A floating hotel is a relative rarity, but easily one of the coolest ways to overnight in all of travel. It’s way better than being stuck on a cruise. You get all the amenities of a great hotel, plus the perspective perk of being out on the water.
These hotels may be few, but they dot the landscape and offer truly one-of-a-kind vacations. Some are set in rivers and others in bays and along shores. What they all have in common is not being landlocked, affording visitors the sensation of living on liquid. If you’re lucky enough to go, you may even find you sleep a little better at night, calmed by the sound of the surrounding waterscape.
1. Cannery Pier Hotel & Spa
This hotel in Astoria, Oregon is situated at the mouth of the mighty Columbia River. From one of the many well-appointed rooms, guests can watch giant ships come in and out of the bay, navigating one of the trickiest channels in all of the maritime world. The hotel itself recently underwent a beautiful remodel and features crafty decor that reflects the rich fishing history of the town. Note that there are sea lions around and they can be noisy at night (although they tend to hang out a bit east), so consider booking a room on the second, third, or fourth floors.
2. The Cottages
Offering an unrivaled Nantucket experience, The Cottages has you wading right in the scenic harbor. There are endless things to do, eat, and drink just steps away, but you’ll be equally happy in your room taking in the water culture. In your complimentary robe and slippers, you’ll spend some quality time enjoying the many pleasant activities of the historic wharf.
3. King Pacific Lodge
There are some wondrous water-set hotels in the great Pacific Northwest. This British Columbia spot is a sportsman’s paradise, fetching its name from the famous type of salmon. It’s set right on the water and gazes out at seemingly endless stretches of rainforest. It’s about as cozy as they come, with a great dining program and warm fireplaces to retreat to as the day turns to evening.
4. Four Seasons Bora Bora
Only a few tropical pockets on the planet offer the overwater bungalow experience, and this may be the best of the bunch. It’s the kind you’ve likely seen on film, with an impossibly inviting demeanor. Aside from being in lovely Bora Bora, it’s a Four Seasons, so pampering is the name of the game. This hotel is high on most bucket lists and for good reason — it’s a true taste of paradise from beneath a thatch roof atop some turquoise ocean water.
5. Off Paris Seine
About the only thing better than a stay in Paris is one on the water there. This floating hotel and bar, anchored atop the Seine River, has become quite the destination. There’s even a plunge pool as part of this impressive 54-room aquatic hotel. Of the floating hotels, it’s arguably the hippest.
6. The Edgewater
As part of the Puget Sound, Seattle is full of water. Yet, most of the hotels reside inland within the Emerald City’s attractive skyline. The Edgewater plunges in, with its lodge-like building overlooking Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountains beyond. It’s a cool spot that’s been beautifully updated since its original construction for the World’s Fair in 1962.
7. Hawks Cay Resort
While this hotel is technically on an island, it’s so small and water encompassed that guests feel fully at sea. Set on the intimate Duck Key in the Florida Keys, Hawks Cay Resort touts amazing year-round weather, fantastic fishing, and some of the greatest tropical views imaginable. Staying here is like floating in the warm South Atlantic, without a care in the world.
8. Ross Lake Resort
Between the ocean and countless lakes and rivers, Washington state likes its water. This resort in the North Cascades offers a wonderful glimpse of the rugged scenery from the shores of a pristine mountain lake. It’s an oasis in the wilderness, originally dreamed up in 1952. It’s also wonderfully intimate, with just 15 cabins that only rent during the more favorable weather stretch of June through October.
9. Six Senses
This Vietnam hotel is a top-notch place to stay in just about every department. While there’s greatness on land in the form of postcard images and abundant wildlife (there’s an adjacent endangered monkey conservation area), the real draw here is the hotel’s placement. Set right in Ninh Van Bay, the resort looks at the stunning East Vietnam Sea, and many of the rooms include built-in infinity pools that spill right into the ocean. Guests can charter fishing boats or just stay put and enjoy the scenery.
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