The best luxury hotels in the desert
Deserts are remote, other-worldly places where you can truly escape the chaos of the modern world. But staying in the desert doesn’t have to be a back-to-basics experience, with a host of luxury resorts combining five-star service with dune-walking, stargazing and mountain-biking through the whimsical landscape.
From the Australian Outback to Antarctica’s snow-capped dunes, here’s our pick of the best places to stay in the desert. We can arrange a group or private jet charter to and from your chosen destination, arranging the entire itinerary so you can focus on enjoying your travels.
Longitude 131°, Australia
Occupying an extraordinary spot with direct views of Ayers Rock, this luxury wilderness camp is a great base from which to discover the iconic landmark in the UNESCO-listed wilderness of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
Guests here can stay in one of 15 tented pavilions in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders’ spiritual home. After spending the day lounging by the pool or exploring the red terrain with your own personal guide, watch a glorious desert sunset before enjoying gourmet cuisine under the stars.
Nayara Alto Atacama, Chile
Like Longitude 131°, Nayara Alto Atacama sits in harmony with its spectacular natural surroundings. Set in 42-acre grounds in the heart of Chile’s vast Atacama Desert, this luxury wilderness lodge’s low-slung buildings draw inspiration from indigenous adobe-style desert homes, while its modern interiors are decorated with Incan artworks.
During the day, guests can choose from three different programs to explore must-see desert sights like the ethereal Moon Valley, Salar de Atacama’s flamingo-dotted salt flats and steaming geysers at El Tatio. Head back to base for geothermal spa treatments before visiting the resort’s private observatory after dark to see the stars like never before. With no light pollution, you can have a clear view of the moon’s craters and hundreds of constellations and nebulae.
Amangiri, Utah, USA
With famous locations like New York City, the Rocky Mountains, Florida Keys, the Great Lakes and Hollywood, it’s easy to forget North America is also home to miles of desert. Nestled amidst dramatic rock formations, Amangiri is a sleek sandstone hideaway near Lake Powell in southern Utah.
Cleverly designed to blend into its rugged landscape, the hotel’s sleek concrete pavilion looks like it’s been carved out of the rocks. When you’re not hiking through remote red-rock canyons or relaxing in your modernist suite’s private plunge pool, indulge in Navajo-inspired massages and enjoy meals with panoramic desert views.
Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp
Hoanib Skeleton Coast’s eight luxury tented suites sit amidst the otherworldly landscape of Namibia's ancient Namib Desert, overlooking a rugged valley and the Hoanib River. Run entirely on solar power, this contemporary camp is renowned for its thrilling game excursions in search of desert-adapted wildlife like elephants, lions, hyenas and giraffes.
Despite its barren location, this exclusive resort is actually within easy reach of the beach if you fancy a change of scene. A drive over the dunes takes you to Skeleton Coast, a wild stretch of the Atlantic where the desert meets the sea and whale bones and shipwrecks are permanent fixtures.
Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara
Set on Sir Bani Yas Island off the coast of Abu Dhabi, Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara is a beachfront oasis and adventure playground. As well as relaxing at the spa and infinity pool, intrepid guests can embark on wildlife drives, explore ancient ruins and rock formations or snorkel through the warm, clear waters in search of colourful fish.
Sir Bani Yas is a protected nature reserve teeming with wildlife, including the near-extinct Arabian Oryx. Take a guided tour to see these majestic creatures up close and discover the 20-million-year-old salt domes of the island’s desert interior. In the evening, choose between four restaurants where dishes range from authentic Middle Eastern fare to fresh seafood.
Whichaway Camp, Antarctica
Not all deserts are sandy. Those in the know can fly by private jet and land on an ice runway to experience Antarctica’s first luxury camp, which is run by eco innovators White Desert on the shores of a freshwater lake in the ice-free Schirmacher Hills. Guests here stay in seven state-of-the-art heated ‘polar pods’, while communal areas include a cocktail deck and sauna.
The world's southernmost continent offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for adventure. Cross off bucket-list adventures like visiting the South Pole, ice climbing, hiking over ice waves and coming face-to-face with 28,000 emperor penguins. On a clear night, you may even get a glimpse of the beautiful aurora australis.
Elevate your once-in-a-lifetime experience by chartering a private jet to Cape Town, South Africa, before flying onto Antarctica and Whichaway Camp.
Nestled on the edge of Marrakech with views of the snow-capped High Atlas Mountains, Amanjena is an extravagant pink-walled palace dotted with soaring columns, marble fountains and peaceful reflecting pools. The opulent resort sits in the city’s Palmeraie, a lush oasis that gives way to the starkly beautiful desert landscape of Agafay, whose historic villages and dramatic dunes guests can explore on a guided e-bike tour.
Other activities include teeing-off at the adjoining 27-hole Marrakech Royal Golf Club, picnicking in the mountains and discovering Marrakech’s medina, palaces and gardens. Back at Amanjena there’s an acclaimed spa, tranquil pool and restaurants serving Moroccan, Italian and Japanese cuisine.