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LUXURY CRUISE: HotTug @ Runnymede-on-Thames, Surrey, England 
Cruising down the River Thames on a British Summer evening is glorious. Sitting back and relaxing in a Hot Tub with a chilled glass of champagne is fabulous... and who says you can't combine the two.
The Luxury Travel Bible was the first to experience the UK's only HotTug, and admittedly we didn't know what to expect but from the moment we boarded the smiles did not leave our faces ( TLTB challenges anyone not to smile when they see this quirky vessel).
The new HotTug is a unique cross between a hot tub and tug boat and allows guests of the Runnymede-on-Thames Hotel in Surrey, UK to travel in style down one of the most famous rivers in the world. The HotTug was the brain child of Dutch designer Frank de Bruijn, who wanted to combine his love of sailing with relaxing in his Hot Tub. The HotTug uses a specially developed wood-burning stove to keep the water a balmy 38°C and an electric engine powers the boat as it journeys down the river. The hotel has worked closely with Frank to bring the design for the first time to the UK for the exclusive use of hotel residents and Spa members.

hottug on the thames
view from the hottug
champagne cruise
river thames
rubber duck

Before you start your cruise from the hotel's private mooring everything is covered including a fun, circus-like tent close to the water's edge for passengers to change into bathing suits, secure storage for your belongings are provided, as well as chilled glasses of Champagne and handy phone and camera waterproof covers (which work extremely well) to ensure you can take photos during your trip - because you really must document such a unique and quirky experience!
The HotTug sits low on the water creating an infinity pool-like illusion.  As well as feeling 'with one with the water' the engine is remarkable quiet so it gives a great opportunity to view British wildlife from a unique POV. A family of Swans travelled past the HotTug quite confidently without being scared away by our presence, although we still aren't sure what they made of the large rubber duck (the hotel's mascot) that sits at the front of the vessel.
As we journeyed along the river, sitting safely cocooned in the warm water, we quickly realised how stable the boat was. We were even able to rest our champagne glasses securely on the sides of the boat as we lay back and enjoyed the scenery and the luxury experience. Should it rock, the worse that would happen would be that we would lose our bubbles over the side (although that would be a rather sad event for TLTB). As well as being very comfortable the HotTug is safe as the stainless steel stove cools underwater so there is no risk of accidentally burning yourself.
One of the reasons for the boat being bright yellow is for safety; making it more visable to other traffic on the river. As we floated along we quickly attracted attention from fellow water dwellers. TLTB instantly felt like a celebrity as we received waves, looks of disbelief and enquiries as to what we were actually sitting in, where it is from, if the water was warm (and more importantly 'How much does that cost?'). It is safe to say that our image now appears on many, many mobile phones!
Our comfortable hour-long cruise took us along a very picturesque stretch of the Thames and the journey was fun and extremely relaxing. If you are looking for something unique and entertaining the HotTug is a truly memorable experience ... in fact TLTB is still asking ourselves 'Did we really float down the River Thames while sitting in a Hot Tub???'
The HotTug at the runnymede-on-thames is available from Monday 5th August for hotel residents to hire for £90 for an hour on weekdays, and £120 an hour at weekends for up to six passengers.
Luxury Hotels Link: www.runnymedehotel.com
Words and Photos: Sarah Bryans, 29/7/13
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