Above And Under Water

Staying a float

Looking to fully immerse yourself in your surroundings on your next holiday? What better way than leaving terra firma behind and booking an aquatic escape to one of these floating hotels that respect their environments while giving a whole new meaning to the term ‘sea view’, says Stephanie Dobrijevic. Just don’t forget your swimming costume

Manta resort Tanzania

Imagine being encapsulated in an azure bubble beneath the sea, drifting in and out of sleep as colourful shoals of reef fish casually swim by your window. The remarkable underwater room at Tanzania’s Manta Resort is one of the most unique bedrooms in the world, set 250m off the remote tropical island of Pemba.

The watertight chamber is located 4m underwater, making it the closest you will ever come to life under the sea. More than 100 marine species call the protected blue hole site their home, including rare Spanish dancer sea slugs, orbicular batfish, octopus and nosy Nick, the island’s resident trumpetfish.

The submerged chamber has 360-degree panoramas of the Indian Ocean with unobstructed views by day. At night, spotlights under the windows illuminate the room, attracting all kinds of fish to the porthole. At sea level, the structure is made from local hardwood and cladding, featuring a simple lounge

space and bathroom. Climb the ladder up to the rooftop deck and marvel at the smudges of coral, violet, turquoise and fiery orange blending together as the sun sets over the mainland. If you don’t want to go downstairs, you can even sleep under the stars as the gentle sound of the sea and warm climes lulls you into a deep slumber with unpolluted views of the solar system.

As you would expect, freshly caught seafood is excellent here. Try the stuffed crab paired with wali wa nazi (rice in coconut milk), best enjoyed with a cocktail or cold beer in hand and your toes buried in the sand as you look out on to your island idyll. At dusk, take a guided tour through the ancient Ngezi Forest Reserve in search of the endemic Pemba flying fox.

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Travel Details

Doubles from £1,165, all inclusive.

Nearest airport is Abeid Amani Karume International (135km). From here take a chartered flight to Pemba island.


Taj lake palace udaipur India

Feel like a member of the raj as you stand beneath a sequin- embroidered umbrella and are greeted by rose petals falling from the roof to the heraldic sound of trumpets.

Completely restored to its pristine glory in 1963 after featuring in Roger Moore’s Octopussy, the Taj Lake Palace was the secluded, sensual lair of the eponymous Bond girl. The 18th-century white marble castle floats on Lake Pichola, with intricately carved statues in the parapets reflecting perfectly on to the still water. With the picturesque Aravalli Mountains peering through the mist behind, it really is a view to kill for.

Each one of the 83 ethereal white marble rooms is decorated with luxurious silks, bespoke wood furniture, ornate screens and coloured frescoes. With a quintessentially Indian design staying as true as possible to the original, it remains rooted to its Rajasthani heritage and effortlessly captures the essence of the subcontinent. Jharokha-style windows boast stunning views of nearby Jag Mandir palace, while incense drifts through the hotel in the same way that it would have done two centuries ago.

Pamper yourself at the hotel’s Jiva Boat Spa and indulge in carefully curated treatments that purify and regenerate the body. Its Vishram massage draws out impurities through the use of aromatic oils and techniques that hark back to ancient Hindu rituals. Bathe in exquisite lily pools as the sun reflects off the stone and order up a martini; shaken, not stirred, if you’re staying in character. Romance, comfort and a sense of charm is all you need here – and a licence to chill, of course.

Taj Lake Palace Udaipur 4

Travel Details

Doubles from £233, including breakfast.

Nearest airport is Udaipur (23km).


4 rivers floating lodge Cambodia

Escape the frenzied streets of Koh Kong, where the smell of dried spices hang in the thick air, and immerse yourself in Theravada Buddhist culture and Cambodia’s untouched lands.

Accessible only by boat, these lodges put you in the middle of the wilderness. You’ll be mesmerised by fish jumping out of the crystal-clear Tatai River and the dominant beauty of the Krâvanh Mountains as you wake up to the calling sounds of deer and gibbons celebrating the day’s first rays of sunshine.

The ‘Kingdom of Wonder’ in the country’s south-west is an increasingly popular destination thanks to developments that make journeying there easier. These 12 stylish tented ecolodges are found in unspoilt surroundings – the perfect retreat for those who want to help out the environment and their bank balance.

Each of the lodges take their inspiration from Africa’s game parks, with khaki tents that combine luxury with practicality. Built using modern composite materials instead of wood, they help protect local rainforests from destruction. Inside you’ll find elegant rattan furniture complemented by red cushions, dark timber flooring and plush rugs. Spacious bathrooms feature showers housed in quirky wine barrel-style tubs.

Experience a taste of Khmer cuisine at the 4 Rivers Restaurant and breakfast on sticky rice with papaya before sliding straight into the Tatai from your private deck. Afterwards, roll up the sides of your tent and relax on the day bed, watching the azure sky slowly turn to vibrant orange and red as the sun moves along the river. Elsewhere, take a guided motorbike and walking trek into the Cardamom Rainforest, where local monks teach their sacred Pali language, visit Tatai waterfall at dusk to witness clouds of fireflies lighting up the night sky or settle back on a river cruise and watch the tropical sun dip into the horizon.

Outdoor Night 1

Travel Details

Doubles from £170, including breakfast.

Nearest airport is Sihanoukville International (14km).


Salt and sill Sweden

Not much happens in Klädesholmen, a village hidden away in Tjörn on the Swedish coast. It’s home to just 385 residents living in picture-postcard wooden cottages. They spend their days fishing and evenings grilling their catch, while sharing glasses of aquavit (a local flavoured spirit) and tales of old.

The country’s first floating hotel is designed to have a minimal effect on the environment and marine life. The six two-storey houses which perch on pontoons are built from derelict fishing boats and local granite, a fabulous contrast to the red-hued huts on the harbour. The decor has a contemporary Scandinavian feel throughout with clean-lined interiors. As places to forget the cares of modern life go, there are few better than here.

Watch tufty clouds drift past Bohuslän’s outer archipelago while you feast on delicious shellfish from the hotel’s award- winning restaurant. It serves fine, fresh-off-the-boat crab, lobster and pickled herring – an acquired taste that you just have to try, if only to win the respect of the locals. Its small herring board offers the fish served six ways alongside a classic pairing of boiled potatoes. Be sure to save a shot of local schnapps to wash down the slightly less palatable combinations.

Fancy dipping your toe into the brackish Skagerrak waters? Then dive straight in from your own personal deck before making a restorative trip to the adjacent S/S Silla where you’ll find a floating sauna and relaxation room. On the top deck there’s a hot tub and sun terrace which affords spectacular views out to sea. Whatever the time of year or temperature, you’ll find guests and locals alike sitting out long into the night, gazing at the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains.


Travel Details

Doubles from £242, including breakfast.

Nearest airport is Gothenburg Landvetter (69km).


Good hotel London

Located in East London’s beating heart, Good Hotel offers some of the best-value beds in the capital, with stellar river views to match. It’s super-minimalist with a pared-back industrial design that is bang on-trend for this style-conscious part of town. However, what really makes this place shine is its commitment to the surrounding community. The staff is formed of long-term unemployed Londoners and youths from disadvantaged families, while both local and international charities benefit from every room booked through the non-profit group.

The hotel is the brainchild of Dutch designers Remko Verhaagen and Sikko Valk. It was built in a port in the Netherlands last year before being tugged 530km across the North Sea to its permanent home on Royal Victoria Dock.

A masterful feat of engineering, Docklands residents marvelled as the hotel’s transport boards were peeled down and the sides unfolded like origami to fully erect the structure in under 48 hours. The slick decor mixes monochrome shades with moody lighting, creating an ultra-cool space where guests are encouraged to interact with residents who come to make use of the relaxed breakout spaces and truly excellent coffee.

A terrace runs the length of the building, affording skyline views of Canary Wharf, with a restaurant serving all-day classics such as Caesar salad, top-quality steaks and healthy lunches like quinoa salads and poke bowls. As a base for exploring the city, the location doesn’t get much better than this. From one of its 148 rooms, you can be in central London in just 15 minutes. Good value, perfectly located and socially responsible – three tenets you’ll rarely find in any city centre hotel property.

Good Hotel London Living Room Reception Area

Travel Details

Doubles from £80, excluding breakfast.

Nearest airport is London City (1km).


King pacific lodge Canada

If isolation and relaxation are your holiday essentials, King Pacific Lodge ticks all the boxes. Your only neighbours will be grizzly bears, grey wolves, cougars and the odd mountain goat. The solitude and silence is deafening, broken only by the daily arrival of a helicopter ferrying new guests to the island.

In the depths of Great Bear Rainforest – 6.4million ha of the largest temperate rainforest in the world – on Princess Royal Island in British Columbia, the lodge channels the spirit of the Pacific Northwest with a colonial vibe in every aspect of its styling. Cedar panels line the property and its 17 suites, while exposed brick chimneys, taxidermy and wildlife portraits give it the feel of a genuine hunting lodge away from home.

Each spring the three-storey building, built on a former US Navy barge, is towed 160km south from Prince Rupert to Bernard Harbour and each autumn it returns to its winter dock, leaving only a minimal footprint on the environment.

Anglers will be in their element. Hire a boat from adjacent St John’s Harbour and head to Cheney Point for some of Canada’s best fishing. King coho, Chinook and silver salmon populate the waters, with all necessary equipment available to borrow.

Bring your catch back to the lodge and cook it on the barbecue (chefs are on hand for cooking tips). As you’d expect, local fish is on the menu throughout your stay and the likes of grilled Hecate Strait halibut and crispy-skin wild spring salmon are served in modern style. This is off-the-grid living at its most pure.

King Pacific Lodge 01

Travel Details

Doubles from £1,079, including helicopter transfer.

Nearest airport is Vancouver (499km). From here take a chartered flight to Campbell Island.


Harbour houseboat Isle of Wight

Walk the gangplank on to the UK’s most attractive hotel houseboat. The Harbour Houseboat, nicknamed ‘Sturdy’, offers views across Bembridge Harbour and out to The Solent. Converted from a 22m Thames Lighter barge, expect chic interiors and maritime styling. Crisp white walls reflect the water rippling outside and colourful, hand-painted local art adds a comforting touch. Mismatched chairs surround a huge zinc-topped dining table and nautical sofas add a whimsical edge to the design, while the kitchen is kitted out as well as any that you might find on dry land. The four bedrooms feature king-size beds swathed with luxury linen and it can comfortably sleep nine adults, making it the largest of the options on our list. It’s a great pick for family celebrations for those who want to make the most of the area’s excellent seafood and produce.

Don’t fancy cooking? Book a private chef from La Belle Assiette who will bring fresh, island ingredients to cook on board and even do the washing up. Bi-fold doors that run the width of the boat glide open on to an imposing foredeck, while a rooftop terrace is the ideal spot for a sundowner. Just a few minutes’ walk away you’ll find Bembridge Harbour filled with colourful fishing boats and friendly locals. Have some old-fashioned fun building sandcastles on the beach, rock-pooling on the shore or taking long walks in the crisp sea air for that nostalgic seaside buzz. For close-to-home family escapes with plenty of activities on your doorstep, this will really float your boat.

Harbour Houseboat 3

Travel Details

Self-catering from £149.

Nearest airport is Southampton (34km). From here take a Red Funnel ferry to Isle of Wight.


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