Muddy shoes, sleeping bags, freeze-dried food — the world of camping doesn’t exactly bring to mind a glamorous getaway. But if you want the experience without all the work, there’s another typing of “camping” to consider.
Glamping — aka "glamorous camping" — has been on the rise all over the globe, as more discerning travellers wish to reconnect with nature, get off the grid, and have an adventure without sacrificing comfort. Instead of setting up poles and fighting with flaps, picture walking into a billowing canvas tent that’s elegantly appointed with claw-foot tubs, king-sized beds, hand-woven rugs and even private plunge pools.
From the starry skies of the Australian outback to the lush grasslands of Botswana, these luxurious tented retreats are among the most exotic in the world.
Scarabeo Stone Camp, Morocco
Nestled in the desert of Agafay, about 45 minutes from Marrakech, Scarabeo’s Stone Camp comprises 14 tents and a canopied restaurant that serves candlelit Moroccan dinners. Each elegantly appointed tent offers views of the snow-capped Atlas Mountains, vintage furniture, and Berber rugs that transport guests to a bygone era. The accommodations may be sumptuous, but the landscape is beautifully rugged — perfect for camel rides, quad bike tours, horseback riding and mountain treks, yoga and stargazing.
The Serai, India
This royal Rajasthan experience sets the tone with a 100-acre private estate in the middle of the stark Thar desert. An award-winning SUJÁN retreat, The Serai delivers both local flavour and modern luxuries — and lets the incredible setting do the rest. Guests dine under a starry desert sky, sip gimlets around a campfire while Manganiyar folk music fills the air, and lounge in grand plunge pools amidst the overwhelmingly beautiful landscape. The tents are just as impressive, particularly the Royal Tented Suite, which features its own spa, heated outdoor pool, private dining room and a personal butler.
Zarafa Dhow Suites, Botswana
A Relais & Chateaux member, award-winning Zarafa Dhow Suites is an opulent extension to Great Plains Conservation’s Zarafa Camp in Northern Botswana. Located on the 130,000-hectare Selinda Reserve, the private two-bedroom tented villa is only accessible by chartered flights. Stretching across 310 square meters, this solar-powered canopy features repurposed mahogany furniture, copper claw-foot bathtubs, cappuccino machines, private plunge pool, and a few other exclusive amenities — such as Canon professional cameras and Swarovski binoculars for guest to use. From the huge deck overlooking the Zibadianja Lagoon you can also use a Swarovski telescope to spot hippos, leopards, lions, elephants, wild dogs, zebras and giraffes, and black egrets.
Sprawling across 36,000 hectares, the Amanwana nature reserve has pitched 20 safari tents on its own private island in the Flores Sea — about an hour’s flight east of Bali. The unspoilt paradise is teeming with wildlife, including macaques and deer, not to mention abundant marine life in the crystal-clear waters that are perfect for scuba diving, snorkelling, kayaking and sailing. The “adventure” continues in the 58-square-meter tents and the Jungle Cove Spa, where guests can relax and enjoy elaborate spa treatments under the shade of tamarind trees.
Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, Thailand
A unique hotel in the Four Seasons portfolio, the all-inclusive Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle is a jungle oasis in the heart of elephant territory. Located in the middle of the Golden Triangle — where Thailand, Myanmar and Laos intersect — the camp is perfect for adventure seekers, who will love close encounters with elephants, sunrise breakfasts, jungle excursions, private picnics, and bird watching. Designed by Bill Bensley Design, each of the 15 thatched-roof tents offers complete privacy and beautifully appointed interiors, including claw-foot tubs, hardwood floors and private decks. With its own outdoor pool and spacious deck, the newly opened Explorer’s Lodge is ideal for groups of up to six people.
andBeyond Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp, Botswana
Recently reopened in 2016 after an extensive renovation, the andBeyond Nxabega Okavango Tented Camp in Botswana provides the best of luxurious experiential travel. Glamorous yet rustic, the camp features nine exclusive tented suites, each boasting brass fixtures, hand-stitched textiles, traditional Botswana baskets, and king-sized beds facing the spectacular views of the Okavango Delta. It’s also a haven for game viewing, with easy access to Botswana’s lush grasslands and sparkling lagoons where giraffes, hippos, elephants and buffalo roam.
An experience like no other, Longitude 131° is in the heart of the Australian outback — a three hours' flight from Sydney. The wilderness retreat boasts 15 tented pavilions — all with panoramic views of the majestic Uluru rock formation, also known as Ayers Rock. With the natural wonder as the centrepiece, the tents at Longitude 131° are scattered across a dune and feature private decks, day beds, and EcoSmart Fireplaces. The camp also delivers one of the world’s most memorable dining experiences: Dinner at Table 131° comes complete with a chef’s menu and a sky full of stars in a private desert clearing.