Kick back, relax and reflect on life in these water-side hideaways

Bon Ton Resort Malaysia

Bon Ton is an enclave of boutique chic on a stretch of coast better known for its big resorts. It's owned by Narelle McMurtrie, who has beautifully restored seven antique wooden Malay houses on stilts in a coconut plantation. All have unique features,but it's the dramatic view - all face the lily-clad lagoon, home to birds and wildlife such as otters - that makes it.

Bon Ton Resort, Pantai Cenang, Langkawi, Malaysia (00 60 49 55 16 88; Houses start at 450RM (£65), including breakfast.

Le Cap Est Lagoon Resort & Spa, Martinique

Without doubt the coolest place to stay on the eastern coast of Martinique is the ultra-plush Cap Est. All 50 colourful Creole-style villas have a view over the cartoon-bright green lagoon, where you can swim, kayak and snorkel (there are plenty of colourful fish and sea cucumbers). Although the beach isn't the best, there's a kick-back lounge bar, spa by Guerlain, two restaurants and an incredible 40-metre infinity pool surrounded by tropical flowers. Lovely touches in the more expensive rooms - al-fresco showers, a full bar, espresso machine, rotating plasma TV screen to watch from your bed or plunge pool, depending where you are - sum up what you're paying for.

Le Cap Est Lagoon Resort & Spa, Le Francois, Martinique (00 596 596 54 80 80; Doubles start at €400 (£285), including breakfast.

San Clemente Palace Hotel & Resort Italy

The San Clemente Palace is a far cry from the narrow canals and alleyways of the heart of Venice. Consuming all of San Clemente Island's 17 acres in the midst of the Venetian lagoon, the former monastery makes the best of its spacious surroundings: the lavish interiors are decorated with marble, silk wallpaper, antiques and Murano chandeliers. Surrounded by manicured lawns, tennis courts and a pool, the dusky pink building looks out on to the green water of the lagoon with St Mark's Square and the Doge's Palace directly opposite.

San Clemente Palace Hotel & Resort, Isola San Clemente 1, San Marco, Venice, Italy (00 39 041 244 5001; Doubles start at €220 (£157), including breakfast.

Kumarakom Lake Resort India

Located in the fertile wetlands of Kerala in southern India, Kumarakom Lake Resort is a luxurious but serene place. In between the labyrinth of blue-green lagoons, backwaters and canals, are coconut groves, flowers and paddy fields, plus lots of marine and bird-life. The 52 cottages, spread out over 10 acres, are well-equipped (air conditioning, outdoor bathrooms), some with direct access to the meandering pool, which twists and turns its way through the resort. Highlights include the restaurant's grand buffet and taking a kettuvallom (traditional houseboat) out along the banks of Vembanad Lake at sunset.

Kumarakom Lake Resort, Backwaters, Kumarakom North Post, Kottayam, Kerala, India (00 91 481 252 4900; Doubles start at US$250 (£147), including breakfast.

Ras Kutani Beach Lodge Tanzania

Pre or post-safari, you can't get more blissful than the Ras Kutani lodge. Only 35km south of Dar es Salaam, it's hidden away on a deserted beach backed by rainforest. But this peaceful spot was mainly chosen (say the owners) because of its tranquil freshwater lagoon, which you are rowed across to reach the lodge. The bamboo-and-thatchbandas have hammocks under their verandas.

Ras Kutani Beach Lodge, Tanzania (00 255 22 212 8485; www.raskutani. com). Doubles from US$410 (£293), full board. Seven nightsthrough Scott Dunn (020-8682 5070; from £1,485 per person, full board, including flights.