What could be better than waking up to Instagram-worthy views just outside your window, or dining on a roof terrace overlooking an ancient wonder of the world? These 10 spectacular hotel room views allow you to do just that
1 Sleep next to a Mayan temple in Mexico
Why visit Chichen Itza’s astonishing Mayan temples when you can spend the night among them? The grounds of stunning colonial Hacienda Chichen, which was built on ancient temple stones over 500 years ago, are home to 12 rustic cottages filled with sculptures and artwork evoking the atmosphere of these mysterious pyramids – classified as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
The hotel’s impressive eco credentials have scooped a raft of awards, and previous guests include Chinese president Xi Jinping, but most impressive is the private Archaeological Zone Entrance within its gardens, allowing instant access to the Mayan ruins while keeping steps ahead of the tour buses.
Price: from £92 a night
When to go: March and September for the magical equinoxes – twice a year the sun aligns on the edge of Chichen Itza for just a fleeting moment, revealing a chain of triangles said to be the serpent deity Kukulkan descending from the great temple
2 Watch the Northern Lights in Iceland
Set in a surreal landscape of lava fields and geysers, Ion Hotel is a chic option for viewing the Aurora Borealis. When night falls, head to the aptly named Northern Lights bar (all floor-to-ceiling glass walls and dimmed lighting) where you can sip cocktails and wait for the celestial show to begin. For killer room views, plump for a Deluxe — the full-length windows perfectly frame the majesty of the rugged landscape outside. The fun isn’t all after-hours, though: by day you can tour the Golden Circle, Iceland’s most historical site, where you’ll see tectonic chasms, dramatic waterfalls and enormous geysers.
Price: from £304 a night
When to go: The Northern Lights are at their finest in winter (October to April). Ion Hotel’s friendly staff can arrange a wake-up call if the lights appear while you’re snoozing
3 Sail the hidden waters of Halong Bay
Rising majestically from emerald waters, the UNESCO-listed seascape of limestone outcrops around Halong Bay tops the ‘must-do’ list of many a visitor to Vietnam. Cruise Halong lets you do it in style, with three different routes to choose from and luxurious wood-clad cabins that offer otherworldly views. For a more off-the-beaten-track experience, opt to sail on Ginger, an upmarket junk boat experience that takes you through less-touristy Lan Ha Bay.
When to go: Avoid the rainy months from July-September. Drier weather from November to April allows you to laze on the deck as you drift among these towering cone-shaped rocks
4 Take a front row seat for The Great Migration
It’s one of the greatest spectacles in the animal kingdom – millions of zebra and wildebeest embarking on their journey north across the vast open plains of the Serengeti to the grasslands of the Masai Mara. Sayari Camp, on Tanzania’s Northern Circuit, offers a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see this extraordinary event up close. Set beside the Mara River where the herds cross, the camp’s enviable vantage point is truly unparalleled. And don’t be fooled by the word ‘camp’ – we’re talking plush kingsize beds, free-standing baths, outdoor rain showers and delicious gourmet food.
Price: from £1,108 a night
When to go: Stay between July and November for the best chance of catching the action
5 Soak up the views of Sugarloaf Mountain
There’s no escaping the killer views in uber-cool Rio mansion Casa Marques. Each of its 12 rooms boasts floor-to-ceiling windows offering breathtaking views of Sugarloaf Mountain and Guanabara Bay, two of Rio de Janeiro’s most spectacular sights. High in the hills of artsy Santa Teresa, the hotel also has a hip rooftop bar and pool backing onto lush rainforest. If it wasn’t for those postcard-perfect views, you’d be forgiven for forgetting you were in the city altogether.
Price: from £67 a night
When to go: Rio’s biggest parties (and hottest weather) are between December-February – a perfect time to be out on the roof terrace, soaking up those views
6 Swim in the shadow of India’s greatest citadel
Set beneath the stunning 560-year-old Mehrangarh Fort in the centre of Jodhpur’s walled city, the fabulous RAAS Jodhpur is a place where a bygone age meets the modern world. The superb restoration combines modern blue and rose sandstone with the walls of the ancient haveli, and the detail throughout is exquisite. But the real highlight awaits outdoors. Take a dip in the huge infinity pool (a godsend in the hot summer months where temperatures can hit 47C), the finest seat in the house for soaking up views of India’s best-preserved citadel.
Price: from £110 a night
When to go: Avoid the sweltering summer months (May and June) – it’s too hot to be outside enjoying the views. October to mid-April are more temperate
7 Swoon at Sri Lanka’s legendary rock palace
Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle, in the northeast of the Hill Country, is home to some of the island nation’s most important archaeological sites, including the ruined ancient palace and fortress of Sigiriya. Water Garden Sigiriya is modelled on its namesake, with stunning interiors and boasting some of the largest ‘rooms’ in Sri Lanka. Most of the freestanding over-water villas provide magnificent vistas of the 200m-high rock palace from every angle — just be sure to book a villa with a view!
Price: from £296 a night
When to go: May is a colourful time to visit: the Buddhist full moon festival Wesak is in full swing – jewel-hued lanterns are strung up outside homes in the surrounding villages
8 Revel in Bangkok’s pagoda views from your royal residence
A riverside oasis in the centre of bustling Bangkok, traditional Thai-style Chakrabongse Villas are set in the grounds of a royal residence on the banks of Chao Phraya River. We loved the sense of space and tradition in the Ayutthaya-style suites, but it’s the unbelievable views of Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn) and Wat Kalayanamit across the river, flanking the fortress of Vichai Prasit, that take your breath away. Pull up a chair in the beautiful gardens and enjoy.
Price: from £141 a night
When to go: The Bangkok River Festival takes place in November, celebrating the traditions associated with the waters of the Chao Phraya. It centres around eight riverside locations, including Wat Arun and Wat Kalayanamit
9 Gaze on Florence’s finest façade from your bedroom
Right on the Piazza del Duomo, Granduomo is a 17th-century townhouse that’s perfect for Florence first-timers. Gaze from your room at the World Heritage-listed Duomo’s tri-marble façade, and revel in the novelty of having a private address on Florence’s most exclusive piazza. You’re perfectly placed for exploring the rest of the city, but we found it tough to tear ourselves away from those views – the changing colours of the Duomo façade as the sun slowly sets is a magical sight.
Price: from £140 a night
When to go: Easter Sunday! The celebrations peak on the Piazza del Duomo, including the spectacular ‘explosion of the cart’ firework display. Don’t fancy the crowds? No problem, you can watch from your bedroom window
10 Admire the Acropolis from your rooftop terrace
Imagine gazing up at one of the most historical monuments in the world from the comfort of your own roof terrace. Upscale design hotel AthensWas is just the place. Here you can feast on fine cuisine while admiring the Acropolis in all its glory. Sip crème brûlée martinis and gorge on stuffed pigeon while staring in wonder at the ultimate symbol of Ancient Greece. If you haven’t quite got your fill at dinner, retire to a Superior Deluxe Room and continue ogling from your kingsize bed.
Price: from £221 a night
When to go: Athens is a year-round city, but Greek Orthodox Easter in springtime means fewer crowds. Wake early for the best views – the dawn light on the Parthenon is spectacular