Image: Nicolò Miana
Image: Nicolò Miana
Is the idea of looking hundreds of feet down steep gorges, standing above the clouds or coming eye-to-eye with soaring birds enough to induce a state of vertigo in you? If so, it might be best to avoid the following hotels when planning for that next vacation.
Image: Rifugio Lagazuoi
On the other hand, if the thought of teetering on the edge of any number of daunting cliffs is no big deal, then there are jaw-dropping views to be enjoyed at these establishments – all of which are situated in some pretty precarious-looking spots.
10. Hotel Mirador – Chihuahua, Mexico
Hotel Mirador is described on its website as being perched “like an eagle’s nest on the edge of [a] canyon.” And for those plucky travelers who don’t mind a bird’s-eye view of an alarming drop, the rewards are clear: rooms that take their cue from native Tarahumara culture, and stunning panoramas of the landscape in Chihuahua, Mexico. The three-star establishment is set close to the loftiest part of Copper Canyon in the fabulous Sierra Madre mountains, which around the canyon rise to an eye-watering altitude of 7,775 feet.
When not enjoying their magnificent balcony view, guests at the hotel can partake in numerous activities that make the most of the surrounding splendor: think hiking, horseback riding and exploring Copper Canyon itself. The latter pursuit ought to keep any adventurer occupied for a while, as the breathtaking natural feature sprawls across 37,000 miles and drops to a greater depth than America’s Grand Canyon.
Image: Parador de Ronda
9. Parador de Ronda – Ronda, Spain
Looking almost like part of an ancient fort when photographed from below, the Parador de Ronda is located a staggering nigh-on 400 feet above the Guadalevín River, at the top of the El Tajo gorge in Ronda, southern Spain. The four-star hotel is vertiginously perched on the lip of the gorge, although the building has safely resided here since 1761 and was at one point the city hall. Spectacular views of the Andalusian hills abound, and former guests of the establishment include the writer Ernest Hemingway.
Image: Jose Rodriguez
In fact, it seems that through his novel For Whom the Bell Tolls Hemingway was responsible for helping to popularize a frequently told story about the dangerous drop next to the hotel – namely, that Spanish Civil War captives were hurled from this very precipice to a rocky death far below. Fortunately, guests at today’s Parador de Ronda can expect much better treatment.
8. Hotel Schafbergspitze – St. Wolfgang, Austria
Certainly not one for those without a head for heights, the Hotel Schafbergspitze sits roughly 5,840 feet above sea level, overlooking the waters of lake Wolfgangsee from the top of Mount Schafberg in Austria. The peak is part of the Salzkammergut range; and the loftily located establishment was constructed here back in 1862 thanks to the efforts of one Wolfgang Grömmer. In fact, it holds the distinction of being the oldest mountain hotel of its kind in the country.
A little over a century after its beginnings, the hotel was acquired by the Pasch family, who continue to run it to this day. Contemporary guests may be drawn partly by the establishment’s comfortable accommodation, but it is the breathtaking, if dizzying, view of the surrounding lakes and mountainous terrain that’s arguably the real attraction.
7. Bivacco Gervasutti – Mont Blanc Massif, Italy
While all ten of these featured accommodation options are situated precariously close to the edge of gorges and other precipices, the Bivacco Gervasutti in Italy’s Mont Blanc massif arguably goes one better. Found at an altitude of 9,301 feet, it literally hangs over the Frebouze Glacier, seemingly on the brink of tumbling down into the craggy drop below.
In 1948 a simple wood dwelling constructed to honor mountain climber Giusto Gervasutti stood where the futuristic-looking unit now perches. This new capsule was conceived by Turin architectural firm LEAPfactory and was placed here in 2011 – a feat that, perhaps unsurprisingly, utilized the help of helicopters. Visitors, meanwhile, may need to make the demanding ascent on foot, but they’re rewarded with a once-in-a-lifetime lodge that features Wi-Fi, solar power, and space in which a dozen people can sleep.
6. Andronis Luxury Suites – Santorini, Greece
The Andronis Luxury Suites on the beautiful Greek island of Santorini aren’t situated on top of a mountain, but they do cascade down the side of a somewhat precipitous rock face. What’s more, the 22 stunning rooms of the complex overlook a volcanic caldera that is around 3,600 years old.
As can be seen from this photograph, daring guests of the award-winning accommodation options are able to enjoy a bite to eat on the threshold of a steep plunge into sparkling blue waters. And those with the desire, and cash, may even opt for a suite featuring an infinity pool – though this perhaps isn’t for water lovers with an aversion to heights.
Image: Rich Brame
5. Rifugio Lagazuoi – Mount Lagazuoi, Italy
Perched 9,028 feet up in the clouds at the very top of Mount Lagazuoi, Rifugio Lagazuoi is among the highest places to stay at in the Dolomites mountain range. The charming hotel is situated near to the town of Cortina d’Ampezzo and the Fanes Sennes Braies nature park, and it allows visitors to take in the splendor of the Dolomites via its generous outdoor decking.
Image: Matteo Rinaldi
This lofty mountain inn was in fact the venture of butcher shop manager Ugo Pompanin and his wife Alda. From 1965, the couple built the Rifugio Lagazuoi together, and it remains in the family to this day. Prospective visitors can reach the inn via cable car or, for the more adventurous, by hiking up Mount Lagazuoi. Attractions in this part of Italy include the longest ski slope in the Dolomites, though it’s just as tempting to simply sit back and survey the dizzying view.
4. Hotel Pilatus-Kulm – Lucerne, Switzerland
The Hotel Pilatus-Kulm in central Switzerland’s Alps is so high up that the best way to access it is by train – and a very special train at that. Between the months of May and November, railcars climb the most vertical cogwheel railway line on the planet, with the trip taking about half an hour from bottom to top. Cable cars are available year round, too, so at least guests won’t have to worry about scaling the steep mountain wall that seems to drop off from the building’s doorstep.
However they arrive, though, guests at the luxury hotel will be rewarded with stunning views of Lucerne by day and a clear star-filled scene come night. Britain’s Queen Victoria herself enjoyed a visit to the establishment – which has been operating since 1890 – and indeed the hotel’s restaurant still bears her name today.
Image: Peter Boehi
3. Berggasthaus Aescher-Wildkirchli – Weissbad, Switzerland
Found at an altitude of around 2,500 feet, the Berggasthaus Aescher-Wildkirchli in Switzerland’s Appenzell Alps is positioned between a rock and a vertiginous drop. There is little more than a tiny footpath between the cozy-looking structure and the steep cliff face alongside it, which might make some wonder why in 1805 someone chose this site in Weissbad for the purpose of building the guesthouse and restaurant we see today.
Surely the answer is the magnificent view. While accommodation here isn’t five-star luxury – the establishment provides dormitory-style sleeping spaces rather than suites – the incredible location more than makes up for it. Then, of course, there’s the quirky character of the old guesthouse itself, which actually uses the side of the cliff it’s built into as one of its walls.
Image: Scouse Smurf
2. The Lighthouse – Llandudno, U.K.
At just 325 feet above the waves it overlooks, the Lighthouse in Llandudno, North Wales might not be that high compared to some of the other locations on this list; however, its position is no less precarious-seeming for that. Wander too far from the hotel without paying attention and guests could easily end up on the nasty rocks that await below the sheer cliffs of headland the Great Orme.
In the old days, many ships met their end around these very rocks, which is why the lighthouse came to be here in 1862. Built using limestone and Canadian pine, the structure is now a guesthouse offering not only impressive sea views but also access to local wildlife.
1. Monastero Santa Rosa – Salerno, Italy
About.com doesn’t recommend Monastero Santa Rosa for children, and one look at this photograph might be explanation enough. Adults, on the other hand, can enjoy gazing out over the brilliant blue waters of the Gulf of Salerno or, just maybe, taking a peek down those ridiculously close sheer cliffs. The luxury boutique hotel and spa also has an infinity pool that has been described as “more like its own shoreline melting into the azure Amalfi sky-meets-sea horizon.”
As its name suggests, Monastero Santa Rosa was previously home to a monastery – one dating back to the 17th century – and much of that heritage has been retained in the design of the present-day hotel, which was born in 1924. Nowadays, visitors can sip cocktails and watch sunsets where nuns once went about their daily duties.
Bonus: Hotel del Salto – Tequendama Falls, Columbia
Erected in the 1920s based on the designs of Carlos Arturo Tapias, this old former hotel is daunting for two reasons: its reputation as a haunted house and its stomach-churning location on the side of a cliff. Moreover, although the Hotel del Salto in Colombia is no longer open – today it functions as a museum – it’s definitely worth a mention on this list.
Having opened its doors in 1928 and operated until the early ’90s, the renowned hotel catered to well-off guests, who came to marvel at the Tequendama Falls. The magnificent 515-foot waterfall is to be found directly across from the venue, which is perched on a cliff edge at a similarly lofty height. Rumors that the building is haunted reportedly stem from the many suicides committed here.