When I travel and look for suitable accommodation, history, location, and views — together with a certain level of comfort, are my main points to search for. I often forego the comfort aspect for a grand view, stayed in old and new hotels for a grand view, and at times, barely left the room, because of the view. From Australia to Iceland, Lebanon to Brazil, Venice to Prague, I must declare that I have managed to find some truly superb rooms with a view, which I want to share with you.
Sadly, I did not make a note of the various room numbers I stayed in — although I probably still have the key card in my collection, I will let you know what rooms to ask for to find that spectacular view. Want a room with a view? Read on.
1. Hotel Das Cataratas, Iguazu, Brazil
Brazil blew my mind with its beauty, and Iguazu Falls is the most spectacular location I have ever visited. The falls are just amazing, the power of the water breathtaking and the surrounding area beautiful. Now imagine seeing the sunset in front of your window, right over the falls. The falls were so close that you had to close the windows at night because of the noise. The Hotel das Cataratas, a Belmond Hotel on the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls offers superb accommodations, a gorgeous terrace, a lush garden, and lovely rooms and suites. But to get the views across Iguazu Falls, in all its splendor, ask for a Deluxe Falls View Room.
Pro Tip: As you will see the sunset from your room, opt for a First Light Walking Tour from the hotel to experience the forest waking up along the falls, and spot lots of wildlife, including coatis and toucans.
2. Rio Othon Palace Hotel, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro. Just savor that name. Can’t you already hear the music and see the amazing city in front of you? And what about those iconic beaches? And wow, you can spend a fortune on hotel rooms. But the Rio Othon Palace Hotel offers the same great views as some of the super-luxury hotels, but here, for less, you can afford a Junior Suite with a balcony that allows you to look down across the entirety of Copacabana Beach from your 20th floor. Ask for either a Junior Suite Sea Front, or, if that is too big, a Super Luxury Sea Front, and not only will you get amazing views, but also breakfast in the rooftop restaurant and access to the beachfront with service of fresh strawberry caipirinhas to your sun lounge.
Pro Tip: If you are more of a pool person than a cold Atlantic Ocean person, then don’t miss the rooftop pool with even more views.
3. Grand Hotel Praha, Prague, Czech Republic
Think of Prague and pretty much the first must-see sight that comes to mind is the Astronomical Clock dating to 1410, attached to the town hall in the center of old town. When the clock strikes the full hour, the 12 Apostles parade around the clock, but the spectacle draws huge crowds, and it is difficult to see the details through the people. So, why not stay at the Grand Hotel Praha, which is not as grand as it sounds, but has rooms on the floor right across from the clock, from where you can see every detail. Ask for a Grand Deluxe Room with a view of the Astronomical Clock, and you can almost touch the clock face.
Pro Tip: And for great views of another kind, have lunch at Kampa Park Restaurant right by the Vltava River below Charles Bridge.
4. Four Seasons Hotel Sydney, Sydney, Australia
The three main sights in Sydney are the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and the natural harbor. You can tick off all three, plus Circular Quay and Kirribilli House, from the comfort of your room at the Four Seasons Hotel Sydney. All rooms in the hotel have great views but many are just partial. To get the entire harbor view, complete with everything, maybe even a cruise ship thrown in, ask for a full harbor room, preferably a corner room.
Pro Tip: As you are only steps away from Circular Quay with all the ferries, hop on the Manly Ferry — not the fast one, but the traditional one with outdoor seating, for a cheap but wonderful experience of the entire natural harbor, past superb prime real estate all the way to the entrance to the harbor at Manly. Stop for lunch at the Manly Wharf Bar, and return.
5. Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Hotel, Aswan, Egypt
Aswan is one of the prettiest places I have ever been to and staying at the historic Old Cataract Hotel was such a treat. It has an amazing history and countless famous people stayed there over the years, from Agatha Christie, who wrote Death on the Nile in her suite here, to Princess Diana and countless heads of state and royalty. There is an old part and a new part, and at first, I was upset when my room turned out to be in the new part. But when I stepped onto the balcony, I realized that not only did I have all the views the old part has, but mine included the old hotel, which made it extra special. I stayed in the Opera Suite (room number 2607), but if you ask for a Nile view, you will get a (smaller) balcony with amazing views.
Pro Tip: Whatever you do, do not order champagne in the hotel. I kid you not, a glass (glass!) of champagne costs more than $300. The local rose wine is drinkable and a little more affordable.
6. ION Adventure Hotel, Nesjavellir, Iceland
This iconic-looking hotel, a rectangle sticking out into a barren landscape, is not just architecturally interesting, but also has a lovely bar, plus a great spa with outdoor pool, to be used even in winter in the snow. And it gave me a view I will never forget: the northern lights. As I mentioned, the landscape around the hotel is stark, if strangely pleasing in the way only Iceland can appeal to. But I happened to wake up in the middle of the night and thought I’d better check outside, as I had tried and failed to catch the Aurora Borealis in previous nights across other regions of Iceland, and there they were. Faint, but unmistakable. And this is this hotel’s claim to fame: each room has a fabulous view and there is no light pollution around it, so your chances of spotting the lights are good.
Pro Tip: Be aware that there is a geothermal energy plant near the hotel. A bit of an eyesore, but much better for the environment, so just ignore it.
7. Sina Palazzo Sant’Angelo, Venice, Italy
Right on the Grand Canal in Venice, with its own Vaporetto stop, this boutique hotel combines charm with palatial grandeur. It is not as grand, or expensive, as some of Venice’s super-luxury palazzo hotels, but not only is it smaller and more intimate, but it also has a trump card: ask for a room looking out over the Grand Canal, and you will get a Juliette balcony from where you can see all the way down to the Rialto Bridge.
Pro Tip: Steps away, you can cross the Grand Canal to the lovely neighborhood of San Polo by Traghetto, a gondola in which you stand during your one-minute crossing. Fast, cheap, and fun.
8. Palmyra Hotel, Baalbek, Lebanon
The Palmyra Hotel in Baalbek is a grand old dame of a hotel, bursting with history, a place where artists such as Jean Cocteau and numerous heads of state stayed, but it is neglected, and the rooms and facilities are basic, to say the least. But that should not deter you, because it is bursting with charm and faded glory. Plus, as this is all about rooms with a view, ask for a front-facing one, where you can see the Temple of Baalbek, the Roman Empire’s largest temple to Jupiter, and the site of a fantastic music festival.
Pro Tip: While travel to Lebanon is not recommended right now, do go whenever you get the chance. Baalbek can be reached by a 1.5-hour drive from Beirut and is well worth the detour.
9. Inn At Laurel Point, Victoria, Vancouver Island, Canada
Staying at the Inn at Laurel Point on Vancouver Island did not offer views of world-renowned sights, no ruins, famous landmarks, or iconic structures, but it is one that always stayed with me. A look across the natural inlet that plays home to the island’s small capital, Victoria’s harbor, with its rocky outcrops, bustling sailing, and ferry hub, made it a little more special than your average small harbor. It is the landing site for the seaplanes coming from the mainland, which was always fun to watch. I stayed in the Ericson Wing Terrace bedroom suite, with a huge balcony overlooking the entire harbor.
Pro Tip: A lovely walk from the hotel all around the harbor leads you to one of my favorite bookstores: Munro’s Books which has a lovely setting.
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