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What Is a Floating Hotel?

By Tara Barnett
Updated May 23, 2024
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Floating hotels are hotels that are not located on solid ground, typically sitting over water. While a floating hotel could be designed to float on water, most hotels of this type are actually securely positioned on stilts so that the building does not sway. There are many different floating hotel designs, but one popular strategy is to build small individual cabins over the water, creating privacy and a festive atmosphere. It is also possible to create a floating hotel that would float in the air rather than water, although the investment required to create such a hotel is quite high.

Most of the time, a floating hotel operates in a way that is similar to a resort or a traditional hotel. Rooms are rented to guests, and room service and other amenities are provided. In some cases, the purpose of the hotel is explicitly romantic, and the establishment may have special honeymoon and wedding suites. As the rooms are often divided and do not connect to one another, they are sometimes called villas or bungalows.

For many vacationers to waterfront destinations, floating hotels are ideal because of their necessary proximity to the water. Many rooms in these hotels are close enough to the water to allow residents to hear the waves, and some allow swimming directly off the deck. Floating hotels of this type are particularly popular in warm destinations, but they do exist in cold areas where swimming would not be advisable. In these locations, the benefits of a floating hotel might include the views and environmental preservation.

Some groups build floating hotels not because of the draw of the water but because of the reduced environmental impact. In these cases, the floating hotel may actually float, because these hotels are often built on barges. Another common design for the environmentally friendly floating hotel involves suspending the hotel from above, reducing the need to create contact with land. Problematically, a hotel of this type must be in an area with relatively still weather and water conditions to keep the vessel safe.

Airborne floating hotels would operate in a way similar to floating hotels over water, but these structures would likely not be tethered to the ground in any way. In order to remain steady, airships of this type must be quite large to balance out movement due to wind. The cost to develop an airborne hotel could be quite large, but an airborne floating hotel has the potential to provide excellent views and a unique experience.

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Discussion Comments

By pleonasm — On Jan 01, 2012

I know there are floating house boats that you can use to travel down one of the major rivers in Australia. I had a friend who hired one of them and she said it was one of the most amazing experiences of her life.

They saw all kinds of wildlife on the way, including some kangaroos I think and would stop at these lovely little beaches in the middle of nowhere.

She showed me some pictures and it really made me want to do it. It's like your own self contained, floating hotel.

I have to admit I'd be a bit nervous though. Australia has somewhat of a reputation for dangerous animals. But, if my friend can do it, I'm sure I can too!

By Mor — On Dec 31, 2011

@Iluviaporos - I think the article writer was speculating on what it would take to build a genuinely floating (on air) hotel. I doubt anyone has actually done it, since you would probably need to lift it with a balloon or blimp or something like that and it seems like it wouldn't really be sustainable in the long run?

I think if you managed to do it in an amazing spot, like where there are a lot of mountains or something, it might be worth it though.

They are talking about putting a hotel in space, which really would be floating! It would be in orbit and people would go out there to see the earth and the stars from space.

It seems like wishful thinking at the moment, but commercial spacetravel is starting to take off, even at the levels of technology we have now. I hope it continues to improve and get cheaper while I'm still young enough to give it a go myself.

By lluviaporos — On Dec 30, 2011

I think it would be awesome to stay in an airborne hotel. Do any of these actually exist? I know that they have now got hotels where you can stay underwater in a reef, and the rooms are all made out of thick glass so that you can see the fish.

They are extremely expensive, so I've never stayed in one, although I've heard some of them will let you go down for an hour or so, just for the experience.

I have stayed in a hotel on stilts over the water though. It was really nice, particularly as they had a viewing platform inside the room where you could feed the fish and they sort of swarmed underneath you.

It was really fun, but I only managed it because someone else paid the bill!

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