x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Lakes, rivers and oceans at your feet

In the heat of summer, surround yourself with cooling waters. The National recommends the best places to stay

A bald eagle hunts for fish, part of the teeming wildlife at the King Pacific Lodge in British Columbia, Canada
A bald eagle hunts for fish, part of the teeming wildlife at the King Pacific Lodge in British Columbia, Canada

In the heat of summer, surround yourself with cooling waters. The National recommends the best places to stay

1. King Pacific Lodge, British Columbia, Canada This lavish lodge set in Canada's west coast wilderness is so remote (it's only accessible by boat or floatplane), guests can watch humpback whales from their bedroom window. Each year the hotel, built from native pine and stone, is towed from its winter home in Prince Rupert to its summer location on Princess Royal Island - backed by the world's largest temperate rainforest, which teems with wildlife including orcas, seals, eagles and the rare white spirit bear. The 17 oversized guest bedrooms (choose from a wilderness or ocean view) are individually designed with a rustic feel and feature king-size wooden beds, comfy window-side armchairs and deluxe ensuite bathrooms with deep soaking tubs. Whale watching, heli-hiking and kayaking are just some of the many activities on offer. Three nights staying in a wilderness view room costs $4,725 (Dh17,350) per person based on two sharing. The price includes transfers from Vancouver, meals, drinks and some activities (www.kingpacificlodge.com; 001 604 987 5452).

2. Taj Lake Palace, Udaipur, India Originally built as a summer retreat for the Maharana of Udaipur, the white marble Taj Lake Palace Hotel, which rises ethereally from its rocky foundation to seemingly float on the calm waters of Lake Pichola, is arguably one of the world's most visually stunning hotels. Testimony to its royal credentials, it brims with princely details including original works of art, intricate stone carving, marble floors and elaborate stained glasswork. The 83 rooms, furnished with vibrant silk textiles, richly coloured murals and ornately carved wood furniture, overlook jasmine-scented gardens, tranquil lily ponds and the lake. Double rooms cost from $736 (Dh2,701). Guests begin their royal experience by arriving on a Kashmiri gondola to be greeted with champagne and canapés served by "The Royal Butlers" - descendants of the original palace retainers (www.tajhotels.com; 0091 294 242 8800).

3. Soneva Gili, Maldives A 20-minute hop by speedboat from Male will bring you to Soneva Gili, the first over-water resort in the Maldives, which continues to inspire desert-island chic with its palatial villas-on-stilts strung out on a network of jetties. Each minimalist-style villa has panoramic sea views of the coral-fringed islet, a floating sundeck, a private swimming area and a glass spyhole set into the floor so you can watch the stingrays and reef sharks under your feet. If you want even more privacy, stay in either a Crusoe Residence or the Private Reserve (reachable only by boat), venturing back for a massage in the world-class Six Senses Spa and romantic candlelit dinners on the beach. A villa suite costs from $1,460 (Dh5,361) per room, per night based on two people sharing (www.sixsenses.com; 00960 664 0304).

4 Punta Caracol, Panama Fly to the islands of Bocas del Toro from Panama City and a short boat ride across the Caribbean Sea will bring you to Punta Caracol - an eco-friendly hotel, moored off an uninhabited shoreline on the Isla Colon. Made up of only a restaurant, reception hut and just nine stilted green and yellow cabins, complete with palm-leaf roofs, the only sounds you're likely to hear are the gently lapping waves and the click of the solar-powered hot water system as you turn on your shower. Watch the sunset and dolphins playing in the surf from your private terrace before relaxing with a candlelit dinner. Trips into the rainforests, fishing and snorkelling can be arranged. Sunvil Traveller offers a 10-night Panama and archipelagos trip costing from $5,490 (Dh12,323), including a four-night stay at Punta Caracol plus three nights in both Panama City and the Chiriqui Archipelago (a marine national park). Price includes private transfers and full board accommodation but excludes flights (www.sunvil.co.uk; 0044 208 758 4774).

5. River Kwai Jungle Rafts, Thailand Your room in this modest resort in the Kanchanaburi province of Thailand floats on bamboo rafts moored together on the river to create a unique experience even for jaded travellers. Accommodation is basic (don't bother packing your hairdryer, there's no electricity), but the resort makes a great base from which to visit the famous bridge over the River Kwai, the Erawan Falls and the other attractions of the region. Prefer to just take it easy? Your private hammock makes a great place to unwind and watch the villagers bathe their elephants in the river. The journey to the Jungle Rafts, involving a 20-minute ride by long-tail boat taking in spectacular gorges and clusters of brilliantly coloured birds, is a worthwhile experience in itself. 6. Silky Oaks Lodge, Queensland, Australia Journey into the Unesco world heritage-listed Daintree National Park, the oldest living rainforest, and a treat lies in store: your own personal treehouse. Perched high on stilts on the banks of the Daintree River in Queensland, riverhouse rooms at Silky Oaks Lodge are spacious and contemporary with polished timber floors, oversized spa baths and wide verandas with hammocks from which to take in the uninterrupted rainforest views. Canoe down the river, enjoy a picnic on the banks or take a scenic helicopter flight before indulging in an Aboriginal-inspired treatment at the hotel's Healing Waters Spa, complete with spirit-cleansing "smudging ceremony". The lodge makes a good base from which to explore the Great Barrier Reef and other attractions of the region including nearby Port Douglas. A three-night stay in a riverhouse room from now until Sept 30 costs $760 (Dh3,478) per room based on two sharing. Price includes breakfast and some activities (www.silkyoakslodge.com.au; 0061 2 8296 8010). 7. Salt & Sill, Sweden Feel the earth move at Sweden's first floating hotel, Salt & Sill, which also claims to house one of the best seafood restaurants in the country. Moored on the tiny island of Klädesholmen, nicknamed the herring capital of Sweden since most of the country's catch is landed here, guests are rocked gently to sleep each night by the ocean current which sweeps into the harbour and powers a turbine beneath the hotel to provide all its heat. An hour's drive from Gothenburg, on Sweden's wild and rocky west coast, the two-storey, 23-bedroom hotel has been designed with chic Scandinavian simplicity, providing a sharp contrast to the surrounding traditional red fishing huts and houses. Stay in the suite and enjoy views over the fjord and island of Flatholmen from your roof terrace jacuzzi. Double rooms cost from $204 (Dh748) per night including breakfast (www.saltosill.se; 0046 304 67 34 80).

8. Bora Bora Lagoon Resort and Spa, French Polynesia The five-star Lagoon Resort and Spa, built on an islet 1.6km across from the main island of Bora Bora, is honeymoon luxury at its best. Forty-four bungalows, built in traditional Polynesian style with pandanus leaf thatched roofs, perch over a blue lagoon and feature private decks, polished yucca wood floors and glass-topped coffee tables through which the underwater sea life can be admired and fed. Too tired to make it to breakfast? Then order the "canoe breakfast" and have it delivered Tahitian-style to your private deck. Stay in an end-of-pontoon bungalow and enjoy uninterrupted views of the 610m-high Mount Otemanu. Bungalows are priced from $759 (Dh2,788) per night, based on two sharing on a room-only basis with Orient-Express (www.boraboralagoon.com; 00689 60 4000).

9. Badwell Ash Lodges, Suffolk, UK Kingfishers swoop nearby and black swans glide up to your veranda at this slow-paced woodland getaway for grown-ups. Four self-catering, Scandinavian-style log cabins - each complete with four-poster beds, fully equipped kitchen and outdoor hot tub - perch over the edge of a fishing lake deep in the heart of the Suffolk countryside. Birdwatch or fish from your veranda (catch and release only), then enjoy a long soak in the hot tub with your complimentary bottle of champagne. Hire all four cabins with family or friends and make full use of the picnic and barbecue sites dotted around the landscaped surrounds. No children allowed. A week's stay costs from $1,111 (Dh4,078) per lodge. The price includes bike hire and champagne, chocolates and a welcome hamper on arrival (www.badwellashlodges.co.uk; 0044 1359 258444).

10. Mumbo Island Camp, Lake Malawi Perched on boulders overlooking Lake Malawi, the intimate Mumbo Island camp consists of just seven tastefully furnished tents connected by a wooden walkway to the pristine and uninhabited Mumbo Island. Facilities are basic and not for the fainthearted, with hot-bucket showers and "eco" loos, but each tent comes complete with its own shaded viewing deck and hammock from which to take in the spectacular views across the crystal clear waters. Outdoor activity enthusiasts will be in their element here with kayaking, birdwatching, nature trails, snorkelling and some of the best freshwater scuba diving in the world. Access to Mumbo Island is by motorboat from the small fishing village of Cape Maclear or, for the energetic, a leisurely two-hour kayak ride. Rooms cost from $270 (Dh991) per person, per night, based on two people sharing, and includes all meals, scheduled boat transfers from the mainland and kayaking and snorkelling gear with Aardvark Safaris (www.aardvarksafaris.com; 0044 1980 849160).