Not too long ago, the word “camping” for most people meant going without running water and en suite bathrooms in exchange for the thrill of sleeping in the great outdoors. Yet over the past decade, a number of high-end tented camps has changed what it means to sleep in the wild. In the past five years, a surge of outdoor recreation lodging under canvas during the pandemic has fueled this trend even further, inspiring more lodging companies to up the ante on comfort in the wild.
These days, the term “glamping”—a portmanteau of glamour and camping—features on most travelers’ radar. (It even joined the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 2018.) It refers to nature escapes imbued with the finer things—not just running water and electricity but also king-size beds, fine linens, and in some cases, chandeliers, spas, and world-class dining.
You could argue that Genghis Khan, the ruler of the Mongolian empire, was an early glamper. He had his yurt mounted on a wheeled cart, and it was pulled by 22 oxen wherever he went. In 19th-century Africa, colonists paired lion sightings with porcelain and other niceties under canvas. In the early 1980s, glamping caught on in the United States: Notably, the Resort at Paws Up in Greenough, Montana, launched luxury tents on its 37,000-acre working cattle ranch—all with en suite bathrooms. Some of the most sought-after luxury hotel brands have evolved their offerings into glamping, with such standouts as Camp Sarika by Amangiri in Utah and Naviva, a Four Seasons Resort in Punta Mita, Mexico.
For AFAR’s Hotels We Love series, we’ve surveyed the glamping scene to deliver 15 of the finest examples of luxury under canvas around the world, connecting guests to nature while also keeping things very comfortable. (Wondering why African safari camps aren’t included? They’re getting their very own Hotels We Love list later this month.) Read on for our picks of the world’s 15 best glamping resorts, in no particular order.
1. Clayoquot Wilderness Resort
- Location: Vancouver Island, British Columbia
- Book now
In a remote spot off Vancouver Island in British Columbia, surrounded by rain forest, mountains, and beaches, Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge first opened in 1998 as an overnight floating resort experience. Since then, it has grown into a luxury retreat with 25 tented accommodations along the banks of Clayoquot Sound. In 2021, it relaunched as part of the collection of Baillie Lodges, known for such iconic Australian retreats as Southern Ocean Lodge on Kangaroo Island and Longitude 131 in the Red Centre.
While the camp has a rugged atmosphere, with huge stone fireplaces and a long wooden cookhouse, it’s an outpost with such luxuries as white linen tablecloths, polished silverware, soft comforters, and high-thread-count bedding. The tents, built on raised platforms a little way from the main camp, feature cozy Adirondack-style beds, wood-burning stoves, and contemporary-feeling furnishings in neutral hues that complement the natural surroundings. They also have in-floor heating and en suite bathrooms with indoor/outdoor showers. Guests spend their days whale-watching, shooting clay pigeons, and exploring the retreat’s 600-acre reserve on foot or on horseback.
2. Aman Camp Sarika
- Location: Canyon Point, Utah
- Book now
Set within a secluded canyon adjacent to Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument, Aman Camp Sarika is a collection of 10 low-slung canvas pavilions that blend with their surroundings. It launched in 2020 as the new tented extension of Amangiri, which opened in 2009 and whose guests have included the likes of Brad Pitt and Tom Hanks. Each one- or two-bedroom dwelling (1,882 and 2,825-square-feet, respectively) features a spacious lounge, bar, and dining area. Bathrooms have deep soaking tubs and indoor and outdoor showers that face natural rock escarpments estimated to be 164 million years old. Terraces features plunge pools, telescopes, and cozy firepits.
Surrounding the resort are five national parks and the Navajo Nation Reservation, the largest Native American reservation in the United States. Activities include horseback riding and guided hikes into nearby Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks, as well as hoop dancing and storytelling experiences led by Navajo practitioners. Some Navajo traditions like smudging find their way into Amangiri’s 25,000-square-foot spa, a largely open-air facility where guests can sip greenthread leaf–based Navajo tea and soak up the desertscape between treatments.
3. Under Canvas Bryce Canyon
- Location: Bryce Canyon, Utah
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Founded in 2012 by Sarah and Jacob Dusek in Bozeman, Montana, Under Canvas offers upscale safari-style tents in 12 different locations across the United States, all next to popular national parks. Debuted in 2022, Under Canvas Bryce Canyon puts visitors within an easy 15-minute drive of the entrance to Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park, which has the highest concentration of otherworldly hoodoos on Earth.
The camp’s 50 tents are set on 700 acres of rolling grasslands ringed by craggy mountains. Amid the canvas-topped, wooden-framed tents, pronghorn and white-tailed deer regularly make appearances. Accommodations range from a Deluxe (which sleeps two) to a Suite (which sleeps four). All tents, which are fully solar powered, feature West Elm furnishings, en suite bathrooms with low-flow toilets and hot water, king-size beds, and wood-fired stoves for chilly nights.
As with its other camps, there’s no electricity (though there are battery packs for charging electronics and lanterns), and there isn’t a television or Wi-Fi signal. In the main “lobby"—a large, billowing tent at the edge of camp—a kitchen serves frittata breakfast sandwiches and hot dinners like roasted trout. Grab-n-go options are available in the afternoon when the kitchen is closed, and free s’mores kits are on hand every night for those who’d like to enjoy something sweet by the campfire. Complimentary programming includes yoga classes, live music, and astrology readings (something that is unique to the Bryce Canyon location).
4. The Resort at Paws Up
- Location: Greenough, Montana
- Book now
One of the most luxurious Western guest ranches since it opened in 2005, the Resort at Paws Up in Greenough, Montana, sprawls over 37,000 acres of rocky peaks, meadows where elk roam, and ponderosa pines in the Blackfoot Valley, with the river of the same name running through it all. While the retreat’s accommodations range from luxury homes with verandas to design-driven, adults-only Green O, the glamping tents are among the most sought-after spots; they are bookable in the warmer months between mid-May and mid-October.
Located in such picturesque areas as the Blackfoot River and Elk Creek, the glamping sites are organized into six separate camps that take anywhere between two and six guests each. Canvas suites feature private baths, large beds with wooden frames, and even chandeliers, while a communal dining pavilion features a fireplace and firepit that’s managed by a private camp chef. Butlers are at the ready to organize guest activities, including on-site fly-fishing and horseback riding on 100 miles of private trails. Adults and kids 12 and up can help move small herds of Black Angus cattle on sample stock drives.
5. Dunton River Camp
- Location: Dolores, Colorado
- Book now
Less than two hours from Colorado’s Mesa Verde National Park, the 500-acre Dunton River Camp features eight luxury tents with showstopping views of the San Juan Mountains or the west fork of the Dolores River. Each tent sleeps two people. When you’re not off exploring the ancient pueblo cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde, steam in a streamside sauna, explore the area on a complimentary mountain bike, or visit the only active geyser in Colorado, which is on-site at the Dunton River Camp. Interested in hiking, fly-fishing, or horseback riding? Each day, an included guided tour sets off from the camp. À la carte activities such as rock climbing, rafting, and photography instruction can be booked as well. Back in your tent, unwind in the six-foot soaker tub. No need to worry about chills: A towel-warmer stands nearby.
6. Collective Retreats Governors Island
- Location: Governors Island, New York
- Book now
Eight minutes by ferry from downtown Manhattan, Governors Island is a tiny 172-acre island and public park enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. And since 2018, people have been able to spend the night there at Collective Retreats Governors Island. Better known for opening luxury camping sites in such remote locations as Yellowstone and Texas Hill Country, Collective Retreats makes its urban debut with its Governors Island location, where views of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty are on offer outside of each luxury canvas tent.
There are 27 “Journey” tents or 10 “Summit” tents, both featuring real beds and mattresses, fully functional electricity, and French press coffee bars. The Journey tents offer a slightly cozier option and shared bathrooms within a two-minute walk of each campsite. For those wanting a truly over-the-top camping experience, Summit tents each come with a private en suite bathroom with rain shower, spacious deck with Adirondack chairs, and other amenities like Yeti coolers. Breakfast is also included in the Summit tent rates and can be delivered directly to your bed for an extra fee. For those who prefer more cabin-like structures, the Outlook Shelter and Outlook Liberty Suite are temperature controlled, come with private bathrooms, and have proper doors and windows instead of tent flaps.
7. Mendocino Grove
- Location: Mendocino, California
- Book now
We’ll never say no to a camping trip in California—especially if it involves staying in a comfortable safari-style tent in a secluded forest by the ocean. This is exactly what guests can expect at Mendocino Grove, a 37-acre property on a rocky cliffside just south of the quiet town of Mendocino on Northern California’s coast. Each of the 60 tents has a bed equipped with a heated mattress pad, a campfire pit (which a staff member can light for you if needed), a private deck, and a picnic table. Tents are well spaced out to maximize privacy, while shared bathrooms are stocked with lavender-scented amenities.
Nab one of the hammocks in a tree-shaded meadow for your morning coffee routine. Listen to live music around a communal campfire. Or put in a few “work from the woods” hours on the camp’s reliable Wi-Fi. Luxurious new on-site services in 2023 include a cedar-wood sauna, massages, an espresso bar, and chef-cooked dinners on Fridays and Saturdays.
8. Nayara Tented Camp
- Location: Arenal Natura Ecological Park, Costa Rica
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This tented camp in the La Fortuna area couldn’t be further from roughing it. The 37 spacious glamping accommodations at Nayara Tented Camp come with private hot-spring-fed pools with views of the active Arenal volcano, king-size beds, massive bathrooms with deep soaking tubs, indoor and outdoor showers, and a personal butler to cater to your every whim. It’s located on the same 62-acre rewilded estate as sister properties Nayara Gardens and Nayara Springs. The camp offers several multi-bedroom tents that are especially convenient for traveling families.
Activities appeal to various age groups and include naturalist-led bird watching, frog spotting walks, and visits to the farmers’ market in La Fortuna town and to the wildlife-filled Arenal Hanging Bridges Park. Learn about Nayara’s sloth habitat protection efforts though an on-property experience called the Secret Life of Tony the Sloth, where guests learn about a sloth that has called Nayara home for many years. Several sloths live on the property, thanks to the resort’s reforestation efforts that planted more than 1,000 cecropia trees, which the mammals depend on for food.
9. Naviva, a Four Seasons Resort
- Location: Punta Mita, Mexico
- Book now
This new adults-only tented camp is only a three-minute drive down the road from the original Four Seasons Punta Mita—yet it feels worlds away. Set within the jungle on a hill above a white-sand beach, Naviva consists of just 15 tented rooms, making for a more secluded setting. This is not exactly glamping—the rooms are all fully contained structures, but a gigantic canopy—inspired by bird wings—has been built over each of them to give it the look of a tent.
Inside each you’ll find creature comforts like air conditioning and well-stocked mini bars with milk for coffee; sliding glass doors on two of the four walls allow the outdoors in. The 15 rooms are divided into Grand Tents and Regular Tents—Grand Tents come with a king-size bed, a screened porch, a deck with a plunge pool, and a lounge area with a gas firepit. The bathroom includes a shower and bathtub, plus an outdoor shower. The regular tents have the same accommodations, on a slightly smaller scale both indoors and outdoors (but you’ll get a hammock in lieu of the two-tier deck with firepit).
Due to its intimate size, Naviva has only one restaurant: Copal. For dinner, there’s no menu; instead, servers will walk you through a four-course set dinner with such dishes as avocado and citrus salad with feta, queso fundido topped with vegetables and served with flour tortillas, and sea bass with pink mole made with beets and carrots from the resort’s garden.
10. Shinta Mani Wild, Cambodia
- Location: South Cardamom rain forest, Cambodia
- Book now
This tented camp experience in Cambodia’s South Cardamom rain forest is the only one of its kind in the country. Shinta Mani Wild is a passion project from Bangkok-based architect Bill Bensley, who with investor Sokoun Chanpreda purchased an 865-acre swath of land—about the size of New York City’s Central Park—from a logging auction. On that land, he created 15 individually designed tents without cutting down a single tree. He filled them with large beds, Cambodian wood carvings, and open-air bathtubs that allow guests to take in the surrounding jungle. About 70 percent of the retreat’s staff of 120 people come from the local village.
Shinta Mani Wild is located near a key elephant migration trail, and bears, macaques, gibbons, Indochinese tigers, and hornbills also call this habitat home. Experiences offer guests different ways to connect with nature, be it on one of Southeast Asia’s longest zip-lines, in a kayak on the river that runs through the property, on a bird-watching walk, or via a mountain bike. Shinta Mani Wild partners with the NGO Wildlife Alliance, which patrols the property for poachers, an activity that guests can join. The retreat’s sister nonprofit, Shinta Mani Foundation, supports rural families in the area with such projects as a hospitality school and a small business loan program.
11. Suján Jawai
- Location: Rajasthan, India
- Book now
Seeing notoriously elusive wild leopards anywhere in the world is a thrill—and at Suján Jawai, in the Aravalli Hills of Rajasthan, encounters are practically an everyday occurrence. The 10-tent luxury camp’s conservation and rewilding efforts have led to a balanced relationship between local villagers and wild leopards with little human-animal conflict. As a result, the animals here are unusually relaxed around people.
Suján Jawai isn’t only about leopards, though. Bird-watchers will love the rich avian life, equestrians can explore the wild landscapes on Marwari and Kathiawari horses, and the tented camp itself offers the perfect balance of simultaneously immersing you in the wild while coddling you with care. The wilderness-edge swimming pool is irresistible, the cocktails and fireside dinners unforgettable, and the beds so comfy they’re a joy to fall into at the end of an adventurous day.
12. Capella Ubud
- Location: Bali, Indonesia
- Book now
If every new hotel on the Indonesian island of Bali were as conscientiously developed as Capella Ubud, we wouldn’t have to worry so much about the effects of overtourism on the island. The rain forest retreat, designed by Bangkok-based architect Bill Bensley, leaves a light footprint. Located 4.5 miles from the ever-more-crowded village of Ubud, Capella sits along a quiet river embankment in the traditional rice-farming village of Keliki.
No trees were felled to erect 23 tented, teak-floored accommodations that allow in the sounds of the surrounding rain forest. Doors and headboards were carved by Balinese artisans, and private plunge pools are clad in natural stone. There’s a vast, aboveground saltwater pool, and perhaps the first hotel fitness center that could be called exquisite, thanks to its soaring draped-fabric enclosure and its dramatic hand-painted columns. Elsewhere, Indonesian artworks—batik fabrics, intricate paintings from the nearby village of Kamasan—add to the effect.
13. Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa
- Location: Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
- Book Now
The most luxurious way to experience Dubai’s desert may smash an entire holiday budget, but a stay in the Bedouin-inspired tented suites at Al Maha might well be worth it. It’s one of the best places to see desert conservation in action: Al Maha is in the heart of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve, home to the UAE’s largest free-roaming herd of Arabian oryx, a species brought back from extinction in the wild through rehabilitation initiatives. Guests should keep their eyes peeled for gazelles, too—300 Arabian and 100 sand gazelles inhabit the dunes, and the more inquisitive ones often come right up to the 42 tented accommodations. Water recycling, biodiesel, and solar panels all contribute to Al Maha’s efforts to tread lightly on the fragile desert ecosystem.
14. Longitude 131
- Location: Red Centre, Australia
- Book now
Australian Indigenous groups are among the world’s first astronomers, with thousands of years of starlore and an early understanding of the night sky. With almost no urban development, Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park contains some of the most expansive skies in the world, with unobstructed views from horizon to horizon. Sitting adjacent to the park is Longitude 131, a luxury tented camp that overlooks the Outback’s vast, dusty Red Centre and the famed monolithic Uluru (Ayers Rock) and the Kata Tjuta domed rock formations.
The lodge’s 16 tented pavilions are designed to have minimal impact on the delicate, red-dune environment. Tents feature floor-to-ceiling windows with views of Uluru, and private outdoor decks have ecofriendly, clean-burning fireplaces and safari beds for sleeping under the stars. Want views of both Uluru and Kata Tjuta? Book the two-bedroom Dune Pavilion suite, with private outdoor stargazing beds and an outdoor plunge pool to soak up the sky.
15. Three Camel Lodge
- Location: Gobi Desert, Mongolia
- Book now
In the Gobi Altai Mountains of South Gobi, Mongolia, Three Camel Lodge is composed of 40 luxury ger tents with wool carpets, cozy camel hair blankets, wood stoves for cold evenings, and en suite bathrooms built with local stone.
A safari-style 4x4 takes guests to Khongoryn Els Sand Dunes—known as the “Singing Sands” for the low hum they emit when you walk on them—and to a valley filled with millennia-old petroglyphs. The day ends with a sundowner and dinner served alfresco at the base of the Flaming Cliffs, where some of Mongolia’s most impressive dinosaur fossils have been found. Three Camel Lodge is part of Beyond Green, an international portfolio of hotels that prioritize the support of local nature, culture, and community.
Bailey Berg, Mae Hamilton, Brooke Vaughan, Lyndsey Matthews, Jessie Beck, Devorah Lev-Tov, Kathryn Romeyn, Laura Dannen Redman, Megan Eaves, and Andrew Sessa contributed to the reporting of this story.