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7 of the world's weird & wonderful floating hotels

30 August 2015 - 02:00 By John O'Ceallaigh

Why stay on land, when you can board a boatel? From a converted superyacht in the heart of London to houseboats in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, floating hotels are becoming a trend around the globe 1) THE SUNBORN LONDON, ENGLANDHolidaying aboard a superyacht is typically an extravagance reserved for a privileged few, but there is a way more ordinary folk can have the experience - in the British capital no less.The Sunborn London (sunbornlondon.com) is a 120m superyacht that has been converted into a luxury hotel. Moored permanently in the Royal Victoria Dock, the vessel is one of the most distinctive addresses serving business travellers who congregate in this area. But leisure travellers, no doubt lured by the opportunity to stay somewhere truly distinctive, are welcome too - with romance packages and kids-stay-free offers currently on their website .story_article_left1The five-storey, 136-room property features a spa, a fine-dining restaurant and terraces with views over Canary Wharf. There are several package options available but dock-view rooms in September start at around £180 (about R3,660) per night.An earlier, unmodernised version of the superyacht "popped up" in London in 2005, temporarily welcoming overnight guests before moving on. The plan is to have this yacht-hotel hybrid remain in London permanently but Sunborn states that one of its unique strengths is that its ships can simply abandon destinations suffering economic hardship or political strife. Should the capital's wealth disappear one day, expect this superyacht to set sail too.2) A ROOM FOR LONDON, ENGLANDSeemingly washed up atop the Southbank Centre, A Room for London is a one-room boat-shaped hotel that accommodates two guests for a maximum of one night. The views over the Thames are unsurpassed and demand is exceptional - you apply via ballot and a night's accommodation is £300 (about R6,095). It is, however, set to close at the end of the year.3) NO MAN'S FORT, ENGLANDNo Man's Fort, near Portsmouth, is bang in the middle of the Solent and accessible only by boat (or helicopter). The fort, built between 1867 and 1880 to defend Portsmouth's approaches, is now a 22-room luxury hotel with a penthouse suite in the lighthouse.The roof has a carpet of artificial grass, hot tubs and picnic tables with lovely views. Daytrippers can do lunch for £99 (around R2,011) per person; rooms from £450 (about R9,145) per night. See amazingvenues.co.uk.4) THE HOUSEBOATS OF LANGEBAAN LAGOON, WESTERN CAPEThese two floating homes have been a feature of the lagoon for some years, and are permanently moored in Kraalbaai, across the lagoon from the town. "Nirvana", the big one, sleeps 22, whereas "Larus" sleeps six. It is strictly self-catering. Go out of season and you will have the bay to yourself. From R2,100 per night for Larus, R10,125 for Nirvana. See kraalbaaihouseboats.co.za.story_article_right25) SHAYAMANZI, LAKE JOZINI, KWAZULU-NATALUnlike most houseboats which tend to be firmly moored in one place, the two Shayamanzi boats actually go places, ambling slowly about on the placid lake with their cargoes of well fed and watered passengers. You could try to catch a tiger fish or go for guided walks in the nature reserve. Or you could park off in Shayamanzi's pool, between bouts of eating and snoozing. Rates from R2,650 per person per night, all inclusive. See shayamanzi.co.za.3) LE BOATEL, ARLES, FRANCEThis converted cargo barge is one of the hottest addresses in Arles. Moored on a peaceful canal in the Rhone, it is a seven-room boutique hotel and spa, plus a restaurant, where chef Philippe Legardinier plumbs the delights of southern cooking. From €90 (R1,340) per night. See leboatel.com.6) UTTER INN, LAKE MALAREN, SWEDENAt first sight, it looks like a tiny red cabin afloat on a pontoon. Once aboard, however, you'll find a ladder leading down to the bedroom, with panoramic windows 3m below the lake's surface. Guests go there by boat and have the use of an inflatable canoe if the isolation gets too much.7) MANTA UNDERWATER ROOM, ZANZIBAROff Pemba Island in Zanzibar, the Manta Underwater Room is a private floating island at the Manta Resort, where guests can sunbathe and stargaze on the top deck and sleep 4m below the surface of the Indian Ocean, in a glass-walled underwater chamber as shoals of reef fish drift by. See themantaresort.com. - The Daily Telegraph. Additional reporting by Paul Ash..

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