21 of the world's most beautiful beachfront hotels

Krisanne Fordham, for CNNUpdated 30th March 2017
(CNN) — From Australia to the Caribbean, there's no shortage of beautiful beachfront hotels around the world to choose from.
But some are, quite simply, more beautiful than others.
Whether you're after a glitzy, all-inclusive resort or a low-key island hideaway, we've picked 21 of the world's most stunning.

1. Soneva Kiri (Koh Kood, Thailand)

The Soneva resort has an open-air cinema set above a lagoon.
courtesy Soneva Kiri
Situated on the island of Koh Kood -- just off the coast of Bangkok -- Soneva Kiri is one of Thailand's most luxurious and exclusive beachfront escapes.
The resort, wedged between the jungle and the ocean, features just 36 thatched villas made out of sustainably sourced wood and recycled materials.
Each villa has its own private infinity pool, sundeck and a lavish indoor-outdoor bathroom.
The resort's pièce de résistance? Its jungle-enshrouded Cinema Paradiso, an open-air movie theater set above a lagoon that screens films nightly.

2. Le Guanahani (Saint-Barthélemy)

Fresh from a four-year, $40 million renovation, this classic St. Barth resort -- located on its own private peninsula -- is more beautiful and extravagant than ever.
Its newly revamped guest cottages are painted in bright shades of turquoise and buttercup yellow, and feature plush, modern colonial furnishings.
All rooms have spacious terraces and many feature their own swimming pool and private tropical garden.
Property highlights include two pools, two white sand beaches and a reef-protected lagoon.

3. Hotel Fasano (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Located at the tip of Rio's legendary Ipanema Beach, Hotel Fasano has views that alone are worth the trip.
From its luxurious rooftop infinity pool, guests can admire the entire expanse of Ipanema and the distinctive Morro Dois Irmaos and Corcovado mountains.
The hotel itself is as impressive as its location: it was co-designed by Philippe Starck and blends a contemporary aesthetic with quirky retro touches.
Its 79 rooms and 10 suites follow suit, mixing the ultramodern with the eclectic (think ear-shaped mirrors and colorful Sergio Rodrigues loungers).

4. Hotel du Palais (Biarritz, France)

Napoleon III built this lavish venue in France's glitzy Atlantic resort town as a gift for his wife Eugénie in 1855.
It still channels the same Old World grandeur it did back then with its seemingly endless marble, crystal chandeliers and plush décor.
Its 153 rooms and suites are similarly sumptuous, crammed with antiques and richly embroidered fabrics.
But the best thing about the property is its location, perched above the windswept Grande Plage -- steps from not one but two beautiful beaches.

5. Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore (California)

Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore neighbors the star-studded Coral Casino Beach Club.
courtesy Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
Set upon a secluded stretch of the Santa Barbara coastline -- AKA the American Riviera -- this classic resort is the ultimate beachfront hideaway.
Its Spanish Colonial bungalows are hidden amidst a sprawling 22-acre garden oasis, filled with 2,000 species of tropical plants and palms.
Original Spanish artwork, hand-painted Andalusian tiles and handcrafted walnut furnishings can be found throughout the resort.
Property highlights include a palm tree-flanked garden pool and the adjacent Coral Casino Beach Club -- an infamous Hollywood hangout accessible only to select room categories.

6. InterContinental Danang Sun Peninsula Resort (Danang, Vietnam)

Designed by famed luxury hotel architect Bill Bensley, this beachfront resort dazzles from the outset: its temple-inspired villas cascade dramatically down a lush mountainside into the ocean.
Its 197 rooms and suites are just as striking -- even entry-level suites are outfitted with sprawling terraces and spa-like bathrooms with ocean-facing tubs.
Everything in the resort begs to be photographed, from the eclectic dining areas (at Citron restaurant, guests can dine in a cone suspended over the mountain) to the palm-fringed white sand beach.
But most Instagram-worthy of all is the resort's Long Pool: an adults-only infinity pool overlooking the entire resort and Son Tra Peninsula.

7. W Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain)

It doesn't get much cooler than this towering, shimmering, sail-shaped hotel.
Designed by world-renowned architect Ricardo Bofill, Barcelona's most distinctive hotel is as sleek and as chic as its ultra hip, A-list clientele.
Its 437 rooms and suites are decorated in shades of pale gold and turquoise, designed to reflect the sea and sand.
Not that guests will need to be reminded what the sea and sand look like: the hotel sits right on the water's edge and is the only hotel in Barcelona to offer guests direct beach access.

8. Rockhouse Hotel (Negril, Jamaica)

Rockhouse Hotel is just a few minutes away from the silky shore of Seven Mile Beach.
courtesy Rockhouse Hotel
Negril isn't a typical beach destination: the beaches here are rocky rather than sandy, and jut out dramatically into the turquoise ocean.
But they do make a spectacular backdrop for this unique boutique hotel, which sits amid shoreline jungle by the sea on Negril's West End.
Its 20 thatched-roof villas, made entirely out of stone and timber, have private sunbathing decks perched directly over water.
Guests are unlikely to miss the sand, but just in case, the silky shores of Seven Mile Beach are just a few minutes away.

9. The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort (Rio Grande, Puerto Rico)

The luxury hotel brand clearly went for the "go big or go home" approach when building its first Caribbean property.
The resort -- sprawled across a whopping 483 acres near El Yunque National Forest -- has its own private beach, bird sanctuary and 18-hole oceanfront golf course.
There's also a Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant on site and one of the world's best spas.
Rooms, not surprisingly, are also large and impressive, with soaring wood-beamed ceilings and enormous beach-facing terraces.

10. El Nido Pangulasian Island (Palawan, Philippines)

This private island resort is the most luxurious of El Nido Resorts' four Palawan archipelago properties.
Its 42 palm-thatched villas are sprawled along a white sand cove facing the emerald waters of Bacuit Bay in the South China Sea.
Villas are decked out in modern Filipino decor -- coffee-colored textiles, rattan furniture and local art -- and boast large private balconies.
Property highlights include a sleek oceanfront infinity pool (though many villas have their own) and a thatched-roof spa with an open-air relaxation lounge.

11. Belmond Villa Sant'Andrea (Sicily, Italy)

Set among beautiful gardens on its own private beach on the Bay of Mazzarò, Belmond Villa Sant'Andrea is Sicily's loveliest seaside getaway.
Originally built in 1830 as a private villa, the hotel blends classic Italian elegance with splashes of bright color, contemporary art and ultra luxurious amenities.
Suites are unapologetically lavish, outfitted with Carrara marble, rich silks and large furnished balconies.
Added bonus: its signature restaurant, Oliviero, is one of the island's prettiest al fresco dining spots.

12. Soneva Fushi (Maldives)

Soneva Fushi: The original Maldivian getaway.
courtesy Soneva Fushi
Opened in 1995, Soneva Fushi Resort is the original Maldivian island getaway and remains one of the best today.
Villas are tucked away amid dense foliage and are located steps from a white sand beach and UNESCO-protected coral reef.
Their indoor-outdoor floor plan and upscale island interiors -- think thatched roofs and coconut wood furnishings -- complement the resort's castaway-chic vibe.
But luxury comes at a price: upward of $1,500-a-night for a villa in high season.

13. Secret Bay (Dominica, West Indies)

Tucked away on the unspoiled and relatively unknown island of Dominica, this hotel, as its name suggests, is one of the Caribbean's best-kept secrets.
It has only six villas and bungalows nestled on a hillside above a deserted stretch of pristine white-sand coast.
The treehouse-style villas, made of sustainably sourced Guyanese hardwood, are decadently large and outfitted with hammocks, terraces and plunge pools.
Added bonus? They're eco-friendly, outfitted with low-energy lighting and water-saving drip irrigation systems.

14. Qualia (Great Barrier Reef, Australia)

Sited at the secluded northernmost tip of Hamilton Island in the Great Barrier Reef, Qualia is an escapist's dream resort.
Each of its 60 timber-and-glass villas is hidden perfectly amid the tropical, eucalypt-filled landscape.
Many are packed with luxurious amenities like private pools and sundecks, but even those without are blessed with legendary views over the Whitsunday Islands.
Other property highlights include two infinity pools and a beautiful al fresco dining pavilion -- the perfect spot to watch the sun set over the reef.

15. Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea (Hawaii)

The resort's beach-facing infinity pool boasts an underwater music system and a swim-up bar.
courtesy Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
Though beautiful resorts in Hawaii are a dime a dozen, the Four Seasons at Wailea may just trump them all.
Built on 15 acres on Maui's southern coast, the resort is in the shape of a horseshoe to ensure optimal views of the Pacific from almost every suite.
Lodgings are bright and breezy, outfitted with traditional, handmade koa furniture and roomy lanais (terraces).
But what folks are really here for is the adults-only infinity pool: it's got an underwater music system, swim-up bar and unrivaled views over Wailea Beach.

16. Bela Vista Hotel & Spa (Algarve, Portugal)

Located on the beachfront at Praia da Rocha, Bela Vista was the first hotel to open on the Algarve, back in 1934.
Though it's since been joined by dozens of other high-end lodgings, its eclectic charm and intimate boutique feel keeps it above the rest.
The hotel's original decor -- painted wooden ceilings and colorful wall mosaics -- has been kept intact through a recent refurbishment, which has updated the property with chic modern furnishings.
All 38 rooms are individually designed and decorated, and most have balconies with views over Praia da Rocha.

17. The Mulia (Bali, Indonesia)

Everything about The Mulia is dramatic, from its Nusa Dua beachfront setting to its sheer size (the resort spans nearly 75 acres).
It's so large, in fact, that it's home to two separate properties: The traditional Mulia Resort and the Mulia Villas -- 108 standalone luxury villas outfitted with private pools and sprawling, indoor-outdoor bathrooms.
Rooms at the main resort are decadent too, with gold-and-cream living spaces that flow through to grand bedrooms and spa-sized bathrooms with deep-soaking tubs.
Outside, an infinity pool flanked by towering Balinese stone maidens is located mere steps from the beach.

18. Cap Juluca (Anguilla)

This intimate boutique hotel, situated on 179 acres on Anguilla's Maundays Bay, is a longtime Caribbean favorite.
Its domed, Moorish-style villas -- set upon miles of powder-white sand -- are decorated thoughtfully with colorful batiks, rattan furniture and coconut wood accents.
Though the vibe is beachy and low-key, rooms abound with posh amenities like plush Frette linens and Hermès bath products.
Added bonus: every room is beachfront and has an ocean-facing patio.

19. The Resort at Pedregal (Cabo San Lucas, Mexico)

The Resort at Pedregal's beautiful and spacious rooms have impressive sea views.
courtesy The Resort at Pedregal
Sandwiched between the mountains and ocean on the southernmost tip of Mexico's Baja Peninsula, this Spanish Colonial resort has the best address in Cabo San Lucas.
Rooms are huge and beautiful, decorated with Mexican art and outfitted with fireplaces, terraces and plunge pools.
Though the resort is directly on the beachfront and every room has a pool, there are four additional pools onsite -- including a swim-up bar steps from the ocean.
Its signature restaurant, El Farallon, offers clifftop dining and some of the best seafood in Los Cabos.

20. Four Seasons Resort Bora Bora (Bora Bora, French Polynesia)

Opened in 2008, the Four Seasons is Bora Bora's newest resort and arguably its most beautiful.
It's made up of 100 overwater, thatched-roof bungalows that stretch out over an emerald lagoon, several of which have their own private pools.
For those who prefer to stay on land, there's a handful of spacious villas strung along a white sand beach.
There's also a cathedral-like spa and a large infinity pool flanked by chic teak loungers and thatched cabanas.

21. The Setai (Miami, USA)

With its sleek facade and high-rise appeal, the Setai feels more like a hip urban hotel than a beachfront resort -- a refreshing contrast from its garish, candy-colored South Beach neighbors.
Inside can be found a striking Art Deco-meets-Eastern aesthetic: slate-colored marble, teak accents and Asian artwork.
Suites are similarly zen and feature enormous handmade Swedish wooden beds and sumptuous black granite soaking tubs.
Outside are three stunning pools -- heated at 75 degrees Fahrenheit, 85 degrees and 90 degrees respectively -- located steps from South Beach.
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