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15 Floating Hotels That Are Simply Magical

Out: walking on water. In: sleeping on it.

For many of us, the perfect sun-drenched, beach vacation is often still rooted firmly on the ground. In fact, most of the world's most iconic (and expensive) resorts, like the Curtain Bluff Resort in Antigua and Acqualina Resort & Spa in Miami, are optimally designed for land adventure—almost ignoring the vast stretch of sea just outside the boardwalk. Though, for travelers who are craving more sea and less sand, floating hotels may be the answer to your landlocked blues.

From Africa to India, these floating palaces and remote bungalows offer a truly intimate experience with mother nature—whether you're dipping your toes in the freezing water of the Arctic or taking a dive off your own private room over the Indian Ocean. With that said, these are the magical floating hotels that look to inspire a sense of childlike wonder at the expanse of sea just beyond your doorstep.

Catamaran Apartments; Novi Sad, Serbia

floating hotel catamaran apartments

Where to fly: Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport (BEG)

Explore the most neglected (but breathtaking nonetheless) parts of the Serbian inland waters when you rent one of your very own Catamaran Apartments, which are equipped with a salon, a galley, a private bathroom, a hall with storage space, and a sleeping area right above the salon. Your morning swim is waiting just outside of your own private deck.

Pro tip: Make a day trip to Svetozar Miletic Square in Novi Sad for a more grounded appreciation of architecture.

Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge; Bocas del Toro Island, República De Panamá

punta caracol floating hotel
Punta Caracol Acqua – Lodge

Where to fly: Bocas del Toro Isla Colón International Airport (BOC)

At Punta Caracol Acqua Lodge, submerged in a private oasis in the Caribbean, you'll have unobstructed views of the famous Panama sunsets (featuring occasional appearances by friendly dolphins), along with authentic Caribbean cuisine and miles of unexplored rainforest.

Pro tip: Don't miss your chance to play with the dolphins by booking a boat tour of their natural habitat, just outside of your quaint bungalow.

Aqua Mekong; Phnom Penh, Vietnam

Aqua Mekong Vietnam Floating Hotels
Aqua Expeditions

Where to fly: Phnom Penh International Airport (PNH)

This sophisticated five-star floating hotel on the water is the best way to tour Vietnam's beautiful waterways and dense rainforests. During high-water season (from mid-August to November), the Aqua Mekong's itinerary includes trekking up the river to Siem Reap and experiencing the Tonlé Sap lake, an incredible freshwater lake. Make more of your experience by booking your stay during low-water season (December to mid-August) and by kayaking around the stilted villages that line the coast.

Pro tip: Constructed between the 9th and 14th centuries, the sprawling collection of 300 temples in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Angkor Wat in Cambodia is worth reveling in.

OFF Paris Seine; Paris, France

OFF Paris Siene Floating Hotels
OFF Paris Seine

Where to fly: Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)

To describe the OFF Paris Seine as aesthetically pleasing wouldn't dare do the floating hotel justice. It's equipped with a delectable restaurant and bar and restaurant, an interior path designed by Gérard Ronzatti, a plunge pool, and a marina—all with incredible views of the Seine in Paris.

Pro tip: Before or after your stay (or even during), be sure to take a stroll along the Seine and stop along the way to visit the Notre-Dame de Paris and Hôtel de Ville.

The Float House River Kwai Resort; Kanchanaburi, Thailand

The Float House River Kwai Resort Thailand Floating Hotels
Serenata Hotels and Resorts Group

Where to fly: Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK)

The Float House River Kwai Resort in Thailand proves to be one of the most peaceful escapes, hidden along the River Kwai and tucked behind the giant canopies of surrounding thick, green jungle. Each floating villa comes with custom tailored-made teakwood furniture, thatched roofing, and an expansive front porch leading directly to the river.

Pro tip: Explore the nearby Lawa Cave located in Sai Yok National Park, each chamber hosting a stunning display of stalactite and stalagmite formations.

Riverdream Boatel; Victoria, Australia

riverdream boatel
Boatel Luxury/Mildura Living Magazine

Where to fly: Victoria International Airport (YYJ)

Sit back, relax, and let the sleek, aerodynamic Riverdream Boatel take you places that you've never been before—namely, Australia's famed Murray River. Along the way, enjoy the Sky Lounge, lower swim platform, alfresco BBQ, and entertaining area—before collapsing into your beautifully-designed suite.

Pro tip: It's also the perfect wedding or honeymoon destination for sailors.

King Pacific Lodge; British Columbia, Canada

King Pacific Lodge Canada Floating Hotels
King Pacific Lodge

Where to fly: Vancouver International Airport (YVR)

Gear up for some of the best fishing of your lifetime at King Pacific Lodge, resting against the Milbanke Sound in British Columbia. Each room is created with the spirit of the Pacific Northwest in mind—and you can take your pick between an ocean-front view or one that faces the temperate rainforest behind the lodge.

Pro tip: Whether you're an experienced angler or not, the lodge promises an unforgettable hunt for salmon and other wildlife right outside your hotel room.

The Manta Resort; Pemba North, Tanzania

underwater room of manta resort
The Manta Resort

Where to fly: Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR)

At The Manta Resort in Tanzania, magic becomes more than just a feeling—it becomes a destination. For a truly transformative ocean experience, book the Underwater Room to catch a glimpse of the wildlife just outside your four walls. Your room even comes with a kayak, snorkel, and fins, giving you ample time to explore the surrounding waters.

Pro tip: Take a day out of your ocean worship to embark upon the Pemba Safari, with several different options allowing guests to experience various elements of Tanzanian culture and wildlife.

Guntû; Tokyo, Japan

guntu floating hotel Japan
Setouchi Cruise

Where to fly: Haneda Airport (HND) or Narita International Airport (NRT)

Guntû is a 19-room oasis floating on the Seto Inland Sea, with a majestic view from every corner of the hotel. While on board, guests can enjoy the finest cuisine, headed by chef Kenzo Sato from Tokyo's Shigeyoshi restaurant.

Pro tip: Explore the vibrant culture and history of the Setouchi region—just a short journey away.

Sunborn London Yacht Hotel; London, United Kingdom

Sunborn London Yacht Hotel Floating Hotels

Where to fly: Heathrow Airport (LHR)

Snag the best view of the London skyline with a stay onboard the Sunborn London Yacht Hotel. During the day, take advantage of the Symphony Spa and the afternoon tea room, and when the sun begins to set, grab a seat at the rooftop bar for the exceptional colors over the water.

Pro tip: Learn more about European art by paying a visit to the nearby Gallery Museum, hosting some of the world's most prolific painters of all time.

Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora; Bora Bora, French Polynesia

four seasons resort bora bora
Four Seasons Hotels

Where to fly: Bora Bora Airport (BOB)

The idyllic Four Seasons Resort in Bora Bora contains "overwater bungalows and underwater adventures." Reserve your cabin submerged in the sea for endless afternoon swims—whether you're viewing the sunset from your own private plunge pool, or getting lost in the lagoon.

Pro tip: This resort is the perfect romantic destination for you and yours, with private dinners accompanied by traditional island music.

Oberoi Udaivilas; Udaipur, India

the Oberoi Udaivilas
Oberoi Hotels & Resorts

Where to fly: Maharana Pratap Airport Udaipur (UDR)

This hidden gem, located on the bank of Lake Pichola, is built on the 200-year-old hunting grounds of the Maharana of Mewar—and you can feel the history of India carved into every inch of the resort. Along with endless views of the sea, the resort also includes a 20-acre wildlife sanctuary with deer and wild boar and spectacular gardens fringing the property.

Pro tip: Enjoy a private dinner in the lakeside pavilion for impeccable cuisine and the beauty of Indian wildlife surrounding your little oasis.

Aria Amazon; Iquitos, Peru

Aria Amazon Hotel Floating Hotels
Aqua Expeditions

Where to fly: Coronel FAP Francisco Secada Vignetta International Airport (IQT)

Take your aqua expedition to the next level with a venture on the Aria Amazon in Peru. Gliding along the Amazon, this riverboat is luxurious in every capacity—from the five-star dining to the outdoor river-facing jacuzzi.

Pro tip: Though the trip takes you to various locations along the Amazon, the most popular (and mystical) can't-be-missed location is a jaunt to Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley in Peru.

The Arctic Bath Hotel; Harads, Sweden

The Arctic Bath Resort Floating Hotels
Arctic Bath

Where to fly: Luleå Airport (LLA)

This serene retreat is perfect for those travelers seeking a waterfront location different from the rest. For one, there are no tropical waters in sight—just simply an arctic plunge located in the center of the hotel. Along with the nontraditional swimming hole, the resort boasts multiple saunas, luxurious amenities, and one of the best views of the Northern Lights in all of Sweden.

Pro tip: Make sure you prepare for the cold water! You don't want to be distracted by the freezing weather while watching the Northern Lights!

Gili Lankanfushi Maldives; Male, Maldives

Gili Lankanfushi Maldives Floating Hotels
HPL Hotels & Resorts

Where to fly: Velana International Airport (MLE)

If this photograph doesn't inspire you to immediately book a flight to the Maldives, then we're not sure what will. As pictured above, every bungalow at the Gili Lankanfushi Maldives resort comes with your very own boardwalk leading straight into the ocean, a wrap-around porch for peak views, and world-class living quarters.

Pro tip: Take a sunset dolphin cruise for intimate interactions with the friendly marine animals. And for those of you lacking a passport, find beauty in your own backyard with these 100 Destinations So Magical You Won't Believe They're in the U.S.

Ashley Moor
Ashley hails from Dayton, Ohio, and has more than six years of experience in print and digital media. Read more
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