Oceans crash and rivers run wild, but lakes somehow, even when they bluster, evoke a sense of serenity. They combine wonder (cold or warm? deep or shallow?) with the certainty that those shores make a full circle.
Lake resorts let us drift away—both literally on a boat and figuratively from life’s everyday stressors and demands. These top 21 combine lodging and lakes in a dialectic of indoor and out that betters them both.
Fronting glacier-blue water so stunning it once starred on the Canadian $20 bill, Moraine Lake Lodge guarantees a paddler’s Rocky Mountain high. The log-and-stone decor echoes the Banff National Park locale. morainelake.com
Blending in with the Patagonian Pampas on the shore of Sarmiento Lake, at the edge of Torres del Paine National Park, Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa operates like a plush base camp for wilderness explorers. At this National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World, daily excursions such as trekking in the mountains or riding with baqueanos (local cowboys) are followed by sumptuous meals paired with Chilean wines. All 40 rooms, the indoor pool, and the telescope-outfitted lounge frame views of the lake and the glaciers beyond. tierrahotels.com
The gracious 36-room Linthwaite House, on 14 acres of woods and Peter Rabbit–esque gardens, overlooks Windermere, England’s largest lake. A recent renovation installed a conservatory for tea sipping with water views. www.linthwaitehouse.com
Sitting at the edge of Ireland’s largest lake—Lake Corrib—is the 800-year-old Ashford Castle. Sprawling like a structure right out of a medieval-era fantasy show, this magnificent lake resort sprawls across an evocative landscape and splendorous, wild outdoors hemmed in by the Connemara mountains. Do not skip the lake cruises on offer. ashfordcastle.com
Built in 1746 for royal trysting, Taj Lake Palace is its own island of columned courtyards and arched walkways in Udaipur’s Lake Pichola. Arrive to a shower of rose petals, then enjoy a massage on the spa boat. taj.tajhotels.com
Perched amid coconut groves, the Kumarakom Lake Resort is an exotic getaway offering colonial-style villas and houseboat rides. Welcome the dusk with the sunset cruise through lake Vembanad and make merry in the sparkling cultural evenings. There is something for everyone in the family and never a dull moment. kumarakomlakeresort.in
Just a stone’s skip from the A-lister’s estate on Lake Como, the former home of 19th-century opera star Giuditta Pasta (Villa Roccabruna) now hosts Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como with a dramatic bar and a heated swimming pool built into the lake. The in-house restaurants provide spectacular views of the waterbody. mandarinoriental.com/lakecomo
In Lake Malawi National Park, Robin Pope Safaris’ Pumulani Lodge offers wildlife tours of the lake, where guests snorkel with schools of colourful fish. Cap the day with a sunset sail on a traditional dhow. www.robinpopesafaris.net
Life moving too fast? Claim a rocker on the world’s longest porch, at the seasonal Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, and survey the strait between Lakes Huron and Michigan. It’s eternally 1887 here, with dress-code dinners and carriage tours. www.grandhotel.com
In the Deschutes National Forest, Suttle Lodge & Boathouse keeps the vibe rustic-chic with log-beamed cabins and pillowy chairs around the lodge’s stone fireplace. Top guest chefs whip up wine-paired dinners on the dock. www.thesuttlelodge.com
Located between two lakes, the Llao Llao Hotel & Resort in Patagonia dates back to the 1930s, when the surrounding national park was first protected. After a day of windsurfing, indulge at one of six dining options or the serious spa. llaollao.com
Set amid 12,000 acres on Elk Lake in the Adirondacks, rustic 1904-vintage Elk Lake Lodge is a nature immersion. Connect the dots of 28 islands via kayak or canoe while spotting moose, bears, and loons. www.elklakelodge.com
No matter where you are at Matakauri Lodge—in the glass-walled restaurant or suites with window-side day beds—Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables mountains are on view. www.robertsonlodges.com
Cast a line for bass, then learn to cook your catch at Big Cedar Lodge, from the owner of Bass Pro Shops in the Ozarks. To see more of the 43,000-acre Table Rock Lake, go to ski school or rent a pontoon boat. www.bigcedar.com
At 12,500 feet, Titilaka lodge has stunning views of Lake Titicaca from most of its 18 rooms. Boat to the islands of the world’s highest navigable body of water, raft through its reeds, or visit local village markets. titilaka.pe
There’s a reason why so many weddings take place at the island of Luzon’s Lake Hotel Tagaytay: Taal Lake makes a magnificent backdrop, with Taal Volcano Island at its centre. Come for the view, stay for the adobo. www.lakehoteltagaytay.com
On the Azores’ São Miguel Island, 7 Cidades Lake Lodge sits alongside the blue half of dual-lake Lagoa das SeteCidades (its neighbour is green). Stay in a modernist bungalow to birdwatch or soak in nearby hot springs. 7cidadeslakelodge.com
The former summer home of Yugoslav president Tito, Vila Bled overlooks a 17th-century island church in Lake Bled. Reach it via traditional pletna boats from the resort pier or rent your own rowboat. vila-bled.si
Plenty of tropical resorts offer overwater bungalows, but rarely do lakes, which makes Hôtel Palafitte on Lake Neuchâtel categorically exotic. Built for the Swiss National Expo in 2002 on the theme of surprise, the hotel comprises 24 wood-clad bungalows above the lake and 14 more on land. Guests can paddleboard directly from porches equipped with swimming ladders. At sunset, search for the green flash with help from the “green fairy,” or absinthe, created in the canton of Neuchâtel. www.palafitte.ch
Primarily known for its array of activities during the winter months that include skiing, ice skating and hiking, St Moritz’s Badrutt’s Palace Hotel has a lot in store during the warmer months as well. There are plenty of activities to discover in the sun-soaked Engadin valley and adventures such as standup paddle-boarding, kayaking, rock climbing and more that await at the al fresco adventures. The lake resort opens to scenic views of the lake and St. Moritz.
From Loch Ness Lodge, you can spend hours scanning the mesmerising lake for the namesake monster. The hilltop Highlands escape also offers lake cruises through its larger sibling hotel next door, the Loch Ness Clansman. www.loch-ness-lodge.com
A National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World, Rubondo Island Camp is the only accommodation in the namesake national park. Join boat safaris on Lake Victoria and toast sunset from the water. www.nationalgeographiclodges.com
Forget cell service at Brooks Lake Lodge & Spa, deep in the Shoshone National Forest. Instead opt for riding, canoeing, or hiking at the retreat built in 1922 as a stopover on the way to Yellowstone. www.brookslake.com
This story has been updated in July 2022.