Lithium–sulfur (Li–S) batteries are considered as promising candidates for energy storage systems owing to their high theoretical capacity and high energy density. The application of Li–S batteries is hindered by several obstacles, however, including the shuttle effect, poor electrical conductivity, and the severe volume expansion of sulfur. The traditional method is to integrate sulfur with carbon materials. But the interaction between polysulfide intermediates and carbon is only weak physical adsorption, which easily leads to the escape of species from the framework (shuttle effect) of the material causing capacity loss. Recently, however, there has been a trend for the introduction of novel non-carbon materials as sulfur hosts based on the strong chemisorption. This review highlights recent research progress on novel non-carbon sulfur hosts based on strong chemisorption, in Li–S batteries. In comparison with carbon-based sulfur hosts, most non-carbon sulfur hosts have been demonstrated to be polar host materials that could efficiently adsorb polysulfide via strong chemisorption, mitigating their dissolution. The intrinsic mechanism associated with the role of non-carbon-based host materials in improving the performance of Li–S batteries is discussed.