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The world’s biggest, tallest and most extreme hotels

From the heights of Dubai’s skyline to the depths of Snowdonia’s slate mines, here are the hotels hosting in the extremes

Natalie Wilson
Wednesday 20 December 2023 17:43 GMT
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The world's tallest, Dubai’s Gevora Hotel
The world's tallest, Dubai’s Gevora Hotel (Getty Images)

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With key cards that could take you on a 75-floor commute to your room, a new wave of high-rise hotels is the future of inner-city travel, and they’re stretching further and further into the sky.

Though the long-awaited 67-story Fontainebleau hotel-casino tower has opened in Las Vegas after 10 years, the 737 feet peak pales in comparison with the 1,168 feet Gevora Hotel, a towering vision of gold on the Dubai skyline.

Higher still are nights spent at Hotel Everest View, which welcomes guests to sleep 13,000 feet above sea level – almost half the height of its view-dominating neighbour, Mount Everest.

In a world of extremes, accommodating the most intrepid of travellers in harsh climates from the sweltering desert pains of Death Valley to the frozen ice shelves of Antarctica is no mean feat.

Here are some of the world’s most incredible hotels tunnelling deep underground, reaching new heights and bracing severe weather conditions to pay a visit on your next adventure.

Read more on hotels:

Tallest

Gevora Hotel, Dubai

Dubai’s Gevora Hotel peaks at 1,168 feet
Dubai’s Gevora Hotel peaks at 1,168 feet (Getty Images)

The skylines of cities in the United Arab Emirates are no stranger to a skyscraper, and the home of the Burj Khalifa has high-rise hotels to match the colossal architecture.

Dubai’s Golden Gevora Hotel peaks at just shy of 1,170 feet – that’s 85 feet taller than the Eiffel Tower – to take the title of the tallest hotel in the world. With 529 rooms, a full-size swimming pool and the Highest View Restaurant providing panoramic sights, travellers with a new perspective on the bustling city may not want to look down.

Biggest

First World Hotel, Malaysia

With 7,351 rooms and 28 storeys, First World Hotel is a megaresort in the Genting Highlands
With 7,351 rooms and 28 storeys, First World Hotel is a megaresort in the Genting Highlands (Getty Images)

From the Bahamas to Las Vegas, megaresorts (not unlike the floating neighbourhoods of Royal Caribbean ships) rise above acres of holidaymaking goldmines – and they’re anything but intimate.

With two towers and 7,351 rooms across 28 storeys, the First World Hotel in the Genting Highlands, Malaysia, is the largest hotel in the world. Featuring a casino, cinema, theme park, bowling alley and a connecting shopping centre, the vibrant complex provides endless entertainment and a whole host of restaurants so you can enjoy a multi-week holiday without ever leaving the hotel.

Deepest

Deep Sleep, Snowdonia, Wales

Snowdonia’s slate caverns have become playgrounds for zip lining, trampolining and caving with a side of history on the traditional craft – but how about a sleepover?

With Go Below’s “Deep Sleep” cabins nestled 1,375 vertical feet below Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park in an abandoned Victorian slate mine, you’ll literally be having the deepest sleep in the world. Picture having a cwtch in cosy rooms with an expedition-style meal, and hot drinks after weaving your way down ancient miner stairways, decaying bridges and the old workings.

Cabins for two from £350, including an evening meal, breakfast in the morning, and drinks.

Highest

Hotel Everset View, Nepal

It’s the ultimate bucket-list topper – climbing to Mount Everest’s 29,032-foot summit. Sadly, costly tours, challenging weather conditions and overcrowding mean not everyone can make the journey.

Rivalling the high rises of Dubai, Hotel Everest View sits 13,000 feet high in Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park and holds the record of the highest placed hotel in the world. Astounding views of the Himalayan peaks and up-close Mount Everest are framed in windows of spacious rooms and the high-altitude hotel has a dining room that serves dishes from Japanese-style oyakodon to hearty breakfasts and fillet mignon as a side to the more accessible mountain adventure.

Hotel Everest and Heli Trek with Honeyguide, from $1,550pp including flights, airport transfers, a helicopter flyover of Everest Base Camp and a B&B twin room at Hotel Everest.

Most southerly

Arakur Ushuaia Resort & Spa, Argentina

Around 2,400 miles from Antarctica in the Southern Hemisphere, the Argentinian city of Ushuaia at the tip of South America is the southernmost city in the world. A passage for South Pole cruises, adventures in the frosted Martial mountain range and penguin tours of Martillo Island, the dynamic port has a unique position and climate.

At Arakur Ushuaia Resort & Spa indulgent spa facilities and two panoramic pools meet onsite restaurant La Cravia, hitting the slopes from the nearby Cerro Castor Ski Centre and spectacular views over Encerrada Bay.

Most northerly

Radisson Blu Polar Hotel, Svalbard, Norway

Longyearbyen, the world’s northernmost settlement, sits on the Norweigan island of Svalbard
Longyearbyen, the world’s northernmost settlement, sits on the Norweigan island of Svalbard (Getty Images)

The world’s northernmost settlement sits on the Norweigan island of Spitsbergen in the Svalbard archipelago. Longyearbyen, 78 degrees north of the equator, has a landscape of ice and snow and its 1,000 permanent residents spend around 99 days in complete darkness when the sun sets at the start of October each year.

Radisson Blu’s Polar Hotel in Longyearbyen, one of the most northerly hotels, brings top-notch service to Svalbard with international dishes at Restaurant Nansen, warm saunas and spacious rooms on the doorstep of the Svalbard Museum and quiet town centre. Think dog sledding, glacier trekking and kayaking the Arctic Ocean at the top of the globe.

Hottest

The Inn at Death Valley, California, US

Furnace Creek in the California desert recorded a sweltering 56.7C air temperature
Furnace Creek in the California desert recorded a sweltering 56.7C air temperature (Getty Images)

In the California desert, Death Valley’s aptly named Furnace Creek recorded a sweltering 56.7C air temperature in July 1913 – the highest ever registered on Earth.

At The Inn at Death Valley, an inviting spring-fed pool complete with parasol shades and a reassuring air conditioning system promises that blistering conditions don't permeate its cosy old-school rooms. An oasis garden, stargazing deck and views over the harsh national park landscape give a taste of elevated desert life to holidaymakers.

Coldest

Whichaway Camp, Antarctica

The Eastern Antarctic Plateau holds the title of the coldest place on Earth with recorded lows of -98C
The Eastern Antarctic Plateau holds the title of the coldest place on Earth with recorded lows of -98C (Courtesy of White Desert)

Though the igloo hotels of the Arctic Circle certainly offer the frostiest nights’ sleep with ice block beds and snow sculpture furnishings, the crown for the coldest place on earth belongs to the frozen continent, Antarctica.

Naturally too hostile an environment to construct a traditional hotel, White Desert’s Whichaway camp site on the shores of the Schirmacher Oasis pioneers Arctic luxury. Six heated polar pods, elegant cuisine and a glacier view sauna meet once-in-a-lifetime adventures ice hiking, abseiling and watching the first waddle of emperor penguin chicks during pricey Whichaway stays.

Whichaway Camp’s “South Pole and Emperors” adventure package from $62,500 (£49,382).

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