10 of the world’s best desert hotels 2017
When you think of beautiful and luxurious getaways, islands and beaches are often the first places that spring to mind.
But desert landscapes offer equally dazzling views, a heightened sense of adventure — and a decidedly less clichéd experience.
From Middle Eastern palaces to luxury tented camps in Africa, we’ve handpicked 10 real-life desert oases where you can live out your Lawrence of Arabia fantasies.
With its rugged outdoor appeal and showstopping luxury, Utah’s iconic Amangiri resort sets the standard for desert hotels.
Its dramatic location alone — tucked away in a protected valley flanked by dunes and canyons — makes it worth the visit.
Inside, you’ll find concrete walls, rough timber furnishings and a muted brown color palette that embraces and celebrates the resort’s arid setting.
That’s not to say that luxury is spared at all — Amangiri’s plush suites boast private courtyards with outdoor fireplaces and expansive desert views.
Longitude 131, Northern Territory, Australia
Located in Australia’s arid Red Centre facing Uluru — Australia’s most impressive natural landmark — Longitude 131 is a hotel experience you won’t forget in a hurry.
It consists of 16 large, luxury tented pavilions draped in flowing white fabrics and beautifully decorated with indigenous artwork and memorabilia.
Each pavilion boasts a sprawling private balcony outfitted with a fireplace and day bed, so you can sleep under the stars, if you wish.
But what are you really here for? The postcard-perfect views, of course — this is the only place you can admire Uluru without lifting your head from your pillow.
Korakia Pensione, California
Though it’s tucked away in a quiet corner of the Palm Springs desert, this magical boutique hotel feels distinctly Mediterranean.
Its dreamy whitewashed villas are flanked by low palms and draped with bright pink bougainvillea — reminiscent of villas in Morocco or the Greek islands.
Rooms are named, not numbered, and individually designed with rustic and eclectic furniture (no two villas are alike).
Property highlights include two gorgeous pools and outdoor spaces equipped with fire pits, fountains and plush loungers — encouraging guests to make the most of the desert sunshine.
Qasr Al Sarab by Anantara, Abu Dhabi
Perched at the edge of the Empty Quarter, the world’s largest uninterrupted sand desert, the Qasr Al Sarab resort is as far-flung and remote as it gets.
Rising from the desert like a mirage, it’s surrounded by nothing but sand dunes and 250,000 square miles of sun-scorched wilderness.
The resort itself is as stunning and unforgettable as its backdrop, resembling a sprawling sultan’s palace — particularly when lit up for the evening.
It boasts four restaurants, a sumptuous Anantara Spa, and (perhaps most impressive of all) a palm-flanked, free-form swimming pool that looks like a real-life desert oasis.
Little Kulala, Namibia
Set amongst ancient camel-thorn trees in the private, 67,000-acre Kulala Wilderness Reserve, this charming lodge makes for the perfect desert hideaway.
It offers just eleven climate-controlled, thatched kulalas (which means “to sleep” in Swahili), each outfitted with its own private plunge pool and rooftop skybed.
Decor is earthy and desert-chic — think lots of bleached, golden wood and organic, neutral-toned linens.
If you can drag yourself outside, there are endless diversions on offer, including hot-air balloon safaris and guided tours through the
Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa, Chile
This upscale boutique lodge impresses from the outset with its sleek architecture and panoramic views over the volcano-studded Atacama Desert.
But it’s not just a pretty face: Rooms are built using organic, locally sourced materials and decked out with ultra-luxe amenities like private terraces and outdoor showers.
The hotel offers endless diversions, too, from three-hour hikes through Devil’s Canyon to leisurely trips to the nearby Puritama Hot Springs.
Or you can simply wind down with a glass of local Carménère in the hotel’s gorgeous infinity swimming pool, which faces the majestic Licancabur Volcano.
Enchantment Resort, Arizona
Surrounded by pine trees and striking red rock formations, the Enchantment Resort feels totally secluded, though it’s just a quick drive from downtown Sedona.
Its rustic adobe casitas only add to the resort’s tranquility with charming southwestern décor, log-beamed ceilings and cozy beehive fireplaces.
Though each casita boasts its own private deck looking out towards Boynton Canyon, the best views in the resort can be found at Che Ah Chi restaurant.
Here, you’ll find floor-to-ceiling windows offering 180-degree views of majestic Red Rock Country (and killer seasonal cuisine to match).
Scarabeo Camp, Agafay Desert, Morocco
From a distance, Scarabeo looks like a jumble of plain white cloth tents dropped by mistake in the middle of the stark, stony Agafay Desert.
But upon entering the camp, you’ll find style and luxury comparable to any hotel in Marrakech or the High Atlas.
Behind each Bedouin-style tent is a retro-safari aesthetic (think iron lanterns, vintage suitcases and rush matting) paired with flawless modern amenities.
Throw in jaw-dropping views of the Atlas mountains from every angle, and you have one of Morocco’s most glamorous and beautiful tented camps.
Added bonus: It’s surprisingly accessible, located just under an hour’s drive from the bustling souks of Marrakech.
Marquis Los Cabos, Baja, Mexico
Why choose between a rugged desert escape and a breezy beachfront getaway when you can have both?
Uniquely situated in Mexico’s Sonoran Desert and on the Sea of Cortez — “where the desert meets the sea,” as its tagline describes — this adults-only resort offers travelers the best of both worlds.
Guests can ride camels through the desert dunes and go scuba diving (as well as shoot rifles or learn to salsa) all in the same day, if they want to.
As if all that weren’t reason enough to visit, a recent $10 million makeover has made the resort even more beautiful and luxurious than ever.
Updates include sleek, whitewashed exteriors, a soaring open-air lobby with a 40-foot waterfall and 235 colorful, ultra-luxe guest rooms, many of which boast hydro-massage tubs and outdoor terraces.
The Saguaro, Palm Springs
With its famously bright facade inspired by desert wildflowers and sixties pop art, The Saguaro is certainly the world’s most colorful desert hotel.
It’s arguably also the hippest, thanks to its glamorous Hollywood crowd and lively, palm-flanked pool.
Its common areas and 245 rooms are unsurprisingly psychedelic with their neon carpets, striped throws and rainbow-colored curtains.
But the hotel’s most impressive feature would have to be its eye-popping natural backdrop — even with all the colorful distractions, the looming San Jacinto mountains steal the show every time. CNN