Wrapping up the Northern Lights in Sweden
Known for having the clearest skies and best stargazing in Scandinavia, Swedish Lapland is home to several sky stations. It’s a magical place, criss-crossed by river systems that slice the landscape into thousands of islands, not to mention a rising spot on the global food scene: October hosts Stars du Nord, a sustainable food festival featuring Michelin-starred chefs . So if you like your astronomy with a side of rare Kalix Löjrom caviar and harvested juniper berries, you’ve found your place. Then there is the Treehotel in Harads which is an attraction in itself.
It is what it promises: a hotel consisting of eight tree houses – designed by top architects including Thomas Sandell, Bjarke Ingels and Snøhetta – each suspended above ground in a pine forest, each unique in shape and design. (The eighth shelter, the Biosphere, which serves to attract and house birdlife, was added just this month.) Save those for fall: Summer never gets dark, but you get that in the colder months Double act of trillions of points of light and the northern lights. baumhotel.sefrom 3,100 SKr (approx. £250)
Night lights on the quiet side of the Mexican Riviera
Mexico’s Riviera Maya has developed rapidly in recent years, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still stretches of its powdery white sand beaches, happily free from the bright lights of busy cities and resorts.
At Etéreo – part of the Auberge collection of hotels and resorts – which opened in December in Kanai, north of Playa del Carmen, the clear night sky influenced the on-site concept: the resort’s 75 accommodations, ranging from studios to three-bedrooms -Accommodation ranges from family penthouses to lavishly furnished “sky decks” – roof terraces with chaise lounges to kick back and watch the show overhead. (It doesn’t hurt that you’re also near a massive spa that offers facials and massages as well as energy-manipulating therapies, as well as four restaurants, a contemporary art collection, and the world’s second-largest coral reef 250m offshore. ) aubergeresorts.comfrom $1,299
Southern cross spotting in Australia
Cape Otway, southwest of Melbourne, is one of Australia’s southernmost points – reaching down into the Southern Ocean and surrounded by primary coastal forest. In February 2020, the ultimate accommodation in the middle of nature was opened here on 200 hectares of private land. Sky Pods are architect-designed, self-contained suites with wood floors and open decks, large king-size beds with down comforters, and floor-to-ceiling glass walls on three sides.
The property’s owners have spent the last decade planting native species, including about 60,000 trees, and restoring the acreage to its pre-cultivation state. Koalas, wallabies and countless bird species live everywhere. By nightfall, you’ll understand how Otway earned its reputation for having some of the clearest skies on the continent: the stars abound, with a treat for residents of the northern hemisphere: the Southern Cross is visible year-round . skypods.com.aufrom A$395 (approx. £225), minimum stay 2 nights
Dark sky delights in remote Namibia
It has just under 3 million people on a landmass twice the size of California – we trust you with the light pollution calculations – and it borders one of the planet’s designated International Dark Sky Places, the NamibRand Nature Reserve (whose skies are among the darkest anywhere). No wonder Namibia in general, and Sossusvlei National Park in particular, attracts night sky watchers from all over the world.
The star-curated experiences here are numerous, from 12-day mobile star “safaris” to resident astronomers and camp observatories. One of the best facilities of this kind is found at &Beyond’s Sossusvlei Desert Lodge – set in its own private reserve and home to a Celestron CPC 1100 GPS computerized telescope and a squadron of astronomers from Africa, Australia and the USA. If you want to look beyond the observatory, all suites have skylights over the beds. andbeyond.comfrom around £580 per person sharing
Chasing the Milky Way in the Maldives
In the Maldives, everything from the design to the cocktails is a bit extra (prices included, unfortunately). So does stargazing: as in Namibia, observatories and telescopes abound in the better resorts (most notably the two Soneva islands of Fushi and Jani). This summer, Milaidhoo Maldives is launching an astronomical “retreat” program in the north of beautiful Baa Atoll.
Dubbed the Milkyway by the Maldives, it puts together several nights of starry and guided activities, from open-air spa treatments and dinners to navigating a traditional one dhoni Sailboat among the stars to a crash course in night sky photography. It was conceived and directed by Valerie Stimac, an astronomer and author who wrote Lonely Planet dark skies. milaidhoo.comfrom $1,625 per night