Connecting with nature doesn’t have to mean long hikes to the mountains, kayaking over rapids, or finding your way through thick jungles. It can also mean relaxing in one of the best stargazing places, under a dark sky.
While many luxury resorts around the world are committed to sustainability by meticulous recycling and using ecological products, many are also paying attention to another type of natural resource humans are losing: the ability to admire dark skies and the twinkling stars.
In fact, because of all the artificial light we rely on, the majority of people living in the US and Europe can’t see the Milky Way at night. This is why the best stargazing places are located far away from light pollution.
Here’s where you can gaze at the starry night sky in an ultra-luxe setting — from your private plunge pool in a desert or an oceanside villa backed with a tropical jungle.
1. Camping under the stars in Utah, Camp Sarika by Amangiri
Surrounded by the Southern Utah desert’s dramatic rock formations, Amangiri offers a lavish stay for the fans of stargazing — whether it is the astral or the Hollywood kind. The resort’s architecture and minimalist decor highlight the beauty of the ancient landscape by using natural materials such as Douglas fir timber, blackened steel, white stone, and polished glass.
But as perfect as Amangiri is for luxurious stargazing, you can plunge even deeper into the desert ambient and stay in Amangiri’s new addition, Camp Sarika. Set in an otherworldly landscape of canyons and rust-coloured sands, Camp Sarika’s tented retreat is a cluster of 10 canvas-topped pavilions, with plunge pools and fire-pits on the private terraces.
Away from the modern world, Camp Sarika’s seclusion deepens the sense of connection with nature night and day, as the 180-million-year-old desert is also one of the best places on earth to see the Milky Way. You can also request a telescope for your use.
Average price for two per night: $2,290
2. Heavenly beach hotel in Hawaii, Mauna Kea Beach HotelThe Island of Hawai’i provides some of the world’s most astonishing stargazing opportunities so it is no wonder that the dormant volcano Mauna Kea houses the largest research observatory in the world. The summit, 13,803 feet above sea level, provides a clear view of the constellations, but you don’t need to hike all the way up, as the Milky Way and its accompanying astral wonders are visible from pretty much anywhere on the island.
One of the most spectacular stargazing spots on The Big Island is the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. Located on the Kohala Coast, this oceanfront resort combines sunny beaches, lush vegetation, and nighttime stargazing. The hotel can book tours to help you learn about Polynesian celestial navigation that guided canoe voyagers to Hawaii and to master the constellations as a guide outlines them with powerful lasers. You can also gaze at deep space objects such as galaxies, nebulae, and multiple star systems with Celestron 11 Telescopes.
Average price for two per night: $400
3. Ranch vibes and dark skies in Texas, La Cantera Resort and Spa
Located just outside the Hill Country State Natural Area, La Cantera Resort and Spa is not only a perfect base to explore the over 5,000 acres of rugged canyons at this former ranch northwest of San Antonio but also to spend quiet nights gazing at the stars.
Inspired by the history of Texas Hill Country, the resort’s Villas pay homage to the region’s iconic ranches. Spanish colonial revival architecture and outdoor water and fire features highlight the rustic hillside landscape and the unique San Antonio character. The Villas are located a short walk away from the main resort, offering a serene boutique hideaway.
One of the best spots to enjoy San Antonio’s night sky is the Resort’s adults-only infinity pool lined with cabañas and a poolside bar. Or, if you want to have all the stars just for yourself, stay at one of the Villas providing private fire pits to enhance the feel of luxurious camping under the vast Texas sky.
Average price for two per night: $215
4. Safari and stars in South Africa, Molori Safari Lodge
Originally built as the owners’ private family retreat, the five-suite Molori Safari Lodge is located in South Africa’s Madikwe Game Reserve and overlooks the Dwarsberg Mountains and the Madikwe Valley. This lesser-known game reserve, home to all of Africa’s Big Five, is close to the Botswana border, and about four hours drive away from Johannesburg.
The main lodge has viewing decks to take in the beautiful surroundings. There are also four dining areas, a library, a large living room and a bar as well as a stargazing platform complete with a top-of-the-range telescope. The reserve has five luxurious, open-air suites. All of the suites have floor-to-ceiling retractable glass walls, opening up to a private deck and infinity pool — a perfect setting to be amazed by the astral miracles in Africa.
Average price for two for two nights: $1,115
5. Astral explorations in Chile’s Atacama, Tierra Atacama Hotel and Spa
Far away from the light pollution of cities, Tierra Atacama Hotel and Spa is set high in the northern reaches of the Atacama desert, the driest non polar desert in the world. Here, the altitude added to the bone-dry atmosphere makes the skies clear, and the Atacama Desert a stargazer’s paradise.
The hotel’s 32 rooms all have a view of the nearby volcano rising up to 20 000 feet, and the hotel’s interior makes use of traditional materials from dry adobe bricks, wood and bamboo to local textiles and llama rugs. The premises stretch over five hectares of land just outside San Pedro de Atacama, and there is plenty to do nearby whether you prefer lounging by the pool, relaxing in the spa, or hiking in the desert landscape dotted with terracotta mountains.
You can also book a private excursion to an observatory near San Pedro with the renowned French astronomer Alain Maury. With a handful of large telescopes as his assistants, Maury will initiate you with the marvels of the Milky Way and guide your way to the magic of the stars.
Average price for two per night: $550
6. Dark Sky Reserve in Namibia, andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge
The NamibRand Nature Reserve is one of Africaʼs largest private nature reserves, and it is set in one of the darkest, yet accessible, places on Earth. Here, bordering one of the world’s 18 Dark Sky Reserves, andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge gives an unparalleled view of the famous Namibian night sky.
The guests can enjoy the serenity of the desert while staying in one of the lodge’s 10 villas, cradled against ancient mountains. Each villa has its own private veranda, living room with a fireplace, and a split-level bedroom with a skylight to enjoy the vast expanses of the Namibian sky. You can also experience exceptional star gazing from the fully equipped observatory at the lodge.
Average price for two per night: $622
7. Arctic skies in Sweden, The 7th Room Treehotel
Hovering ten meters above the ground within a tree canopy, the Snøhetta-designed 7th room is an ultra-stylish take on a treehouse. The 7th room is located outside the reach of modern-day light pollution, just over 60 miles from the arctic circle. From the treetops, you will have a breathtaking view of the Lappish landscape, Lule River, and the Scandinavian night sky.
This sleek cottage’s wooden façade is clad with pine boards, the indoor flooring is made from ash wood and birch plywood is used for the interior walls. A staircase brings guests up into the cottage, but luggage has its own small lift.
The heart of the cottage is the Northern Light lounge. The area is decorated, for example, with the Norwegian furniture designer Hans Brattrud’s products. But the highlight opens up behind the wall-sized windows as the Scandinavian night sky starts its show with glittering stars and if you are in luck, the northern lights.
Average price for two per night: $808
8. Wine tasting and star spotting in Portugal, L’AND Vineyards Resort
An hour’s drive away from downtown Lisbon, L’AND Vineyards Resort is an exclusive retreat blending modern architecture with nature. The resort is located in Alentejo, the region bordering Algarve in the south, Spain in the east, and the Atlantic Ocean in the west. Far away from city lights, this is one of Portugal’s best spots for stargazing.
The hotel matches its spirit with the surrounding landscape with the Brazilian Márcio Kogan’s interiors, Promontório’s architecture and Michael Biberstein’s artwork. All suites are around the main property, where you can relax in the Vinotherapie spa, taste local flavors in the restaurant, or participate in a wine tasting. But perhaps the best part of the stay are the nights as the resort’s sky suites have retractable roofs, allowing you to enjoy stargazing from the comfort of your own bed.
Average price for two per night: $211
9. Slow-paced vacation and stargazing in Thailand, Soneva Kiri
Located on a secluded Thai isle of Koh Kood, Soneva Kiri embraces slow life (sustainable, local, organic, wellness, learning, inspired, fun, experiences). The eco-boutique hotel has 34 villas surrounded by rainforest. For a beach life getaway, stay in one of the Oceanfront Pool Villa Suites with mesmerizing sea views, and for a romantic stay, book a Cliff Pool Villa Suite, and enjoy its big outdoor living space and a pool in complete privacy.
With a spa, private beach, and island activities at your disposal, there is plenty to do in this secluded resort. Hike around the island with an experienced guide, enjoy a floating breakfast in your private pool or have a sumptuous dinner by the beach under millions of stars.
And if you want to learn more about the night sky, visit the nearby state-of-the-art observatory. Here, with the guidance of Soneva Kiri’s astronomers, you will soon be counting the moons of Jupiter, peering at Saturn’s rings, and identifying constellations.
Average price for two per night: $667
10. Stellar rustic-chic in Canada, Trout Point Resort
Certificated as the World’s first Starlight Hotel in 2014, Trout Point Resort offers guided stargazing in a luxuriously rustic setting in Nova Scotia.
The rustic-chic eco-lodge lies among 100 acres of beeches, birches and maples, and the Tusket and Napier Rivers flow behind the main lodge. The lodge and its grounds border a Unesco Biosphere Reserve, neighboring Kejimkujik National Park, the Mi’kmaw people’s ancestral land.
No wonder that Trout Point Resort is among the best places for stargazing in North America, with dark and clear night skies. The resort has a staff astronomer as well as a stellar collection of astronomical equipment, including Meade 10″ telescope, astronomical binoculars, portable Celestron SkyProdigy 130 mm, and Coronado 60 mm solar telescope.
But as breathtaking as the night sky in Nova Scotia is – with occasional meteor shows and aurora borealis included — Trout Point Resort also has its unique charms as huge logs make up the central building, rooms are decorated with local granite and red sandstone and comfy leather sofas invite you to relax in the main lounge.
Average price for two per night: $419