World's Coolest Hotel Bathtubs
The coolest bathtubs give guests a sense of their own private in-room spa and look nothing like that old shower-tub combo you may have left back home. Nothing screams “I got away from it all” quite like slipping into a bubble bath—in a basin polished to a sparkle by anyone but you—and admiring a gorgeous view.
The glass-bottomed bathtubs at Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives treat you to an intimate look at hawksbill turtles, lolly fish, and—if you’re lucky—dolphins. In California, savvy road-trippers pull over from Highway 1 at Big Sur Cabin, a one-bedroom with a private outdoor courtyard. Twin claw-foot tubs await, surrounded by a wood-burning fire pit, Adirondack chairs, and a redwood picket fence fringed by cacti, ferns, and forget-me-nots.
Some hoteliers have gotten increasingly creative, embracing the trend of bathtubs exposed to the room and even introducing cool bathtubs that appear to levitate above the ground. Yet at the same time, some brands, especially those focused on business travelers, are avoiding the tub altogether. The percentage of tubs planned for new builds in the pipeline for Holiday Inn, part of the InterContinental Hotels group, is between 45 and 55 percent, down from 95 percent 10 years ago.
Even if hotel bathtubs become the exception rather than the rule, the appeal remains deeply and culturally rooted. Tubs date back more than 5,000 years and are historically steeped in ritual—the act of bathing is not only healthy for the body but is considered spiritual by many religions and cultures. If anything, travelers may come to value the hotel bathtub as even more of a coveted amenity than it is today.
Want to make a splash? These high-design tubs are ready for you.
GoldenEye Hotel & Resort, Jamaica
Once the home of Ian Fleming, who wrote all 14 James Bond novels here, the GoldenEye draws celebrities like Jay-Z and Beyoncé. The three-bedroom Fleming Villa is the one to book, for its outdoor bathing pavilion. The claw-foot, cast-iron tub (with a single-touch pop-up drain) sits on a raised wooden platform surrounded by an Indonesian-inspired garden of edible plants and trees: almond, pomegranate, naseberry, and June plum. Your private butler will draw a rosemary- and mint-scented bubble bath upon request.
Mio Buenos Aires, Argentina
Argentine artist Mario Dasso hand-carved each bathtub from a single piece of native calden wood, using trees already felled by natural occurrence, like a fire. The hotel shows off his handiwork by making the tubs a central fixture of the Deluxe rooms, Junior Suites, and Mio Suites. Each rests on a marbled platform, completely open to the rest of the guest room. Miobuenosaires.com.
Glen Oaks, Big Sur, CA
At Glen Oaks, a collection of refined-meets-rustic accommodations, our vote goes to Big Sur Cabin for its private outdoor courtyard off the bedroom. You’ll find twin claw-foot tubs by San Francisco designer Steve Justrich, a wood-burning fire pit, Adirondack chairs, and a redwood picket fence fringed by cacti, ferns, and forget-me-nots. Lather up with handmade Vermont soap, and listen to the Big Sur River rushing nearby.
Hotel Silken Puerto América, Madrid
The visions of many starchitects come together at the Hotel Silken Puerto América: Jean Nouvel took on the façade, penthouse, and 12th floor; Norman Foster tackled the second floor; David Chipperfield the third; and so on. But it’s Zaha Hadid’s futuristic first floor that makes the biggest bathroom impression. Hers are monochromatic affairs, where every surface is part of the same skeleton, with the result that the bathtub organically melds into the sink and floor. Hoteles-silken.com.
Afrika House, Bambu Indah, Bali
Of the 11 houses at Bambu Indah, the Afrika House is the largest, with 430 square feet filled with antiques, such as an Ethiopian rawhide bench sourced by the original owners, John and Cynthia Hardy. Still, the most covetable feature is the expansive open-air bathroom, clad in teakwood. From the hand-beaten copper basin, which stretches more than six feet, you have views of the Ayung River, Mount Batu Kau, and the rice paddies of the nearby village of Bongkasa.
Banyan Tree Mayakoba, Mexico
Indoor-outdoor bathtubs with large open-air soaking tubs, each backed by a stone wall inset with 14 scented candles, were built with romance in mind. Just consider the available amenities: tea lights, champagne, and bath products infused with chocolate and honey. Indeed, each of the 107 private villas here feels like a sanctuary, also with its own walled garden and sun terrace.
Estancia Vik and Playa Vik, Uruguay
The Daglio Suite at the 4,000-acre Estancia Vik is fitted with a striking beechwood tub carved by a local Uruguayan boat-maker. Some guests have been so smitten that they’ve commissioned tubs to bring home. Separated from the bedroom by an opaque door, the bathroom feels serene, with views of the Arroyo River and Jose Ignacio Lake, which meet the southern Atlantic a mile away. The tub’s counterpart can be found nearby, in the Casa Mar Suite at seaside Playa Vik.
New Majestic Hotel, Singapore
The three attic-style suites at this artsy boutique hotel stand out for their side-by-side cast-iron tubs. Nestled on a concrete basin to capture spillover should bath time get playful, the tubs are otherwise open to the rest of the room. In a smart design move, the fixtures are located on the side of each basin, so you can choose to face a TV or a giant original artwork.
Gora Kadan, Hakone, Japan
Two hot mineral springs feed the oversize granite tub on the terrace of room No. 702 at this Relais & Châteaux–managed ryokan, about an hour outside of Kyoto. Designed by architect Ikuo Ogitsu, the open-air bath sits among cherry trees, camellia trees, and a moss garden. Another indulgent reason to stay here: multicourse breakfasts delivered to your room that may include grilled trout, miso soup, and a variety of teas.
Molori Safari Lodge, South Africa
A favorite celebrity vacation spot, Molori Safari Lodge knows how to pamper its guests. Five suites have a floor-to-ceiling retractable glass wall, a saligna-wood deck with an infinity pool, and, in the Metsi and Molelo suites, a Philippe Starck–designed rim-flow tub that looks out at Madikwe Game Reserve.
Amankora Paro, Bhutan
There’s a ritual to using the traditional teakwood baths on the private terraces of the resort’s spa treatment rooms. When the hot water begins to cool, you strike a Buddhist singing bowl to alert an attendant waiting in the next room to send in stones, heated by wood fire, down a wooden ramp and into a part of the tub separated from your body by a discreet screen. In place of bubbles, the water is infused with the leaves of the potent local herb khempa, which is used in Bhutan to treat skin conditions and as a floor covering at religious ceremonies.
Fujiya Inn, Ginzan-onsen, Japan
Husband-and-wife owners Atsushi and Jeanie Fuji recently enlisted architect Kengo Kuma to renovate this 350-year-old ryokan, about a three-hour bullet-train ride from Tokyo. Hedid away with communal onsen (baths), instead paying homage to the Ginzen-onsen area’s famed hot springs with fantastically simple private baths—many made of cypress wood—for couples to share. Fujiya-ginzan.com.
Six Senses Laamu, Maldives
Swim with the fishes—and not in the Sopranos sense—at the Six Senses Laamu’s All Water villas. Layers of half-inch glass are all that separate you from the warm Indian Ocean, teeming with lolly fish, hawksbill and green turtles, and dolphins. You also have a view of an en suite TV, but why bother? Instead, soap up with lavender and lemongrass oils and watch the real show. Sixsenses.com
Hotel Le Seven, Paris
With fiber-optic lighting, plexiglass furniture, and scent-diffusing TVs, Hotel Le Seven resembles some futuristic hotel beamed down to Paris’s Latin Quarter. Request one of the guest rooms equipped with a black oversize suspended bathtub that, along with the bed, appears to levitate. A hotel receptionist admits that the bathtubs are suspended almost six inches from the floor, but giggling, insists on no further questions about how the intriguing setup works: “It’s a secret!” Sevenhotelparis.com.