Daydreaming of a storybook vacation?
Look no further than these 10 over-the-top accommodations. From Iceland to Uluru, these hotels and the unique experiences they offer do not disappoint.
1. The Oberoi Rajvilas, Jaipur, India
“I was drawn to the hotel as it had the best blend of historical architecture, modern amenities, and renowned service. We stayed in the Premier room. which was spacious and very well decorated with thick silk rugs, four-poster beds, and Indian silver artifacts, and—the icing on the cake—the sunken large bath.”
She said that “outside the room, the large landscaped gardens beckon you for early morning walks, whilst the lotus pond and ancient temple on the ground evoke tranquility and spirituality.”
The hotel’s grounds do indeed house a nearly 300-year-old temple…
And the lodgings are inspired by the features of traditional Rajasthani forts. Sadarangani said, “The experience was beautiful, yoga lessons early in the morning, massage late afternoon at the spa. The staff at the hotel seem to be at every corner and turn of the large property and there is someone always discreetly and efficiently topping up your drink and asking after your needs.”
Oberoi Rajvilas encapsulates what India is in her mind—”a sometimes surreal painting of a beautiful India.”
2. 85 Sky Tower Hotel, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan
While it’s not the highest hotel in the world, 85 Sky Tower in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan, is one of the most affordable super-tall digs you can book if you’re after sky-high views.
Formerly known as T & C Tower and Tuntex Sky Tower, you can snag a night in an 85 Sky Tower room overlooking Taiwan’s New Bay Area for as little as $89 a night.
Enjoy a bite from the top, or get your best selfie yet on the view deck.
All of 85 Sky Tower’s rooms have bay views, but the best vistas are actually available to all visitors, even if you’re staying elsewhere in Taiwan.
Make your way up to 85 Observatory on the 70th story or enjoy dim sum or Japanese cuisine on the 77th floor at 85 Sky Tower’s Chiao-Jiang and FUWARI restaurants.
3. Jade Mountain, St. Lucia
After a tropical escape? Look no further than architect-owner Nick Troubetzkoy’s mythic Jade Mountain resort on the west coast of St. Lucia.
This verdant paradise offers not only extreme privacy and almost unbelievable views, but feel-good Green Leader Platinum and LEED GOLD awards from TripAdvisor and the U.S. Green Building Council, respectively.
Note that paradise comes at a price.
Access to Jade Mountain’s infinity pools, unparalleled views of the Piti and Gros Piton mountains, organically grown produce, and open-air suites will cost you.
How much? Well over $1,000 a night, making this resort not only over the top, but ultra-elite. In fact, it’s been frequented by celebrities including rapper Ludacris and NFL cornerback Logan Ryan.
4. Coucoo Grands Grapes, Sorgues, France
If you haven’t been daydreaming of an eco-friendly resort getaway in the south of France, you will be now.
Welcome to the Coucoo Grands Grapes in the Sourges commune, just over an hour northwest of Marseille.
Coucoo Grands Grapes
This “unique eco-estate of huts” sits on the Lac de la Lionne or Lake of the Lioness (thank you, Google Translate!). Become one with the water that surrounds you as you access your accommodations by a boat or pontoon, or embody the lioness as you sun yourself on your private deck.
Rates for Coucoo Grands Grapes’ huts and cabins start at $215 a night, and the resort allows you to add meals and upgrades (like “petals of roses strewn”) to your reservation that will further enhance your stay.
5. ICEHOTEL, Jukkasjärvi, Sweden
John Granberg of Jet Gift Baskets said he stayed in Sweden’s ICEHOTEL last year and that it was beautiful.
“The best thing about the trip was the northern lights tour at night via a snowmobile.”
Granberg said he expected to sleep on the ice, but that each room is actually outfitted with “a super comfy mattress.” He did wear three layers of clothing during his visit, and managed to stay comfortably warm.
How To Pack
Chris Singleton of independent guide Dublin Public Transport said, “The first time you step into the ICEHOTEL you’ll be blown away at how much of the furniture and fixtures are actually made from ice. They even serve drinks at the bar in ice glasses!”
He seconded Granberg’s comments about the warm, cozy beds, but warned visitors to pack as much thermal clothing as possible. “As silly as it may sound, I thought I had packed enough jumpers and layers, but even then it still got a bit cold.”
If you pack right, you’ll be well equipped to enjoy dog sledding, sightseeing, and mingling with others. Despite the cold, Singleton said, “You’ll also meet a lot of other visitors while you’re there so you’ll never feel lonely or left out.”
6. La Dimora di Metello, Matera, Italy
This magical hotel is literally built into the Sassi and the Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera — a UNESCO World Heritage site. The entire town, including the hotel’s unique, subterranean rooms, boasts an ancient aesthetic thanks to the striking rocks that have been carved and inhabited since the Paleolithic and Neolithic eras.
Enjoy modern amenities while getting up close and personal with the wonders of rock-cut settlement.
La Dimora di Metello’s decor features warm neutrals and minimalist furnishings that will enhance visitors’ appreciation of the ancient craftsmanship that surrounds them.
To infuse a little luxury into your stay, book a treatment at the hotel’s Domus Spa, which centers around a whirlpool tub and offers Bio Sauna treatments that combine the benefits of Turkish baths and Finnish steam rooms.
7. Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
No matter how much you enjoy Caribbean climes or touring ancient settlements, no list of over-the-top hotels would be complete without mention of Conrad Maldives Rangali Island.
Travelers from around the world chime in on why this property, where you can stay and dine underwater, in addition to enjoying beautiful beaches and first-class amenities, is a showstopper.
Daniel A. Gillaspia, CEO and founder of UponArriving told TravelAwaits the diving options drew him in, but that “this was one of the few properties that exceeded my expectations. The sites of the turquoise ocean and the beautiful venues like the underwater restaurant were surreal. It’s a trippy feeling to look down and see sharks swimming directly below your water villa.”
Both Gillaspia and Kamara Harding of fashion and luxury travel blog Euriental shared that they were able to make the most of their Conrad stays by using their Hilton membership benefits.
During her two stays at Conrad, Harding has opted for different room types and scuba dived with manta rays.
Her recommendations: “Try both villa types if possible, perhaps a night or two in an overwater villa and then the same in a beach villa. It’s definitely fun to enjoy both and they are special in different ways — the overwater villas are quite a unique experience; brushing your teeth whilst watching sting rays swim below your feet is simply unforgettable.”
Harding shared her insider’s take on dining options: “Personally, I probably wouldn’t recommend the underwater restaurant at the Conrad.”
“It is extremely warm inside and most of the fish you’ll see aren’t particularly exciting. The sharks don’t seem to come around too often. Mostly you’ll just be surrounded by a lot of blue.”
That said, Taryn White of The Trip Wish List, who also used Hilton Honors points to upgrade her Conrad stay, told TravelAwaits, “We did cocktail hour at Ithaa Underwater Restaurant, and it was really cool to eat and drink under the sea!”
8. Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Saariselkä, Finland
Like ICEHOTEL in Sweden, Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, which is a mere 150 miles from the country’s northern border, puts the emphasis on finding the beauty in arctic climes. Unlike ICEHOTEL, however, Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort doesn’t feature any frozen furniture. Instead, you can enjoy glass igloos that give you a panoramic view of the northern lights.
Laurence Norah of travel blog Finding the Universe said, “The view of the night sky was absolutely incredible, and the igloo had everything I needed, including Wi-Fi and a small bathroom.”
According to Norah, it wasn’t a luxury experience…
Instead, he said, it was something unique. And expensive.
He said it exceeded his expectations, even though he didn’t get to see the northern lights. Unfortunately, neither did traveler Hillary Brown, a public relations specialist for Dutch Bros Coffee, who said the experience is completely dependent on the weather. “When I stayed,” she told TravelAwaits, “it was gray and foggy, so I didn’t get to see stars or anything.”
“Another odd thing that you don’t think about is the fact that the igloos are glass. There are only small curtains around the bottom of the igloo, so you can’t get changed in the sleeping area, walk around in a towel, or sit up in bed without other guests or walkers seeing you. It was a little awkward.”
Ultimately, Brown said she was happy she went, just that it wasn’t the bucket list experience she’d expected.
9. Madonna Inn, San Luis Obispo, California
Looking for an over-the-top hotel a little closer to home—no passport required? The Madonna Inn is a quirky stay in southern California that has a rich history.
Mona Molayem of travel blog MonaCorona said, “What initially drew me to this hotel was their uniquely themed rooms: each one decorated differently from the next. I had the opportunity to stay in the Tall & Short room, which is painted and furnished from top to bottom in shades of pink and was originally intended for tall and short couples — fitting for my husband and I — and the Austrian Suite, which felt like staying in a whimsical, old-timey storybook fairy tale.”
Some of the Madonna’s rooms even feature rock walls, bathrooms, and showers.
What Molayem wasn’t expecting, though, was that some of the rooms were a bit run down. She said, “I guess in some ways [it] adds to the vintage charm if you can get past the price point.”
What she did appreciate: “The property itself however is very well-maintained and beautiful, with a large pool, spa, and a restaurant that serves the most delicious, iconic champagne cake … free if it’s your birthday.”
10. Longitude 131, Yulara, Australia
Ruth Grau of Springboard Vacations told TravelAwaits, “Longitude is an amazing place to stay that is totally different from anything else. Obviously the location is unique as it is set in the outback of Australia and the well-appointed, tented rooms have views to Uluru (Ayers Rock). It’s such a stunning way to wake up in the morning to see the rich colors of the outback and the glow of the morning sun on the rock.”
It’s a trek to get to the Outback (even if you’re already down under), but it’s well worth it.
Grau said Longitude 131 is “remote, peaceful, and quiet” but offers “amazing food, a great wine selection, and many amazing things to do — like a heli flight over Uluru, dinner out under the stars accompanied by an Indigenous Aboriginal Didgeridoo musician, and tours that talk about the meaning and significance of the area. This magical place really connects to your soul in a way that’s hard to explain but unforgettable.”
And that, in addition to impeccable style (and private hot tubs under the Outback sky), makes it the type of over-the-top hotel that’ll inspire you to plan your next journey.
Photo Credit: Giulia Gasperini / Unsplash