Take Three: Underwater Hotels
For a truly unique experience, you can't beat sleeping with the fishes. Nicola Brady finds some of the best underwater hotels.
Where: Västerås, Sweden
Why: Not all underwater experiences need to be in tropical settings. Utter Inn is a cute and quirky red house, floating on the surface of Lake Mälaren. The one room hotel is the brainchild of local artist Mikael Genberg, and its construction drew worldwide attention when it opened in June 2000. From the deck, you can lounge with a glass of wine and wave to the boats passing you by. But at night, you climb down the ladder into your bedroom, three metres below the surface. The interior is basic, with two twin beds and a table, but the panoramic windows give you an unlimited view of the lake, as fish pass by your pillow.
How: A night at the Utter Inn costs €240 with Go Unusual, who have other underwater properties available. Västerås is under an hour away from central Stockholm, which you can fly to with SAS (flysas.com). Utter Inn is open from April/May to early September.
NB: All prices subject to change/ availability
Where: Rangali Island, Maldives
Why: If you don't fancy spending an entire night under the sea, then the Ithaa Undersea Restaurant could be the answer. The world's first underwater restaurant, Ithaa (which means 'mother of pearl' in the Maldivian language of Dihevi) has panoramic views of the colourful coral, five metres under the surface. Dinner is an elaborate, six-course affair, and you can also pop in for lunch or a morning cocktail. Accommodation is in beautiful villas, some on the beach, some perched upon the water.
How: Villas at the hotel start at $680 (€507) a night, including breakfast. Fly to nearby Male with Etihad (etihad.com) via Abu Dhabi from around €580 in November.
The Manta Resort
Where: Pemba Island, Zanzibar
Why: Imagine a bedroom, four metres below the surface of the pristine turquoise sea. As you drift off to sleep, rare and shy creatures swim past your window, peering in as you watch them glide by. At The Manta Resort, the underwater room affords spectacular views of tropical fish. Some have even taken up residence around the room, which offers protection from predators. The floating, three-level villa is situated approximately 250 metres off shore in the Blue Hole, a beautiful anomaly in the coral reef. Up above, you can lounge at the water's edge, or lay upon the rooftop to soak up the rays or gaze at the stars.
How: The underwater room costs $1,500 (€1,120) per night, with garden rooms starting at $495 (€370) per night, on an all-inclusive plan which includes daily spa treatments. It's a short flight from Dar es Salaam to Pemba, and then a bumpy ride across the island to The Manta Resort. Fly to Dar es Salaam with Emirates (emirates.com) via Dubai, from around €578 in November.