Imagine a hotel which travels with you: the views from the windows change constantly, and there’s a never-ending list of new places to explore.
Yes, a cruise ship fits this definition, but if you prefer adventures of a more intimate and wild kind, unbothered by crowds of fellow tourists, what you need a boutique boat hotel.
If you dream of a vacation afloat, drifting on the ocean waves or river current, these are 6 of the coolest boat hotels for you.
Hit the deck with the hottest nautical-inspired fashion. Our fashion and beauty editor reveals what to pack for a hotel on the ocean.
Rembrandt van Rijn, Norway
For the ultimate in romance, step aboard the Rembrandt van Rijn, a three masted sailing schooner first built in the early 20th century. The ship cuts a dramatic silhouette amongst the ice floes of the Arctic Circle, where it sails from Spitsbergen and Greenland.
You stand the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights in the winter months, and it is a truly magical experience to watch the colours dancing across the sky as you stand on the deck of the ship. The ice and snow covered fjords are breathtakingly beautiful, and orca and humpback whales are present in large numbers as they follow the shoals of herring.
Inspired by the understated elegance of 1920s and ‘30s-era sailing and oozing a bygone era of teak-and-mahogany elegance, it is not quite a boat hotel but at the same time, Satori is no ordinary yacht.
At 41.5 metres, the yacht was built and designed in Bodrum, Turkey by owners Claus and Jeanette Thottrup of spectacular Tuscan getaway Borgo Santo Pietro. With the shape of a traditional schooner but all the amenities of a world-class racing yacht, Satori’s uncompromised attention to detail – from a free-standing walnut bathtub in the master bedroom to a hidden wine cellar beneath the stairs – make it one of the most elegant and unique charter yachts on the available.
Accommodating up to ten passengers in three double bedrooms as well as an expansive living area with panoramic views of the sea and a focus on the dining experience. On-board Chefs are trained at their own Michelin restaurants Meo Modo and La Bottega del Buon Caffè and prepare all on-board meals, from fresh breakfasts to gourmet dinners. All alongside the wine cellar with a 250-bottle capacity. BYOB?
Delfin II, Peru
The Pacaya Samiria is the second largest national reserve in Peru, a unique habitat within the Amazon Rainforest where iconic species such as capybaras, jaguars, giant otters, and Amazon river dolphins thrive. It’s a watery wilderness with few roads, so sailing onboard the Delfin II allows you reach otherwise inaccessible parts of the reserve, as well as to stay in comfort.
Delfin II has 14 cabins, including four master suites with 180-degree views of the rainforest and river. Guests share access to the gym, spa, lecture room, observation deck, and lounge, and dine communally on sumptuous Peruvian cuisine. Activities off the ship range from canopy walks to paddle boarding, and birdwatching to canoeing.
MV Rudra Singh, India
The MV Rudra Singh is your own private houseboat: there won’t be anyone else onboard except your crew. It’s an attractive wooden boat, built in a traditional Assamese style by local craftsmen, and it has a flat bottom so that you can sail in even the shallowest channels of the Brahmaputra River.
Whilst you are sailing, Gangetic dolphin will follow you, jumping up and down playfully in the water. You will cruise through the Kaziranga National Park — home to two-thirds of the world’s one horned rhino — and also be able to stop at Majuli, a river island with historic Vaishnavite monasteries. The boat is fully air conditioned, and the chef will ensure that not only do you eat like a Maharaja, but the gin and tonic keep flowing, too.
Cruise ships do roam the waters of the Galapagos, but for the best island hopping experience you need a boat that is somewhat smaller. MV Origin is one of the smallest ships in the archipelago, accommodating just 20 guests at a time, plus a professional crew and two expert naturalists to help you make the most of the voyage. It’s under the Relais & Chateaux luxe umbrella, so definitely has the feel and attentive service of a five star hotel.
Deluxe staterooms on the MV Origin are ocean facing, and all guests have access to the jacuzzi and wet bar, library, lounge, and an al fresco dining deck. The real joy, however, is being able to hop from the Origin into a Zodiac to go ashore in search of giant tortoises, penguins, marine iguanas, and many other species which inspired Charles Darwin and generations of naturalists since.
Chobe Princess, Botswana
Botswana’s Okavango Delta is as much water as it is land, so it is the perfect environment for a floating hotel. Sailing on board the intimate Chobe Princess, you can quietly and safely approach herds of elephants bathing, and pods of hippos wallowing in the mud.More than 450 species of birds have been recorded in the Delta, and you will be able to spot many of them from the deck.
Accommodation on the Chobe Princess is in large, bright cabins, and if you are travelling with family or a small group of friends, you can book the entire boat for exclusive use. There’s a plunge pool on the deck and ice cold drinks always available at the bar, so at the end of a day of wildlife watching, you can relax on a lounger with a crisp glass of wine, with arguably the most brilliant sunset in Africa before you.