Tree houses, yurts, greenhouse-style hotel rooms and other alternative shelters are making a big-city comeback as the "glamour camping" trend moves into urban centers around the world. As to the appeal of urban glamping—well, any child of the city or the suburbs who ever "camped" in the back yard on a summer night can understand. You're right in the middle of it all: hearing snatches of city noise, grazing on easy-to-replenish food supplies, and sleeping under the stars, in a comfy bed that someone else will make up the next morning.
Click through the next few pages to see 10 spots for urban glamping.
|Suite Glamping at Hyatt 48 Lex|
Whether you're visiting or going about your day-to-day work routine during the heat of summer, Manhattan's crowds and smells can be unbearably oppressive at sidewalk level. Hence, the genius of the Hyatt 48 Lex's "Suite Glamping" program. Beds, snacks and wine service are set up on room terraces several stories above ground level, and guests can sleep amidst the city lights, floating far above the chaos.
If you're looking for something funky in the way of alternative lodging, Airbnb is quite the repository of artsy, unusual, individually owned short-term rentals. Pictured here, a yurt in residential East Austin, Texas. Other listings include a Paris artist studio with the bedroom inside a converted "caravan" trailer; and a Deco-furbished Airstream in a residential West Los Angeles backyard.
|Hotel Vintage Plaza|
In cities where the weather is rarely conducive to sleeping outdoors, greenhouse-style ceilings can provide a similar "under the stars" effect. Pictured, a Starlight Guestroom at Vintage Plaza, a Kimpton Hotel in Portland, Ore. Conservatory windows allow guests to enjoy the Pacific Northwest's glorious clear nights…while protecting them from the all-too-frequent rainshowers.
|Las Ventanas al Paraiso|
Los Cabos isn't a big city per se, but the town of Cabo San Lucas can get pretty raucous, while the hotel corridor where most of the major hotels are situated feels like a big, zooming highway. What many people want from Los Cabos is a romantic seaside escape—and luxury standby Las Ventanas provides that, despite its corridor location. The popular "Sleeping with the Stars" program is an al fresco overnight experience swathed in 5-star luxury. (Hint: Preface it with a moonlit private dinner on the beach.)
Self-styled as "the greenest hotel in Thailand," this 11-room property doesn't have a driveway—guests either boat up, or bicycle from the BTS Skytrain dropoff point. It's primarily constructed of driftwood and bamboo, with a natural swimming pond and a menu featuring organic, seasonal, solar-cooked food. It's an authentic jungle experience that is, shockingly, a mere 30 minutes' Skytrain ride from the city center of Bangkok, Thailand.
Contemporary luxury lodging brand Angsana offers its own take on the Moroccan riad. Commissioning local artisans to re-invent a collection of historic riads in Old Medina, Angsana brings big-budget luxury while still maintaining artistic appeal and casual sexiness.
Thought to date back to the 1500s, the Casas Colgadas (Hanging Houses) in the old city part of Cuenca, Spain, have served many purposes besides attracting tourists over the centuries. Houses, restaurants, and civic spaces have occupied the medieval buildings that seem to cling onto the rock ravine walls. Medium-sized hotels such as the Victoria and Leonor de Aquitania have moved into some of these ancient constructions—though the most iconic is currently an art museum.
Only in concept stage at this point, the Barcelona Rock hostel project nevertheless got international attention when renderings were released in 2011. Most people say that regardless of whether the proposed 320-foot vertical stone slab "bohemian hostel" is ever built, its multi-purpose layout (i.e. the exterior doubles as an advanced rock-climbing wall) and sustainable construction plan are a case study in innovation.
|Safari Park San Diego Roar and Snore|
Unlike the original San Diego Zoo, which is in downtown San Diego, the offshoot Safari Park is in a North County suburb, where its animals are free to roam over acres--and where overnight guests actually might give in to the fantasy of being in the bush. In reality, the land of Starbucks, golf courses and gas stations is a mere mile or so away.
|Zoo Lates at ZSL London Zoo|
London Zoo's late nights and overnights programs have proven to be enormously popular, as much with adults as with children. Sleepovers in the "BUG House" ( biodiversity and conservation exhibit) are available through November 2012 for ages 8-11. If you're an adult wanting to camp with the ZSL, stay tuned for 2013 dates. Till then, the alternative is to attend one of the Friday night Zoo Lates parties, where champagne picnics, costumery and DJ entertainment takes over the grounds "for a cause."