Sleeping with the fishes: the world's best underwater hotels
Fan of unusual hotels? Well, staying in a room with an under-the-sea view is no longer a sci-fi dream; get your snorkel gear on and take a peek at these crazy underwater hotels, from Dubai to the Maldives.
For more pioneering places to stay and travel predictions for the 2020s, check out our Future of Travel report.
The underwater suites at Atlantis The Palm in Dubai really are fit for the king of the seas. Set alongside a huge aquarium, they are pretty much the most intimate and romantic lodging you could ever dream of...as long as you don't have nightmares about sharks! This unusual hotel room costs around £5,500 a night, but if lying in bed while the marine life of the Persian Gulf drifts by your floor-to-ceiling windows appeals to you, the 'Neptune' or 'Poseidon' suite might just be worth it. When you do decide to hit dry land, check out our local's guide to the best things to see and do in Dubai.
2. The Manta Resort, Pemba Island, Zanzibar
The Underwater Room is the most special of all at the very exclusive Manta Resort in Pemba Island, Zanzibar. Board a wooden boat for the swift two-minute journey to this unique accommodation, lying half in, half out of the crystal clear sea of the Manta house reef. It’s like having your own private floating island, complete with the most authentic of sea views from your submerged bedroom. You can still sunbathe - and stargaze - on the deck above and if you want more underwater action, the hotel offers dive trips to sites along the spectacular sites of the Pemba Island coast, so your next swimming companions could be anything from a scorpion fish to a sea turtle. From $1500 a night, all-inclusive.
The luxurious Hotel Conrad Maldives Rangali doesn't have an underwater room, but you can still have dinner below the waves, without having to don a diving suit. The Ithaa Undersea restaurant is located sixteen feet below sea level and while you feast on the likes of yellow fin tuna with lemon grass and sumac dipping sauce, shoals of fish, sharks and turtles swirl above your head. Set menus cost upwards of $300 per person but you can just opt for a few afternoon cocktails and still catch the sealife on your camera with the sun shining. Book ahead at least a couple of weeks - there are only seven tables.
Nothing better than a good party after a good meal. A restaurant by day, gourmet dinner and party venue by night, the Subsix is part of the luxurious Niyama resort. Dance with the parrot fish beneath the waves or chill with a maritime themed cocktail, like the rum-based Dhoni’s Sailor, while looking into the depths of the Indian Ocean - from $14 a drink, it's a cheaper underwater alternative to the Conrad Maldives' restaurant. Looking for more tips on trips to the Maldives, including which island to stay on? Here are more tips on having the ultimate luxury holiday.
5. Utter Inn Hotel, Vasteras, Sweden
The Utter Inn was designed by local artist Mikael Genberg and is one of the cheapest underwater hotels out there, floating on Lake Malaren, near Stockholm. From £200 a night, this is more quirky ship's cabin than luxury accommodation, but as an appealing twist on traditional Swedish living, it's now a very fashionable place to spend the weekend. The twin beds are three metres below the surface of the water and come with panoramic windows, while on the cute red-and-white wooden deck you can sunbathe amongst gorgeous natural surroundings or explore the lake's islands by boat, including former Viking settlement, Birka.
6. Jules’ Undersea Lodge, Key Largo, Florida
Jules’s Undersea Lodge is aptly named after the author of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and is the oldest underwater hotel, surrounded by angel fish and other dazzling species off the coast of Florida and near Puerto Rico. Getting there is somewhat of a challenge - it's located 21 feet beneath the surface of the sea so you'll have to scuba dive down into the foyer. But once inside, what used to be a research lab is now a very cosy accommodation where you can treat yourself to pizza for dinner or book in a 'mer-chef' who will scuba down to prepare your meal. Intrepid couples can stay the night here for $800 between two. If you fancy seeing what Florida has to offer above the waves, take a look at these top picks - and they're not all theme parks either!
7. Lime Spa at Huvafen Fushi, Maldives
Back to the Maldives, this time with some 'you' time at The Lime Spa at Huvafen Fushi resort in Male, the world's first underwater spa. Enjoy sensual and sensorial treatments whilst gazing out at the rainbow corals of the ocean beyond - and if you can afford the $485 Lime Light Ritual, then splash out on a 150 minute session involving coconut oil massage, steamy lime foot treatment and ice cube facial instead.
8. Lovers Deep, St. Lucia and other locations, Caribbean
Lovers Deep is the fanciest submarine you could imagine, giving 'unique luxury hotels' a whole new twist. Situated on a number of beautiful Caribbean islands, including St. Lucia, couples wanting serious privacy (and a seductive supper of champagne and oysters) can rent a mobile underwater hotel room for a meagre £175,000 a night. You'll have a small crew of captain, butler and chef at your service, who are quartered in their own soundproof rooms at the other end of the sub, and speedboat transfers are included, although you'll need to book your flights to the Caribbean separately.
And there are more underwater hotels to come! Many of these projects are still in the planning and construction stages, but promise to be among the world's most unusual hotels...
Poseidon Undersea Resorts, Fiji
Poseidon Undersea Resorts will be the world’s first permanent one-atmosphere structure on the seafloor. It's aiming to feature twenty-two 550 square foot guest rooms, an underwater restaurant and bar, a library, conference room, wedding chapel, spa and a 1200 square foot luxury suite. And then there's the 5,000-acre surrounding lagoon that will basically be a giant playground for diving and snorkelling fans. Keen to stay? You can already reserve yourself a place on the waiting list.
The Water Discus Hotel, Dubai
Backed by a Swiss company and designed by Deep Ocean Technology, the Water Discus will be truly impressive when it's complete. Housing 21 luxury suites, a restaurant, bar and dive centre in two main disc buildings (one above water and one below) that look more like the USS Enterprise than a Dubai hotel, remote-controlled macro cameras will roam the ocean outside your suite to give you a super close-up of the coral garden and its inhabitants. Hi-tech on a whole new level.
Planet Ocean Underwater Hotel, Florida
Planet Ocean Underwater Hotel is still in the planning stages, but if it happens, it will be located on private property near Key West in Florida, and will put a big focus on coral reef restoration. The project is aiming to be an 'affordable' underwater hotel (rates are estimated at $3,000 to $6,000 for two), and includes a lounge, dining area and an underwater elevator set to plunge from the floating catarmaran section above the water down to the capsule rooms below.
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