You don’t have to head to the woods anymore to experience the great outdoors. In fact, while glamping took the “roughing it” aspect out of camping, urban glamping takes the woods out of the adventure. If sleeping under the stars with spectacular views and mostly fresh air is what you’re craving, urban glamping offers the easiest, most comfortable and quickest way to get away.
Glamping has been a trend for a while now, usually involving a canvas tent outfitted with luxuries typically reserved for hotels, like plush bedding and five-star dining. The whole idea of camping is to escape our stressful lives and commune with nature, and today’s savvy hoteliers have catered to this desire by placing extravagantly-outfitted tents in urban settings.
Urban glamping seems to have its roots in the growing use of Airstream trailers as trendy hotel rooms. These retro silver bullets have been popping up on roofs everywhere from Bonn to Cape Town. In über-cool Melbourne, Australia, the Notel’s collection of stylish Airstreams sits on top of a parking lot, yet still feels like an extravagant treat thanks to their angular, boldly-painted interiors and fun, glamorous amenities.
In the U.S. a few big hotel brands have joined the revolution, realizing pitching a tent on the roof is a great use of their often-pricey real estate. Novel it may be, but who doesn’t love lingering on the balcony on a balmy evening with a glass of wine? Now imagine you didn’t even have to go back inside, but could just fall asleep there on a plush hotel bed, where the only wild animals are perhaps in the hotel bar. That’s the appeal of urban glamping.
Ready to pitch a tent on a high-rise and enjoy the starry night? Here are a few stand-out urban glamping adventures.
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THE BEVERLY WILSHIRE, Los Angeles
Surely no one is more averse to roughing it than the guests of the Four Seasons. But the glamorous Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire, which was once home to the likes of Elvis Presley and Steve McQueen, is betting they can make the great outdoors perfectly posh.
The rooftop tent at the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire is anything but a tent. It can only be accessed through the Veranda Suite, a room occupying its own floor. Ten stories up, the stunning rooftop terrace features 270-degree views of the Hollywood Hills and Rodeo Drive.
Taking full advantage of this view and L.A.’s warm weather, the hotel pitched a 16-foot tent with 10-foot ceilings on the veranda. No luxury is spared, as your tent is outfitted with a queen-sized bed dressed with fine Four Seasons linens, a crystal chandelier, and fur rugs. Enjoy dinner on an oversized lounge chair set near a glass-encased campfire, savoring the treats of the hotel’s refined glamping tasting menu prepared by Executive Chef Samir Roonwall. Treats include s’mores made with 24-karat gold leaf, Tahitian vanilla bean marshmallows, and a smoked 55-percent Valrhona chocolate bar paired with a vintage Champagne flight.
In case the great outdoors becomes a bit too much, you can access the adjacent one-bedroom suite and all its marble luxuries. Who knew the great outdoors could be this nice?
THE GWEN, Chicago
The recently-opened Gwen is graced with a glamorous yurt perched on the terrace of the 16th floor. The city views are an architectural enthusiast’s dream, offering picturesque skyscapes with striking buildings such as the neo-gothic Tribune Tower. The historic McGraw-Hill building, which houses the hotel, dates from Chicago’s thriving 1930s, but is named after the sculptress who created its façade.
Your yurt, known as the Lotus Belle tent, is furnished lavishly, including drum side tables with mango wood tops and a copper iron base, hand-knotted macramé seat cushions, and a braided Indian jute rug. You’ll also get access to a two-bedroom suite, airport transport, and gourmet treats. Visitors can opt for the glamping tasting menu or enjoy other amenities like the Prohibition Porter mixology service. Available throughout the summer months, this is undoubtedly a unique way to see Chicago.
COLLECTIVE RETREATS, New York
Governors Island is one of New York’s most impressive development projects of late. This incredible redevelopment, completed in 2016, took a disused 172-acre island lying off the coast of Manhattan and turned it into an urban park. Already home to a peppering of historic buildings, it’s only 800 yards from the Big Apple.
The project has been attracting eager day-trippers for a while, but it is now home to a unique overnight experience as well. Governor’s Island is a camping destination for overwhelmed Manhattanites or anyone else who cares to have a view of the Statue of Liberty over their evening glass of wine.
This glamping camp offers an interesting fusion between urban and rural, seeing as the tents are actually pitched in a grassy area. They offer tents of different levels of luxury to cater to different needs, with the Summit Tent offering a king-size bed with 1,500-thread-count linens, a down comforter, and a designer-curated blanket.
THE NOTEL, Melbourne
For international glamping with a twist, the Notel in Melbourne offers a thoroughly modern overnight stay, with impossibly chic Airstream trailers outfitted in pastel florescent colors, which guests can unlock and access via smartphone. One futuristic pod even has a light-up hot tub outside or, as Notel cheekily calls it, an Airstream with benefits.
Owner James Fry sourced the 1970s Airstream trailers from California, stripped them, and brought in interior designers and architects to achieve their impossibly cool look. They’re packed with lots of amenities like Wi-Fi, Netflix, and a minibar with craft beer, Champagne, and other perks from hip local companies. Located on the roof of a parking lot near fashionable Flinders Lane, this is one for the Millennials, and really embraces the urban aspect of urban glamping by offering a truly unique way to get a sense of the city’s creative and flamboyant personality.