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Urban Hotels on the Waterfront

Enjoy rooms (and rooftops) with a view at these waterfront hotels in Brooklyn, Cape Town, Singapore and Stockholm

Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour is never still. A busy parade of cruise ships, fishing trawlers, sampans and ferries crisscross the water day and night. As a backdrop, it’s one of the most famous skylines in the world: a glittering panorama of skyscrapers jostling for attention. It’s little wonder that those hotels lucky enough to occupy a prime waterfront position with the all-important harbour view are in high demand. Joining their ranks next month will be the Rosewood Hong Kong on the Tsim Sha Tsui harbourfront – the crown jewel of the new Victoria Dockside development. Click here to find out more about how the Kowloon harbourfront is being transformed. In the meantime, here’s a selection of other hotels around the world sitting pretty by the bay.

1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, New York

1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge, New York
Courtesy of 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge

Over the past decade, landscaped green spaces and piers have transformed a two-kilometre stretch of post-industrial waterfront into one of Brooklyn’s most appealing destinations, attracting gourmet food trucks, art installations and day trippers. But why rush back to Manhattan when you can stay and admire it from 1 Hotel? The eco-friendly urban retreat opened in 2017 with floor-to-ceiling windows that reveal a sweeping panorama of skyscrapers, Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty, while ferries make the two-minute ride to and from Wall Street. There’s also a rooftop bar with garden and pool, and a seven-metre-high green wall in the lobby lounge. Architect Jonathan Marvel designed the hotel to bring the outdoors in, using reclaimed natural materials such as heart-pine beams from the borough’s former Domino Sugar Factory. Rooms feature pieces by local furniture makers and glassblowers, along with eco touches like filtered water and organic bedding. (If that sounds serene, wait until you try the hammocks strung up in certain suites.) The hotel also operates entirely on wind power and uses a rainwater reclamation system to irrigate Brooklyn Bridge Park. –Kate Appleton

The Silo, Cape Town

The Silo Hotel
Mark Williams

Turning a century-old grain silo into Africa’s preeminent contemporary art museum and boutique hotel was no easy task, but the mission was accomplished with great panache. The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa occupies the grain silos while hotelier Liz Biden’s 28-suite luxury boutique hotel is next door in the old machinery tower. Chief among the hotel’s seductions are architect Thomas Heatherwick’s much-lauded floor-to-ceiling faceted bay windows, furnishing views of Table Mountain, the bay and the working harbour. Elsewhere, the hotel trades in strong colours, Biden’s quirky personal art collection and rooftop spaces for sundowners, meals and swimming. Choose one of the deluxe superior suites for corner office grandeur and a bath with arguably one of the world’s most astonishing views. –Mark Jones

The Silo Hotel, waterfront hotel

InterContinental, Robertson Quay, Singapore

InterContinental, Robertson Quay, Singapore, waterfront hotel

Situated among the al fresco dining and smart cocktail hangouts of Robertson Quay on the upper reaches of the Singapore River, the InterContinental hotel and its 225 studios and suites have earned a loyal following, especially from business travellers wanting to feel more like residents and less like, well, business travellers. It’s a quieter and more upmarket waterside experience than nearby Clarke Quay. Italian restaurant Marcello adds a spot of Manhattan flair; and a lap pool, spa and fleet of bicycles provide plenty in the way of diversion. –MJ

InterContinental, Robertson Quay, Singapore, waterfront hotel

Hotel J, Stockholm

InterContinental, Robertson Quay, Waterfront hotel

There are cities on the water. And there are cities of the water. Stockholm’s in the second category: you’re either gazing at this Baltic archipelago or crossing it on a boat to one of the 30,000 islands dotted around and beyond the city centre.

Stockholm needed a proper waterside hotel and now it has one in Hotel J. It’s named after the classic J-class yacht of America’s Cup fame. The concept carries through into the design of the 158 rooms, which aspire to capture the good living of America’s affluent yachting community. 

Hotel J Stockholm, waterfront hotel
Beatrice Graalheim

So you’ll feel quite at home in your best pastel-coloured polo and boat shoes. But the Scandi soul still dominates. Architecturally: a sturdy mercantile red-brick structure co-exists with a pastel-coloured residential block. Sartorially: preppy polo shirts aside, you’re fine in flip-flops, shorts and tattoos. Gastronomically: Restaurant J sits along the strand with (literally) dazzling summer views late into the evening and heartbreakingly fresh seafood platters. –MJ

Hotel J Stockholm