9 Floating Hotels You Need In Your Life
Waves lapping at your window, rooftop meals with a view and spa treatments accessible only by boat. For your next hotel visit, don’t just travel to the water—stay atop it.
From a royal palace in Udaipur to a renovated fortress in Portsmouth, jungle rafts in Thailand and an open-air bath in the Swedish fjords, these properties are what vacation dreams (and Pinterest gold) are made of. Make your next vacation magical, and come aboard these 9 floating hotels around the world.
Good Hotel – London, U.K.
Good Hotel lives up to its name not only in hotel experience but in community initiatives. First launched in Amsterdam, the Good Hotel was then moved to Royal Victoria Docks for five years before docking at its current location in October 2016. By Dutch art director Remko Verhaagen and lead designer Sikko Valk, the Good Hotel’s design caters to the modern traveler with industrial materials, an attention to detail and a priority on delivering the unexpected. With a mission of “premium hospitality with a cause,” the Good Hotel does more than a good job giving back—the hotel operates the Good Training program, which trains and temporarily hires locals with a long-term history of unemployment before helping them find work in the community. Additionally, the hotel uses locally sourced materials and labor and donates a portion of online bookings to NGO partner Niños de Guatemala. On site, there are plenty of good vibes to be found on the seasonal rooftop overlooking London, in the Living Room bar and restaurant and in workspace and meeting spaces complete with free Wi-Fi.
OFF Paris Seine – Paris, France
Near the foot of Austerlitz station between Ponte Charles de Gaulle and Ponte d’Austerlitz, the OFF Paris floats magically on the Seine River—what the hotel has nicknamed the “21st District.” The first hotel and bar of its kind in Paris, the property features 54 rooms, all with dock or water views, and four suites, including two designed by Maurizio Galante and Tal Lancman. The hotel is centered on an open-air rear deck and plunge pool, with additional on-site amenities including a bar and kitchen and marina. More than just a tourist destination, OFF Paris Seine draws in hip locals with weekend brunch and parties on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
River Kwai Jungle Rafts – Sai Yok, Thailand
Journey into the jungle and down the Kwai Noi River to River Kwai Jungle Rafts, an eco-lodge hidden in the natural landscape of the Kanchanaburi region in western Thailand. After a seven-minute wooden long-tail boat ride from the Phutakien Pier, guests arrive at this hideaway where rooms include private bathrooms, outdoor bamboo decks, sun beds and hammocks and meals. Focused on ecological conservation as well as tourism, the resort does not use electricity but rather traditional kerosene lamps—fully immersing guests in the local experience. In addition to a floating restaurant and bar serving local Thai and Mon cuisine, on-site activities include boat rides, canoeing, bamboo rafting and river jumping as well as authentic Cultural Mon Dance Shows, Thai massages on rafts and jungle excursions.
Salt & Sill – Kladesholmen, Sweden
The story of this floating hotel in Sweden starts in 1999, when the original restaurant opened on the docks of fishing community Klädesholmen. The Salt & Sill restaurant rose to international acclaim and became known for its seafood dishes including the Sillplankan herring plate, which pays homage to the local fishing and culinary traditions. As the restaurant emerged as a local tourist destination, the idea for hotel accommodations was proposed; in 2008, current owners Susanna and Patrick Hermansson opened the Salt & Sill hotel on a floating platform just a few steps from the original waterfront eatery. With two-story units and 46 beds, the hotel is open year-round and provides free Wi-Fi as well as meeting and conference space; though guests can visit independently, the property also functions as a private retreat for groups.
Solent Forts – Portsmouth, U.K.
Accessible only by boat or helicopter, the Solent Forts off the shore of Portsmouth were originally built in the 1860s and were manned through World Wars I and II. Subsequently decommissioned and abandoned, the forts were then given new life as a hotel, event space and living museum, known for historic charm, panoramic views and unique circular designs. While Horse Man’s Fort has been preserved as a historic landmark and is available for tours, Spitbank Fort was transformed into a private event venue featuring eight suites as well as a restaurant, penthouse bar, wine cave, circular interior courtyard and rooftop terrace. But the main property is No Man’s Fort, opened as a full-service hotel in 2015 with 23 rooms and suites, all with ocean views, as well as five bars and both casual and formal dining options. There’s plenty to do at this island hotel, including taking in a show at the onboard cabaret club, roasting marshmallows at the indoor Hot House fire pit, challenging friends and family to a Fort Wars Laser Battle or enjoying water views from rooftop hot tubs.
Sunborn – Gibraltar
Even among other floating hotels, the Sunborn Gibraltar is a property like nothing you’ve ever seen before. A superyacht docked in Ocean Village Marina, this hotel offers guests their own slice of five-star luxury across seven floors. While aboard, test your luck at the on-site casino, have dinner on top-deck Sky Restaurant, or admire views of the Rock from the outdoor pool—and when ready to explore Gibraltar, guests are just a walk down the dock away from this Mediterranean gem.
Taj Lake Palace – Udaipur, India
Channel your inner king or queen at the Taj Lake Palace, an iconic floating residence built in 1746 as a pleasure palace for Maharaja Jagat Singh II. Artfully restored and reopened as a hotel in 1963, the property supplies classic Indian elegance at every turn—including tiled floors, Bombay linens and a pillow and quilt menu (yes, menu). But it’s not just the palatial accommodations that make those staying at the Taj Lake Palace feel like Indian royalty—from the moment they arrive by boat, guests are treated to the highest level of five-star service, including 24-hour in-room dining, laundry and personalized butler services. From a spa on an anchored boat just off the main palace to the four dining concepts—including a rooftop restaurant overlooking Lake Pichola—the Taj Lake Palace is known as one of the most spectacular properties in the world; thanks to appearances in James Bond film Octopussy and TV show The Crown, as well as others in film and TV, it’s also one of the most recognized.
The Queen Mary – Long Beach, California
A slice of nautical history docked in Southern California’s Long Beach Harbor, the Queen Mary lived many lives before it became a floating hotel. Built as a luxury cruise liner, the Queen Mary took its maiden voyage in 1936 and catered to high-profile guests including Bob Hope, Clark Gable and Winston Churchill. At the start of World War II in 1939, the ship was docked in New York City and converted to carry troops; at the time, it was the largest and fastest U.S. troopship. When the war ended, the Queen Mary was restored to its original design (and function) and resumed transatlantic passenger service until 1967 and has remained in Long Beach ever since. Today, the Queen Mary is a hotel, tourist attraction and event space that honors its history in the preservation of original art deco features, as well as its future in popular festivals and seasonal pop-ups.
Arctic Bath (Opening 2018) – Hedavan, Sweden
From the same team behind Sweden’s Treehotel comes new hospitality project Arctic Bath, a circular floating hotel and open-air cold bath on the Lule River. An homage to the Swedish tradition of shipping timber down waterways, the six-room hotel will be made from locally sourced wood and feature a facade decorated with logs. The whimsical design may look like a fairy tale, but the property—which will also feature a spa and restaurant—will be real come late 2018 when it opens to guests, small conferences, events and private parties. With a stunningly simplistic design fully immersed in the spectacular natural landscape of the Swedish fjords, Arctic Bath will transform with the seasons, freezing in place in winter and floating in summer.
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