I have a butler, and it’s a little awkward. What do you ask for when you’re staying in a tent in India? I don’t need someone to build me a fire or beat back wild animals; my canvas-walled refuge at Oberoi Rajvilas has polished teak floors, cloth wall hangings, and an exquisite hand-embroidered canopy. There’s a bathroom with a claw-foot soaking tub, and outside, a wraparound terrace with chaise longues, where I enjoy my morning coffee. This type of “camping” dates back to Mughal rule (1500s to 1700s), when kings traveling for war, hunting, or commerce set up portable palaces adorned with gold- and silver-stitched cushions and sandalwood furniture. Today, I get a taste of that tradition, on grounds that house a modern restaurant, a swimming pool, and a spa, just five miles from Jaipur’s rose-hued city center.
While Rajvilas may be the antithesis of roughing it, the property still provides sensory experiences reminiscent of camping. In the evening, as I walk the otherwise quiet grounds, I hear peacock shrieks along with gongs from the 270-year-old temple that stands at the resort’s center. Torch-lit stone walkways lead to gardens, fountains, and the Ayurvedic spa, which releases scents of sesame oil and roses. I enter the Surya Mahal restaurant for dinner, greeted by the spicy aromas of coriander and chili. The day ends back at my terrace, where I call my butler to request a glass of sauvignon blanc from the Indian winery Sula. I sip it as the sun dips behind desert walls, and I feel grateful that connecting with nature doesn’t have to mean sleeping on the ground.
More tent hotels:
Kasbah Tamadot in Marrakech, Morocco
Kasbah Tamadot, (877) 577-8777
Nine Berber tents welcome guests with warm fabrics and traditional Moroccan furnishings. Each has a deck with Atlas Mountain views, but for a real treat, request one of the five with a private pool. Try authentic dishes such as pigeon pastilla or couscous tagine at the Kanoun Restaurant, and practice your Berber by ordering atay nlikmt (mint tea).
Dunton Hot Springs in Dolores, Colorado
Dunton Hot Springs, (970) 882-4800
This year, the owners of Dunton Hot Springs plan to open Cresto Ranch, a tent resort four miles from the main property. For now, you can stay at Dunton in Christy’s Tent, right, which features Western memorabilia and a shower with views of the Wilson Mountain Range. Assist the chef in preparing dinner, then soak in natural hot springs that have seduced visitors since the Gold Rush.
Banyan Tree in Madivaru, Maldives
Banyan Tree Maldives Madivaru, (960) 666-0760
Each tented villa consists of a living room, a bathroom, and a teak-furnished bedroom that opens onto a porch and Madivaru’s mosaic-walled infinity pool. After a day of diving or snorkeling, you can arrange for a private dinner on the beach or go night fishing in a traditional dhoni boat.