Find out more about Simon Busch
11 incredible wilderness hotels (with a touch of luxury)
There’s getting away from it all.
And then there’s getting AWAY from it all.
These stays are about as remote and thrilling as you can get – but they haven’t forgotten the bath scents.
1. Narwhal and polar bear safari, Canadian Arctic
This is pretty intrepid stuff: camped on an ice floe, you can watch tusked narwhals enjoying themselves mere metres from your icy accommodation.
Staying in yurts – semi-permanent tents – you have plenty of duvets, rugs and a heater to keep you warm. The mountains of remote Baffin and Bylot Islands are the backdrop to this extraordinary setting, with local Inuits as your guides.
From £8,602pp all-inclusive, based on two sharing, including flights; Discover-the-World.com
2. Desert Nights Camp, Wahiba Sands, Oman
Play Laurence of Arabia, only without the saddle sore and sand getting everywhere, at this five-star encampment amid the undulating red-gold dunescape of the Wahiba Sands desert.
Yes, you stay in a tent, but, if this is camping, it’s more luxurious than most hotels. The tent suites, plus a couple of family tents – and even some boring old rooms, for those who really don’t like camping – all come with swank bathrooms attached, plus soul-stirring views of the desert.
Hm, perhaps a bit too pampering for Laurence, after all.
From approx £127pp per night, half-board; Omanhotels.com/desertnightscamp/
3. San Camp, Botswana
More tents but this time on the lunar-like terrain of Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Pans – a dried prehistoric super-lake that you may even learn to pronounce by the time you, regretfully, fly out of here.
The tents, situated among palm trees, are capacious, white and breezy, and the base for game-viewing excursions or walks with San Bushmen trackers.
Or you could marvel at just how far this remote campsite is from traffic jams and corporate meeting rooms.
From £3,301pp for three nights all-inclusive, including flights from the UK; Theluxurysafaricompany.com
4. Isfjord Radio, Svalbard, Norway
From a sultry Botswanan lake floor to the frozen terrain of Norway’s Svalbard Archipelago.
Set off by boat and on foot from the boutique hotel – which occupies a former telecommunications station that once linked the remote region with the Norwegian mainland – on Arctic safaris to see polar bears (famously outnumbering humans on Svalbard) and walruses.
Tours start from £2,350pp, based on two sharing; Simplysweden.co.uk/svalbard
5. Caiman Resort, Pantanal, Brazil
Deep within the Brazilian Pantanal, the world’s largest wetlands, sits this ecologically minded resort. There are no towns nearby and few people but plenty of capuchin monkeys, anteaters, macaws and, oh, caiman (small crocodile) and piranha – so perhaps ask before taking a dip.
Speaking of creatures, you needn’t sacrifice creature comforts here. The well-appointed lodges are integrated sensitively into the surrounding natural terrain.
From £275pp per night, in double rooms; En.caiman.com.br/cordilheira/
6. Tierra Patagonia, Chile
It may not be as well known as African safari country or the wilds of Brazil, but Chile also has some remote and beautiful places.
Deep in the Patagonian pampa – grassy lowlands – this hotel and spa is great for horserides through the Torres del Paine National Park and surrounds.
You’ll see guanaco (native camel-like creatures), foxes and condors above, and return to flickering fireplaces and, of course, plenty of Chilean wine.
From approx £1,560 per person for three nights, based on two sharing; Tierrapatagonia.com
7. Mustang Monument Wild Horse Eco-Resort, Nevada, USA
We’re back in tent territory: this time-handpainted tipis, albeit very spacious ones with hardwood floors, leather armchairs and proper, comfy beds. (You can also stay in cottages in similar rustic-meets-luxury style.)
Activities at the resort, which won the Into the Wild prize at the Tatler Travel Awards this year, range from riding broken in Mustangs (the horse version!) to sitting around a fire, bourbon in hand, listening to legends told by Native Americans.
Approx £780 a night based on two sharing; Mustangmonument.com
8. Thule Lodge, Alaska, USA
Bears and eagles will be your company (hopefully not too close) at this retreat in the Alaskan wilderness 100 miles from any road.
Reachable only by plane, the lodges have stained glass windows and cherry wood writing desks. Dine at the banquet table in the main lodge or soak in the woodfired sauna after expeditions to conquer giant glaciers or kayaking on rivers where bears swipe salmon from the shore.
£5,200pp for four nights and four days, all-inclusive; Naturalworldsafaris.com
9. Paperbark Camp, New South Wales, Australia
Raised above ground in a stand of huge eucalyptus and paperbark trees, the tents here come with polished wood floors, wraparound decking and open-air ensuites so you can shower or bath in private amid the richly scented Australian bush.
Canoe or paddleboard from the waterside camp or walk to a beach on Jervis Bay – six times the size of Sydney Harbour – at the end of a rugged track.
£221 a night for a tent; Coolstays.com/paperbark-camp
10. Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia
Tropical reefs surround these mainly undeveloped private islands with well-established rainforest and dazzling white beaches.
Watch rare hornbills land on the balcony of your stilted villa or swim among kaleidoscopic reef fish in the warm waters of the Gulf of Thailand.
There are yoga, reiki and ayurvedic treatments galore.
From £3,330pp all-inclusive, with selected drinks and private transfers from Phno Penh; Songsaa.com
11. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Florida, USA
And last but not least is this resort in the heart of Africa… in Florida!
This Disney lodge makes a wilderness stay a little more convenient than, say, Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Pans but you still get four “savannahs” to explore, plus more than 200 animals and birds to marvel at.
Oh, and the resort has the largest collection of African art in the country.
From £897pp for seven nights, inc flights; Disneyholidays.co.uk