How 2018 became the year of the bubble hotel
While there's been an emergence of unique accommodation in recent years, from house boats to suspended tents and hotels with their own social networks, it would appear that 2018 was the year of the bubble hotel. These curious-looking inflatable domes have replaced glamping as the atypical outdoors accommodation of choice thanks to the see-through walls that offer unobstructed views of nature.
A bubble hotel is essentially an inflatable, transparent dome, designed to allow guests to cocoon themselves in nature without quite leaving their material comforts behind. Joost Vermeulen, Director of Booking.com for UK, Ireland, Nordics and Benelux told Lonely Planet Travel News that bubble hotels are increasing in profile and interest for travellers as "they provide a diverse, ‘at one with nature’ and most importantly unforgettable experience to guests." He noted that travel with experiences at its core was one of 2018’s major travel trends but 2019 will take it even further.
Last year we saw a number of these spherical lodgings pop up in locations across the globe as the appeal of see-through stays became pretty apparent. So to end the year, Lonely Planet Travel News has rounded up our best pick of bubble hotels from Iceland to Australia and Martinique to Mauritius for anyone wishing to try the trend in 2019.
Set on the grounds of the historic Cap Malheureux tea plantation, the Bubble Lodge offers panoramic views of the Bois Cheri jungle. The individually-designed pods were created out of recyclable PVC by Parisian designer, Pierre-Stéphane Dumas. The en-suite rooms have impressive mod-cons such as a SkyView app to view the constellations from the bed, and a switch illuminate the foliage at night. Activities include tea-tasting, kayaking and fishing and guests are treated to dinner in the form of a gourmet meal cooked by a private chef with waiter service.
Situated on Île Petite Grenade off Martinique, this hotel features four bedrooms housed in bubble-like sleeping pods set in the rainforest near the town of Le Vauclin. Each bedroom is surrounded by a private garden with fences and thick foliage to ensure total privacy (so guests don't feel like they're on display) and fitted with WiFi, a coffee machine, mini bar and air conditioning. Outside, there are open-air showers and a stone plunge pool. The best part? The dazzling views of the tropical landscape.
The first thing to note about these inflatable domes in the northeast of Switzerland is the vast expanse of countryside they overlook. There are three permanent bubbles with views of Lake Constance, orchards, gardens and vineyards and one that changes location every two months. Guests staying at the Charterhouse Ittingen bubble receive free admission to Ittinger Museum and the Kunstmuseum Thurgau, while those staying at BBZ Arenenberg bubble can visit the neighbouring Napoleon Museum. The third bubble, Garden Restaurant Gertau bubble has a seasonal farmhouse kitchen that cooks meals on request.
The rooms at Bubbletent Australia overlook the second-largest canyon in the world, the Capertee Valley. The remote setting - between the wine region of Mudgee and Lithgow in New South Wales - means there's no haze on the horizon so it's perfect for star-gazing. It's also an Important Bird Area (IBA) and one of the top 50 birdwatching areas in the world. All spherical lodgings have fire pits and telescopes and either a floating bed, hammock or love swing.
Where better to enjoy the Aurora Borealis than from the comfort of your own bed? Five Million Star Hotel is located within 70 minutes-drive of Reykjavik. Guests have their own private rooms which are heated and access to a shared kitchen, toilet and shower. While winter gives guests a greater chance of seeing the Northern Lights, summer - with its long hours of daylight - makes this the perfect spot to sleep under the midnight sun and spot birds, butterflies and wildlife.