Hotels can offer some of the best views in the world and when it comes to accommodation with altitude, more and more hotel developers are striving to scale new heights. From skyscrapers with rooftop bars and floor to ceiling windows, to chalets with mountainous backdrops and hotels with a view of history, it can be nice to have a room with a view.
Whenever I visit a new place I always try to find the best vantage point of the landscape around me. Even though I might have to give an arm and a leg or win the lottery to afford to stay in these hotels for just one night, it doesn’t mean I can’t walk through them and appreciate the panoramas they offer and enjoy a cocktail or two. So next time you take a trip why not visit some of these high-altitude hotels and take in the scenery.
1 – The Banyan Tree, Bangkok
On the rooftop of the 61st floor, at 196 meters high, you can enjoy a simple drink in the al fresco bar or eat some grilled seafood in the restaurant and look over the edge at the twinkling lights of Bangkok below.
From the rooftop in the clouds you can see the Grand Palace, Wat Arun and the Chao Phraya River in the distance. It’s a must-see on every Bangkok itinerary, but make sure you don’t try and go when it’s raining though, as it is sure to be closed since it has no roof!
2 – Swissotel the Stamford, Singapore
At 73 storeys, the Swissotel is one of South East Asia’s loftiest hotels. Located in the Raffles City Complex, it is strategically situated in the heart of Singapore’s business, historical, cultural and shopping districts and now overlooks the new Formula 1 race course at turn 9.
For a high thrill, don some smart casual clothes and head to the cocktail bar on the 72nd floor, which offers birds-eye views of the harbour below. It has become a must see for any tourist visiting Asia and also a popular proposal venue.
The hotel has a grand total of 16 restaurants with exceptional cuisine catering for every appetite, from French and Swiss to Chinese and Japanese. If you’re up for it you can also take part in the Vertical Marathon. Those who put themselves to the challenge have to climb to the pinnacle up 1,336 steps up 73 storeys.
The tradition of the vertical marathon at Swissotel began in 1987 and a Guinness World Record was first set by Mr Balvinder Singh in 1989 in 6min 55secs. In 2008, world-class stair racer, Thomas Dold, broke the 20-year-old Swissôtel Vertical Marathon record, with his winning time of 6min 52secs.
3 – Burj Al Arab, Dubai
Dubai is home to some of the world’s most outrageously luxurious hotels and The Burj Al Arab is certainly one of the most opulent and iconic. Standing at 321 meters high, The Burj Al Arab is designed to resemble the billowing sail of an Arabian dhow and dominates the Dubai Skyline.
At night the building is illuminated by choreographed lighting to resemble water and fire. This hotel has attracted much international attention and is one of the most photographed contemporary structures in the world.
The hotel itself is set on its own private island off the shores of Jumeirah beach and the city of Dubai. The Al Mahara seafood restaurant is reached through an aquarium through a simulated submarine and the Al Falak Ballroom is designed to look like an 18th century Viennese Opera House.
Visitors can get an impressive view of the Arabian gulf through the hotel’s panoramic windows. If you win the lottery or you’re an Arabic prince you might be able to afford the 780 sq meter ‘Royal Suite’ with a rotating canopy bed, a private cinema and even your own private elevator. One can dream…
>>find more hotels in Dubai and also read our Dubai Travel Guide
4 – Park Hyatt, Shanghai
The Park Hyatt stole the mantle as the highest hotel in the world from its sister hotel the Grand Hyatt. The Park Hyatt occupies the upper floors of the 1,614-meter and 101 storey high Shanghai World Financial Center.
Shaped like a bottle opener, the financial center is difficult to miss as it dwarfs most of Pudong’s skyscrapers making them look like matchsticks. It’s that high that when you take the elevator to the 87th floor your ears will pop.
The Shanghai World Financial Center was designed by Kohn Penderson Fox back in the 90’s, but a downturn in the Japanese economy delayed the project for five years. During that period, the Grand Hyatt at the top of the Jin Mao, held the title of the world’s tallest hotel, until the Park Hyatt Shanghai opened for business in September 2008.
Glass walls throughout every part of the hotel allow the visitor to take in the 360-degree views of Shanghai, including Pugong, the Huangpu River and the Bund. Below is a bustling city of more than 18 million people, exhaust fumes and traffic, whilst the Grand Hyatt offers a tranquil, serene environment, floating in the sky.
>>find cheap hotels in Shanghai
5 – Mandarin Oriental, New York
Occupying the top 20 floors of the Time Warner Center at Columbus circle, the Mandarin Oriental offers views of leafy Central Park surrounded by skyscrapers as well as views of the Hudson River and midtown Manhattan.
View the New York skyline through giant windows in every room including the rooms, bar, restaurant and cocktail lounge, spa and even the 36th-floor lap pool. The architects have worked with the shape of the giant parallelogram to give the suites floor-to-ceiling corner windows.
The design theme is a mix of contemporary and oriental, and bathrooms are decked out in Spanish marble with bath tubs at windows. The Mandarin Oriental is the talk of New York and the chic MObar is especially popular, as is Asiate, the French-Japanese signature restaurant.
The sky lobby bar, with its gold dome ceiling and startling Dale Cihuly sculpture, is a wonderful place to admire the Big Apple from up high.
6 – Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, Peru
Since the lodge is just seconds away from the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu you can see the outer walls of the ruins and the Urubamba mountain range. Several hundred meters below is the Urubamba river and, above that, a thick layer of forest hiding countless species of rare orchids.
The hotel began back in the 1970s when the Peruvian government built a temporary hotel on the top of the mountain just steps from the entry to Machu Picchu as a way to show off the ruins. As the ruins became a popular tourist destination, the hotel became a permanent fixture and although some people see the hotel as an unwelcome intrusion into the mystical ruins’ isolated setting, it is here to stay.
Formerly a rather plain hotel, the rustic inn was taken over by Orient-Express Hotels and transformed into a pricey luxury lodge. The Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge has one of the most dramatic and unique settings in the world and is the only hotel to stay in if you want to be perched right next to the ruins.
7 – 3110 Kulmhotel Gornergrat, Switzerland
Twenty-nine peaks surround the hotel, including the infamous Matterhorn. All the rooms have mountain names, and their numbers correspond with the altitude of their mountain name.
The hotel has two attached observatories, and Claude Nicollier, a Swiss astronaut who stayed there, once claimed the Kulmhotel has, “the widest and clearest sky in the whole of middle Europe”.
You have to take a narrow gauge railroad to get to Zermatt where the hotel is located, which is a popular destination for skiers, climbers, astronomers and sun-worshippers. The Unique hotel offers 23 rooms, some with a view of the Matterhorn and others with a view of the Monte Rosa and glaciers.
8 – Hotel Everest View, Nepal
In 1999 the Hotel Everest View made it into the Guinness World Records for being the highest placed hotel in the world. This hotel is 3,880 meters above sea level in Sagamartha National Park and overlooks Mount Everest and other mountain peaks including Lhotse, Ama Dablam, Thamserku and Tawoche.
Each room in Hotel Everest View has a panoramic view of the highest mountain in the world through its glass doors. Like many high-altitude hotels, it’s a mission to get there- guests have to fly from Kathmandu to the hotel’s airstrip and then make a 45-minute hike to the hotel, unless they charter a helicopter.
Inside the hotel, the ancient stone walls are carved with the Tibetan Buddhist inscription ‘Om mani padme hum’, a reminder of the deep religious sentiments of the local people towards their land mountains. The waiters, cook and other staff at the hotel are Sherpas from nearby villages and guests wanting to explore the area can request a Sherpa guide.
9 – Explora En Atacama, Chile
Explora offer over 50 explorations and treks into the Atacama region in Chile, whether on foot, on horseback or by bicycle. Explorers can explore this vast terrain, from the Andean mountains and volcanoes to the salt flats and oases.
The Hotel Larache, the lodging and base for the explorations, is based on a 42-acre plain in the Atacama Desert and looks out over volcanic landscapes by day and the clearest skies in the Southern Hemisphere by night.
In 2008 an observatory was opened so that guests could have the unforgettable experience of exploring the night sky. The plain was once inhabited by an ancient community and care has been taken to respect the layout of the land and preserve some of the original buildings.
The lodge is just a few minutes’ walk from the town of San Pedro, from where visitors can do several mountain climbs and explora have tailor made climbs to get acclimatised to the altitude.
>>book a flight to Chile and read our Chile Travel Guide
10 – Ariau Amazon Towers, Brazil
Thirty-five miles northwest of Manaus, Brazil, this eco-resort rises from the banks of the Rio Negro. The luxury hotel, which is a popular retreat for celebrities and TV productions, is built on stilts and the wooden tree houses are interconnected by 5 miles of sturdy catwalks.
Ariau Amazon Towers is the largest tree top hotel in the world and its position at the canopy level puts you in touch with the Amazon wildlife.
Monkeys, sloths, parrots and macaws will scuttle around just feet away from the bar. Guests can experience Amazon adventures, including canoe trips, jungle treks, piranha fishing, visiting Amazonian dwellings, and swimming with pink dolphins.
>>book a hotel in Brazil and read our Brazil Travel Guide
Find more unique stays around the world:
- 7 Hotels with a Crazy History
- World’s 11 Wildest, Most Interesting Vacation Rentals
- The World’s Most Expensive Hotels
- 8 Old Colonial Hotels You Can Still Stay In
Banyan by Travel Aficionado on Flickr, Swissotel Singapore by reuvenim on Flickr, Burj al Arab by s_zeimke on Flickr, Park Hyatt Shanghai by Wolfgang Staudt on Flickr, Mandarin Oriental by Captain Chaos on Flickr, Machu Picchu by Templar1307 on Flickr, Gornergrat by kara brugman on Flickr, Everest View by auldhippo on Flickr, Hotel LaRache by Travel South America on Flickr, Ariau Amazon by shades0gray on Flickr