Why just swim in the sea when you can sleep in the sea? And, while you're at it, you can get a massage underwater, dine like a king underwater, and do, um, other things underwater. All while appreciating the blueness of the ocean, the dancing schools of fish, and the electrifying coral reefs.
Luckily, we live in the 21st century, and there are a small handful of real-life hotels that make it possible for guests to do all that and more. From partially submerged luxury suites to actual submarine stays, read on for the scoop on incredible underwater hotels where you can spend a night sleeping with the fishes, literally.
This spring, Airbnb is hosting a sleepover contest at the Aquarium de Paris. The lucky winner will score the chance to spend a night in this cozy, cylindrical, floating bedroom, which is surrounded by 35 different types of sharks. That doesn't sound scary at all. For more info, see here.
For mermaid wannabes who like to bask on dry land, too, Sentosa resort offers 11 luxury suites, each with two levels: one above water, one below. Upper levels feature open living spaces, outdoor patios, and Jacuzzis; downstairs, submerged bedrooms with glass walls allow guests to observe scores of marine life, so you can fall asleep counting fish rather than sheep. And, when all that relaxing makes you thirsty, no worries -- your personal butler will fix you a drink.
Here at Anantara Kihavah, the luxurious villas themselves are above water and come complete with walk-in wardrobes, pearly tiled bathrooms, and beds with sea views. The underwater experience arrives at dinner: Sea, a glass-walled restaurant three meters below the water, serves seasonal five-course lunches and four-course dinners and houses the world's first underwater wine cellar.
Utter Inn, Vasteras, Sweden
It's not just luxury islands that have underwater hotels. Utter Inn looks like any other traditional red house you'll see in Sweden, except it floats on Lake Malaren. Guests are shuttled across the lake by boat to the single-room hotel, which boasts a fully submerged bedroom and a private outdoor deck up top. When night falls, descend into the cozy (albeit sparsely decorated) underwater dwelling, and bask in the view -- the space features impressive panoramic windows on all sides.
Atlantis, Dubai's accommo-tropolis on The Palm, has two ultra-exclusive, tucked away underwater suites for discerning guests willing to pay the price. Both of the luxurious three-story suites feature floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Ambassador Lagoon. You can even bathe with the fish, thanks to the underwater en suite bathroom -- and, in keeping with the luxury theme, the bath amenities are made with real gold.
Here at the private island resort of Huvafen Fushi, luxury is the name of the game. Although the rooms themselves are above water, the hotel is home to the world's first underwater spa. After a morning of snorkeling with bannerfish and fairy basslets, treat yourself to some first-class pampering, served up with seriously spectacular marine views. Make sure to book your service in one of the two rooms with glass walls, and find out what it's like to get a massage while gazing out across the ocean floor.
Africa is famous for its safaris, so how about an underwater version, where you can explore coral reefs and marine life from the comfort of your bed? Tanzania's breathtaking Manta Resort is quite possibly the coolest boutique hotel in the world. It's a tri-level suite that floats in the middle of the sea, with a sundeck up top and a surface-level deck for dining and lounging. Down below, the tastefully appointed bedroom is a fully submerged glass box, four meters below the ocean's surface, with unobstructed views of the thriving coral reef. Just imagine lying in bed while tropical fish swim around your head
Lovers Deep, Caribbean
For a cool $136,000 a night, the ultimate underwater couple's experience can be yours at Lovers Deep, a luxe submarine that accommodates two and can be anchored off the Caribbean island of your choice. Complete with champagne on arrival, speedboat transfers from the beach, and an optional Barry White soundtrack (er, okay), it's a romantic and unique way to see colorful Caribbean marine life. Granted, the emphasis seems to be more on giving guests the opportunity to join the Mile-Below Club than to observe the spectacular coral reefs, but there's nothing wrong with that.
With eight restaurants, four bars, and two award-winning spas, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island (set across two separate islands in the Maldives) is world-class all the way. The resort itself is positively sublime, as are the stunningly spacious villas, with private plunge pools and floor-to-ceiling sea-view windows. But, all of that is secondary to the resort's premier highlight, Ithaa Restaurant, one of the most extraordinary dining venues in the world. Guests are taken 16 feet below the ocean's surface to the restaurant, where Maldivian-Western fusion dishes are served alongside champagne cocktails in a glass-domed structure -- with uninterrupted views of the marine life, of course.
It may not be the most glamorous spot, but Jules' Undersea Lodge credits itself with being the original underwater accommodations, developed long before the luxury-tourism boom. Housed in a former 1970s laboratory, the converted two-bedroom guest house is parked off the coast of Key Largo, 21 feet below the water's surface. The only way to get there is by scuba-diving to the hatch -- so you might want to travel light. When you've made it inside, you'll find all the facilities of modern life (air conditioning, hot showers, DVD players, and so on), while you marvel through 42-inch windows at the sea life floating by outside. It's ideal for explorers and adventurers, or anyone looking to do the underwater-hotel thing on a budget: A single person can spend a night at Jules for $675. Yep, it's steep compared to a regular hotel, but compared to the more upscale underwater alternatives, it's a steal.
By: Alice Tate