12 hotels only accessible by boat

Looking for somewhere remote, secluded and exclusive to stay? These hotels, only accessible by boat, provide an isolated haven to truly switch off in. Oh, and an unique journey to get there…
View of Hotel Danieli in Venice. Photo: Shutterstock
View of Hotel Danieli in Venice. Photo: Shutterstock

1. Hotel Danieli, Venice, Italy  

Overlooking the Grand Canal, perched on the Riva Degli Schiavoni, you'll find Hotel Danieli, an exclusive stay on one of Venice's many pretty islands. Arrive looking at the hotel's front or sneak down the Rio del Vin to pass through a decorative white arched bridge and step off your boat straight into the hotel. Enter the palatial lobby, admiring the marble and wood decoration as you go. Antiques and art are on display throughout the hotel and suites, complementing the history of the Venetian gothic style building, which dates back to the 14th Century. 

Explore the cobbled alleys and canals of Venice from this luxury hotel, heading back for an exquisite dining experience, with truly breathtaking views, in the Terrazza Danieli. Set on the top floor of the hotel, diners can watch as gondolas come and go via the Grand Canal.

2. Belmond Hotel Cipriani, Venice, Italy

The Belmond Hotel Cipriani is the perfect place for a relaxing city break, only a four-minute ride from Piazza San Marco by private launch. Spend mornings exploring the bustling city, uncovering the history and culture of Venice, before returning to the hotel's serene environment.

Located on Giudecca Island overlooking the lagoon to the Doge's Palace, the setting is idyllic. The hotel comprises gardens and vineyards where Casanova once roamed, wooing his many mistresses. If you want a break from sightseeing, spend the day relaxing around the Olympic-size pool, filled with freshly filtered sea water. Alternatively, head to the spa for a relaxing treatment before dining in the Michelin-starred restaurant, Oro, which serves classic Italian food with an innovative twist. 

Insight Guides can create the perfect Venice itinerary to suit your interests and budget, with stays at the above hotels included. Submit a trip request today, to being planning your adventure to this Italian gem.

Belmond Hotel Cipriani in Venice.Belmond Hotel Cipriani in Venice. Photo: Shutterstock

3. Fundu Lagoon, Zanzibar 

Located on the secluded Pemba Island, a short boat ride from Zanzibar, Fundu Lagoon plays on its environment. The boutique hotel has sand paths extending to each of the 18 thatch-roof bungalows, with natural shade created by palms and a refreshing breeze. The tented safari-style bungalows come complete with an ocean view, whether they're perched at sea level on the sandy beach or set on the hillside surrounded by rugged jungle. 

The resort boasts some of the best diving in the world, with shallow reefs and deep drops off, practically unexplored by humans. Spend hours swimming in the crystal waters of the Indian Ocean with Dive 710 dive centre or grab a snorkel and mask for a more leisurely look. Other activities include wakeboarding, kayaking, sailing and fishing – not to mention spa treatments and lounging on the beach for more relaxing pastimes. 

4. Pikaia Lodge, Santa Cruz, Galápagos Islands

Placed atop two extinct volcano craters, Pikaia Lodge is a luxury eco-resort that creates the opportunity for land-based exploration of this world-famous archipelago. Fly to Baltra from Quito or Guayaquil (Ecuador) then jump on a water bus across to Santa Cruz. The hotel's location, 450m above the sea, offers some of the best views in the Galápagos. Each room has a glass front, overlooking the uninterrupted tropical forest all the way to the ocean. 

Pikaia Lodge offers many exploration programmes, excursions to other islands and diving trips to investigate the marine world, hosted from their private yacht. Relax in the library reading about the island's history, stroll through the hotel’s own giant tortoise reserve, hike on one of the nearby trails or go mountain biking across rough terrain. Add a stay at Pikaia lodge, ideal for adventure travellers with a passion for nature, to Insight Guides’ Completely Galápagos trip .

Maldives typical hotel. Maldives typical hotel. Photo: Shutterstock

5. Cinnamon Dhonveli, Maldives 

An easy 25-minute boat ride from Malé, Cinnamon Dhonveli is set in absolute paradise. The Maldives is the ultimate relaxation destination with bright white beaches and the warm, sparkling waters of the Indian Ocean to enjoy. 

Take a break from the endless sunshine by indulging in a spa treatment or laze under the thatched-roof of the open-sided Raalhu bar. Of course, there are activities for those that don’t want to chill. A 10-minute boat ride will take you to the best surfing spots in the Maldives. Pasta Point generates perfect wave, after perfect wave, and is suitable for all abilities to ride. Snorkelling, diving, fishing and yoga are also on offer here. 

Whether you spend your days relaxing or pursuing active adventures, make time to dine in one of the hotel's four restaurants, all of which serve up sea views and ice cold beverages. Better still, enjoy a romantic dinner for two on the beach, lit only by candlelight and the moon reflecting off the calm water. Stay at the Cinnamon Dhonveli on Insight Guides’ Luxury Sri Lanka and The Maldives trip.

6. Song Saa, Cambodia

How does a holiday on your own private island sound? Song Saa is the perfect destination for the eco-aware traveller looking for a little luxury. Designed by the owners, and built in the essence of sustainability by local tradesmen, the Song Saa Resort is a haven put together using reclaimed wood and locally produced materials. Each villa is accompanied by a private pool and terrace, where you can enjoy drinks after dinner while gazing at the star-filled sky. 

Jungle Villas are hidden amongst lush green foliage along the shoreline. Ocean View Villas are set, beach front, on the soft sand with their own private ocean patch. Over Water Villas are propped up by stilts with a glass floor looking directly onto the reef. Finally, the Royal Villa is the ultimate in seclusion, not only are you on a private island resort, this villa is placed over the ocean away from all other villas. It comes complete with a stocked kitchen and ample room for dining. Food served at the resort is also locally sourced.

To find this paradise island, fly to Cambodia's capital city, Phnom Penh, where you board luxury transportation to Sihanoukville Port. Then jump on a speed boat, which will cruise to the island in 45-minutes. Add a stop here to Insight Guides Beaches and Temples holiday to enjoy the remote setting for yourself. 

Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia. Photo: Shutterstock

7. Shiv Niwas Palace Hotel, Udaipur, India

Shiv Niwas Palace Hotel, located on Lake Pichola, dates back to the early 20th century when it was reserved for visiting dignitaries. The palatial décor still remains throughout: rooms are decorated with red and dark wood furnishings, large mirrors, and ornate Indian patterns. 

Afternoon tea is served in traditional British style, and classic cocktails are available, poolside, along with internationally-inspired cuisine. The Sunset Terrace restaurant has views overlooking Udaipur’s most famous landmarks, with musicians playing softly in the background. 

It's the perfect place to stay while exploring the city, retreating back to the oasis of the elegant Grand Heritage Palace after a day of sightseeing. Add a stay in Shiv Niwas Palace Hotel to Insight Guides’ Rajasthan: The Land of Kings trip  .

8. Intercontinental Le Moana, Bora Bora 

Relax in an authentic, traditional Polynesian bungalow, resting over the South Pacific, at the Intercontinental Le Moana in Bora Bora. Watch tropical fish swimming below the bungalow through a glass floor or jump right into the water from your deck for a closer look. Alternatively, stay on the beach to enjoy the feel of the soft white sand between your toes every time you step out. 

Buffet breakfasts offer everything you could desire, from waffles and pancakes to cereals, yoghurts and freshly-made eggs. French cuisine is served at the terrace restaurant for dinner, overlooking the beach as the sun sets. 

Total relaxation is encouraged at this idyllic resort with only the beach and spa to enjoy. This is one of the most picturesque sites in French Polynesia, and only a short boat ride from Motu airport.

9. Centara Grand Beach Resort and Villas, Krabi, Thailand 

Located in a secluded cove on Krabi, the Centara Grand Beach Resort is nestled between rocks and tropical plants overlooking the Andaman Sea, alongside some of the country's most striking scenery. Fly to Krabi airport then travel 40-minutes to Nopparatthara Pier where you jump on a boat for a 15-minute ride to the island. Villas have been created with wooden and stone features in a modern Thai style, and offer views of either the flourishing gardens or the crystal clear sea. 

Local beers are served at the hotel bar to help you unwind, after a hard day relaxing on the beach. If the beers don’t help, try one of the 50 therapies available at the spa; all of the oils used are blended from locally grown herbs. Add a stay at this tropical paradise to Insight Guides’ Krabi Beach Escape holiday

10. One and Only Hayman Islands Resort, Whitsundays, Australia

Home to some of the best beaches in the world, it isn’t difficult to see why One and Only would create an exclusive resort on Hayman Island. The sand is so white and pure it practically squeaks as your feet brush over it, while the water is so clear it is colourless in the shallows, reaching a light turquoise colour in the deep, where it covers the Great Barrier Reef. 

Water sports, diving and fishing are all available here, but for those who want a more conventional sport to participate in, tennis courts, squash courts, and basketball courts can also be found on the property. Other activities include hiking through the bush on one of the many trails, taking a helicopter or seaplane excursion to another island or over the reef. For something more private and relaxing, visit Honeymoon Bay or hire the resort's yacht for a day. It won't be difficult to occupy your time here. 

Rooms come complete with lagoon or sea views, they are full of natural light and furnished with grand four-poster beds. Dine at restaurants serving Italian, Chinese, Malaysian, and Western cuisine – whatever takes your fancy. Let Insight Guides' local experts plan your stay on the Whitsunday Islands: submit a trip request today

11. Telunas Beach Resort, Sugi Island, Indonesia 

Choose either the Telunas Beach Resort or Private Island, both accessible by boat from Sekupang Ferry Terminal. Take yourself back, to a time without technology and unnecessary interruptions, where simple pleasures can be rediscovered and rejuvenate your soul.

This resort is built with Melayu architecture in mind. The rustic wooden huts extend on a pier over the sea. They are decorated simply, with driftwood furnishings and white or blue colour schemes. 

Laze in hammocks on the beach or jump from the deck into the sea by day and spend your evenings around a campfire in the sand. Spot animals in their natural habitats; see eagles and monkeys along the nature trails and spot pink dolphins, sand sharks and flying fish in the sea. Add a stay at this resort to Insight Guides’ Indonesia Island Hop trip.

12. Gecko Hotel and Beach Club, Formentera, Ibiza

Located on the Migjorn side of Formentera Island, you'll find Gecko Hotel and Beach Club in a hidden cove at the end of the beach. It promotes relaxation, a great change from the typical holiday in Ibiza. 

Take part in free yoga classes every morning in the garden, overlooking the sea (a great way to start any day). 

Choose from a variety of rooms with different views; options include the pool, beach, gardens and sunrise. Every room has chic decoration, with a relaxed homely feel, creating the well-suited beach-style. Reach Formentera Island by boat from Ibiza. Relax at this resort after soaking up some culture by adding a stay to Insight Guides’ Cultural Cities of Spain trip.

Ready to take your trip to the world's most remote places? 

Browse Insight Guides holidays online or talk to a local expert to design your trip from scratch