While a robust space tourism industry is on its way to becoming reality, it’s still going to be pretty expensive — we’re talking at least a few hundred thousand dollars — for quite some time. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be left in the dust when it comes to seeing the stars. There are plenty of places around the world with extremely dark skies that are perfect for astro-tourism, whether you’re looking to gaze at the Milky Way, marvel at the northern (or southern!) lights, or catch the next big meteor shower. And what’s more, these destinations are home to hotels with special night sky programs or accommodations for astronomy-loving travelers, making it easier than ever to witness the beauty of the cosmos in comfort. Here, discover nine of the best stargazing hotels in the world.
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Explora Atacama, Chile
To find the best stargazing, it’s a solid idea to follow the pros. Because of its high elevation, dry climate, and remote location — which mean extraordinarily dark and clear skies — Chile’s Atacama Desert is home to a number of international observatories. Fortunately, the stargazing fun isn’t just for scientists. At Explora Atacama, an adventure resort in San Pedro de Atacama, there’s a private observatory with stargazing sessions for guests, though you could simply look up from anywhere on property to enjoy the night sky.
Primland Resort, Auberge Resorts Collection, Virginia
Not all stargazing adventures require a trip to remote stretches of the planet. Less than a two-hour drive from both Roanoke, Virginia, and the Piedmont Triad area of North Carolina, Primland Resort is a 12,000-acre property filled with all sorts of mountain activities, from golf to horseback riding to skeet shooting. But one of the hotel’s more unique amenities is its on-site observatory, where nightly shows with a local astronomer bring guests closer to the cosmos than ever — through two high-powered telescopes.
Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Finland
Deep in Finnish Lapland, the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort has made a name for itself due to its picturesque glass igloos. With their unobstructed views of the northern lights, the transparent geodesic domes have basically become the unofficial mascot of astro-tourism. But don’t worry — if you choose to stay in the decidedly warmer accommodations, like cozy log chalets, you can still join in on the aurora-spotting fun. The hotel hosts northern lights–chasing excursions into the forest via various transportation methods, from horse-drawn carriages to ATVs. Just remember that you won’t be able to spot them in the summer, as the region gets 24 hours of sunlight.
Mount Cook Lakeside Retreat, New Zealand
If it’s the southern lights you’re after, there are only a few places in the world to see them — New Zealand among them. Book a stay at Mount Cook Lakeside Retreat, located in the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, between March and September to maximize your viewing chances. Even if the lights don’t make an appearance, there’s still plenty more to see in the night sky. The hotel’s Pukaki Wine Cellar and Observatory hosts regular events that combine tastings and dinners with stargazing. Pro tip: You don’t need to be a guest to buy tickets!
Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa, Hawaii
For some 20 years, NASA Solar System ambassador Edward Mahoney has served as the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa’s director of astronomy, so you can safely say this Kaanapali hotel really loves the stars. From Thursday to Monday, Mahoney leads several rooftop stargazing sessions each night — if you have any questions about the stars, he’s the expert to ask! There are two telescopes on the rooftop, including Hawaii’s only recreational 16-inch reflective telescope, nicknamed “Great White.”
3100 Kulmhotel Gornergrat, Switzerland
If you stay at the 3100 Kulmhotel Gornergrat, you’ll be as close as you can get to the stars in Switzerland — the hotel is the country’s highest, sitting at 10,170 feet (or 3,100 meters, hence its name). In the 1960s, two observatories were built into Kulmhotel’s towers, and they’re still a major draw for scientists and amateur astronomers alike. Keep an eye out on the hotel’s event calendar, as it frequently puts on special stargazing programs, like dinner under the stars with a guided viewing by a local astronomer.
andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, Namibia
Located adjacent to Africa’s only International Dark Sky Reserve, the NamibRand Nature Reserve in Namibia, andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge is a prime spot for observing the Milky Way with the naked eye — preferably through the skylights above each suite’s bed. But for a closer look, there’s an on-site observatory staffed by a resident astronomer to cater to guests’ stargazing needs. Since the nearest town is 87 miles away, there’s no light pollution to detract from your view of the cosmos.
Hotel Rangá, Iceland
For travelers who value a full night’s sleep but don’t want to miss an overnight appearance of the northern lights, Hotel Rangá has you covered. Its staff always has eyes on the skies, and if the aurora flares up in the middle of the night, they’ll give guests a ring to wake them up. Since the northern lights can be a bit fickle, make the most of your Hotel Rangá stargazing experience by attending an astronomer-led session at the on-site observatory — the program runs from September through April.
Anantara Kihavah, Maldives
Forget overwater bungalows — how about an overwater observatory? Well, Anantara Kihavah in the Maldives has both. Stargazing sessions with the country’s most powerful telescope are led by Sky Guru Shameem, a local astronomer who can tell guests both ancient myths about and scientific explanations for everything you see in the night sky. Plus, the observatory is located on the rooftop of a cocktail bar, so you can enjoy the show with a drink in hand.
Stefanie Waldek is a freelance space, travel, and design journalist. Until she can fly to space herself, she’ll be keeping her eyes on the skies from wherever she is on Earth. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @stefaniewaldek.