The Arctic Bath Hotel, Swedish Lapland
Set to open this December, this stunning wellness retreat is one for adventurous spa seekers. In the summer, it’s a true floating hotel, serenely gliding on the Lule River; come winter, the structure becomes fixed in place, girdled in a ring of ice. Strikingly designed, a crown of criss-crossed logs surrounds a central open-air pool, which heated to 4°C, alternates as a sunbathing spot and, in cooler months, a traditional ice bath. Cold water wimps fear not, welcoming saunas encircle the bath – as do the hotel’s six rooms, which are kitted out with wood-burning stoves and skylights for glimpsing the ever-elusive Northern Lights.
The Manta Resort’s Underwater Room, Tanzania
Over-water villas move over, this place is all about getting below the waves. Seemingly cast out in the Indian Ocean, just off Zanzibar’s Pemba Island, The Manta Resort’s Underwater Room takes floating stays to a new level – or rather three levels: the suite’s bobbing three-floored structure is divided into a sea-level lounging deck, a rooftop for sunbathing and stargazing, and a submerged glass-walled bedroom with wrap-round views of the marine world. Add in your own snorkelling gear and kayaks, plus the luxury of full room-service, and you’ll never want to leave.
Edinburgh’s most unique accommodation, this five-star hotel was once a working vessel that serviced lighthouses around Scotland’s west coast. Infused with a rich maritime heritage, a stay here is a truly memorable experience, from the sloping walls that elegantly mirror the ship’s stern and the original porthole windows to the compasses above each bed showing the direction you are sleeping in. And luxurious touches are aplenty, from the profusion of Scottish leather to the roll-top baths and spiral staircases that feature in some of the 23 cabins. Beyond the rooms, there’s a grand ballroom and a smart restaurant – plus being berthed at Leith, one of Edinburgh’s best dining scenes is on your doorstep.
The Float House River Kwai, Thailand
One of the best things about floating hotels is arriving at them. And for The Float House this means a boat ride through spectacular, jungle-cloaked gorges. And when you arrive, the hotel is no disappointment. This unique, eco-focused hotel – or rather boutique “floatel”, as the resort calls itself – sits on the Khwae Noi River, its wood and thatch structure blending perfectly with its wild surroundings. Guests stay in a chain of floating villas, each with their own private deck – complete with a swing – poised over the water, while those keen to explore further afield can go rafting, canoeing or visit the nearby caves.
OFF Paris Seine, France
Moored on the River Seine, right at the heart of Paris, its needless to say that this hotel’s 50-plus rooms all boast gorgeous river views. And being Parisian, this place is innately stylish too. Designed by boat architect Gérard Ronzatti, the hotel is awash with eclectic touches from the individually designed, colour-splashed bedrooms and luminescent bath tubs, to the cool riverside bar and plunge pool – perfect for a dipping on blazing summer days – which is topped with a giant gold inflatable swan.
Spitbank Fort, UK
Though not strictly floating, there’s no claiming this hotel isn’t rather adrift. Set in the middle of the Solent, off the coast of Portsmouth, Spitbank Fort sits encircled by water. One of the trio of Solent Forts, Victorian sea-based defenses commissioned to protect Britain from a French invasion that never actually materialized, today Spitbank Fort is one of the most unique hotels in the British Isles – a nine-suite, exclusive-use private island retreat. And there’s indulgence at every turn, from the champagne bar and private departure lounge, to the heated pool and rooftop lighthouse with its panoramic sea views.
Taj Lake Palace, India
Grand palaces, time-worn streets and ornately decorated residences, the marble-swept city of Udaipur faces out onto the glassy shores of Lake Pichola. A wonder to behold, it’s no surprise that Udaipur is often dubbed India’s most romantic city. And serenely set amidst it all is the Taj Lake Palace, which at 650 feet off shore, rises like a glimmering mirage out of the lake’s waters. A former summer palace for the Mewar dynasty, much of the building’s past grandeur has been wonderfully retained from the carved marble terraces and original fountains to the dazzling fretwork.