There’s a whisper of nostalgia about a night spent under canvas: the promise of simple, adventure-packed days, pitched alongside long, lazy nights by the fire. Happily, you can leave the tent pegs at home, thanks to a growing collection of luxury camping hotels: from chrysalis-like cabins in Sri Lanka to shepherd’s huts in the Cotswolds, lakeside yurts in Patagonia and temple-gazing tents in the Himalayas – it’s never been easier to slum it in style.
A long track leads the way to this secluded spot on the island of Eleuthera, a fine finger of land that forms part of the Bahamas archipelago. On reaching the Other Side, you’ll find four communal pavilions, holding a restaurant, games room, library and honesty bar, plus three shoreline sleeping tents with hardwood floors, four-posters and terracotta-potted palms. Ensuites promise monsoon showers and twin sinks, but surely the most enticing bathing spot is the hotel’s pool, which shoots out into the Atlantic, surrounded by sunken daybeds and cerulean waters.
Cradled by Cotswolds countryside, the Fish Hotel is a genteel sort of place, with classically styled rooms that look out across the 400-acre Farncombe Estate. But thanks to Britain’s enthusiastic adoption of luxury camping, the hotel also has a few surprises: shepherd’s huts fitted with a flock of perks, including a log-burning stove, underfloor heating, vintage Penguin books, a free minibar and ensuite bathrooms with walk-in showers. Outside, each hut has a private deck with a fire and hot tub. Elsewhere, there are also treehouses and Boaty McBoatface: a cabin that comes with an alfresco cinema and its own island-topped lake, which you can paddle out to in your private row boat.
There’s nothing quite like the chrysalis-style cabins at this far-flung Sri Lankan retreat. Poised between the country’s wave-lapped southern coast and wildlife-packed Yala National Park, they seem to mimic their natural environment, with organic carapace-like shells, surrounded by lush tropical greenery. Inside, the scene is firmly of the man-made variety, with canopied beds, swirling ceiling fans and heritage safari furniture. Free-form plunge pools add the final flourish – ideal for cooling down after game drives to spot elephants, sloth bears and leopards.
Sister property to Dunton Hot Springs, this riverside Rockies retreat stands on the former site of Cresto Ranch, a 19th-century cattle farm. Surrounded by 500 acres of free-range grazing, it’s been transformed into a summer-only camp, with eight elevated, prospector-style tents fitted with stoves and cow-hide rugs. Fly-fishing is the main hook here, thanks to the camp’s location on the banks of the Dolores River. But there’s also horse-riding, mountain biking or hiking in the San Juan range for those who prefer land-based activities. By day, serrated mountain scenery and forest pines surround you – plus visiting hummingbirds that dart into camp to feed. Come nightfall, congenial company awaits at farm-to-fork meals and fireside gatherings with guests.
Had this light-touch, luxury camp been around in Darwin’s day, his stay on the Galapagos might have been a touch more comfortable. Indeed, this jungle-wrapped dwelling is somewhat evolutionary: a land-based lodging on a string of islands that are usually traversed by boat. Pitched in the highlands of Santa Cruz island, these 10 teak-floored, safari-style tents let you access both sides of the Galápagos: spying flagship species such as giant tortoises and vermilion flycatchers amid the pit craters and lava tunnels of these volcanic isles; as well as vessel-based visits to nearby islands and the surrounding marine reserve.
Aman Resorts is way ahead of the curve when it comes to luxury camping, having launched super high-end tents at Aman-i-Khás in India’s tiger-prowled Ranthambore National Park and also at Amanwana. Set on the Indonesian island of Moyo, east of Bali and Lombok, this exotic paen to pitching features both ocean-facing and jungle-ensconced tents, featuring Indonesian interiors and the suave minimalist accents that have become the brand’s calling card. Beyond the tents, there’s scuba diving in the Flores Sea and hiking trails through tropical forests to glimpse deer, macaques and wild boar.
This camp stands on a raised bank overlooking a reservoir that was built in 1880 by local nobleman Chhatra Singh to harvest monsoon rains. By the 20th century, the area had become lush and green – a bona fide desert oasis – and hosted legendary sporting parties with high tea and exotic dinners, followed by nights under canvas. Today, that rich history is recreated by Singh’s great grandchildren, who provide Rajput-style tents facing out across the lake, adorned with handcrafted furniture and colourful Indian motifs. Trips to rural Rajasthani villages and local bird-watching tours can be arranged, before a torchlit dinner back at camp.
This luxury mobile camp pitches up Oman‘s distant desert. Like a scene from Lawrence of Arabia, you’ll be picked up and whisked across the sands for some dune bashing, followed by a sunset drink atop a pyramid-like mound and a ride to your candle-lit camping the country’s wind-whipped Wahiba folds. Accommodation is in luxury off-grid bell tents with private ensuites, all set up for you alone. Half-board meals are prepared by a chef and served in a Bedouin tent, followed by sweet tea and shisha beneath the Arabian night sky.
Carry on camping with the rest of our perfectly pitched collection…