Sun: 10.30am-4.30pm & 6.30pm-10pm; Warwick Avenue Tube (Bakerloo Line)
Bridge House Pub, the Canal Café Theatre
Canal Café Theatre
Set above the welcoming Bridge House Pub, the Canal Café Theatre has been perched on the edge of the canal since 1979. This intimate and candle-lit tabled venue offers a perfect location to view the latest talent in live comedy and cabaret style theatre. Home to NewsRevue (officially “the world’s longest running live comedy show”, which runs four nights a week), the audience can bring their drinks from downstairs from the pub and enjoy the entertainment. With open-mic storytelling also on the menu, the Canal Café Theatre remains a vibrant sparky location on the fringe comedy circuit.
The Bridge House Pub, Little Venice, London W2 6ND; Tel +44 (0) 20 7289 6054; Opening Times Mon-Sat: 7pm-10pm; Pricing £9.50 (ADULTS), £7.50 (CONCS); Warwick Avenue Tube (Bakerloo), Royal Oak Tube (Hammersmith & City Line)
Puppet Theatre Barge London
Landlubbers can don their “sea legs” and climb aboard the Puppet Theatre Barge and let their imaginations run riot during a marionette puppetry performance. Open since 1982, Movingstage Theatre Company present a wide range of productions, from fairy tales to adaptations of Shakespeare, in an otherworldly space of wooden puppets, strings, light and music. The theatre seats 55 and has all the conveniences and facilities of a modern venue.
Puppet Theatre Barge, Little Venice, opposite 35 Blomfield Road, London W9 2PF; Tel: +44 (0) 20 7249 6876; Mob: +44 (0) 7836 202 745; Pricing Children £8.50 Adults £10.00; Warwick Avenue Tube (Bakerloo Line)
If you want to experience first-hand the ways of the canal, then Jason’s Trip is a must. Operating since 1951, this is the premier Regent’s Canal tour and you can take it aboard an authentic 100-year-old canal boat “Jason”, which was originally used as a cargo-vessel barge in its younger days. In a 45 minute journey you can travel from your starting point in Little Venice along the thin winding corridors of the North West London canal towards the heart of Camden Market. A live commentary will give you a glimpse into the historical importance of the canal, in regard to London’s industrial heritage, while highlighting the modern adaptations of this beautiful waterway.
Jasons Wharf, Opposite 60 Blomfield Road, Little Venice, London W9 2PD; Tel: +44 (0) 20 7286 3428; Opening Times: Apr to Nov: Depart Little Venice: 10.30am (not in Oct), 12.30pm, 2.30pm, 4.30pm; Jun to Sep only weekends & Bank Holidays: Prices: Single: £8.00 (Adults), £7.00 (Concs) | Return: £9.00 (Adults), £8.00 (Concs); Warwick Avenue Tube (Bakerloo Line)