Far from the world of muddy boots and flapping tent walls, howling winds and sore backs, there lies a new age of glamping – sleep-outs. A concept born and raised by African safari lodges such as ol Donyo Lodge featured below, there is a growing demand for discerning travellers to not only get beyond the walls of their hotel, but also beyond their room, suite or villa, for a night of total escapism. We are not talking roll-mats and sleeping bags, but outdoor bedrooms, some featuring four poster net-draped beds and candle-lit decks. Here are five of our favourite sleep-out experiences from around the world.
Australia’s iconic Uluru monolith (better known as Ayers Rock), which rises majestically from the vast outback landscape of Australia’s spiritual heart, has been putting on one of the finest night-time star shows for millions of years. The best way to witness this spell-binding astronomical spectacle is from Longitude 131 where you can sleep under the blanket of stars and watch Uluru’s changing light display, literally from the end of your bed! Sixteen luxury eco friendly pavilions are dotted across the rich red ochre landscape and offer unimpeded views of Australia’s sacred rock. While you are at dinner, staff will set up a luxury ‘’swag’’ style bed on the outside deck of your room, along with a fire and an after dinner drink. Sit back, relax and allow yourself to fall under the spell of this mesmerising ancient Aboriginal playground.
Nestled amidst the Chyulu Hills on a private ranch at the foot of mighty Mount Kilimanjaro in South East Kenya, ol Donyo Lodge is home to just six unique pool suites and one two-bedroom family villa, built of stone, thatch and wood. Designed to embrace the beauty of the surrounding wilderness, each suite merges indoor and outdoor living with Africa’s highest mountain providing a constant jaw-dropping backdrop. Game drives, bush walks, horse riding and mountain biking are all on the agenda here ..and at the end of an exhilarating day, head to your rooftop star-bed to count the constellations whilst listening to the sounds of Africa all around you! The magic of East Africa is always in the air here!
This slice of paradise is located just off mainland Fiji’s northern coast, a helicopter ride from Nadi. Dolphin Private Island welcomes up to 8 guests at a time and is only available on an exclusive basis, so you have the entire island hideaway to yourselves. The incredible experience is enhanced by the island’s fabulous host, Dawn Simpson! Each of the four heavenly guest suites was designed by renowned New Zealand designer, Virginia Fisher. If you feel like retreating from your haven, head to the gorgeous open-air hilltop sleep-out which overlooks the ocean and offers a night of escapism, calmed by cooling sea breezes and endless views of the ocean.
Just an hour’s flight by light aircraft from Johannesburg, Sanctuary Makanyane is one of Turquoise’s all-time favourite safari lodges and what’s more, it is malaria free. The floor-to-ceiling wraparound glass walls provide a ringside seat for wildlife viewing – watch out for inquisitive elephants – and as dusk sets in, there is no better place than Makanyane’s sleep-out for a memorable Out of Africa night under the stars! Hidden deep in the bush, the two storey treehouse overlooks a waterhole and has a first floor living area which leads to a rooftop romantic mosquito-net-draped bed, surrounded by lanterns and the sounds of the Africa bush. Drift to sleep listening to the sounds of animal noises and watch the stars and sunrise from your open-air deck!
Set within a lagoon of crystal clear waters, fringed by powder soft sand beaches and covered in lush tropical vegetation, Soneva Jani is the third property from the award-winning Soneva team who pioneered the ‘no news, no shoes’ ethos with their original barefoot island retreat, Soneva Fushi, which still today epitomises Robinson Crusoe desert island rustic chic. Each master bedroom at Soneva Jani features a retractable roof, allowing guests to sleep under the stars – at the touch of a button, the roof slides back to reveal the night sky. Spot Orion, the Southern Cross, the Bear and many more constellations as you drift off to sleep, with only the sound of the calm lagoons to relax you even further.