It only takes one night in a tent outfitted like a luxury hotel room to understand why so many travel so far for the experience. These accommodations, historically associated with safari, have journeyed beyond the plains of Africa and can currently be found worldwide. Now one can have an indoor-outdoor overnight experience without roughing anything, from the banks of the Mekong river to a perch overlooking the city of Los Angeles. More than half a dozen such accommodations have debuted in the last year, all with interiors resembling those of very stylish homes. Two more will open this year: the Four Seasons Lodge Serengeti (Tanzania) in July, and Shinta Mani Wild (Cambodia) in the fall. Here, seven of our favorite places to indulge in your most glamorous glamping fantasies.
Rosewood Hotels’ first-ever tented rooms debuted in March at its newest property in Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage site on a promontory between the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers, in northern Laos. Of the 23 rooms here, six are luxury tents perched on a hilltop and offering sweeping views of the lush forests that surround the property.
At over 800 square feet, the tents, which were designed by über-hospitality architect Bill Bensley and built according to UNESCO guidelines, are generous enough to accommodate the expected king-size beds, soaking tubs and rain showers, as well as oversize daybeds, private dining areas and wraparound decks set with furniture meant to maximize lounging. The décor fuses just enough French-colonial style with Lao tradition, using indigenous materials wherever possible.
The former Ventana Inn & Spa emerged from a resort-wide, multimillion-dollar, monthslong, post-mud-slide renovation last November as Ventana Big Sur, Alila Hotels and Resorts’ first North American property. Set on an iconic stretch of California’s Highway 1, the resort’s 59 rooms have been refreshed and joined by new accommodations called Redwood Canyon Glampsites, 15 safari-style tents nestled within a 20-acre canyon in a redwood forest.
Outfitted with rustic-chic décor, each tent has a queen-size bed and hotel linens, Adirondack chairs and an outdoor fire pit, complete with s’mores kit. Guests are provided handheld lanterns, timber walking sticks and bath baskets — the latter to use in the new Glamping Bath House, featuring teak-enclosed showers, heated floors and marble vanities. Glamping guests have access to the resort’s restaurant and spa but will have to pay a $100 resort fee to use the two outdoor heated pools (one of which is clothing optional).
The famed 90-year-old Beverly Wilshire introduced the Veranda Suite last fall, a luxurious 750-square-foot open-plan suite (with king-size bed, marble bathroom and sitting area) that occupies the entire 10th floor of the hotel, with an equally luxurious tent set on the outdoor terrace.
Billed as Los Angeles’ “first urban glamping experience,” the 10-foot-tall tent is equipped with a queen-size bed and deluxe furnishings, including a crystal chandelier, marble lamps, fur rugs and antique nightstands. The 2,100-square-foot terrace, with views of Rodeo Drive and the Hollywood Hills, features lounge furniture surrounding a fireplace. It offers outdoor dining for eight, where guests can choose to experience an exclusive tasting menu from celebrity chef Chris Ford, culminating with campfire s’mores made with 24-karat gold leaf and paired with a vintage Champagne flight.
Seen from above, Sri Lanka’s Wild Coast Tented Lodge resembles a leopard’s paw. That is no coincidence, as the lodge, which features 28 cocoon-shaped tents, sits along the edge of Yala National Park, said to have one of the most dense populations of leopards in the world. That’s on one side; the mesmerizing blue waters of the Indian Ocean are on the other.
The lodge, which has welcomed guests since November 2017, is the third luxury property in this island nation from Resplendent Ceylon. Each of the 28 air-conditioned “tents” is made of French canvas and furnished in a colonial style, with four-poster beds, leather chairs and copper bathtubs. Most of these are strategically placed around watering holes, providing an endless stream of wildlife entertainment viewed through the cocoon’s dramatic arched window facade or from a private deck. Four secluded Pool Cocoons, complete with private plunge pools, face the beach with views of the Indian Ocean.
After two years of rebuilding and renovation, Duba Plains Camp reopened last year on a wooded island overlooking a lagoon in the heart of Botswana’s Okavango Delta. The 77,000-acre concession has six tented rooms (five standard, one two-bedroom suite), designed by owners Dereck and Beverly Joubert, who are perhaps best known as award-winning wildlife filmmakers, photographers and authors.
Each room is appointed with Campaign-style furniture and accessories — leather club chairs, writing desks, crystal barware, Persian rugs, brass soaking tubs, beds swathed in billowy linens, ceiling fans — that evoke safari style of a bygone era. Recycled railroad ties have found new life as the interior floor and the exterior deck, where the Jouberts have thoughtfully placed a private plunge pool, an exercise bike and a covered lounge area from which to gaze out on the surrounding waterway by day or to listen to the grunting of the hippos who laze about in the evenings.
Dunton River Camp is a luxury resort that’s part of Cresto Ranch, a 500-acre cattle ranch dating to the late 1800s. Some cattle still roam the land, in a part of southwest Colorado that the owners deemed “perfectly suited to a summer-only tented camp,” which they opened about five years ago. But the name is a bit misleading. Because while yes, there are four prospector-style tents located along the west fork of the Dolores River, said to have some of the best fly fishing in the country, there are also four mountain tents, nestled above in an Alpine forest, with views of the San Juan Mountains.
No matter which one is chosen, immersion in nature is guaranteed, albeit inside a 600-plus-square-foot canvas tent, outfitted with king-size beds, cowhide rugs, a gas stove and a six-foot soaker tub. Two mountain bikes are provided for use during one’s stay. We’re told the El Diente mountain tent is the most private and has the best views of the peak it was named after, while the Cutthroat tent, named after the trout, is the one to book on the river. Mornings start with fresh coffee or tea delivered to the tent, but all meals are taken family-style in the restored 19th-century farmhouse, with wraparound decks providing incredible views of the Rocky Mountains.
Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve is both one of the most iconic safari destinations in Africa, and the location of several lodges including &Beyond’s Bateleur Camp. It’s situated on the northern part of the Mara Triangle, just below the spot where the final scene of “Out of Africa” was filmed.
Almost 20 years after the camp's debut, it emerges after a facelift of sorts, with two new swimming pools, a fitness center, massage sala, safari shop and a complete refurbishment of its elegant guest tents. Now generously sized at over 1,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, the tents are decorated in casual clubby style, with leather chairs, oriental rugs and marble-topped desks. A large soaking tub is set alongside a courtyard, with the option to shower indoors or out, and a seating area has been created under a private veranda, to take advantage of those incredible Mara views and the equally impressive night sky.