Although astronomy has been around since ancient times, turning to the sky for a little bit of escapism or perspective seems to be needed now more than ever. And with lower levels of light pollution recorded during lockdowns around the world, the night skies are currently at their clearest in years. Whether you’re an amateur astronomer or a cosmic expert, here are ten of the most beautiful places in the world to seek solace in the stars.
Hotel Rangá, Hella – Iceland
A cross between a hunting lodge and palatial log cabin, Hotel Rangá is just two hours south-east of Reykjavik and yet feels a world away in its Icelandic wilderness setting of volcano views and thermal springs. Boasting a state-of-the-art observatory with a pair of powerful telescopes and a roll-down roof, guests are offered a Northern Lights wake-up call along with Golden Circle-proof clothing and bespoke blankets to keep warm while the sky comes alive.
Trout Point Lodge, Nova Scotia – Canada
Experience North America’s darkest skies at Trout Point Lodge, a secluded nature sanctuary on the banks of the Tusket River and next to the Tobeatic Wilderness Area, a certified Starlight Reserve. Recognised as the world’s first Starlight Hotel by the UNESCO-supported Starlight Foundation in 2014, this wildly luxurious retreat is home to advanced telescopic equipment (including an astronomical laser pointer…!), knowledgeable sky-guides, and a stargazing platform set back from the surrounding forest, offering nearly unobstructed 360-degree views of the sky.
Shima Kanko Hotel: the Bay Suites, Ise-Shima – Japan
With a water-side setting that inspires instant calm, this serene all-suite Japanese retreat is peacefully placed on the shores of Ago-Wan Bay. Enjoying some of Japan‘s most pristine skies, thanks to its protected location in the Ise-Shima National Park, Shima Kanko Hotel‘s star sommeliers guide guests on a twinkling journey through the night skies of Kashikojima.
Paradise Cove Boutique Hotel, Anse La Raie – Mauritius
A tropical hideaway beside an impossibly blue lagoon, Paradise Cove Boutique Hotel is as tranquil as its name suggests. Join the resort’s resident astronomer for a guided star-spotting session each Monday evening on The Peninsula, sitting comfortably on beanbags with a cocktail in hand and surrounded by glowing lanterns. Brush up on your constellation knowledge with a star location map, which can be found in every guest room.
Dar Ahlam, Ouarzazate – Morocco
Sleep beneath the stars in a private luxury tent at this traditional Kasbah, after a day spent exploring the dunes of the Sahara on camel-back. Dar Ahlam offers a week-long, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to venture into the desert, following the oases of southern Morocco. Return to a haven of manicured lawns and fragrant almond blossom, to dine in the gardens under an uninterrupted starry sky.
Cougar Ridge Lodge, Utah – USA
Surrounded by red rock formations and set under big star-filled skies, the luxury casitas and one spectacular lodge of Cougar Ridge sit at the gateway to Capitol Reef National Park in Utah, one of the best stateside sky viewing areas. The nearby town of Torrey has officially been awarded ‘Dark Sky Community’ status, so stargazing here is off the scale – and the ethereal Milky Way often makes an appearance during the summer Sky Parties hosted by the Lodge.
Arctic Bath, Harads – Sweden
This one-of-a-kind hotel immerses guests in the postcard-worthy scenery of Swedish Lapland: its frost-crowned forests, where moose and reindeer leave tracks in the snow. Glass walls, floating walkways and sky-gazing decks connect the inside with the great outdoors at Arctic Bath, with its striking over-water cabins. Accompany adventure photographer Håkan Hjort into Northern Lights territory to capture this natural phenomenon in a picture-perfect setting of snow-covered trees and frozen creeks.
Milaidhoo Maldives, Baa Atoll – Maldives
Devote your days to total relaxation at Milaidhoo Maldives, a boutique beach resort in the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve of Baa Atoll. When the sun sets over the mirror flat sea and palm-fringed floating villas, the natural beauty of the night sky comes alive in the endless waters’ reflection. Find a secluded spot on any one of the island’s secluded sandbanks, for a movie night or private dinner beneath the stars – you can even request a cosy cabana to be set up for a blissful balmy night’s sleep.
Castle Hot Springs, Arizona – USA
As you arrive at Castle Hot Springs, you can almost hear the thermal springs bubbling up all around this boutique retreat – creating the sense of a natural, luxury oasis amid the sun-soaked canyons. Star-seekers should opt for the Sky View Cabins, which are set on an elevated foundation overlooking the lush grounds with breathtaking views of the surrounding Sonoran desert. Each cabin has an expansive wood deck equipped with a telescope for stargazing and a private outdoor claw-foot tub ready to be filled with natural hot spring water.
Petit St. Vincent, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines – Caribbean
An 115-acre private island paradise in the southernmost Grenadines, it simply doesn’t get any more exclusive than Petit St. Vincent. With just 22 cottages dotted about the sandy shores and windswept bluffs, this remote resort was social distancing long before this year’s global pandemic. Without the distractions of in-room technology, and with limited internet available on the island, guests are invited to completely switch off from the rest of the world – and enjoy the natural beauty of this Caribbean castaway in all its starry-skied splendour.