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Top 10 Hotel Aquariums

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Atlantis, The PalmVisitors are awed by the hotel aquarium at Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai

We’ve seen our fair share of unique hotel design elements, but the sheer number and grandiosity of on-property hotel aquariums took us by surprise. While some are in locations where you might expect to find elaborate shrines to the local ocean flora and fauna – Hawaii, the Bahamas, the Philippines – mega-aquariums have turned up in some unexpected places, like central Berlin and midtown Manhattan. A pair of Vegas showstoppers, a duo of Florida hideaways, and a monstrous aquatic playground only possible in everything-to-the-extreme Dubai round out our list of the largest and most extravagant. And unlike the tanks you may have encountered during grade school field trips, these 10 hotel aquariums aren’t just for pressing your nose against the glass: Some allow guests to plunge right in through scuba or snorkeling sessions, stingray feedings, or dolphin encounters. So take it from us – it really is better down where it’s wetter, under the (artificial) sea! Check out our Hotel Aquariums slideshow to get a sneak peek of these watery wonders.

Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals.

Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas

Size of Aquarium: 8 million gallons of seawater in 14 lagoons

Notable Features: One of the largest open-air marine habitats in the world; best marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation center in the Bahamas

Atlantis, Paradise Island in the Bahamas boasts 14 lagoons with 8 million gallons of seawater, and over 50,000 marine animals comprising more than 250 species. At the Dig, you can view the sunken streets and buildings of the mythical lost city of Atlantis, now home to many of the marine animals and most of the marine exhibits, including Ruins Lagoon, the 2.7 million-gallon open-air habitat of 20,000 reef and pelagic fish. As impressive as this hotel aquarium already is, the exhibits are also interactive – snorkel in Ruins Lagoon, feed and touch stingrays in Stingray Lagoon, wade or dive with bottlenose dolphins in Dolphin Cay, view sharks and barracudas from the enclosed underwater walkway in Predator Lagoon, ride a water slide down into Cenote Cave to see endangered alligator gar in aquariums along the cave walls, and even participate in the Ultimate Trainer for a Day program, a backstage pass to the marine exhibits. www.atlantis.com

For general trip-planning information, see our Nassau & Paradise Travel Guide, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals to the Bahamas.

Lindsay Neff

Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai

Size of Aquarium: Over 11 million gallons; Ambassador Lagoon contains over 3 million gallons

Notable Features: Ambassador Lagoon is one of the largest open-air marine habitats in the world; first open-air marine habitat in the Middle East

For those who can’t get enough of Atlantis, good news: You can also see sunken ruins of the fabled lost city in Dubai at Atlantis, the Palm. Taking a cue from its longer-established sister resort on Paradise Island, The Palm raises the stakes on the “extravagant marine experience” formula. With over 11 million gallons of Arabian Gulf seawater and 65,000 marine animals comprising over 250 different species, guests will have plenty to explore at this hotel aquarium. The Lost Chambers is a maze of Atlantis’s sunken, glass-walled halls and tunnels where guests can view the marine life. You can even participate in the Ultimate Dive Experience, which includes a full Arabic meze (an array of small-plate dishes), stingray hand-feeding, and two exclusive dives into Ambassador Lagoon, where sharks, rays, wrasse, guitarfish, and other species swim in over 3 million gallons of salt water. If this isn’t enough, you can always check out Dolphin Bay, where you can ride, touch, hug, and even have photo sessions with the dolphins. Be sure to check out the Back of House Tours of the habitats, too! www.atlantisthepalm.com

For general trip-planning information, see our Dubai Travel Guide, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals to Dubai.

Lindsay Neff

Flatiron Hotel, New York City

Size of Aquarium: 3,500 gallons, 2 stories tall

Notable Features: Only hotel aquarium in New York City

Once upon a time, the only way to see a large-scale fish habitat in the Big Apple was to trek all the way out to the New York Aquarium in Coney Island. No longer – opened in August 2011, Flatiron Hotel boasts a two-story cylindrical lobby tank that’s home to over 100 tropical fish. Measuring 15 feet high and 6 feet in diameter, this colorful hotel aquarium in concrete-clad Midtown is sure to have you thinking Caribbean, no matter what the weather outside is like. Stop by to take a gander at exotic beauties like golden puffer, blueface angelfish, and Japanese tuskfish. flatironhotel.com

For general trip-planning information, see our New York City Travel Guide, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals to New York City.

Liz Webber

Gansevoort Miami Beach

Size of Aquarium: 40,000 gallons, 50 feet long

Notable Features: One of the longest aquariums of its kind on the East Coast

Gracefully curving through the lobby of one of Miami’s hottest hotels, the Gansevoort Miami Beach’s aquarium weighs in at 40,000 gallons and measures 50 feet long. Inside, guests will find a mix of exotic sharks, stingrays, and other fish. The hotel aquarium was recently retiled with custom mosaic Italian Bisazza glass tiles as part of the hotel’s latest sprucing up, completed in October 2011, which also included a revamp of the pool area and The Rooftop lounge. www.gansevoortmiamibeach.com

For general trip-planning information, see our Miami Travel Guide, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals to Miami.

Liz Webber

Hotel H2o, Manila, Philippines

Size of Aquarium: 65 aquariums, the largest of which holds 27,600 gallons

Notable Features:
Aquariums built into guestroom walls; Asia’s largest underwater viewing tunnel

If you want to experience captivating marine life without leaving your hotel room, head to the Philippines. At Hotel H2o, an aquarium can be the first thing you see when you wake up. The hotel has 65 rooms (called “aquarooms”) that have aquariums built right into the walls, and the largest hotel aquarium holds 27,600 gallons. Hotel H2o keeps it local, too – every fish on display hails from the coral reefs around the Philippines. At Manila Ocean Park, connected to the hotel, you can see more than 10,000 marine creatures including sharks, stingrays, eels, and jellyfish. The Oceanarium, the park’s largest aquarium, contains 5,000 animals encompassing some 300 species. Walk through the roughly 80-foot see-through tunnel under the Oceanarium, view it from a glass-bottomed boat, or take the Aquanaut Voyage, donning special helmets and suits that allow you to walk and breathe along the bottom of the aquarium. The park also features a jellyfish exhibit, a sea lion show, the Philippines’ only penguin attraction, and even a fish spa where small fishes will (painlessly) exfoliate your feet. www.hotelh2o.com

For general trip-planning information, see our Philippines Travel Guide, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals to Manila.

Lindsay Neff

Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas

Size of Tank: 1.6 million gallons of water among 14 exhibition tanks; the largest is the 1.3 million-gallon Shipwreck Exhibit

Notable Features: The only predator-based aquarium in North America, home to more than 30 sharks of 11 different species

Mandalay Bay’s $60 million exhibit, opened in 2000, was the first animal care facility to be accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in Nevada. Within the 14 exhibits of predatory creatures is the 1.3 million-gallon Shipwreck Exhibit, where visitors can experience the underwater world through a tunnel. This hotel aquarium’s star attractions include sandtiger, sandbar, and blacktip reef sharks. It also features endangered and threatened species like Komodo dragons, Green sea turtles, sawfish, and arapaima. Scuba-certified visitors can even dive in the Shipwreck tank and swim alongside the sharks, with a dive guide. The other 13 exhibits are home to Indo-Pacific fishes (in a 144,000-gallon saltwater tank), a 100-pound octopus (in a 2,500-gallon saltwater tank), and even a Touch Pool, where guests can get friendly with stingrays and horseshoe crabs. www.mandalaybay.com

For general trip-planning information, see our Las Vegas Travel Guide, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals to Las Vegas.

Grace Beehler

The Mirage, Las Vegas

Size of Tank: 20,000-gallon saltwater aquarium; 53 feet long and 8 feet tall

Notable Features: One of the most technically advanced aquariums in the world

Following a two-month renovation in 2007, The Mirage’s lobby aquarium now is one of the most technically advanced in the world, with filtration and life support systems to improve visibility. The hotel aquarium boasts more than 85 species, totaling about 400 coral reef animals from all over the world: Australia, Tonga, Fiji, the Caribbean, the Marshall Islands, Hawaii, the Sea of Cortez, and the Red Sea. Catch sight of eels, pufferfish, trunkfish, lionfish, clownfish, and more. If the aquarium doesn’t cut it, the Mirage also hosts Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. While sensitively maintained enclosures hold land mammals like white lions, white tigers, panthers, and leopards, the attraction’s large aquarium contains bottlenose dolphins. Become a dolphin trainer for the day with a popular program that allows guests to play with, swim with, and care for the dolphins, alongside expert specialists. www.mirage.com

For general trip-planning information, see our Las Vegas Travel Guide, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals to Las Vegas.

Grace Beehler

Pacific Beach Hotel, Honolulu

Size of Aquarium: 280,000 gallons, 3 stories tall

Notable Features: Largest indoor hotel aquarium of its kind; Snuba experience for visitors

A bit of a trendsetter in the hotel aquarium category – this water wonder was constructed in 1979 – the Pacific Beach Hotel’s three-story Oceanarium still wows with over 400 fish comprising more than 70 types of Indo-Pacific marine life, from stingrays to longnose butterflyfish. A major draw here is Snuba, a combination of snorkeling and scuba diving. While comfortably breathing through a mouthpiece regulator, divers descend to a depth of 20 feet to explore the Oceanarium – no certification required! If you’d rather stay dry and observe from outside the tank, consider the Oceanarium restaurant, featuring some of the best views of the aquarium and a delectable mix of surf and turf options. www.pacificbeachhotel.com

For general trip-planning information, see our Honolulu Travel Guide, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals to Honolulu.

Liz Webber

Radisson Blu Hotel, Berlin

Size of Tank: 264,172 gallons, 82 feet tall, with a diameter of 40 feet

Notable Features:
Largest cylindrical aquarium in the world; two-story elevator ride through the aquarium

The AquaDom, located in the lobby of the Radisson Blu Hotel, Berlin in the heart of the Mitte District, stands at almost nine stories and holds a whopping 264,000 gallons of water. This hotel aquarium (built in 2003) is home to more than 1,500 tropical fish, including trigger fish, blue mackerel, surgeon fish, humphead wrasse, and silver moonfish. Guests can gaze up at the AquaDom from the Atrium Lobby Lounge & Bar, which serves coffee and cocktails, or take a tour via a two-story elevator ride through the aquarium. If you just can’t get enough of watching the fish swim by, request a room or suite with views of the AquaDom. www.radissonblu.com/hotel-berlin

For general trip-planning information, see our Berlin Travel Guide, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals to Berlin. 

Grace Beehler

The Seagate Hotel & Spa, Delray Beach, Florida

Size of Aquarium: Four aquariums totaling 5,000 gallons

Notable Features:
Each aquarium showcases a different type of marine life

The Seagate Hotel & Spa in Delray Beach, Florida will bring you to the beach (just a block away from the hotel by complimentary trolley), but it goes a step further by bringing a bit of the beach to you, with four aquariums and 72 species of marine life, all right there in the hotel. The lobby aquarium, teeming with colorful reef fish and coral in 2,500 gallons of water, is just as popular with locals as it is among guests. From the bar at the Atlantic Grille you can enjoy award-winning cuisine against the backdrop of a 450-gallon jellyfish aquarium, where moon jellyfish lend some tranquility to the atmosphere. In the grand hall are a 500-gallon aquarium with several species of moray eels and the fourth hotel aquarium, which contains 750 gallons filled with red lionfish. www.theseagatehotel.com

For general trip-planning information, see our Florida Travel Guide, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find flight, hotel, cruise, and more travel deals.

Lindsay Neff

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