I really do get to see and do it all with the Love Pop Ups London crowd! Last week (on the first rainy day post heat wave), we decamped to West India Quay to go on a HotTug. Yes I said HotTug and not hot tub…. read on to find out more about this unique London experience!
*Full disclosure, my experience on the HotTug was free in exchange for this honest review*
What is it?
When I told people that I was going on a HotTug several of them turned around and said ‘surely you mean hot tub’. Well no I didn’t! HotTug is a hot tub, but also a boat. It’s basically a floating hot tub with a motor, so you can drive it around. So far so bizarre… but actually this makes a really interesting and fun experience! As long as you don’t mind Londoners seeing you in your swim suit!
There are two London locations: Angel and the recently opened West India Quay. We went to the new one to check it out.
Getting there was a bit interesting. The Quay is actually quite a large space, so whilst you might head to the DLR station, you still need to walk for a few minutes before you’ll find HotTug. It’s at the far end of the dock area, next to St Peter’s barge, a floating church.
Once we arrived, I ducked into Pizza Pilgrims to use the loo and change into my swimsuit (they have an agreement that HotTug customers can use their facilities). But HotTug also have a yurt tent beside the dock where you can get changed, it’s a bit colder though!
When all ready we got a safety briefing, on the boat, our route and other top tips:
- e.g. don’t swim in the dock,
- any non swimmers were recommended to take a life vest (but they didn’t need to wear them in the hot tub water!)
- no more than 2 drinks per person
- driver has to remain sober – no drinking!!
Our driver Gemma was shown how to use the rudder and engine controls.
We were also given instruction on how to lower the chimney. Yes I said lower the chimney… One bridge that we needed to go under is very low, so these HotTugs come with a neat feature – a folding chimney!
After our safety briefing and Gemma as driver signing her life away we were free to go!
The water was hot hot hot! So it certainly lived up to it’s name as the HotTug 🙂 The water is heated to c38 degrees and filled fresh for each group (so you only sit in your own dirt). On a grey damp day in August the hot water was lovely. However after 20 minutes I was really hot! I could imagine it would be too hot on a 30+ degree day – luckily(!) the hot weather seems to have gone.
The water is heated using the onboard wood burner, so technically you can control the level of heat (if you like playing with fire whilst almost naked….). What I mean is that you can open and close the flaps at the top of the stove. So you can cut off the air to the fire if things get too hot. Also you need to be careful with the folding chimney. If it’s left down for too long this might kill the fire.
Jumping into the hot tub bit first (naturally) I set the scene for everyone else to get in. Us being a boat literally full of bloggers, this took a time as everyone wanted to get pictures! When we were finally in and arranged, off we went! Our fearless driver Gemma, set our course away from the floating church and towards The Big Easy and freedom beyond!
Moving out from the barges at the end of the dock, lots of people outside the bars that line West India Quay, spotted us and we were instant stars. Moving under the first pedestrian bridge, many people took the opportunity to ask how the water was. We must have been on so many Instagram and Facebook stories that day.
Going past more quayside bars, meant more attention and soon we were at the low bridge, where we needed to lower the chimney to get under it. Having successfully negotiated that, we could relax for a bit.
Cruising past old Billingsgate Fish Market (and my old office at Barclays!), I regaled the boat with stories of seeing seals in the dock. They used to come to eat the leftover fish scraps that were washed into the dock. I never saw one in person, but my front office colleagues swore they came by (they were also in work a lot earlier than me though).
We continued down towards one of the larger docks, which was also our turning space – lots of room to turn the boat around there.
After turning around the route back was quicker – maybe because we knew the route, maybe because Gemma had some practice. This meant we had more time to potter around West India Quay on the return journey.
Also HotTug is a BYOB set up – you bring your own drinks. But the amount you can bring and drink is limited. Ice for the cool box costs £5 (unless you are on the VIP package, in which case it’s included).
We enjoyed some pre-mixed Fentimans gin and tonics, beers and soft drinks. Make sure you check out the HotTug website for the full rules on this.
It was a really fun experience! We had plenty of time to make it all the way to the end of the route and back (and drink our 2 drinks each!). As long as you are not shy about people seeing you in your swim suit (because you WILL be an internet sensation!). You basically sail past offices during the day and bars at night, so you’ll always get some attention, what ever the time. Also as the West India Quay location has just opened, it’s still a novelty in the area.
Check out the Love Pop Ups London views here too.
How much & booking
HotTug hire for 90 minutes costs £225 however this is for up to 3 people and c£32 each.
The VIP package costs more, but includes robes and captain hats for everyone, so much more photogenic!