Glala was built by A.R. Luke as a yacht for Aaron de Anchorena, a wealthy Argentinian diplomat. She was scheduled to be launched in 1914 but Anchorena appears to have abandoned the project before she was completed and she was actually launched in 1915 under different ownership. By the early 1920s she was owned by Camper & Nicholsons who modernised her.
Through the 1920s and 30s she was owned by a series of prominent people including industrialists such as Sir William Verdon-Smith, chairman of the Bristol Aeroplane Company , and the aviation pioneer Sir Alan Cobham. In 1939 she was bought by the engineering company AEC who modernised her. But, before they could put her to use, she was requisitioned by the Royal Navy.
During the war she served as an anti-submarine vessel patrolling the Thames estuary around Sheerness. She took part in the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940 but was retired from the Navy in 1941. She was then used as a hospital tender in Belfast before joining the National Fire Service in Liverpool in 1943.
Glala was severely damaged by an explosion around 1945, she was rebuilt and sold off in 1947. She returned to her former existence as a yacht and spent the 1950s on the Thames and on the coast around Southampton. In the 1960s she was cruising in the Mediterranean.
By the 1980s she had lost most of the glamour of her pre-war years and she was in use as a houseboat near Southampton. By now she was getting very old and was steadily deteriorating. The decks and engines were replaced around 1980 and she underwent a major renovation around 1990 but by 2005 she was in need of substantial work.
In 2009 she was listed on the register of the National Historic Fleet.