Since the dawn of civilization, we have been mesmerized by the starry sky. You don’t have to be an astronomy buff to admire the sparkling spectacle–even seeing the Big Dipper can satisfy the casual observer.
But having an unobstructed view of the skies above is increasingly difficult due to industrialization and light pollution. Fortunately, stargazing travellers can combine a luxury stay with their affinity for starry nights at these 4 unique hotels. They offer everything from observatories and telescopes to astronomist-led night viewings. Or guestrooms with retractable glass ceilings that open to the heavens above.
Go ahead and wish upon a star and have a great night’s sleep, too. Here are 4 unique hotels for stargazing around the world:
Hotel Rangá: Iceland
The 52-room Hotel Rangá will supply the observatory and telescopes while you just need to supply a keen eye. No worries about light pollution here.
Hotel Rangá’s observatory has a roll-off roof unlike anything you would see elsewhere in Iceland. The observatory is located just 150 meters from the main hotel and houses two high-quality astronomical telescopes as well as an 18-inch reflector, the biggest telescope in Iceland. Check out Jupiter or Saturn’s rings–even the distant Uranus and Neptune can be observed.
The hotel’s location is also a perfect spot to see one of nature’s most amazing phenomena–the Northern Lights. Never a sure thing, but you are more likely to see the Northern Lights here than most places in the world. They even have a package, Age of Aurora, from October to April. It includes accommodation, breakfast buffet, a welcome drink, hot tubs, observatory access and more.
The hotel not only provides great views at night, but during the day as well. Choose from a variety of adventures, from idyllic hot spring soaks and riding an Icelandic horse, to buggy driving, mountain biking and invigorating hikes through Iceland’s diverse landscape like the nearby Glacier Lagoon.
L’AND Vineyards Resort: Portugal
Experience gazing at the stars while sipping fine wine at L’AND Vineyards Resort in Alentejo, Portugal. It’s not just a 5-star resort where you can enjoy some serious stargazing. The property is also home to a Michelin-starred restaurant and the exquisite Caudalie spa with grape-inspired treatments like a honey and wine wrap or crushed cabernet exfoliation.
The 26-suite boutique hotel is only 20 minutes from Évora, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s less than an hour from Lisbon airport. Modern and sleek architecture effortlessly blends with the rural environment, surrounded by olive groves and vineyards. There are 10 Sky View suites and 16 L’AND View suites. All have a private terrace, fireplace and picture-perfect views of the lake, vineyards and the town of Montemor-o-Novo.
Sleep under the starry sky of Alentejo in the Sky View suites with a uniquely designed ceiling in the guest bedroom that opens up to offer incredible bedside views of the cosmos. The suites also feature a heated plunge pool in a private courtyard. And if you still haven’t had your fill of the skies, why not take a hot air balloon ride leaving right from the resort? Balloon rides are offered both early in the morning and at sunset.
Kulmhotel Gornergrat: Switzerland
Start your journey to the sky with a scenic 40-minute cog railway ride up to the Kulmhotel Gornergrat in Switzerland. Spending a night here means literally sleeping under the stars. At 3,100 metres above sea level, it is the Swiss Alps’ highest hotel.
Astronomers and visitors from around the world have been mesmerized by the spectacular night sky and how light reflects off the mountainside. Panoramic views of the majestic Matterhorn greet you along the west side. On the south side, be dazzled by unobstructed views of the Monte Rosa Massif and glaciers. Dry air and the remote location make it possible to see planets and the Milky Way even with the naked eye.
The Gornergrat Planetarium and research station is located here and there are various astronomy observation and educational programs conducted by astronomers, many held in the fall.
The 22 guest rooms incorporate a minimalist, beautifully handcrafted Swiss pine wood decor and provide incredible views of the Alpine Four-Thousanders (peaks in the Alps with elevations of at least 4,000 meters) right from your room. Dining at the Panorama or Vis-a-Vis restaurants provides sky-high gourmet food–and of course, Swiss chocolate and cheese!
Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa: Hawaii
The Hyatt Regency Maui is a 5-star, 806-room luxury resort. It is home to the “Great White” HD telescope, Hawaii’s only recreational telescope with a 16-inch reflector. The telescope is located on the resort’s rooftop providing totally unobstructed star sightings. Early Polynesian travellers used the stars to guide them to the Hawaiian Islands. Today, guests can view the crystal clear night skies punctuated by a menagerie of constellations.
The resort has been named the world’s top hotel for stargazing and has a nightly Tour of the Stars astronomy program. The resident astronomer is Edward Mahoney, Director of Astronomy and NASA Solar Systems Ambassador. He uses a computer to select, locate and identify 1,000 objects including stars, planets, galaxies and nebulae. Guests learn how to identify with the naked eye, and then move on to binoculars before culminating with a Great White telescope encounter.
Couples starry-eyed for each other and the heavens above can reserve a spot on the special 10 p.m. Romance Tour, complete with sparkling wine and chocolate-covered strawberries.
Which of these unique hotels would you choose for a starry adventure?
Want to check out more unique hotels around the world? Here are some of our favourites:
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