Seeking a unique travel experience? Here are the best boat hotels

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Humans have always been fascinated by grandeur, setting us apart in various aspects of life. Our inclination to stand out has driven invention and brought remarkable and sometimes peculiar ideas that have propelled our race forward.

Case in point, the hospitality industry, like others, has undergone significant changes to cater to evolving preferences. As a result, numerous themes have emerged. While we adore boutique hotels in Tokyo and beautifully designed accommodations in Sri Lanka and Croatia, what if you seek something more unconventional?

Consider the allure of staying on a boat hotel, where historic vessels find new life docked in ports or traditional Phinisi yachts undergo splendid restoration. If you’ve ever pondered the idea, here are some exquisite options for you to consider without a traditional cruise ship in sight.

Rascal Voyages

Experience luxury sailing on Rascal, a teak Phinisi Yacht in Indonesia. This 30-meter handcrafted beauty combines traditional and contemporary design, offering the ultimate boating adventure with modern amenities. Rascal features five stunning above-deck cabins designed by Charles Orchard of iBal Designs. Each cabin includes Sonos music systems, flat-screen TVs, and en-suite bathrooms. Explore the Indonesian archipelago while enjoying these luxurious accommodations.

Indulge in delectable cuisine prepared by a private chef, catering to all dietary preferences. Savor various Indonesian and international delights, fresh-pressed juices, and a well-stocked bar. Unwind while watching breathtaking sunsets on the horizon. Rascal provides unforgettable experiences, including snorkeling with manta rays, visiting Komodo dragons, and exploring national parks throughout your journey.

Les Bateaux Belmond

Les Bateaux Belmond offers the most romantic river cruises in a country renowned for its romance. These small and intimate vessels ensure a warm and personal experience for each guest. With sleek boat designs, attentive service, and exquisite cuisine, every moment aboard Les Bateaux Belmond is delightful.

Belmond has beautiful properties on land and allows the opportunity to explore France’s waterways with its seven luxurious barges. You can relax in stylish comfort while indulging in various activities such as truffle hunting, hot air ballooning, and go-karting. Expect spacious cabins with en-suite bathrooms and exceptional service only Belmond can provide.

The Queen Mary

In 1967, after its final voyage from Southampton, the Queen Mary found a permanent home in Long Beach, California, where it remains docked. Since then, this nearly century-old ocean liner has undergone a remarkable transformation, becoming a cherished historic hotel and one of Long Beach’s most popular attractions. It welcomes visitors eager to explore its storied halls and delve into the ship’s rich history through engaging tours and captivating onboard exhibits.

Once a magnificent ocean liner that traversed the seas, transporting iconic figures like Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn, the Queen Mary has now embarked on a new chapter as a splendid hotel. Constructed in the 1930s and embarking on its maiden voyage in 1936, this grand vessel offers guests a unique opportunity to step back in time and indulge in the delights of old-fashioned hospitality.

The ship’s interiors are adorned with influences from the renowned Art Deco movement of the 1920s and 30s, boasting elegant curves and striking geometric patterns contributing to its nostalgic ambiance. During its construction, an astonishing 50 different types of wood from around the world were meticulously incorporated into the ship, showcasing intricate marquetry, carvings, and murals that can still be admired today.

For dining experiences, the Queen Mary offers a delightful array of options. Guests can relish in a leisurely, indulgent brunch on Sundays or choose to unwind with drinks at the Observation Bar. Accommodations are available in various sizes, with each suite and stateroom beautifully adorned in warm, polished woods, epitomizing timeless charm and comfort.


This floating ryokan in the Seto Island Sea is an eagerly anticipated boat hotel. With 19 rooms, architect Yasushi Horibe designed the ship with warm wood to create a minimalist ambiance. The cabins have large windows offering breathtaking views of the sea and mountains, and each has a terrace for guests to enjoy nature up close.

The spa, sauna, gym, and treatment rooms are onboard, ensuring a rejuvenating holiday experience. Regarding dining, Guntu offers daily changing menus that cater to guests’ preferences and moods. Chef Kenzo Sato from Tokyo’s renowned Shigeyoshi restaurant oversees the creation of dishes using fresh local ingredients.

Zambezi Queen

Experience the Chobe River on the Zambezi Queen, featuring 14 luxurious suites, including ten standard and four master suites. Each room has an outer deck, providing a private space to admire the breathtaking African landscape.

This 5-star, 42-meter-long houseboat sails 25 km of the Chobe River, offering guests stunning views of the wildlife in Chobe National Park. Witness elephants drinking from the river, spot buffalo, leopards, and lions along the riverbanks, and indulge in luxurious accommodations.

While aboard, enjoy exquisite meals prepared with seasonal ingredients, showcasing traditional flavors and international cuisine. Guests can also relax in the dining room, bar, and lounge, taking in the panoramic views with a refreshing drink in hand.

Aria Amazon

Experience the Peruvian Amazon aboard Aria Amazon, an architecturally-designed river cruise ship by Jordi Puig. This luxurious and sustainable vessel allows guests to explore the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve from the comfort of their rooms.

With 16 suites featuring expansive windows, visitors enjoy the unparalleled river and rainforest views. The upper deck offers amenities like a Jacuzzi, lounge, bar, and outdoor observation deck. Indulge in the dining room, where renowned chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino highlights the finest Peruvian cuisine using ingredients sourced from the Amazon.


This unique and iconic 3-star hotel is on a boat in Amsterdam North’s NDSM wharf. The area offers a vibrant mix of festivals, events, art, flea markets, restaurants, bars, and new architecture. The hotel is 250 meters from a free 10-minute ferry service to Amsterdam Central Station.

The ferry operates every 15 minutes, providing easy access to explore Amsterdam by foot or public transport. From the station, you can easily reach various parts of the city, including the Museumplein with the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum, via tram connections.

The rooms at the hotel offer views of the NDSM harbor or the IJ canal. Each room features a small but fully equipped bathroom and toilet. Guests can unwind in the cozy communal area and enjoy the bar and play pool. A buffet breakfast is served every morning, and bicycle service is available. On sunny days, the roof terrace offers a stunning view of the IJ Canal and Amsterdam, perfect for relaxation.


Boat hotels offer a unique and memorable accommodation experience that combines the charm of staying on a boat with the comfort and amenities of a hotel. They provide a refreshing alternative to traditional land-based accommodations, allowing guests to enjoy stunning waterfront views, peaceful surroundings, and a sense of adventure. Boat hotels cater to diverse travelers, from couples seeking a romantic getaway to families looking for fun vacations.

With a growing number of boat hotels worldwide, this niche accommodation option will likely continue attracting travelers who crave something out of the ordinary. So, if you’re looking for a truly remarkable stay, our compiled list offers the best options for a distinctive and unforgettable experience on the water.

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