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9 Striking Hotels on Cliffs

With their expansive views and opulent amenities, these resorts turn cliff-dwelling into a stylish getaway

Obscuring the line between horizon and land, cliffs have the ability to make us feel both small and large all at once. On the edge of craggy rocks, burrowed between peaks, or floating just above a juniper-colored ocean, soaring hotel properties that claim their place in elevated terrain serve as a seamless extension into the immediate surroundings, blurring the lines between natural wonders and structure.

For architects aplenty, hotels on top of cliffs have proved an opportunity to create buildings that appear to hover between worlds, casting a soulful spell. For travelers seeking repose, these bluff-hugging retreats run the gamut from volcanic basalt structures suspended over the sea and a network of walking trails, to ocean castles that glow in bright tones of yellow and pink on Mexico’s jungly Pacific coastline. One property descends from a Colorado peak, while a fortress-like vision overlooks Mallorca’s Prussian-blue Port Soller. Others around the globe, like a Dominican hideaway tucked atop a verge that peers across the Caribbean, are havens that lure us to the brink for fashionable, life-changing getaways. Here are visits to 10 striking hotels on cliffs.

One & Only Mandarina (Nayarit, Mexico)

Just one and a half hours south of Puerto Vallarta, One&Only Mandarina sits above a collection of sandy coves in Mexico’s Riviera Nayarit. Completely immersed into the surrounding rainforest, 105 freestanding ground-level villas and 40-foot treehouse accommodations are spread about the 80-acre property. Designed by Tucson-based Studio Rick Joy, rooms include earthy tones, stone accents from local artisanal makers, kimonos handmade by expert Mexican artisans in Pátzcuaro, and walls and floors made from the indigenous Cumaru wood. Treehouses feature private plunge pools and an aesthetic reminiscent of rustic Mexican haciendas, including teak rocking chairs. Villa One, the property’s largest offering, is a home away from home, with its own wine cellar, spa, and gym. A main plunge pool spills into the blanketed mountainside surrounding it, and the Treetop Bar is best experienced at sunset.

Careyes, Mexico, Sol de Oriente Castle (Jalisco, Mexico)

Located on Mexico’s jungly Pacific coastline, Careyes is a collection of technicolor bungalows, ocean castles, and villas resting on cliffs that sprout from the sea. Envisioned by artist and entrepreneur Gian Franco Brignone, Careyes has grown to become a coastal community across 46,000 acres that includes the beachfront El Careyes Club & Residences and its five infinity pools. One of the property’s most spectacular cliffside ocean villas, Sol de Oriente, features a 10,000-square-foot pool that circles around the villa like a moat of a castle. A glowing yellow exterior, curved walls, doorways framing the ocean, outdoor terraces, and grand palm thatched palapa are an homage to the surrounding environment, while direct access to the pool from the guest rooms seamlessly merges the indoor and outdoor spaces. An identical villa, called Sol De Occidente, is also available on property.

JW Marriott Jeju Resort & Spa Hotel (Jeju Island, South Korea)

Floating above sea and craggy rocks, JW Marriott Jeju Resort & Spa Hotel reveals itself on a quiet corner of Jeju Island’s southernmost coast of Seogwipo. The idyllic island in South Korea has long been a vacation spot, drawing crowds to its black sand beaches, volcanic cones, and forest retreats. Jeju Resort & Spa is Marriott’s first venture on the island, helmed by architecture studio WATG with interiors by Bangkok-based landscape artist and architect Bill Bensley. The 197-room sanctuary reveals views of the East China Sea and tiger-shaped Bamseom Island. Yellow tones illuminate the series of low-rise complexes, inspired by the island’s canola fields. Nods to Korean culture include the Hanok-inspired lobby and walls made of intricate patchwork, called jogakbo. Also on the property are 27 walking trails to traverse, ensuring ample opportunity to take in the surrounding landscape.

Montage Laguna Beach (Laguna Beach, California)

Situated on a California coastline that draws surfers to shred waves and beachgoers to take in sherbet colored sunsets, Montage Laguna Beach’s prime bluff-top location is spread over 30 acres that peer over the Pacific Ocean below. The property exudes the laidback luxury that Southern California is known for with craftsman-style architecture, reminiscent of Laguna Beach’s iconic beach cottage homes. Inside are 262 guest rooms, including 59 suites and 5 villas with an ocean view and direct beach access to one of Laguna Beach’s most notable golden stretches, Treasure Island Beach & Park. The 3,000-square-foot Villa Le Ciel offers open views of the ocean and complete privacy from the main hotel. Many of the furnishings in the three-bedroom, three-bath space are brought to life with soft modern design, organic textures, and minimalist aesthetic, all custom-made in Japan.

Jade Mountain Resort (Mamin, St. Lucia)

St. Lucia’s iconic Piton Mountains—two volcanic spires formed some 300,000 years ago that shoot from the Caribbean Sea—command attention whether from land or water. At Jade Mountain Resort, the sky-scraping natural wonders remain in view at nearly every corner, including open-air accommodations with 15-foot ceilings, called sanctuaries. Envisioned by architect Nick Troubetzkoy, each of Jade Mountain’s 24 rooms reiterate the soaring stature of the resort and its extension into the flourishing natural surroundings of Anse Chastanet Mountain. Private infinity pools with colorful mosaic tiles and an absent-fourth-wall design allows for unobstructed views of a gin-colored sea. Celestial Terrace, located on the highest level of the property, is a prime location for digestifs and stargazing.

Secret Bay (Portsmouth, Dominica)

It started with a dream. Award-winning Latin American architect Fruto Vivas gave his daughter Sandra and her new husband, Gregor Nassief, a wedding gift sure to be coveted by architecture buffs everywhere—a drawing for a stunning personal residence on the island of Dominica. The idea was a home that would meld into the terrain, a lush site on a cliff that lorded over Secret Bay. What resulted was a sustainable masterpiece that seems to dance above the treetops, crafted from Guyanese-sourced hardwood, filled with unique handmade red cedar furniture and suffused with natural light. Like all good dreams, this one lingered, evolving to become a boutique hotel composed of just six treehouse-style villas spread across four tropical acres. Measuring between 1,000 and 3,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, each extraordinary structure include personal plunge pools, free-standing tubs, gourmet kitchens, and pillow hammocks. Leave your lounge chair for snorkeling, nature trails, and personalized yoga classes.

Jumeirah Port Soller (Mallorca, Spain)

Catalan-speaking Mallorca, an island edged with stunning beaches, gets its fair share of tourists—including Spain’s royal family. But few know its popularity with serious cyclists, who pedal competitively to ascend its serpentine, bluff-verged roads. Lucky riders and others will set up base at Jumeirah Port Soller, an otherworldly complex that crowns a scarp above the characteristic beachside village of Soller. Designed by Madrid-headquartered Arditecnica to “float between sea and sky,” the hotel comprises 11 low-rise buildings connected by orange tree groves and herb gardens, rife with romantic passageways, peek-a-boo views of the sapphire-hued water, and cliff-clinging terraces. Marvel over the round stone entry hall envisioned to mimic the five-century-old watchtowers (pirates were once a menace), which line Mallorca’s shore. Book the Mar Blau Suite, a symphony of blue interiors, conceived by Peter Silling & Associates.

Grace Hotel Santorini, Auberge Resorts Collection (Santorini, Greece)

In the minds of many, Greece is defined by Santorini’s familiar architecture. With its whitewashed stone houses, cobbled winding streets, and blue-domed churches, Cyclades style reflects not just the encompassing Aegean Sea, and seemingly touchable low-hanging sky’s fluffy clouds, but also the Greek flag itself—a duet of blue and white. Built into the face of volcanic cliffs, cave houses called yposkafa, dotted with various shaped windows, comprise the indigenous construction trends on the island. But when Greek architecture firms Mplusm and Divercity collaborated on Grace Hotel Santorini, they wanted to reinterpret the norm. Fueled by a site hovering nearly 1,000 feet above the caldera, opposite Skaros Rock, they executed a modern version of Cyclades cave dwellings—with a five-star spin. With more horizontal lines than curved ones, including rooms that vaunt dark volcanic rock walls, Grace wedges into the cliffs, free from cliché. Don’t miss the infinity pool, its sawtooth outline a mirror of the island’s famous zigzagging pathways.

Broadmoor Cloud Camp (Colorado Springs, Colorado)

For Broadmoor founder Spencer Penrose, a rustic sanctum high atop Cheyenne Mountain was a pet project. He built the steep road, as well as the Cloud Camp’s original structure—Cheyenne Mountain Lodge—in 1926. The hideout moldered over the decades, until Broadmoor’s current owner rebuilt a new retreat on the same site in 2014. Part of the Broadmoor family, Cloud Camp, about 20 minutes from the classic hotel, sits on a verge approximately two miles high. A tribute to the historic timber and stone lodges of the American West, it stretches 8,500 square feet, featuring hand-hewn beams and indigenous stone fireplaces, as well as a great room for dining and a wraparound deck to immerse in the terrain. By far the highest-altitude room on site is the Fire Tower Suite, reachable by a climb of 145 wooden steps, which ascend the tree-laden hillside for spectacular views.

AD Becca Hensley and Kristen Braswell, February 2024

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