If you love sleeping under the sky, you should try it in the coziest way possible—within the snug confines of a plush outdoor bed.
Sleeping under stars is, simply put, awesome. The last sight you see before drifting off makes you marvel at the immensity of the universe and the beauty of those sparkling glimmers of light. Anyone who has ever camped can tell you that. And recently, hotels and lodges from California to Kenya are tapping into our stargazing urges and offering the intrigue of the night sky to guests who don’t particulary want to toss a sleeping bag on the ground. Their star beds have plush mattresses, soft sheets, plump pillows (mosquito nets if needed) and—most importantly—room enough for two.
Hwange, Zimbabwe—Little Makalolo Camp
This luxury safari outpost, part of Wilderness Safaris’ collection, recently added an outdoor bed on a raised platform, safely overlooking Madison Pan. Twenty minutes from the main camp by jeep, it offers a feeling of being beyond remote—secluded, star-lit and often graced with the stately presence of Hwange’s famed herds of elephants. Not for the faint of heart.
Staying in a glass igloo at this Arctic resort doesn’t actually mean sleeping outside, for obvious reasons (though there are also snow igloos for people who like to feel the cold). Heated, spacious and set up with basic bathrooms, the glass igloos are a perfectly comfortable base for heading out on reindeer safaris by day and watching the northern lights—while in bed—by night.
Pench, India—Jamtara Wilderness Camp
Head to Jamtara Camp just outside of Pench National Park and Tiger Reserve to experience the only star beds in India. The camp opened in January 2015 and is operated by Encounters Asia. The three star beds here are inspired by “Machaans,” or the local farmers who are known to pass the night in their fields to scare off wildlife. Each of the beds are placed on a platform, draped in Indian silks and are surrounded by high arjuna trees. They’re complemented with basic bathroom amenities, lanterns, and binoculars for stargazing and wildlife spotting. Plus, there are café tables for the coffee that you can have delivered first thing in the morning. And yes, you get your own night guard to ward off the animals.
Laikipa, Kenya—Loisaba Retreat
The star beds at this mind-body-soul retreat—think walking, rafting, and horseback riding safari with a touch of spa philosophy thrown in—have dramatic locations: Some are set amid a kopje of rocks in one of the eastern valleys overlooking a watering hole, and others are cantilevered out over the Ewaso N’giro River, several miles from the main lodge. Get there by Land Cruiser, horseback, camel or your own two feet, and then settle into a four-poster bed, which can be wheeled under a partial rooftop or left out right under the stars.
Surf all day and then crash out in the Himalaya Suite at this upscale boho resort on the only tropical part of Peru’s Pacific coast, which has a terrace that’s big enough for staff to set up a bed outside. Its occupants can hear the close-by din of the ocean’s waves and feel the sea breeze (which also keeps beach bugs at bay) as they pick out the constellations. Bonus: There’s an outdoor shower here too.
San José del Cabo, Mexico—Las Ventanas al Paraiso
Like much of the beach town of Cabo, this ultra-luxury resort is still being rebuilt due to damage from Hurricane Odile last year. When it reopens this spring it will still offer its popular “Sleeping with the Stars” program. Guests staying in Rooftop Terrace Junior Suites will have the option of having an intimate bedroom set up on the roof, where there’s a telescope in case you’d like to get a closer look at the skies.
Big Sur, California—Treebones Resort
You should sleep outside at least once in the California gem that is Big Sur. And while not quite as comfortable as the other star beds here—it’s BYO sleeping bags and pillows, though there is a futon mattress—the so-called “Human Nest” is a creative way to check off that box. The resort calls it “extreme eco-sleep.” Guests hike into the campsite and bring their gear up a ladder and into a human-size nest made by a local artist of woven wood, where starlight shimmers through the spaces between the branches.
Canyon Point, Utah—Amangiri
At Aman’s posh outpost in southwestern Utah—less than two-and-a-half hours from the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park and Monument Valley—staff will transform the daybeds on the terraces of the Pool Suites into proper overnight sleeping beds. It’s a popular option in summer, when nights are warm enough to enjoy the private plunge pool by star or moonlight.
Near Pisco Elqui, Chile—Elqui Domos
Astronomy is a focus at this offbeat lodge several hours north of Santiago in an area known of its clear night skies. A favorite of bespoke adventure outfitter Off The Beaten Path, the accommodations were all designed with the night sky in mind: The Observatory Bedrooms are wood cabins with glass panels in the angled ceilings above the beds, and the Dome Bedrooms are geodesic structures made of metal frames and PVC tents. Beds are lofted and rooftops can be opened up for open-air stargazing. And if you don’t get your fill of the Milky Way from your room, make sure you get a glimpse of it though the hotel’s own observatory, which houses two electronic Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes.
Alentejo, Portugal—L’And Vineyards
Set deep within the sprawling hills of Portugal’s Alentejo wine region, ten of the 22 suites at this wine-country retreat (a favorite recommendation from travel designer Absolute Travel), have fully retractable sky roofs over their bedrooms, each with one wall that opens entirely to a terrace with a fireplace, as well as private plunge pools on their patios. When you’re not sipping vino or dozing off under the night sky, you can be soaring through it—this part of Portugal is known for its top-tier hot-air ballooning and skydiving.