Brace yourself: you’re about to get lost in brilliant blue waters, beautiful high peaks, and lush emerald forests. Whether you dream of exploring Patagonia’s other-worldly landscapes, trekking alongside lions in Africa, or relaxing in European hot pools with majestic mountains jutting across the skyline, these top lake resorts promise the perfect balance of rest, romance, and adventure.
Since our lives are often quiet, our minds like to create myths and legends. In northern Patagonia, Argentina, you might spot Nahuelito: the mythical, Nessie-like serpent who dwells in the depths of Lake Nahuel Huapi. Above the lake is the Llao Llao Hotel: a world-class lake resort that offers up heart-stopping views and plenty of swimming opportunities. If you’re too scared of Nahuelito nibbling on your toes, don’t worry, you can safely take a dip in adjacent Lake Moreno.
Only accessible by boat, Taj Lake Palace sits on an island in Lake Pichola, creating the allure of exclusivity before you even step foot in the lobby. Taj Lake Palace was built in the 18th century and was the summer palace of the royal dynasty of Mewar. Although it’s been converted into a hotel, guests are still treated like royalty.
Voted “most beautiful lake in the world” in 2014, Lake Como overwhelms with its romance and soft beauty. Visitors yearn to escape to this little haven where picturesque Italian villas nestle along the edges of turquoise waters. If you’re looking to take full advantage of everything this region has to offer, book a treatment at the spa at Mandarin Oriental, where you can enjoy facial and body treatments with unreal lake views. Lake Como definitely makes our list of one of the best things to do in Italy so why not spend it in style at the Mandarin Oriental?
History meets nature at Mackinac Island’s iconic Grand Hotel. Honestly, the entire town and hotel look like a period movie set in the 19th century. Sitting on the edge of Lake Huron (one of the Great Lakes of North America and the third largest fresh-water lake on Earth), the Grand Hotel has hosted everyone from U.S presidents to celebrated figures like Thomas Edison and Mark Twain. The cherry on top? Mackinac Island is car-free, so you can only use a horse-drawn carriage to get to the hotel.
Do you fantasize of an old country house in the English countryside? With stunning views of lakes, valleys, and woodland? Lake Windermere is the largest natural lake in England, with 19 islands and easy access to Lake District National Park: one of the most romantic national parks in Europe and home to world-famous footpaths, bridleways, valleys, woodlands, hills. At Linthwaite House, look forward to siting near a stone fireplace in the winter while sipping English tea.
As legend goes, Lake Wakatipu was formed by a giant ogre, Kopu-wai. The ogre was burned while sleeping, leaving behind only his heart. Then his heart became the lake’s bed, which is still beating, creating the lake’s seiche, or rhythmic rise and fall. Today, Lake Wakatipu is famous for adventure tourism. You can try everything from ski fields, paragliding, bungee jumping, and trampoline jumps. To relax from a day filled with adventurous activity, Matakauri Lodge offers luxurious spas, an outdoor heated swimming pool, and fitness center.
In between Bolivia and Peru lies one of South America’s largest lakes, once occupied by the Incas. At the Titilaka Lodge, you can explore the ancient ruins of the once-glorious civilization. The lodge is a fusion of tradition and modernity. It is the best place to simultaneously enjoy the lake and Andes’ gorgeous views, learn about the region’s indigenous tribes, and experience a relaxing vacation with delicious Peruvian cuisine.
Taal Lake is known as a lake on an island on an island with a lake. Confusing right? Here’s the scoop. Taal Lake is a crater lake, and within its beautiful azure waters lies a volcano island. There was a second lake on the volcano island, but it unfortunately disappeared in 2020 due to a recent eruption. On the Taal lake’s shores, the luxurious Lake Hotel Tagaytay offers tours around the hotel and volcano island, relaxing days at their spa, swimming pools, and delicious food at their restaurant.
Perhaps the most famous lake monster in the world is none other than Nessie, the creature living in the Lake of Loch Ness. Nestled in the Scottish Highlands, you’ll be surrounded by beautiful landscapes of tiny villages with Scottish architecture so quaint and quiet that you’ll think you’re in a movie. You’ll find the luxurious Loch Ness Lodge at the lake’s western coast. The Lodge has great spas and therapy rooms to rest after long days of great outdoor activities such as hiking, horse riding, fishing, cycling, canoeing, and swimming.
Lake Bled is the perfect definition of serenity and peace. Come for the rest and romance you’ll find at Vila Bled, stay for Bled Island Church and the mysteries within. As legend has it, if you want to be married, the men need to physically prepare themselves to carry their bride up the 99 steps leading to the church’s entrance. By making it up the entire staircase, it is believed you will have a happy marriage. Secondly, any wish you have will be granted if you ring the bell on the left of the altar. Prepare your wishes, love birds!
Rubondo Island, only accessible by small plane, is an island and national park within the second largest lake in the world: Lake Victoria. The lake is shared by Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. Entirely uninhabited except for the lodge at Rubondo Island Camp, a stay here will allow you to experience a luxury escape in the midst of African wildlife. Jurassic Park (gone right), anyone?
From November until June, Emerald Lake turns into a winter wonderland. In the summer, it’s a wild emerald fantasy surrounded by mountains and forests. On the coast of the lake, you’ll find the Emerald Lake Lodge: a 19th-century log cabin that will make you feel like you’re living in an era run by cowboys, guides, and explorers. After a long day adventuring, relax in a snow-ensconced hot tub and enjoy the stunning mountain peaks as they jut up around the lake.
When dreaming of New York, one usually thinks of skyscrapers, Times Square, and honking yellow taxis. But the best of New York is actually far, far away from the city. At the Northeast corner of the state, the quiet and rustic Adirondack Mountains offer a deep retreat. Tucked in the mountains is Mirror Lake. Here, play like a local and take a dog sled ride or ice skate on the frozen lake in winter. In the summer, you can go canoeing, kayaking, or swimming. The luxurious Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa sits on the lake’s shores, and offers plenty of R&R, including a luxury spa, swimming pool, sauna, jacuzzi and yoga classes to unwind.
If you’re looking to fully immerse yourself in Ireland’s history, culture, and fantastic natural landscape, Ashford Castle is the place to go. Its architecture is a mix of medieval and Victorian, and once you are inside, you feel like you’re stepping into Bridgerton or about to run into Arthur and his knights. The castle is right next to Lake Corrib, the largest lake in Ireland, and it perfectly compliments the utter magnificence of the castle.
Crater Lake, nestled within Crater Lake National Park, was formed by the eruption of a volcano some thousand years ago. It’s natural hue of blue and depth rivals the likes of Lake Tahoe. At the nearby Crater Lake Lodge, expect to relive early 20th-century history and learn more about the area’s natural wonders (for all of us geology nerds— ah hem—enthusiasts). If adventure’s your jam, you can enjoy several recreational activities, like as trolley tours, horseback riding, and snowmobiling.
We get it, the name reminds you of that famous dairy brand. But you definitely won’t be thinking about milk when you arrive, stunned and jaw-dropped from the natural beauty. Lake Lucerne is wildly popular among tourists, and is especially well-known for its rowing and diving. The stunningly grandiose Palace Luzern overlooks the lake and offers accessible routes towards the old town and chapel bridge.
Lake Annecy is the cleanest lake in Europe, making it a natural haven for swimming and water fun. If you’re looking for a getaway to make you feel like a Royal off on summer holiday, this is it. The Impérial Palace is lush, clean, and offers fantastic experiences and amenities like hammam, ice fountains, spa baths, treatment rooms, fitness centers, and plenty of jacuzzis.
If you’re a self-proclaimed explorer, there’s no better place than Patagonia’s beautiful, contrasting landscapes of mountains, lakes, fjords, glaciers, and deserts. Lake Pehoe, located within the famous Torres del Paine National Park in Chile, is the perfect launch point for those looking to adventure the Paine River, Salto Grande waterfall, and granite towers. Not only is Explora Patagonia right next to the lake, but it also has excellent luxuries for guests to relax and enjoy the area to the max.
This area of Lake Atitlan was once inhabited by the Mayans. Through Laguna Lodge Eco-Resort & Nature Preserve, you can explore all of the ancient ruins and treasures they left behind. The lodge is decorated with indigenous and Mayan cultural designs. Book a guided tour to learn more about the area’s culture, wildlife, and untouched natural beauty.
Beau-Rivage Palace Hotel is in Lausanne’s hilly and medieval city, and it’s been ranked as one of the best hotels in Europe since it first opened in 1861. Beau-Rivage has a long history of welcoming esteemed guests such as royalty, politicians, inventors, and artists. Nowadays, the hotel has state-of-the-art facilities such as a spa, treatment center, hammam, sauna, yoga room, gym, and tennis court.
You’ll find Pumulani Lodge on the shores of Lake Malawi: the third largest lake in Africa and one of the deepest lakes in the world. The lodge is made up of a handful of private villas, each with their own private deck and view of the lake. At Pumulani lodge, you’ll never be bored, with activities ranging water skiing, sailing and kayaking to snorkeling and lake diving. If you’re lucky, you might even have the chance to spot some of Southeast Africa’s famous wildlife (crocodiles, hippopotamus, and monkeys — oh my!).