by: José Berrocoso //
Once upon a time, when ships and boats were the only means of shipping and travel, lighthouses were incredibly important. These shining beacons helped aid captains who had to navigate their ships in darkness, fog and rain without the help of GPS or other advanced technology. Even today, some of these towers are still operational and continue to serve their primary purpose.
If you’ve ever dreamt of the peace, serenity and breathtaking views that staying in a lighthouse could provide, you’ll be pleased to know that you don’t have to be a park ranger of other qualified individual to stay in one of these beauties. Now, you can holiday in one for a night, or a week. Here are five good ones where you can do just that.
AMONG THE NORWEGIAN FJORDS
Where: Hotel Bosundet, Norway
One of Norway´s ‘historic hotels’, the Hotel Bosundet enjoys an excellent location right on the quayside on the Brosundet canal, overlooking the old fishing port. The attractively furnished hotel is located inside an old warehouse featuring exposed beams. The lobby area and restaurant have recently been renovated.
This characterful hotel offers rooms and suites that make the most of the building’s industrial past. Expect wooden floors, exposed brick walls and original windows matched with beautifully simple and elegant interiors. Book Room 47, the Molja Lighthouse, which is just a short walk away on a jetty. The room is cozy, with one circular bedroom and one bathroom, but the water views are well worth it.
The location is ideal, with Jugenstilsenteret, the city’s Art Nouveau Centre just 100 metres from the hotel. Or, why not head out of the city to experience the dramatic coastal landscapes and the wildlife of Norway, with a wildlife sea safari trip. A fishing trip, boat trip or renting a kayak to explore the fjords can all be arranged by the hotel.
COLONICAL CHARM & LUSH TROPICAL GARDENS
Where: The Oyster Box, South Africa
The iconic lighthouse on Umhlanga’s beach in South Africa, was completed in 1954 and has been the subject of numerous paintings and memorabilia over the years. It was built to replace the Bluff lighthouse which was commissioned in 1869, but had to be abandoned due to its rapid deterioration. It stands guard to some of the most treacherous waters of Southern Africa and not only warns ships of the hidden dangers, but the flashing light is also a welcome to the ships sailing into the safety of the Durban harbour.
The circular concrete tower, painted white with a red band at the top, stands 21m above the beach and has a focal plane height of 25m. The fixed red light enables ships waiting to anchor in the outer anchorage, to monitor its position. If the red light can be seen, it suggests the ships anchors have probably dragged and is too close to shore.
The Umhlanga Lighthouse has never had a ‘keeper’. The Oyster Box Hotel, which was built in 1869 and was originally the first beach cottage in the area, has been the official warden/custodian. In fact, in the days before the lighthouse was built, the red painted roof of the hotel was used as a beacon by ships at sea to indicate their proximity to the land. Although the lighthouse controls were once kept in the hotel office, where staff monitored the controls and reported to Portnet’s Lighthouse Service Mains supply (with one standby diesel/alternator set), the control of the Lighthouse is now with Durban’s Ports Authority, while The Oyster Box still remains ‘custodian’.
A LIGHTHOUSE ON THE MOST EXCLUSIVE PRIVATE ISLAND
Where: Tagomago Island, Spain
The private island of Tagomago is one of the most exclusive and intimate hideaways in the Mediterranean. Located off the north coast of Ibiza, the island is accessed by private speedboat or helicopter and is the only private island available to rent in Ibiza. Tagomago offers guests a unique private destination experience with one sensational fully staffed 5-bedroom villa. The perfect base for a long weekend in Ibiza, the 148-acre island is surrounded by clear turquoise waters and is also home to a historic lighthouse dating back to 1909.
The island was originally owned by German royalty and now offers the perfect getaway for groups of friends or families seeking the utmost privacy and complete luxury in one of the Mediterranean’s most idyllic and in demand locations. Guests have use of a private boat with a captain for the duration of their stay making it easy to explore the stunning coastline of Ibiza and spectacular beaches of nearby Formentera.
Tagomago’s villa is located in the centre of the island and is fully staffed with private chef, butler and housekeeping staff. The villa has several large living and dining spaces and a spectacular 17m saltwater pool flanked by Balinese day beds. The rooftop terrace provides the perfect setting for evening cocktails as the sun sets behind the west coast of Ibiza.
FASHIONABLE AND ROMANTIC LIGHTHOUSE HOTEL
Where: Farol Hotel, Portugal
Looking for an exclusive design hotel in Portugal with fabulous sea views? In that case, travel agency Mundana just found it. The agency has no doubt when it comes to original and chic seaside getaways. Farol Hotel, built over the rocks in Cascais, is actually so close to the sea that guests can feel the salted-water spray from their room balconies as waves hit the surrounding rocks.
The hotel premises centre around a mansion house dating from 1890, the former residence of the Count of Cabral. Carefully refurbished to retain period detail, the historical aspect of the building provides an interesting contrast against the sleek-edged modernity that is Farol’s hallmark. (Incidentally, farol is the Portuguese word for lighthouse, and the one positioned at the mouth of the bay lends the hotel its name.)
Farol Hotel is conveniently located next to Santa Marta Lighthouse. Built in 1868 on the site of a 17th century fort, the lighthouse only came into operation after the site was stripped of its military status. Santa Marta´s distinctive blue and white striped tower stands at 8 metres tall and still stands guard over the mouth of the Tagus. There is a small museum next to it which covers the site’s history as well as the development of the optical devices used in Portugal’s lighthouses.
HISTORY AND HERITAGE ON NANTUCKET ISLAND
Where: The Wauwinet, Massachussets, United Sates of America
Nantucket is steeped in history, character and charm. It is home to the country’s second oldest lighthouse at Brant Point, built in 1746. Guests staying at the historic Wauwinet can enjoy private guided tours of the lighthouse and surrounding areas. The Wauwinet offers the most picturesque getaway experience.
A path leads guests from the hotel to a narrow beach promenade, which stretches for miles and separates the surf of the Atlantic on one side from the calm Nantucket Bay on the other. Aquatic activities include surfcasting, bay cruises, lobstering and whale watching.
This historic boutique hotel has 32 guestrooms, as well as four charming cottages across from the Main Inn. Each of the rooms is uniquely decorated with custom furnishings with hand-stencilled finishes and fresh Nantucket wildflowers, in hues of restful creams, deep reds and blues with bright white shutters. Suites also feature their own private patios.
Nantucket is known for its fresh seafood and summer picnics. For going out, one of the island’s most acclaimed restaurants, Topper´s, is a foodie favourite destination set alongside the waters of Nantucket Bay, and part of The Wauwinet.