20 Epic Dream Hotels to Visit (before you die)
1. Manta Resort, Tanzania
Ever wanted to be able to go down the stairs of your resort room, hoist the blinds, and be stared down by schools of fish? Can you get over the fact that in doing so, you’ll be painfully aware that your accommodations are anchored offshore? If you answered yes to both of those questions (as I have), then the photos of the Manta Resort have probably inspired you to add Tanzania’s Pemba Island to the bucket list.
2. Hotel Kakslauttanen, Finland
If you’ve never heard of this place, you’ve probably spent an enviably small amount of time on the internet. With its infamous glass igloos and log cabins, the Hotel Kakslauttanen offers an exclusive inside-while-outside winter experience. You know, so you can be immersed in the beauty of frozen forests and incredible winter auroras while simultaneously safe and comfortable inside your own private bubble of warmth.
3. Qualia Resort, Hamilton, Australia
Hamilton Island in the Whitsunday Archipelago in Australia is perhaps best known for its yachting regattas, but it also happens to sit near incredible diving on the Great Barrier Reef. The Qualia Resort also offers private chefs, private bars, and private beach drop-offs.
4. Icehotel, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
At the absolute top of my bucket list, the Icehotel is like living in an art installation. A very cold art installation. Though the ice accommodations are available for only one season a year (for what I hope are obvious reasons), the hotel also offers “warm accommodations” and a host of summer activities, including “art experiences with ice, and adventures in the surrounding wilderness under the midnight sun.”
5. Treehotel, Sweden
The multi-styled Swedish Treehotel comprises such rooms as: the Cabin, the Mirrorcube, the Bird’s Nest, the Blue Cone, the UFO, the Tree Sauna, and the Dragonfly. Though perhaps a little literal in the naming of the rooms, the architecture and execution at the Treehotel are pretty next-level and make for a unique experience in the Swedish forest.
6. Hotel de Glace, Quebec, Canada
The first (and only) true ice hotel in North America, Hotel de Glace opened in 2001 and has been rebuilt every December since. With a three-month lifespan, the features of this hotel are different each year, but it’s famous for its recurring chapel, bar, and grand ice slide.
7. Ayana Resort and Spa, Bali
The Ayana Resort in Bali is a relatively short distance from the airport but sits on a secluded cliff overlooking the sea. It’s got one of the world’s most famous beach bars, the Rock Bar, along with 15 other restaurants and bars just in case.
8. Katikies Hotel, Greece
On the legendary island of Santorini, atop the Caldera Cliffs, the Katikies Hotel lends further credence to the idea that not only is putting a pool on an island surrounded by water not redundant, but you can do so just about anywhere in Greece and still achieve a killer view.
9. Phinda Homestead, South Africa
Small-scale and utterly luxurious, the Phinda Homestead is a family-size lodge situated on a private game reserve within the KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa. No one around but you, the lodge staff, and the wildlife.
10. Hotel Au Vieux Panier, France
Situated in the heart of Marseille, each room at the Au Vieux Panier has been individually decorated by an artist or graphic designer of worldwide acclaim (and the rooms change every year). Not only is there a rooftop terrace where you can look out over the city center, but also a hotel library, perfect for a relaxing night in.
11. Panchoran Retreat, Bali
Carved out of the Balinese jungle by Irish designer Linda Garland in an ongoing project since the ‘70s, the Panchoran Retreat is a blend of art project, resort, and ecogarden. The retreat has been home to festivals, workshops, and generations of environmentalists conducting research year round.
12. Marataba Safari Lodge, South Africa
Marataba Safari Lodge is not a for-profit hotel, which alone should be a major selling point. The lodge is located within a massive game preserve, and its main purpose is to generate the revenue necessary to support the preserve’s continued projects. Their main goal is to restore the natural balance of flora and fauna in the region, with the help and involvement of people from all over the world.
13. Jumby Bay, Antigua
Jumby Bay in Antigua has an infinity pool overlooking the Caribbean with pool attendants who will bring anything from ice cream to books. If you aren’t sold after that last sentence, you’ve got a heart of stone (or, you know, just a small bank account).
14. Viceroy Hotel, Bali
With a prime location like Bali, it would be pretty easy for a resort to skimp on just about everything and rely on the beauty of its surroundings. Thankfully, the Viceroy simply saw that as a challenge and took luxury to the nth degree with amenities including private airport retrieval via helicopter, direct to the only hotel-owned helipad in the district.
15. Barin Ski Resort, Iran
Just an hour outside of Tehran looms the Barin Ski Resort, a white fortress designed to mimic the snow-covered mountains that surround it, and with an interior that feels an awful lot like an igloo (though the architects opted for “topographic layers” instead of ice blocks). The Barin Ski Resort was designed, inside and out, to reflect and complement its natural surroundings, and the effect is truly stunning.
16. Gamirasu Cave Hotel, Turkey
This recently renovated hotel, used since the Byzantine era as a monastic retreat, had been a getaway just outside of Ürgüp, in the Cappadocia region, for centuries before it was converted into a hotel for the public, which pretty much guarantees its awesomeness.
17. Whitepod Hotel, Switzerland
Self-dubbed an “eco-luxury hotel and alpine experience,” the Whitepod Hotel maintains its environmentally friendly green during the white Swiss winters. From their website: “Whitepod aims to be a model for sustainable tourism by using a number of measures to limit its impact on nature, for example: minimize daily water and electricity consumption, reduce waste production, favour the use of renewable resources, and increase the clients’ awareness of environmental protection.”
18. Castlemartyr Resort, East Cork, Irish
Winding along the driveway to East Cork’s most exclusive hotel, you’ll be instantly enraptured by epic Irish romanticism. This five-star demesne and majestic mansion is surrounded by rolling pastures, scenic oak woodlands and a 13th century castle; even the resident Irish setters appear like props from an Annie Leibovitz ‘Vogue’ shoot.
19. Sofitel So Bangkok, Thailand
Designed to bring a touch of French elegance and luxury to a modern Thai setting, Sofitel So is decorated to reflect each of the five Chinese elements (water, earth, wood, metal, and fire). Looking out over Thailand’s capital city, the hotel also features a spa that apparently resembles a mythical forest.
20. Sala Silver Mine, Sweden
Sometimes “getting away from it all” involves going 155 meters underground (to the world’s deepest hotel room), and while no one thinks of staying in a historic silver-mine-turned-resort for their holiday, perhaps the accommodations at the Sala Silver Mine are enough to keep it in mind, rather than going to some boring island.