Huangshan Yupinglou Hotel, China
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There are two ways to reach the accommodation perched on the peak of Yupin Mountain in China’s Huangshan region: take the cable car or brave the two-hour climb up 60,000 stairs to the top. Whichever route you choose, summiting the Yellow Mountains’ highest peak isn’t for the faint-hearted, with its jagged, craggy edges frequently fringed by mist. The peak’s accommodation, also known as Jade Screen Hotel, makes a welcome resting place.
Hotel Arctic, Greenland
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As the world’s most northerly four-star hotel, you’d hardly expect Hotel Arctic to be easily reached (from Denmark’s Copenhagen, for example, it’s two flights totalling around seven hours before you arrive at Ilulissat). Thrillseekers won’t be able to resist the temptation to stay in a makeshift igloo, complete with views of the nearby Ilulissat Icefjord, where chunks of sugar-like icebergs bob in the distance.
Skylodge Adventure Suites, Peru
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Ever woken in a panic after dreaming you’re falling? If so, this gut-wrenching hotel is not the place for you. If, however, you love the idea of abseiling to your aluminium and weather-resistant polycarbonate pod that hangs 400 metres off the ground in Peru’s Sacred Valley, book a night at Skylodge Adventure Suites. Each seven-metre-long pod includes an easily accessible private bathroom, as well as a gourmet meal with wine in a separate dining pod. Thanks to the completely clear walls of the capsule, stargazing is a cinch and when you’re ready to depart, there’s a thrilling zipline to take you down to the ground.
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The private conservation reserve of NamibRand in the southern reaches of Namibia is home to over 12,000 springbok and 3000 oryx (types of antelope), along with zebras, giraffes, baboons, hyenas and African wildcats. Wolwedans is adjacent to this teeming reserve and adventure-lovers will be stunned by the hotel’s proximity to local wildlife. We’re talking close – the 18-bed Dune Lodge is completely open to the elements with only canvas blinds as walls separating you from the Namibian desert.
Burgh Island, UK
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Ever ridden a sea tractor? Or even heard of one? Unless you’ve made the journey to the English outpost of Burgh Island, in the country’s southwest, chances are your answer to both questions is no. Near the tiny village of Bigbury-on-Sea, the private island’s hotel – the Art Deco Burgh Island Hotel – operates a ‘sea tractor’ to take guests the 250 metres from the mainland to the island’s shoreline during high tide. If you’ve chosen this retreat to make the most of the quiet life, you’re not alone – the hotel’s Beach House room was actually constructed for Agatha Christie as a writer’s retreat in the 1930s.
Bushmans Kloof, South Africa
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Ringed by a scoop of rugged ranges and rocky outcrops, this wellness retreat 270 kilometres north of Cape Town in the foothills of the Cederberg Mountains is a nature lover’s idea of paradise. A natural heritage site, the surrounding reserve boasts 750 plant species, 150 bird species and over 35 species of mammals to meet. Its isolated location means it’s perfectly situated for viewing 130 ancient rock art sites, easily appreciated with a hike or two into the surrounding wilderness.
Adrère Amellal, Egypt
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Few of us could survive without our smartphones but at the Egyptian ecolodge Adrère Amellal, you’ll have to do without them – and without electricity. But the enforced digital detox is only one of the major draws of this hotel nine hours’ drive from Cairo. Situated 15 kilometres from the Siwa Oasis in north-east Egypt, this hotel offers guests an off-the-grid bunker crafted from kershef – a building material made from mud and salt water. The property subsists solely on solar power, with all food gathered from the on-site organic garden.
Hôtel de Glace, Canada
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Each year, it takes craftsman five weeks to transform over 30,000 tonnes of snow into Quebec City’s seasonal icy structure, the Hôtel de Glace. No surprises here that inside temperatures are chilled (between -3°C and -5°C to be exact) but you’ll be kept toasty with Nordic sleeping bags or reindeer pelts during this Arctic-feel adventure. During the winter, when the hotel is in operation, activities can include dog sledding, snowmobiling and following snowshoe trails.
Tierra Patagonia Adventure and Spa Hotel, Chile
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At Chile’s Tierra Patagonia Adventure and Spa Hotel, perched at the very edge of the glacier-dotted Torres del Paine National Park in Chile’s far south, isolation is a positive. As it takes a while to reach your destination – a four-hour flight into either Puerto Natales or Punta Arenas from Santiago plus a drive of the same length – only the exploratory (and patient) will make it to this part of the world. On arrival, though, treks into deep valleys and past soaring mountains will make the journey more than worthwhile.
Skåpet Lodges, Norway
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After a long, exhausting wander deep into the wilds of Norway, imagine stumbling across a cluster of comfy lodges instead of having to pitch a tent. In the country’s south-west near Soddatjørna, that’s exactly what weary hikers will find. These self-catering mountain lodges, designed by KOKO Architects, were conceived to have the smallest possible effect on the surrounding environment. Solar panels power the lights, gas stoves give fire to the kitchen and, true to Nordic culture, there’s a sauna. There’s no need to book but guests are expected to leave a little something for their stay in a box inside the lodge and leave enough firewood and supplies for the next visitors. Photo: Tõnu Tunnel
Lion Sands Game Reserve, South Africa
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No walls? No problem, spouts this South African safari-style hotel. Spend a night in the wall-less, roofless Lion Sands Luxury Treehouse and you’re likely to be roused by lions roaring, hyenas cackling and leopards “sawing” (yes, that’s apparently what they sound like). The treehouse is secured on stilts high enough to create plenty of separation between you and the plain-bound creatures but nothing can silence those wild animal calls in the depths of the night.
Qasr al Sarab Desert Resort, UAE
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Nestled in the undulating dunes of Rub’ al Khali – one of the largest sand deserts in the world – reaching this resort in the United Arab Emirates requires more than a simple stroll into the sunset. A two-hour drive from Abu Dhabi City will bring you to its edges and only once you’ve arrived does the adventure really begin: activities organised onsite range from archery to desert yoga, as well as sunrise or sunset camel trekking.
Explora Rapa Nui, Easter Island
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A taste for adventure is practically a prerequisite for visitors to this remote volcanic island, 3700 kilometres west of Chile and 4000 kilometres east of Tahiti. Even as a dot in the South Pacific Ocean, Easter Island (or Rapa Nui) has a lodging made for lovers of the great outdoors. At the expertly designed Explora Rapa Nui, incorporated activities focus on appreciating the island’s natural beauty – discovering marine life via scuba diving and snorkelling is popular, as are hikes to admire the island’s volcanoes and spectacular beaches.
Hotel on Skis, Finland
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Sleeping on a blanket of Finnish snow may tickle the fancy of the most adventurous camper but thanks to an inventive new glamping offering, there’s no need to shiver out in the open during an Arctic evening. This hotel from Off the Map Travel offers mobile accommodation that’s towed in and out of Finnish Lapland according to seasonal changes. When it reopens to the public in January 2019, the rooms, which are mounted on skis like sleeping sleds, will be located six kilometres from Kilpisjärvi, surrounded by shimmering snow and with an unrivalled view of the night sky thanks to its glass roof. Staying put is so last season.