Humans have long been fascinated by the possibility of living underwater. Novels, movies, even World’s Fair exhibits have theorized about what it would be like to take up residence beneath the seas. In the early 1960s, the US Navy funded experiments in underwater living quarters (complete with a trained dolphin to ferry supplies), but soon interest and money turned to the space race.
Recently, life under the sea has reemerged as a topic of conversation. Earlier this year a Japanese company released designs for a whole city in the ocean. Though the proposed cost is exorbitant ($26 billion), the concept drawings seem like something straight out of science fiction.
While we’ve yet to successfully develop any permanent colonies underwater, there are places you can spend at least one night sleeping with the fishes. Here are five of the most interesting:
Jules' Underwater Lodge: Key Largo, Florida
Appropriately named after the man who wrote Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, the Jules’ Undersea Lodge bills itself as the “first and only underwater hotel.” Originally founded as the La Chalupa research laboratory in the early 1970s and located off the coast of Puerto Rico, the underwater lab and living quarters are said to have been the largest and most technologically advanced underwater habitat of their time. Scientists used the lab to study and research the marine life of the continental shelf.
In the mid-1980s, the facilities were towed to Emerald Lagoon in Key Largo, Florida, and converted into an underwater hotel. Over the last 30 years, the lodge has provided accommodations for thousand of visitors, including actor Tim Allen, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and, rather fittingly, drummer Jon Fishman of Phish.
With two rooms, the hotel can comfortably sleep up to six people. The experience isn’t complete without getting a fresh, hot and—most importantly—dry pizza delivered to your underwater quarters.
Utter Inn: Västerås, Sweden
In the middle of Lake Mälaren in Västerås, Sweden, floats the Utter Inn. This 270-square-foot, two-floor abode exists half above the surface of the lake and half below. A sun deck, kitchenette and dry toilet make up the top deck, while two twin beds are located below, providing guests with near-panoramic views of the swimming pike that populate the freshwater lake.
Opened in June 2000 on apparently the coldest and rainiest day of the summer, the bobbing red-and-white hotel was designed by artist Mikael Genberg, who is also known for other odd accommodations.
The Utter Inn is located a little over half a mile from the Västerås harbor. Guests are dropped off for their reservation, provided with an inflatable boat and instructions, and then left alone. While visiting, they are welcome to explore the small islands nearby, one of which used to be the home of Tiger Woods.
Poseidon & Neptune Underwater Suites in Atlantis, The Palms: Dubai
Dubai has earned its reputation for lavish hotels and absurd accommodations, but spending the night among 65,000 sea creatures in the Underwater Suites of the Atlantis hotel is still one of the more unique offerings. Named after Poseidon and Neptune (gods of the sea in Greek and Roman mythology, respectively), the two suites allow patrons to spend their evening peering into the massive Ambassador Lagoon aquarium.
Each suite is 1,776 square feet and can accommodate three adults or two adults and two children. A private elevator provides access to all three stories, and other perks include access to a 24-hour butler and soap made out of 24-carat gold flakes. Needless to say, this experience is not cheap, costing between $5,500 and $8,200, depending on the night. If the price doesn’t make you want to get out of the water, availability is actually pretty open, despite the fact that Khloe Kardashian stayed there in May and posed among the stingrays.
The Manta Resort at Pemba Island: Tanzania
If sleeping with the fishes isn't exotic enough, try cozying up for the night with squid and octopi. The Underwater Room in the Manta Resort on Pemba Island offers just that, providing exterior spotlights to encourage nighttime visits from the nocturnal cephalopods that roam this part of the Indian Ocean.
This floating three-floor structure, located off the coast of Tanzania, submerges guests 13 feet below the water and provides panoramic views of the ocean depths. Designed by the same Swedish company that made the Utter Inn a reality, this underwater hotel room may top all the others due to its location, sitting right on top of the coral reefs of the Indian Ocean. The hotel even has an official mascot—a two-foot long trumpet fish named Nick.
Anchored by four cables that allow it to rise and fall with the tide and waves, this floating structure can be had for the comparatively reasonable sum of $1,500 dollars a night.