Sprawling beachfront resorts aren’t the only place to spend your summer vacation. There’s something about a cliff-nestled inn or wave-straddling overwater bungalow that makes some of the best seaside hotels feel more far-off than your average beach hotel.
Seaside Hotels for Your Bucket List
Here are some lesser-known seaside hotels that are just as stunning as the big-name beaches, but with fewer crowds. Unique properties like these are worth planning your entire trip around.
Dead Sea Spa Hotel: Jordan
A saltwater lake with three times the average salinity of an ocean, the buoyant Dead Sea draws crowds to the heart of the Middle East year-round for an effortless float and a mineral-rich mud bath.
The Dead Sea Spa Hotel on the Dead Sea’s Jordan side is a locally owned favorite for its shorefront showers and multiple outdoor pools. After a salty soak, you can shower off for a more refreshing pool swim. Visitors also love the Mediterranean cuisine at the hotel’s restaurant and bar, complete with outdoor entertainment like the occasional belly dancing show.
La Belhamy Resort and Spa: Vietnam
Vietnam is ultra-affordable for Americans—and that means that even a high-end Hoi An stay can come in under budget. La Belhamy Resort and Spa on the South China Sea is the perfect place to enjoy Vietnam’s coastal beauty in style. Book an open-air spa massage, enjoy your villa’s private pool, and post up at the beach to watch the heavy surf roll in. The favorable exchange rate means you’ll spend less than you would on an average hotel in the U.S., and you’ll still be able to afford romantic add-ons like a private dinner for two on the beach.
Seascape: Isle of Man
Smack dab in the middle of the churning Irish Sea is Isle of Man, a self-governing U.K. outpost of Celtic and Viking heritage that’s rife with hiking routes and historic ruins. Between adventures, though, you’ll want a seaside hotel to escape to and unwind.
Seascape, a sleek bed and breakfast in the coastal village of Laxey, has ocean-facing balconies and hot tubs. The cliff-nestled property is small yet luxurious, with its own steam room and floor-to-ceiling views of the sea from each room.
Sa Pedrissa: Mallorca
Equal parts nature escape and seaside hotel getaway, Mallorca’s village of Deia is known for its rocky natural swimming coves and rustic villas overlooking the Balearic Sea. Sa Pedrissa hotel has as many lookout points over the coastline as it does animals stopping by, like sheep and baby donkeys. Modern rooms with glass walls contrast the historic stone walls of the main house, and this family-run seaside hotel with its own pool is just a ten-minute walk to the beach. It’s the perfect seaside hotel to drink in coastal Mallorca.
Aruba Ocean Villas: Aruba
You don’t need to fly to Southeast Asia to stay in the overwater bungalow of your dreams. A secret seaside hotel of six villas in Aruba, the Old Man and the Sea Aruba Ocean Villas offers its own version of the experience in Savaneta, Aruba.
Just south of Dutch-Colonial Oranjestad and far from the bustling resort side of the tiny island nation, an Aruba Ocean Villa might feel as remote as the South Pacific. Your own overwater digs, a white-sand beach for lounging, and an on-site restaurant serving up authentic Caribbean cuisine make it an ideal honeymoon getaway, and just the spot for exploring inland Aruba and carving out your own plot over the Caribbean Sea.
Hotel Cavo Bianco: Santorini, Greece
No seaside hotels list would be complete without a white-washed Greek Island getaway like the bucket-list-worthy ones in Santorini, Greece. Cavo Bianco is a sleeker version of the picturesque hilltop villas coastal Greece is known for, and is bigger than most Santorini seaside hotel options while still maintaining its local charm. Poolside cabanas and a nearby Aegean beachfront will fill your days, unless you’re more tempted by the slew of nearby dining options, wineries, and ancient ruins.
Hotel Phoenicia: Malta
The tiny nation of Malta is one of the most picturesque islands in the Mediterranean, and packs surprisingly good value at high-end seaside hotels like The Phoenicia. An infinity pool with a sprawling view of the Grand Harbor is the main attraction, and the grand marble lobby is walking distance from plenty of downtown Floriana attractions and historic sites.
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SmarterTravel Editor Shannon McMahon writes about all things travel. Follow her on Instagram at @shanmcmahon.