Lakes are often overlooked in favor of coastal escapes, which sadly means missing out on hotels—and views—like these. On your next waterfront getaway, why not skip the beach and stay at one of these beautiful lakeside retreats instead?

Words: Krisanne Fordham


Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Lake Como, Italy

It doesn’t get much more like living la dolce vita than here at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, a palace propped up above the glittering waters of Lake Como. The glamorous Art Nouveau outpost was voted by our readers as one of the best hotels in Italy and no wonder: besides its sweeping water views, it’s home to a gorgeous new spa, a pool that sits directly on Lake Como itself, and even its own private park—designed by none other than George Clooney’s own landscape architect, Emilio Trabella (Clooney owns a villa nearby).

Photography: Grand Hotel Tremezzo

Ashford Castle, Cong, Co. Mayo, Ireland

Astride the shores of Lough Corrib, Ireland's second largest lake, Ashford Castle is worth visiting for its fairytale views alone. But there’s lots to do besides sightseeing: Thanks to a recent $75 million makeover, the historic property now includes a new waterfront spa, swimming pool, cigar terrace, and 32-seat cinema. Its crown jewel? The new Hideaway Cottage, a boathouse-turned-lakeside cabin that sits right on the water’s edge and has its own private pier (all yours for a cool $3,382 per night).

Photography: Ashford Castle

Casa Palopó, Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Guatemala’s Lake Atitlán isn’t your ordinary lake: it’s located in the spectacular Sierra Madre mountain range studded with volcanoes. Plus, Casa Palopó isn’t your ordinary hotel: it has just seven rooms, no televisions, and feels more like a private villa than a boutique hotel. Though you could easily spend all your time gawking at the jaw-dropping surroundings—explorer Alexander von Humboldt famously dubbed Atitlán “the most beautiful lake in the world”—make sure to squeeze in a tour of the lake’s Mayan villages on Casa Palopó’s private boat.

Photography: Casa Palopó

Matakauri Lodge, Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand

After an extensive makeover, Matakauri Lodge’s 12 sleek guest rooms stun with their floor-to-ceiling windows, private terraces and open fireplaces. But what you’re really here for are the views of course. Positioned along Lake Wakatipu, only 4 miles south of Queenstown, Matakauri Lodge has uninterrupted vistas of Cecil Peak, Walter Peak and the world-famous Remarkables ski area. Insider tip: go in winter (our summer), when the surrounding peaks are dramatically capped in snow.

Photography: Matakauri Lodge

Lake Austin Spa Resort, TX

Situated on the shores of Lake Austin in the rolling Texas Hill Country, this luxe spa resort feels blissfully tranquil and secluded, though it’s just forty minutes’ drive from the state capital. All of its rooms are charmingly rustic and feature waterfront views, but one of the hot tub cottages—outfitted with a wood-burning fireplace, private garden and outdoor hot tub—is where you really want to be. Not surprisingly, Lake Austin Spa Resort was voted by our readers as one of the best resorts in Texas & The Southwest.

Photography: Lake Austin Spa Resort

Explora Patagonia, Lake Pehoé, Chile

Located in the heart of Torres del Paine National Park, rooms at the all-inclusive Explora lodge overlook glittering Lake Pehoé and open up to vistas of the Cordillera del Paine mountain ridge. There are plenty of diversions to keep you busy, like guided rainforest hikes and horseback riding (there are more than 50 day trips to choose from). But nobody will judge you if you decide to spend all your time just hanging out in one of four open-air jacuzzis, soaking in the incredible views with a glass of Malbec in hand.

Photography: Explora Patagonia

Emerald Lake Lodge, British Columbia, Canada

Built in 1902, the historic Emerald Lake Lodge, located in the heart of Yoho National Park, makes for an idyllic lakeside escape. Its cozy alpine cabins come with wood-burning fieldstone fireplaces, deep-soak tubs, and private balconies overlooking Emerald Lake, while its sprawling main lodge features a games room and an oak bar salvaged from an 1890’s-era Yukon saloon. Be warned: there’s zero cell service on the property and very limited wi-fi, so prepare for a welcome digital detox.

Photography: Emerald Lake Lodge

Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa, Lake Placid, NY

Built in 1883 as a private home, this Adirondack Mountain getaway was voted by our readers as #1 Resort in New York state. It’s the perfect mix of modern and rustic-chic, with expansive Mirror Lake views from every window and hospitality to boot (guests get homemade chocolate-chip cookies upon check-in). Dining is impressive, too: its award-winning View restaurant serves excellent seasonal cuisine that’s sourced exclusively from local farmers and the resort’s own gardens.

Photography: Mirror Lake Inn

Palace Luzern, Lake Lucerne, Switzerland

Taking its design cues from surrounding lakes and mountains, the century-old Palace Luzern—one of the best hotels in Switzerland, according to our readers—is decorated in tranquil hues of blue, green and turquoise. Despite its neoclassical façade, its 129 rooms are surprisingly sleek and modern, featuring bold art, Murano glass fixtures, and furnished terraces overlooking Lake Lucerne. Don’t miss sunset cocktails on its aptly-named Lakeside Terrace, arguably the most scenic spot in town.

Photography: Palace Luzern

Impérial Palace, Lake Annecy, France

Situated on the banks of Lake Annecy in the heart of the Alps, the Impérial Palace is a perfect summer escape, far from the crowded beaches of the Mediterranean. The glamorous Belle Epoque hotel offers endless diversions, from its enormous casino to the just-opened Cristal Spa, which overlooks the lake and gardens. Pro tip: visit in August during Fête du Lac, an annual festival that’s home to Europe’s largest fireworks display.

Photography: L'Imperial Palace