January 29, 2020

An average globetrotter’s idea of an idyllic place of accommodation typically entails some combination of luxe interiors, bespoke services, and a picturesque panorama of a beach or mountain. But how about opting for an alternative scenery? Going above and beyond the usual expectations by venturing below sea level? 

Home to some of the most ethereal species of flora and fauna on the planet, the ocean is a vast mystery, most of which remains unexplored. It conjures as much fascination as fear, considering that as a civilisation of land dwellers, we don’t get to see much of the universe underwater. When we do, it never lasts for long. Here to switch things up, these underwater hotels provide a unique experience, taking luxury travel up a notch with a journey beneath the watery depths. Picture yourself sleeping among schools of technicolour fish, in a transparent dome 10 feet below the surface. It’s every kid’s fantasy brought to life.

The Muraka, Maldives 

Built as part of the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort, The Muraka is a two-storey property that was originally constructed in Singapore before being transferred and re-assembled in the Maldives. Unveiled in late 2018, the $15 million structure took two years to complete. The result is a luxurious suite that sleeps nine people. Above water, the residence features a spacious living room, kitchen, bar, dining room, two bedrooms, a bathroom with an ocean-facing tub, and a sprawling outdoor deck with an infinity pool and private jet skis. 

Venture downstairs, where you’ll be five metres below sea level, and retreat into the master bedroom with a 180-degree transparent dome that offers you enchanting views of the marine life around you. There’s also a dedicated viewing theatre, and a walk-in closet and bathroom with floor-to-ceiling acrylic walls. With a private chef and a 24-hour personal butler—one who’s also trained to take Instagram-worthy shots for you during your stay—at your disposal, it’s an experience that’s worth the steep US$50,000 per night charge.

Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai

As one of the most Instagrammed hotels in Dubai, The Palm’s Atlantis lives up to its name with its underwater suites that make you feel like you’ve discovered a whole new world below the surface. While the hotel itself isn’t exactly submerged, it does a bang up job of recreating the experience, with full-length windows in each of its two premium rooms (Neptune and Poseidon) that look into the resort’s aquarium that houses about 65,000 aquatic creatures. Along with the fantastical atmosphere, guests will also be treated to 24/7 in-room dining, complimentary airport transfers, and a 30-minute personal training session during their stay.

The Manta Resort, Tanzania

Situated on the edge of Tanzania’s Pemba Island (the largest island in the Zanzibar Archipelago) is The Manta Resort, which has been around since 2013. Take a two-minute ferry ride from the beach, and you’ll reach the resort’s “Underwater Room”, which feels more like a mini private island thanks to its stand-alone locale. Despite appearing like it’s floating on its own mid-ocean, it is discreetly secured to the ocean floor so you won’t find yourself stranded far from civilisation. This three-storey wooden structure encompasses a roof deck perfect for sunbathing and stargazing, and a subterranean bedroom with windows on all four sides of the cosy interior. Here, guests have to stay for a minimum of three nights.

Lover’s Deep Submarine, St. Lucia

An alternative, once-in-a-lifetime treat that you might consider for this year’s Valentine’s Day celebration, the Lover’s Deep Submarine by British travel agency Oliver’s Travels is a submarine hotel with a double bedroom and bathroom, offering unparalleled visual access to the underwater world. A typical voyage goes from the coast of St. Lucia (a far-flung island destination in Eastern Caribbean) to a nearby cluster of coral reefs, but at your request, the submarine is able to moor at a different location of your choosing. 

You could spend your watery vacation gazing at a sunken ship that schools of sea critters have made their home, and live out your subaqueous fantasies. You may even put in special requests for the interior design of the lodgings, which is customisable according to the desires of any guest who is willing and able to fork out about US$230,000 for a night in this submarine. 

Image Credit: Conrad Maldives