Is there really any point in traveling if you can’t post a picture from an envy-inducing hotel balcony, then sit back and stare at the likes rolling in instead of the view? Not in 2018, not really. Hotels around the world are designing themselves to have increasingly competitive balcony views, so screen-scrollers around the world will stop, take a screenshot, and say, “Holy Lagos filter where is that?” The key to a fantastic balcony view is its expression of place, combining images that could be taken nowhere else with views that drop your jaw as soon as you walk into the room. They don’t always come cheap, but if you’re looking for the best balcony views in the world, these 13 spots get the job done.
1. Hassler Roma — Rome, Italy
The architecture of Rome is the grandest in the world, and you could spend months walking through the city taking it all in. But it’s far easier to book the Penthouse Villa Medici Suite at this famous hotel set atop the Spanish Steps. From this seventh-floor terrace, you’ll see the best of Rome’s skyline, including those Spanish Steps, the Piazza di Spagna, the Barcaccia fountain, and the shopping along Via Condotti.
2. Beau-Rivage Palace — Lausanne, Switzerland
Though the balconies at this Lake Geneva luxury resort aren’t huge, you won’t need much space when you’re mesmerized by the deep blue lake and snow-capped mountains in front of you. Every room in the hotel offers a front row seat to the Alps, but the grandest among them is the spa suite where you can enjoy your own private spa while you gaze out the window.
3. Casa Polopo — Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
Go ahead and call Lake Atitlan Central America’s Como. Though it’s missing George Clooney, the views are just as spectacular from this mountainside retreat — the country’s first Relais & Chateaux hotel — with panoramic views of the lake and three towering volcanoes in the distance. The best views are found in the three-bedroom villas set 150 steps above the main house, yours for a scant $1,589 a night.
4. Kura — Uvita, Costa Rica
Walking out to the beach on the famous Whales Tail in Costa Rica can be a little disappointing since the narrow point of the tail doesn’t leave much of a beach. It is, however, still a great spot for humpback-whale watching. But a better vantage point can be found at this eight-villa boutique hotel high in the hills above it. From your balcony, you’ll have a stunning perspective on the tail, and with the right binoculars, you can spot whales swimming by too.
5. St. Regis Bangkok — Bangkok, Thailand
You remember those menacing-looking views of the Bangkok skyline they used as B-roll in The Hangover 2? Probably not since that movie was pretty forgettable, but it was filmed at Phulay Bay Ritz Carlton. You’ll get the same eye-popping perspective on the city from the wraparound balcony in the Owner’s Penthouse at the St. Regis. The vista is best appreciated from the 23-foot infinity pool, where the lights of the city reflect off the water at night and your 24-hour butler can bring you whatever you like without you getting out of the water.
6. Mondrian Los Angeles — Los Angeles, California
Standing above the haze and hills of Hollywood is about as close to living a real-life Entourage as most of us will ever get. But that King of LA feeling is available to anyone with enough scratch to rent out the Balcony Suite at the Mondrian on Sunset Blvd. On the odd clear day, you’ll get a stunning view of the Los Angeles skyline backed by the snow-capped San Gabriel mountains, realizing immediately why they call this place the City of Angels.
7. Scrubby Bay — Annandale, New Zealand
This luxury lodge on a working farm in New Zealand has a balcony that stares right into a spectacular ocean cove. The balcony is so spacious that it’s really more of a deck, perfect for lounging and watching the sunset. Because it tends to get quite chilly on the New Zealand coast, you can warm up inside by the fire while enjoying a meal from the ingredients the farm’s chef left in your refrigerator.
8. Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa — Barga, Italy
This 180-room gem in the heart of Tuscany is set high up in the green mountains with views of wineries, medieval villages, country landscapes, and the Serchio Valley all spread out beneath you. The view is best enjoyed over breakfast, when a soft fog fills the valley and the villages below start to peak out as the sun shines brighter.
9. Cape View Clifton — Cape Town, South Africa
The world may not have a more photogenic city than Cape Town, with two coasts of stunning beaches separated by Table Mountain and Lions Head rock. At the base of Lions Head, you’ll find this boutique luxury hotel where your balcony comes with lounge chairs and crashing waves, as well as views of cliffs, beaches, and mountains in the distance.
10. Hotel Metropole — Monaco
Have your own little James Bond moment when you rent out the Suite Carré d’Or penthouse at Monte Carlo’s legendary Hotel Metropole. The terrace — just the terrace, now — is 1,180 square feet with views of the Casino de Monte-Carlo, its gardens, and the Mediterranean Sea. As long as you’re living like an international spy, go ahead and order up a private dinner on the terrace — and ask your 24-hour luxury concierge to find you the “special” wine. Then maintain eye contact with your arch nemesis as you sip it slowly, wondering what, exactly, “special” means.
11. Jade Mountain — St. Lucia
At $2,500 a night, you’d expect a room to have more than three walls, right? Of course, when that fourth wall is replaced by a warm Caribbean breeze and nothing but air between you and the Pitons, maybe it can be forgiven. Here your room is your balcony, complete with a private plunge pool, an elevated bathroom, and a four-post bed that you have to hope no birds accidentally fly into and can’t get out.
12. Grand Hotel Tremezzo — Lake Como, Italy
While Atitlan might be Central America’s Como, Lake Como is, well, the original. This luxury hotel in the striking mountain town has one of the most spectacular pools in the world, jutting out into the lake with snow-covered peaks reflecting off the water. While you can’t swim in your balcony, you’ll still get the exact same view, in front of which you’ll enjoy a hot espresso in a comfy robe like you were Dr. Ross himself.
13. Chateau Eza — Eze, France
The artists’ village of Eze in the south of France is an old stone city set atop steep hills next to the Mediterranean. Strolling the streets feels like moving back in time to a medieval village that somehow smelled good and has something called “WiFi.” To fully immerse yourself in the scene, stay at the Chateau Eza, where your room is one of those ancient stone buildings, and you’ll enjoy your breakfast with a hearty side of Mediterranean sun and a panoramic view of much of the French Riviera.