These Mountaintop Rooms Have Views That Will Make Your Vacation Unforgettable
Your mountain hotel of choice doesn't need to be on the tallest or the steepest slope to offer awesome sunrises and unbeatable stargazing, and scaling such heights needn't be difficult. Some of these mountaintop hotels can be reached by car, others by cable car. Some require a hike or even a helicopter ride. However you get there, your vacation is about to reach peak excitement.
Related: America’s Favorite Mountain Towns
Observatoire du Pic du Midi, Pyrenees, France
With thick concrete walls, corridors, and tunnels, the Observatoire du Pic du Midi de Bigorre feels like a relic of the Cold War. The most famous observatory in France, it sits on top mountain 9,440 feet above sea level, though only a short cable car ride from the ski resort of La Mongie below. Surrounded by the Pyrenees National Park in the Hautes-Pyrénées district, a designated International Dark Sky Reserve, its telescope-studded observation platform is a stargazer's dream. It's best visited as part of the Les Nuits Au Sommet package ($473 per couple), which includes dinner, guided stargazing, and a night in surprisingly cozy accommodation in its Antares quarters.
Altitude: 9,440 ft.
Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, Machu Picchu, Peru
Sure, you can stay down in the valley at Aguas Calientes and take the bus up to visit the world famous 15th-century Inca citadel, but if you want to be first in for a pre-dawn hike to the Sun Gate, then the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge is where to stay. The only hotel adjacent to the ruins, its gardens have stunning views across Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, and the Andes mountains.
Altitude: 7,710 ft.
LEAPrus 3912 Alpine Station, Russia
How about staying on Europe's highest peak? Constructed on the southern glacier of the mighty Mount Elbrus in Russia, LEAPrus 3912 is an eco-hotel created by Italian architects LEAPfactory. Mount Elbrus is in the Caucasus Mountains in southern Russia, near the border with Georgia, and though it's famous with mountain climbers, it's well off the beaten track. So don't expect fire-side chats and cozy bars; LEAPrus 3912 consists of four prefabricated modules containing communal bedrooms and bunk beds. Come for the views, an unconventional experience, and perhaps an attempt to summit Mount Elbrus itself.
Altitude: 12,835 ft.
Hotel Everest View, Namche, Nepal
Built over 45 years ago within the Sagarmatha National Park in Nepal, Hotel Everest View is officially the world's highest hotel. Its 12 luxurious rooms all give a a panoramic view of Mount Everest, while its international restaurant's back wall is actually an immovable boulder already on the ridge. You can trek for a couple of days to the hotel from Lukla village through pine and rhododendron forests or you can take a helicopter.
Riffelhaus 1853, Zermatt, Switzerland
Ah, the Matterhorn. This legendary jagged tooth of a mountain in the Alps is the stuff of folklore – much of it fatal – but the world's most iconic peak continues to attract travelers. If you want a close look from a high-end and high altitude ski-in/ski-out hotel, the chic Riffelhaus 1853 – as its name suggests – has been here some time. It's reached by mountain railway from Zermatt, and there's no need to move once you're here; there's a hot tub outside that looks right at the Matterhorn.
Altitude: 8,418 ft.
Elqui Domos, Horcón, Chile
At the southern edge of the high-altitude Atacama Desert in Chile, the Elqui Valley contains an entrancing mix of alternative lifestyles and stargazers; this area is said to be the location of Earth's magnetic center. Cue many alternative healing therapy centers offering Reiki, yoga, and meditation.
Close to Pisco Elqui, where the local tipple pisco (a colored brandy) is brewed, the accommodation at Elqui Domos ($208 per night) consists of geodesic domes and stilted wooden houses with glass ceilings. There's more in store, with two motorized domes on-site that house Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes, with nightly tours at 6:30 p.m. There's a total solar eclipse coming to Elqui Domos on July 2, 2019.
Altitude: 14,000 ft.
The Lodge at Breckenridge, Colorado
There are a lot of mountain retreats to choose from in the Rocky Mountains, but The Lodge's position on a forested cliff overlooking Boreas Pass, Breckenridge Ski Resort, and the Tenmile Range is hard to beat. West of Denver in the Arapaho National Forest, The Lodge has 45 rooms and two private luxury homes to rent, as well as a spa. Nearby Breckenridge Ski Resort is the obvious seasonal excuse to visit, but there's plenty of hiking, biking, rafting, and golf in the area.
Altitude: 10,200 ft.
Parador de Las Cañadas del Teide, Tenerife, Spain
The Parador de Las Cañadas del Teide hotel puts you at the heart of one of Europe's wildest places, the high altitude Teide National Park on the dramatic volcanic island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands. It's in the caldera, and has an awesome panoramic view of Teide's classic V-shaped peak.
However, if you want to make an ascent to the top to see sunrise (and a V-shaped shadow projected on the top of the clouds), consider taking the last cable car of the day up and then hiking for 30 minutes to the simple, communal Altavista del Teide Refuge for an overnight stay – and a very early start.
Altitude: 12,198 ft.
Jebel Shams Resort, Al-Hamra, Oman
Some basic lodges, camping tents, and a small pool, Jebel Shams Resort in the Al Hajar Mountains in northeastern Oman is nothing special in itself. It's also not quite at the the summit of Jebel Shams – the Mountain of the Sun – Oman's tallest peak.
What makes this place so special is its proximity to the region's clear highlight: the famed "balcony walk," a three-hour return track that sometimes precariously skirts the side of Wadi Ghul, one of the planet's greatest and deepest canyons. Often called the Grand Canyon of Arabia, it's a playground for hikers and photographers. There's even a deserted village at the end of the track to explore.
Altitude: 9,858 ft.
Mountain Top Hotel, Mount Kyaiktiyo, Myanmar
One of the strangest and most delightful mountain tops you're ever likely to stay on is Mount Kyaiktiyo in Myanmar. It's firmly on the country's emerging tourist trail, though you'll have to endure a ride in a crowded pick-up truck to join the throngs of Burmese that make the pilgrimage to see the peak's Golden Rock Pagoda.
A precariously balanced rock topped with a stupa, male pilgrims (only) can buy gold leaf and stick it to the rock...as millions have done before, judging by the all-over coverage. Less than 10 minutes away by foot, the Mountain Top Hotel ($135) is the only place to stay anywhere near this bizarre sight. Though a simple establishment, its spacious bedrooms boast stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
Altitude: 3,609 ft.