Some may dream of faraway beaches, others of mountains or jungles in exotic lands — but how about escaping beneath the water for a holiday in the company of fish?
But we’re not talking about diving holidays. A growing number of tourist destinations are now offering overnight stays and other underwater experiences including spas and restaurants.
Apparently, many of us want to be at one with the sea. Perhaps it’s something to do with humans having evolved from fish? Here we take a look at some of the best underwater getaways…
Swedish lake lodge
The Utter Inn on Lake Malaren in Sweden looks like a traditional Swedish red and white summer house, marooned on the lake. What makes it unique is its own underwater quarters
The bedroom is three metres down, beneath a kitchenette and dining area. The views aren’t always much to write home about
Created by conceptual artist Mikael Genberg, the Utter Inn on Lake Malaren in Sweden looks like a traditional Swedish red and white summer house, marooned on the lake. What makes it unique is its own underwater quarters, three metres down, with a kitchenette and dining area above, surrounded by an outdoor terrace.
Guests are transported there on an inflatable boat and given a raft to use during their stay to visit a nearby island.
There is no electricity, only battery-powered lamps. Upstairs there’s a toilet, kettle (with tea and coffee provided), fresh water, tea, cutlery and crockery. There is, however, no shower. ‘Sometimes underwater in Lake Malaren can look like a bit like pea soup,’ admits Genberg.
Details: From £200 per night (booking.com, or call 0046 21 39 01 00).
Indian ocean dream
A stay at the Underwater Room at Manta Resort in Tanzania is a chance to experience the Indian Ocean at its most dazzling
The Underwater Room at Manta Resort beside Pemba Island in Tanzania was also designed by Genberg. It took four years to create and cost nearly £400,000.
A stay here is a chance to experience the Indian Ocean at its most dazzling. You head out on a wooden boat for the swift two-minute journey to the accommodation, which is half in and half out of the crystal-clear sea next to a reef. Sometimes an octopus may clamp on to the window, and at other times you might see a shark glide past. You can still sunbathe, and stargaze, on a deck above.
Details: From £1,370 a night, with a three-night minimum stay (themantaresort.com).
Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai has two underwater suites with views of 65,000 marine animals living within an aquarium
For lovers of luxury Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai has two deluxe underwater suites, Poseidon and Neptune, within an aquarium on a man-made island. Each underwater suite comes with special glass that changes to dark at the touch of a button if you want a break from all the underwater creatures.
There are a lot of them: 65,000 marine animals covering 250 species.
You can take a bath looking onto the aquarium (you are supplied with real gold-infused bath gel).
The suites are on three levels, allowing you to be above water and enjoy the top view of the aquarium like a lake. Or spend your time sub-sea. Apparently, Kim and Khloe Kardashian enjoy these suites. Say no more.
Details: From £5,500 a night (atlantis.com/ar/dubai).
Real ocean views
The underwater restaurant at Conrad Maldives, which lies five metres down. Stays in the hotel’s underwater suite come in at an eye-watering £9,234 per night
The Conrad Maldives on Rangali Island is home to the world’s only glass-surrounded underwater suite, named The Muraka. It’s on the ocean floor, five metres beneath the clear waters of the Maldives. The Muraka, meaning coral in the local Dhivehi language, can accommodate up to nine people.
It is one of the most expensive nights in the Maldives. But at least you have your own infinity pool if the underwater views are fading.
Conrad Maldives also has the world’s first underwater restaurant, also five metres down, and which opened in 2005.
Details: From £9,234 per night (conradmaldives.com).
Massage of madness
The unique underwater spa at Huvafen Fushi in the Maldives is located eight metres below sea level
The only underwater spa in the world is to be found at Huvafen Fushi, also in the Maldives. If you want to zone out while being massaged, then this is the place to indulge in a completely blissful marine dream state. Their most popular treatment is the Underwater Dream, 90 minutes of pure sleep-inducing relaxation during which you take in the view of fish and corals in the clear blue habitat.
The spa is reached by a staircase that leads you down a heady eight metres below sea level.
It’s a celeb haunt: Liz Hurley, Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell have stayed at Huvafen Fushi.
Details: Bungalow with pool from £799; Underwater Dream massage from £245 (huvafenfushi.com).
Deep down under
This is Australia’s Reefsuites underwater hotel, where guests can gaze upon more than 1,500 species of fish
Australia’s first underwater hotel, Reefsuites, opened on the Great Barrier Reef in 2019, comprising two suites suspended beneath a floating pontoon. It’s a 90-minute flight from Brisbane to Airlie Beach, then a three-hour boat journey to the reef, where you finally arrive at this undersea sanctuary and can marvel at more than 1,500 species of fish. There are also turtles and rays.
All can be seen through from floor-to-ceiling windows, without wetting a single toe. By night, guests can turn on a light to observe nearby underwater life, while the endless black expanse of the ocean presses in around them.
Details: From £900 per person per night (cruisewhitsundays.com).
Dive in deep
Jules Undersea Lodge, off the coast of Key Largo in Key West, Florida, is the original underwater hotel.
To stay, you have to be a qualified diver with an open-water diver certificate, as there is no other way you can reach this two-roomed former marine research unit, eight metres below the ocean.
It opened in 1986, after being moved from more than 30 metres below sea level near Puerto Rico where it was used solely for research. There are two beds, a kitchen with a microwave, a coffee-maker, a shower and three large windows.
You arrive and check in at around 1pm. Your dinner is delivered by a diver at 6pm (yes, fish is on the menu). Then you are set for the night with unlimited views of the undersea world until 8.30am when you are escorted back to sea level.
Details: From £600 per night (jul.com).