Hang In There

Clifftop Hotels of the Highest Quality

Salish Lodge & Spa — Snoqualmie, Washington, USA

Sometimes you just want to see amazing hotels atop incredible cliffs, perched high above the water below. We’re happy to oblige.

Every once in a while there’s a hotel concept that sells itself. This is one of those whiles. What else is there to say about the collection of hotels below? As promised, they are indeed on cliffs and are absolutely overlooking bodies of water. We’ve even dispensed with any pretense of variety in the photographs. No interiors were allowed in the making of this list. Just hotels, cliffs, water.

Enjoy the view.

White Exclusive Suite & Villas

Azores, Portugal

White Exclusive Suite & Villas - boutique hotel in the Azores

The Azores are a mere speck of a place, battered by the mighty Atlantic Ocean, and it’s no surprise that driftwood features heavily in the interiors at White Exclusive Suite & Villas, as its cliffside location means the pounding of the surf is never far from your mind.

Rockhouse Hotel

Negril, Jamaica

Rockhouse Hotel - boutique hotel in Negril

The parcel of land occupied by the Rockhouse is literally Jamaica’s westernmost point, and it’s possible you’ve never seen a proper sunset until you’ve seen one here — and there’s no better way to do it than from a villa that practically hangs over the waters of the aptly named Pristine Cove.

Hotel Santa Caterina

Amalfi, Italy

Cap Rocat - boutique hotel in Mallorca

It’s the rare traditional-style hotel that really gets hearts racing, but the Santa Caterina is an absolute classic. Family-owned for the better part of a century, it sits high on a hillside facing the sea and the town of Amalfi — guests ride an elevator down to the hotel’s private beach, for the ultimate storybook Italian-coast experience.

Faro Capo Spartivento

Sardinia, Italy

Rimba Jimbaran - boutique hotel in Bali

Lighthouses don’t get much more grand than the 160-year-old Faro Capo Spartivento, on the rugged southern coast of Sardinia. While the light is still in service, it’s automated now, freeing this unique building (and the neighboring keeper’s cottage) to transform itself into a small and secluded luxury hotel. The sea views, naturally, are extraordinary, given the cliffside setting.

La Casa Que Canta

Zihuatanejo, Mexico

La Casa Que Canta - boutique hotel in Zihuatanejo

Zihuatanejo, just four miles down the coast from Ixtapa, was until recently little more than a quiet fishing village. La Casa Que Canta sits high over the water, cut into a hillside above Zihuatanejo Bay, offering an extraordinary sea view as well as a splendid sense of seclusion.

Cliff House Hotel

Waterford, Ireland

Cliff House Hotel - boutique hotel in Waterford

With a name like that, you knew it had to make this list. Modern architecture and Irish hospitality are two categories whose Venn diagram features a fairly small overlap. But a look at the view from the Cliff House Hotel’s indoor pool will make a convert out of the most die-hard traditionalist.

Salish Lodge & Spa

Snoqualmie, Washington, USA

Cliff House Hotel - boutique hotel in Waterford

If you’ve seen Twin Peaks, you’re plenty familiar with the Salish Lodge’s dramatic situation. Startlingly close to Seattle, in the foothills a half-hour east of the city, stands Snoqualmie Falls, a 270-foot clue as to how the Cascade mountain range got its name. And just above the falls — almost perilously close — is one of the Northwest’s most remarkable hotels, the Salish.

Timber Cove Resort

Jenner, California, USA

Timber Cove Resort - boutique hotel in Jenner

The Sixties-era Timber Cove, built of native redwood and stone, was originally conceived as a meditation lodge. After thorough renovations in 2016, it’s more rustic-chic than strictly rustic — in-room amenities include modern record players, yoga mats, and organic bath products — but it’s still as peaceful as ever.

The Twelve Apostles

Camps Bay, South Africa

Twelve Apostles - boutique hotel in Camps Bay

Sandwiched between the mountains of the same name and the rocky Atlantic coast, Twelve Apostles is nevertheless the kind of hotel you expect to find in the city center, not well outside of town in such a picturesque setting. It’s just two stories high, low along the rocky coast, and many rooms have nearly an entire wall made of glass — so the view is simply blue sky and blue sea.

Cape Weligama

Weligama Bay, Sri Lanka

Cape Weligama - boutique hotel in Weligama Bay

Here the Thai architect Lek Bunnag took inspiration from Sri Lanka’s long history as an explorers’ waystation, incorporating elements from the island’s pre-modernist history in this classic-contemporary resort. Cape Weligama is set on 12 acres of terraced clifftop real estate, a hundred feet above the Indian Ocean, which, as you may well imagine, is not at all bad for the views.

Explora Patagonia

Torres del Paine, Chile

Explora Patagonia - boutique hotel in Torres del Paine

This modernist lodge stands just yards from the Salto Chico waterfall, with the peaks of the Paine massif looming just behind. So the fifty rooms and suites do their best to feel cozy and inviting. There are some self-consciously rustic touches, as well as some clean modern lines, but above all, the views predominate — interior design, in this environment, is somewhat secondary.

Reid’s Palace

Funchal, Portugal

Belmond Reid's Palace - boutique hotel in Funchal

A massive renovation might have set nerves on edge among Reid’s regulars, but this grand old palace on the terraced hillside above the Bay of Funchal has come through with flying colors. Nothing essential was disturbed in this listed landmark; the classic guest rooms have been modernized in function, if not in style, and the twin swimming pools now boast infinity edges to make the most of the bay view.

Izumo Hotel The Cliff

Kumura, Japan

Izumo Hotel The Cliff

Though its name may sound fanciful, Izumo Hotel The Cliff is intended quite literally. It stands not atop a cliff but in fact within one — its eight rooms are carved bunker-like into the cliffside, and each one is given a perfectly framed view out to sea from its own ultra-private recessed balcony. The interiors are a minimalist mix of brutalist raw concrete and delicate woodwork.

Bulgari Resort Bali

Bali, Indonesia

Bulgari - boutique hotel in Bali

Villas cascade down the terraced hillside, topped by thatched roofs, their interiors decorated in a style that’s at once traditional-Indonesian and modern-Milanese. The Italian designer Antonio Citterio’s clean lines practically define contemporary elegance, and for dramatic edge-of-the-world landscape you could do a lot worse than southern Bali.


Mark Fedeli is the hotel marketing and editorial director for Tablet and Michelin Guide. He’s been with Tablet since 2006, and he thinks you should subscribe to our newsletter.