From minimalist resorts to forest gateways, there are plenty of creative ways to escape reality for a moment and reconnect with oneself. But there’s no better place than the desert to truly unwind and get some peace and quiet. And you don’t have to rough it in the sand dunes to get away from it all — instead, stay at one of the following luxury desert hotels where your morning email session will be replaced by a hot-air balloon flight over the dunes. Here are seven desert accommodations where travelers can recharge their batteries.
1. Emeraude Desert Camp, Morocco
The perfect escape from the bustle of the Marrakech medina, Emeraude is a luxury camp located in the dry-rock desert of Agafay. The area has gained popularity in recent years as a convenient alternative to Morocco’s Sahara camps, which require an extra day of travel. A quick 45-minute drive from the city, the camp offers plenty of chances to relax with a glass of Berber tea while enjoying the year-round sunny weather. Guests can explore the area on camelback at sunset and get a front-row view of the famously beautiful Atlas mountains.
The camp offers a hot-air balloon ride through Ciel d’Afrique, the oldest tour company in Morocco which has been operating for over 30 years. The accommodation at Emeraude consists of Bedouin-style luxury tents, each of which is equipped with its own bathroom and shower, hot water, fireplace, and designer furniture made by local artisans. The private front porch is ideal for sunbathing and meditation, occasionally catching a glimpse of herds of goats passing by.
The desert experience includes all meals, which include traditional recipes such as beef tagine with almonds and prunes, vegetarian hors d’oeuvre, and homemade bread. An evening by the campfire is a great opportunity to dive into a good book with a glass of local merlot. The crisp air and starlit sky create the perfect atmosphere for a night of deep rest away from all screens.
One-night stay from $207
2. And Beyond, Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, Namibia
Travelers who dream of decompressing under the stars far away from civilization have a great option in the Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, which lies 57 miles into the world’s oldest desert — the Namib. Committed to sustainability, the lodge is made entirely of glass and stone, fitting organically into the landscape. Each cabin has an open veranda, a private plunge pool, a retractable skylight above the bed, and a fireplace for extra comfort. The shared spaces are highly focused on wellness and include a sunrise-view gym, a rim-flow pool, and an interactive kitchen. Truly secluded, the lodge can be accessed by plane, landing on its private airstrip, or in a 4×4 vehicle. Some of the activities to look forward to at the Sossusvlei Desert lodge include guided desert excursions, stargazing, and a curated picnic of local delicacies in the dunes.
One-night stay from $626
3. Amangiri, Utah
Amangiri is 600 acres of undisturbed tranquility and luxury in the desert of southern Utah. The resort is located in the heart of Canyon Country, surrounded by unique and stunning rock formations on all sides — the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, the Grand Staircase, and Zion National Park. Since the property is in a remote area, the entertainment provided includes guided desert hikes, horseback riding, and relaxing by the pool.
Yoga, massage, and soothing hammam sessions are also a part of Amangiri’s plan for pampering guests who want to disconnect from everything. All of their spa treatments are focused on healing using Navajo techniques. In the dining room, expect traditional Southwest cuisine with a side of dramatic views thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows. The hotel works with the local community by sourcing all of the ingredients for its menu from a local Native American co-op.
One-night stay from $1,800, includes full board
4. Wadi Rum Luxury Camp, Jordan
Inspired by the local lifestyle and tradition, Wadi Rum Luxury Camp wants to show its guests the essence of Bedouin culture and teach them what it’s like to live nomadically amid the Jordan desert. Only a short drive away from Petra, the camp has 25 luxury tents, each of which comes with a king-size bed. Guests can also opt for one of the 11 bubble rooms with transparent roofs crafted specifically for stargazing. The evening experience here includes an elaborate selection of traditional tabbouleh, hummus, and local snacks, after which guests gather by the fire to hear Bedouin stories and music and play games. The camp is a great opportunity to see the local lifestyle first-hand, as the population of Wadi Rum still consists of only a few hundred Bedouin families.
One-night stay starts at $78
5. Bab Al Shams Resort, United Arab Emirates
A quick 45-minute ride from the Abu Dhabi Airport, Bab Al Shams is a true desert oasis. Guests can escape the mundane and treat themselves to lavish meals at the Al Hadheerah Restaurant, go for an archery lesson, and see a falconry exhibition. Those passionate about wildlife can even go on a desert tour and observe gazelles and Arabian Oryx in their native habitat; a dedicated guide helps guests explore the dunes for critters, as well as the most scenic spots to take in the stunning landscape and watch the sunset. The resort has seven bars and restaurants, each focusing on a distinct element of the local cuisine. Al Sarab Rooftop Lounge serves Middle Eastern mezze in a romantic candlelit atmosphere, while Masala focuses on North Indian flavors in an elegant dining room setting. Bab Al Shams invites guests to get pampered at the spa, offering two-and-a-half-hour sessions including Balinese-style massage, a mud mask, and freeze-dried seaweed facials.
One-night stay starts at $174
6. Desert Nights Camp, Oman
Staying at Desert Nights Camp in Oman feels like stepping into Scheherezade’s 1001 Nights, as guests spend their days exploring the Arabian desert on camelback and gather by a large campfire at night to listen to local myths and legends. Sprawling across 10 acres of sands, 11 miles away from the nearest town, this luxury camp allows guests to disconnect with no distraction. The daily activities at camp include dune bashing, dune bike riding, and relaxing while snacking on khawa. The accommodation includes Bedouin-style tents, each of which is air-conditioned and has traditional Arabian furniture such as long sofas and beautiful, local embroidery. Instead of refreshing social media notifications, guests at Desert Nights Camp are invited to play board games, watch classics on DVD, and explore the library on site.
One-night stay from $250
7. Hotel Cumbres San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
Secluded in the Atacama desert of Chile, Hotel Cumbres is the perfect escape, allowing guests to explore lagoons, saltpans, geysers, and clear their head while doing yoga in the desert. All of the guides employed by the resort come from indigenous communities, as Hotel Cumbres aims to support the local community. The hotel is developing sustainability programs that allow it to produce its own electricity and recycle water to irrigate the nearby gardens. At the restaurant, guests can sample desert-inspired dishes such as catch of the day served with passion fruit sauce and fried algae. Hotel Cumbres also organizes treks to the Valley of the Moon, the Altiplano lagoons, and the Rainbow Valley.
One-night stay from $295
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