Do you love looking at the stars? Luckily, lots of hotels (and certain cruise ships) cater to people who enjoy gazing at the night sky. Here’s a round-up of some of our favorites around the globe.
The Elqui Domos in Chile, surrounded by the peaks of the Andes, has almost no light pollution. This makes it one of the best places in South America for stargazers. The hotel has geodesic dome rooms, which sleep up to four people, as well as observatory rooms, which are wooden cabins with three levels of living space. A brand new observatory has two electronic telescopes, used in Elqui Domos’ astronomy tours. The hotel also offers starlit, guided horseback rides through the arid Elqui Valley.
Located high in the mountains, Italy’s Carlo Magno Hotel Spa has an astronomical observatory that lets guests “peer into the depths of the cosmos.” The resort also offers an “astronomy special” for travelers who are especially passionate about the stars, and “Astronomy week” in September features guided observations and presentations held by top Italian astronomers.
Hawaii is usually associated with the sun rather than the stars, but the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa has a “Tour of the Stars” program led by the resort’s director of astronomy. The rooftop program costs $25 for hotel guests and is limited to 14 stargazers. There’s also a romantic couples version of the astronomy program that features chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne ($40 per person). If you’re not staying at the hotel, you can still participate—it just costs an additional $5 per person.
The Varsity Hotel & Spa in Cambridge, England, has astronomy master classes on different dates throughout the year. Held in the hotel’s rooftop garden, the classes let attendees enjoy unparalleled views of the night sky over Cambridge. Each class, which includes a two-course dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, can be enjoyed by visitors and locals alike and costs £49.
On the shores of Lake Wanaka, New Zealand’s Whare Kea Lodge & Chalet has comfortable rooms, outstanding cuisine and a powerful telescope. An astronomer is available to explain the skies of the Southern Hemisphere.
The Soneva Kiri on the island of Koh Kood in Thailand has a state-of-the-art telescope. Guests can learn about the stars from “hosts trained by professional astronomer Dr. Parag Mahajani.” The resort also has an outdoor cinema, where films are accompanied by nibbles such as homemade popcorn, and treetop dining, where waiters arrive by trapeze to serve dishes.
In Finland, the Hotel Kakslauttanen has unique glass igloos. Although they don’t offer much privacy, they do give visitors a wonderful opportunity to admire the stars as well as the Northern Lights. The hotel’s wintertime activities include ice-fishing safaris, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and dog sled adventures.
Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Primland has a powerful Celestron CGE Pro 1400 series telescope in the resort’s Observatory Dome. Guests at the hotel can tour the observatory, and they can schedule presentations with resident astronomers during their stay. Throughout the year, the resort also plans special “star master weekend programs,” which offer a more in-depth look at the night sky.
Some cruise ships also offer great opportunities for admiring the cosmos. “I remember stargazing on the deck of Sea Cloud in the middle of the Mediterranean,” says Gloria De Luca, Vice President of Communications at Academic Arrangements Abroad. “Pretty amazing as it was a moonless night and most of the deck lights were off. And if a knowledgeable crew member happens to be on board, they will give you a guided tour of the sky.” Luxury sailing yacht Sea Cloud II, pictured above, also offers incredible views of the stars.
Looking for something even more outdoorsy? Check out this great article about hotels where you can slumber directly under the night sky.