The Best Underwater Hotels
Published 30 March 2016
Whether you’re into luxury resorts, adrenaline-fuelled water sports or futuristic hotel concepts, there are plenty of places to eat, sleep and drink beneath the deep blue. Without a Spongebob or Little Mermaid in sight, we’ve scoured the seven seas to pick six of the best underwater hotels.
Atlantis The Palm, Dubai
“The Underwater Suite is like no other,” says Vincent Smarella, senior vice president of hotel operations at Atlantis the Palm.
And we can see why he thinks so. Ocean views come as standard in these incredible rooms, with floor-to-ceiling windows staring straight into Dubai’s breathtaking Ambassador Lagoon. Greeted by 65,000 marine inhabitants, you’ll feel as though you’ve woken up inside a giant aquarium. It’s a unique experience for lovers of marine life, or just lovers in general – think honeymoon perfection. And with an indulgent bathroom boasting jetted bathtubs and a relaxing lounge with views of the shimmering waters all day long, you won’t ever want to leave.
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
Getting terrifying close to whale sharks, manta rays, dolphins and sea turtles is the big draw at Conrad Maldives. Stretched across two islands, most of this incredible resort is above water, but when you’re feeling peckish: prepare to be submerged.
The on-site Ithaa Undersea Restaurant offers sumptuous and contemporary dishes packed with European flavour, from the six-course dinner menu to its lighter four-course lunch offering. You can even sip mid-morning cocktails here. But it’s the panoramic views that steal the show, a 180-degree vista of vibrant coral reef and the life that lives there, five metres beneath the surface. You can easily see how it earned the title of ‘Most Beautiful Restaurant in the World’, bestowed by the New York Daily News in 2014. Its majestic moniker, (Ithaa, meaning mother of pearl) is pretty apt too.
The Underwater Room at The Manta Resort, Zanzibar
Ever fancied your own private island? How about one that has three decks – one for sunbathing and stargazing, one for wining and dining, and one for staving off sleep to explore a tropical marine environment? It may cost $1,500 a night, but it’s completely worth it to be surrounded by colourful fish – like the large triggerfish, kingfish and wrasse – from your floating turquoise bubble, just metres above the reef floor. It’s a once in a lifetime experience, and the resident marine life knows it too: coral has already begun to grow on the structure’s anchoring lines and several individuals have made it their home. At night, underwater spotlights attract squid, octopus and Spanish dancers to the window panes, and when you’re not sipping sundowners above deck; keep your eyes peeled for the three regular batfish and ‘Nick’, an affectionately-named trumpet fish.
Jules’ Undersea Lodge, Key Largo, Florida
The world’s first underwater hotel, it would be rude not to give Jules’ Undersea Lodge a mention. Whether you want to stay for three hours, a day, or longer, the lodge lets you see Key Largo’s Emerald Lagoon from the comfort of a two-bedroom haven – and it’s been doing so for nearly 30 years. It’s one for serious swimmers only though: all visitors are certified scuba divers, having to dive six metres through a tropical mangrove habitat to reach the entrance. That’s what makes it all the more exciting though, it feels like a secret clubhouse that only you, and a handful of others, are privy to. The pizza delivery guy knows the secret though, and will happily deliver underwater. Now that’s the real mystery.
Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore
The 11 Ocean Suites at the Resorts World Sentosa hotel, in marine-rich Singapore, offer the best of both worlds: an upper level with an open-plan living space, outdoor patio and hot tub; and a lower level that offers an underwater view of more than 50,000 animals of 70 different species. So if you’re looking to spot mantas or come nose-to-glass-to-nose with sharks, this is the perfect space to do so. It’s not short on luxury either, so you can gaze at grouper fish while taking advantage of silent splendour, including a personalised butler service.
To come… Poseidon Undersea Resort, Fiji
The Poseidon Undersea Resort is a marine safari experience, 14 years in the making. It’s not set to open for another five years, but when it does guests will be able to explore a paradise plunged 40 feet below in an off-shore Fijian lagoon. It’s the first and only fully-submersed resort, accessible via a lift from the surface. Building began in 2001 and plans boast 25 extravagant bedrooms, a restaurant, bar, gym and even a watery wedding chapel – all with floor-to-ceiling windows.
When it does finally open, visitors can expect to fork out £9,000 for a week’s stay. Don’t expect to go there any time soon though; it’s already got 150,000 guests on its waiting list.