Top 10 most amazing desert hotels in the world

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today: Top 10 most amazing desert hotels in the world

Deserts are magical and unique places, offering spectacular vistas, intense colors, towering dunes, peaceful tranquility, and incredible starry skies. Deserts actually make up approximately one-third of the earth’s land area and are some of the most biologically diverse places on the planet. Spending some time in the desert is high on the bucket list of many travelers, with dune walking, stargazing and mountain biking just a few of the activities that are possible when visiting a desert destination. From Chile to Namibia and the USA to Australia, here’s my selection of the 10 most fabulous desert hotels & resorts in the world.

There is more info below the slide show. Think I missed one? Share your favorite desert hotel in the comments section, or take my poll below!

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10. LONGITUDE 131°, AUSTRALIA

Longitude 131° is a transcendent experience of discovery, located in the spirited heart of Australia. Facing majestic Uluru, Longitude 131° commands spectacular views of the outback icon and World Heritage listed wilderness of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. Crouched in the lee of a red sand dune and set among desert oaks and spinifex are fifteen tented pavilions, each offering connection with the outback landscape and its heritage as well as a glamorous base from which to explore Australia’s incredible Red Center. The premium Dune Pavilion is the only accommodation with views to both World Heritage-listed wonders Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Discover vibrant Aboriginal artworks alongside relics from the region’s explorers, a bar and restaurant offering contemporary Australian dining and friendly staff ready to share a yarn.

LONGITUDE 131, ULURU, AUSTRALIA


9. EXPLORA ATACAMA, CHILE

In harmony with the surroundings and local traditions, Explora Atacama offers the discovery of the essence of nature and a philosophy of traveling that seeks to satisfy the desire of adventure in an intact universe. The 17-hectare (42-acre) hotel grounds comprise 20 indigenous parcels, some with timeworn pathways and buildings that Explora is committed to preserve out of a profound respect for the area’s original inhabitants. The 50 rooms of Explora Atacama are designed to take full advantage of the silence, privacy, and spaciousness of the surrounding landscape, ensuring deep rest after a long day of exploration. Set out with your guide into the surreal beauty on any of 40 explorations on foot, horseback, or bicycle. Nearby Termas de Puritama, with an exclusive hot-spring pool, is a relaxing place to spend an afternoon. At the restaurant, the cuisine stars local ingredients, such as quinoa and chañar.

  • Hotel websiteExplora Atacama
  • Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso  (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD resort credit).

EXPLORA ATACAMA, CHILE


8. QASR AL SARAB DESERT RESORT BY ANANTARA, UAE

Located in the legendary Liwa Desert, one of the largest uninterrupted sand deserts in the world, Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara embraces the epic adventures of this evocative landscape by providing a luxury oasis for discerning travelers. Here, guests can recline by the plunge pool outside their own private villa, or stretch out on a sumptuous day bed surrounded by rich Middle Eastern fabrics and local artefacts. Every room, villa and suite is considered to be some of the finest abodes among luxury Abu Dhabi resorts and features desert views, blending our rich interiors with the landscape. Dine in the resort’s fine and intimate restaurants. Let the tension melt away as you embark on a rejuvenating journey at the Anantara Spa, or venture out to explore the desert with a variety of innovative activities – try dune bashing, camel trekking, or sand boarding.

QASR AL SARAB BY ANANTARA, ABU DHABI, UAE


7. THE RITZ-CARLTON RAS AL KHAIMAH, AL WADI DESERT, UAE

An oasis of peace awaits guests at The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert. The property offers an unforgettable experience inside a dedicated nature reserve (populated by Arabian gazelles, camels and oryxes). A jewel amidst the endless sandscape, the resort is set against the waters of the Arabian Gulf and magnificent Al Hajjar Mountains, providing a surreal aura of desert romance. Here, tented roofs in the style of traditional Bedouin nomadic dwelling, modern villa furnishings in classic Arab style and the thrill of a private pool in the middle of the desert make each journey a veritable grand adventure. The spa features an indoor hydrotherapy pool known as “The Rainforest” and a fitness center. The resort’s Experience Concierge can arrange a desert trek on camel- or horseback, a private archery lesson or an evening of stargazing.

THE RITZ-CARLTON RAS AL KHAIMAH, AL WADI DESERT, UAE


6. ZANNIER HOTELS SONOP, NAMIBIA

The opulence and finesse of Zannier Hotels Sonop, set in Namibia’s southwest corner, immediately recalls the 1920’s era of British explorers. Constructed on top of granite boulders, the tented camp enjoys a remote and unspoilt setting in 13,800 acres (5,600 hectares) of untouched wilderness. Every object and antique in the lodge’s ten spacious tents are carefully selected – binoculars and maps, travelers’ tales, telescopes, antique desks and handmade stationary – to ensure that every moment turns into a unique experience. The lodge captures the restorative essence of the desert landscape with a spectacular open-air infinity pool, spa, fitness center and daily yoga. Guided excursions include horse-riding from our own stables, private dining atop of the sand dunes, electric fat-bike or walking trails, and private sunset safaris. The magic continues after dark with a nightly gala-style dinner, open-air cinema and stargazing under the endless African skies.


5. TIERRA ATACAMA, CHILE

The adobe walls of an ancient cattle corral blend into Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa, a tribute to the indigenous people who once inhabited this surreal landscape. That sense of place is evident everywhere in this glass-walled, 32-room marvel, from the artisan-crafted furnishings to the native medicinal plants in the gardens. The hotel’s architecture, interior design and gardens were designed by some of Chile’s leading creative talent, using furniture and accessories handmade with local materials. Explore the area’s salt pans, volcanoes, and geyser fields on hikes, horseback rides, and more, then return to get an activity-focused spa treatment, relax in a basket swing, or lounge by the pool. When night falls, you can take in the brilliant stars, bask in the peace and wonder that is the Atacama Desert. The vibe is totally casual; the locally sourced cuisine and wines, simply divine.

  • Hotel websiteTierra Atacama
  • Tip: get complimentary VIP perks when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. room upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, and late check-out, and $100 USD resort credit).

TIERRA ATACAMA HOTEL & SPA, CHILE


4. AL MAHA DESERT RESORT, UAE

Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa lies nestled within a green and verdant oasis amongst some of Arabia’s most impressive dune and desert landscapes. Resembling a luxurious Bedouin encampment, the resort is just 45 minutes away from Dubai. This secluded hideaway resort offers personal and seductive experiences with great hospitality, privacy, and absolute comfort. Al Maha’s 42 Bedouin-inspired luxurious suites offer tranquility while adopting the vision of responsible tourism. The suites blend gently into the desert and offer unsurpassed luxury. Beautifully furnished with a unique collection of authentic Arabian artifacts and antiquities, all suites boast private pools and offer spectacular views of the Dubai Desert Reserve and its wildlife (gazelles & Arabian oryx).

AL MAHA, DUBAI, UAE


3. &BEYOND SOSSUSVLEI DESERT LODGE, NAMIBIA

Set amidst an ocean of towering dunes, rocky outcrops and endless gravel plains, &Beyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge is one of Africa’s most exclusive hotels. 10 beautifully appointed stone & glass suites, spread out along the curve of the escarpment, open onto ever-changing outlooks. Each suite offers a secluded, shaded veranda complete with private plunge pool, a living room with a fireplace, a large retractable skylight above the bed, and an ensuite bathroom with a glass-encased rain shower offering 180º desert views. The main split-level guest area (which houses the public areas) is an inspired masterpiece of glass, rock and steel, with large glass panels folding away to reveal unobstructed desert vistas. To ensure you get the most out of your desert adventure, the &Beyond team will assist you in planning a range of exciting, specialist-guided experiences for the duration of your stay.


2. AMANGIRI, UTAH, USA

Amangiri – which translates to peaceful mountain – is located on 600 acres in Canyon Point, Southern Utah. The resort – by far the best luxury hotel in the USA – is tucked into a protected valley with sweeping views towards the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument. Built around a central swimming pool with spectacular views, the stunningly beautiful resort blends into its dramatic surrounds where deep canyons and towering plateaus create a raw landscape of immense power. Amangiri also features a high-end ‘glamping’ site – called Camp Sarika – which is linked to the main resort. Amangiri’s trail system and unrivalled backcountry access allow guests to explore the region’s striking desert scenery on foot. Amangiri is operated by Aman resorts, one of the world’s most exclusive ultra-luxury hotel brand.

AMANGIRI, UTAH, USA


1. HOANIB SKELETON COAST CAMP BY WILDERNESS SAFARIS, NAMIBIA

Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp is located in Namibia’s ancient Namib Desert’s famed Kaokoveld, an otherworldly and remote landscape hewn over the ages into immense dunes and rocky mountains. While the lodge might not be as uber-luxurious as some of the places described above, it gets the number one spot on my list because it offers incredible wildlife viewing and a coastal experience in addition to its fabulous desert setting. The lodge’s eight luxury tented suites peak like whitecaps on an ocean of sand. Highlights include a spectacular dry-and-fly excursion to the Skeleton Coast and dining under impossibly starry skies, perhaps at the firepit as a jackal cries or a lion roars, punctuating the stillness of the inky night. The property also doubles as a center for research and conservation of the desert-adapted predators of this harsh region: the desert-adapted lion and brown hyaena.


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