Giving a whole new spin to the concept of “ocean views”, these properties take guests into the water, delivering a unique perspective to view the world’s bountiful marine life. With manta rays gliding serenely over your bed, it can be hard to know where dreams end and reality begins. Splash out on one of these epic experiences with our round-up of the best underwater hotels in the world.
Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, Maldives
The Muraka villa at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island appears to be a luxe overwater bungalow – but there’s more here than meets the eye. Upon entry, you’ll descend the spiral staircase or elevator and enter an aquatic universe. The entire master suite is submerged five metres deep, housed beneath a curved acrylic dome, where guests awake to refracted sunlight dappled by schools of fish swimming overhead. There are floor-to-ceiling windows in the bathroom, a walk-in wardrobe and an immersive tunnel viewing theatre, too. The Muraka sleeps six, with a sun deck, infinity pool and its own private butler and chef.
Intercontinental Shanghai Wonderland, Shanghai
Located 50 kilometres from central Shanghai, Intercontinental Shanghai Wonderland plunges 16 storeys down the side of a former quarry (two more are above ground). The engineering feat that took 10 years to complete has been dubbed a “groundscraper”, in which things become more luxurious the further you descend.
This 337-key luxury hotel boasts a grand ballroom, a fitness centre and even an outdoor climbing wall, but its star attractions are hiding beneath the waves.The two lowest levels house six Duplex Suite Underwater View rooms – plush two-level suites with windows looking into a custom-built saltwater aquarium. These rooms come with butler service, Ferragamo amenities and fun kids’ areas. There’s also Mr. Fisher, an underwater seafood restaurant where you’ll be joined for dinner by reef fish, sharks and stingrays.
Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai
Dubai is synonymous with luxury and the city is not to be outdone in the underwater hotel stakes. Its entry on this list is Atlantis, The Palm, which sits at the top of the Palm Jumeirah, Dubai’s second largest man-made island. Indoors, you’ll find the Ambassador Lagoon, an 11-million-litre aquarium filled with roughly 65,000 sea creatures including giant groupers, clown fish and eels.
There are two underwater suites to choose from, Poseidon or Neptune, each with three storeys, 24-hour butler service and entry via private elevator. The lower level is given over to a bedroom with floor-to-ceiling views of all the underwater action, plus a bathroom with the same submerged view. One floor up delivers you to the lavish lounge room, where the waters of the lagoon lap hypnotically at the windows.
Resorts World Sentosa - Equarius Villas, Singapore
Butler service is a staple when it comes to underwater escapes. At Resorts World Sentosa - Equarius Villas, these attentive staffers are readily on hand to attend to the needs of Equarius Ocean Suite guests. There are 11 two-storey suites to choose from, with all featuring below-water level, views into the Open Ocean Habitat of S.E.A. Aquarium – the largest in the world. The above-ground upper level has a large living area, patio and hot-tub; the lower has views of 40,000-odd sea creatures from the bedroom. There’s also a huge TV in the master suite, which hardly seems necessary when there’s a shark swimming past your window. Our advice? Relax in the sunken bath (privacy from fish not guaranteed), order room service and enjoy the underwater show.
Anantara Kihavah, Maldives
Located within the Baa Atoll, Anantara Kihavah is an island paradise on the edge of waters teeming with marine life. There are 80 villas and apartments, including the largest two-bedroom over-water residences in the world. Each has an expansive deck, swimming pool and outdoor shower from which to appreciate the view. Glass-bottomed bathtubs in the villas give you an intimate glimpse of what’s happening below sea level as you soak away the day.
While it’s hard to top the views from your room, the stay’s highlight is SEA, an underwater fine diner and wine cellar completely surrounded by the ocean. Diners watch turtles, sharks and tropical fish drifting past as they enjoy their Maldivian lobster and Loire Valley sancerre.