Boutique Houseboat

Lichtenberg, Berlin, Germany Book from

Reviewed by Jenny Piening
A serene river retreat with panoramic views, just 15-30 minutes from the city centre (sleeps 2-4)
There is something wonderfully incongruous about visiting a buzzing capital city like Berlin, and staying on a tranquil houseboat where you are woken by nothing more than the contented quacking of ducks in the morning. The boat has a prime, front-row position on the outermost pier of Rummelsburger Lake marina (in fact, a quiet inlet of the River Spree), with unobstructed views across the bay towards the city-centre skyline. The landmark TV tower is smack bang in the middle of the horizon and, during our mid-winter stay, we couldn’t get enough of gazing out over the frozen river and spectacular changing skies.

The floor-to-ceiling windows and outdoor deck (stretching the length of the boat) are designed to maximise the experience of being on the water, although there is nothing maritime about the sleek interior. Dominated by pale polished concrete and natural pine, there’s a cool double bedroom and a minimalist white kitchen for self-catering. Metal crossbeams add a slightly industrial touch, but the comfy block-colour sofa and warming wood-burner ensure everyone’s kept suitably snug.

Highs

  • A unique place to stay with mesmerising river views, stylish interiors and a private deck - the perfect retreat after a day’s sightseeing
  • Owners (and brothers) Chris and Oliver are extremely friendly - they usually greet arriving guests and can drop by if you need help
  • There's a lovely café 5 minutes away serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, and you're a 10-minute tram ride from buzzy Friedrichshain
  • With one double bedroom and a sofabed in the living room, this is a fun option for a chilled-out couple or an adventurous family
  • It's an excellent base for riverside walks, boat trips and cycle rides (bikes are provided from March-Nov)

Lows

  • The houseboat is 15-30 minutes from the city centre, so it won’t suit those looking to stay in the heart of the action
  • The area just behind the marina is bland and industrial, and apart from a Lidl supermarket there's little infrastructure
  • A fairly expensive option for 2 people considering the out-of-the-way location (you're paying for the unique experience) - however, for a family of 4 it works out more reasonably
  • As the floor is just above the water, it is quite cold underfoot in winter, although slippers are provided
  • No twin beds and no oven

Best time to go

Berlin is a year-round destination. Summers are similar to the UK, perhaps a little warmer and more humid. Winters can be bitingly cold, but as long as you are wrapped up well, a crisp, clear January day would be perfect to explore the city without the crowds. It can get busy during fairs and festivals (such as the Berlinale film festival in February) and the Christmas markets (late November to end of December).

Although it can be lovely and cosy staying on the houseboat in winter, especially after lighting the wood-burning stove, those sensitive to the cold should be aware that it will probably be a few degrees cooler than the average hotel room or apartment.

Our top tips

If being by the river puts you in the mood for a swim, visit the Badeschiff (“bathing ship”) in Kreuzberg, a heated outdoor pool moored on the river, with an adjoining “beach” (closed for the winter season at the time of writing, but usually open all year round). Alternatively, the Neo-classical-style public pool (and sauna) in Neukölln, built in 1914, has been recently revamped to its former glory.

Great for...

City Style
Family
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Houseboat
  • 1 bedroom (sleeps 2-4)
  • Self-catering
  • Best for older children
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Concierge Service
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

Modern, calm and uncluttered, the houseboat’s sense of space is accentuated by floor-to-ceiling windows framing panoramic views across the bay. You enter straight into the open-plan kitchen, with a sleek concrete island that doubles up as a dining table (seats 4 at a squeeze). The living room has a comfy seating area with block-like cushions in bold shades of plum and berry, and a pull-down double bed if required. There’s a TV, a small iPod dock with a speaker, and a wood-burning stove - a cosy (and necessary) addition if you’re staying in winter.

The bedroom is separated from the living area by a dividing wall and an opaque glass sliding door. It has a double bed and an adjoining shower room. There's a separate toilet by the front door.

Outside, the wooden deck is fairly narrow but it stretches the length of the boat, providing enough space for 4 people to comfortably sit or lounge. Electric blinds can be drawn, but you may choose to leave them open as nobody can look in (unless a boat passes by!); waking up to the sight of the lake, and swans gliding by, is magical.

The boat is firmly moored, so it barely rocks, except in a storm. It is also extremely quiet, with only the sound of lapping water or the occasional quacking of ducks to break the peace.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Dishwasher
  • Extra beds
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob stove
  • Ipod dock
  • Microwave
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toaster
  • WiFi
  • Wood-burner

Eating

The kitchen is well-equipped with an electric hob, a microwave and a fridge-freezer. You get tea and coffee as standard, and there’s also a kettle, a coffee machine, a toaster and all the essential pots, pans and crockery. However, there isn’t a washing machine or an oven, which isn’t ideal for longer stays.

There is a Aldi supermarket 5 minutes from the houseboat, which is good for stocking up on ingredients, but for tastier fare you will have to head further into town - we like the Saturday market on Boxhagener Platz in Friedrichshain, just 10 minutes away by tram, which is very popular with locals.

There is a lovely restaurant-café, Hafenküche, on the marina complex (5 minutes from the houseboat). It's open all day; the only downside is that it only opens for breakfast at 10am on weekdays (9am at weekends). For more options you will have to head further into town: nearby Friedrichshain is choc-a-block with cafés and restaurants.

Features include:

  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob stove
  • Microwave
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Toaster
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • The houseboat is a great base for outdoor activities, from renting a boat to walking or cycling along the river. Bikes are provided March-November and you can cycle all the way into the centre of town in about 15-30 minutes
  • ...Or if you head round the bay in the opposite direction, you'll reach Treptower Park where you shouldn’t miss a visit to the vast and impressive Soviet War Memorial
  • Ten minutes on the tram towards the city centre takes you to the young, lively district of Friedrichshain, ideal for browsing independent shops and watching the world go by from sidewalk cafés
  • If you catch public transport into town, you will have to change from the tram to the U-Bahn (underground train) at Frankfurter Tor. The area is interesting for its Stalinist architecture, particularly its prominent twin towers built in the 1950s
  • From Frankfurter Tor it’s less than 10 minutes on the U-Bahn to Alexanderplatz, from where many of the city’s cultural highlights are within easy reach. You can walk or catch a bus to Museum Island, the Brandenburg Gate, bustling Friedrichstrasse and the pretty Gendarmenmarkt square
  • For something a bit different, but really fascinating, take a guided tour of the former Tempelhof Airport

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Cycling
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Private guided tours
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets

Kids

The houseboat is a fun, practical option for families with older kids who can already swim. Not only is the boat self-catering, there is also plenty to keep children occupied - from looking around all the other boats in the marina to exploring the riverside trails. Kids will also enjoy watching river life from the deck (including swans, cormorants, boats and the occasional sea-plane!). The nearby Hafenküche restaurant is very child-friendly, and for rainy days there is even an indoor climbing wall on the marina complex.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

The houseboat can sleep a maximum of 2 adults and 2 children, using the double bedroom and a pull-out sofabed.

Families Should Know:

The houseboat is not a great option for families with toddlers and young children because you are never more than a few steps away from the water. In winter the narrow pier leading to the boat, as well as the deck, can get icy and slippery - all kids need to be very careful here as there are no railings.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
8/
Service
8/
Value
9/
Overall

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