We asked travellers to tell us which destinations and hotels are the best for admiring the night sky.
The Mackenzie Apartments at Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
The Church of the Good Shepard near Lake Tekapo
Lake Tekapo is one of those gorgeous landscapes that makes you want to double-check you’ve not stumbled into the backdrop of a musical. Blue skies, golden clouds and snow-tipped mountains are reflected in the famous lake and watching the sunset is mesmerising. While you might miss the scenery, Lake Tekapo is just as impressive at night, as the lack of light-pollution makes it possible to spot millions of softly twinkling stars. The Mackenzie Apartments overlook the lake and guests can watch the light show from the well-equipped balconies.
Oasis Bedouin Camp in Wadi Rum, Jordan
The Oasis Bedouin Camp in Wadi Rum
The staff at Oasis Bedouin Camp go out of their way to make sure guests are entertained, with everything from camel rides to an onsite casino (yes, at a campsite). At night, however, there’s no need for distractions as the night sky transforms into an awe-inspiring collection of constellations. The landscape of Wadi Rum is often referred to as ‘Mars on Earth’ and the red desert sand dunes create an intergalactic atmosphere for imaginative stargazers.
Chez Youssef in Merzouga, Morocco
Night in the Erg Chebbi dunes
Chez Youssef is a private riad in the centre of Merzouga and next to the Erg Chebbi dunes. Much like the Wadi Rum, the bright orange colour and austere landscape of the Erg Chebbi dunes make it easy to imagine you are entering an other-worldly, previously unexplored place. Chez Youssef includes a luxurious Berber campsite and guests can explore the dunes by camel or jeep during the day. At night it’s possible to spot the Pole Star, Jupiter and even Saturn.
Hotel Pascual Andino in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
The Atacama Desert in Chile
The Atacama Desert is the driest desert in the world (it gets less rainfall than Antarctica) and the lack of air pollution creates a 360° astronomical wonderland. The Hotel Pascual Andino is well connected to the local town and airport, but after only a few minutes drive you can also find yourself gaping at the night sky as it bursts into a glittering display. Travellers in search of some stargazing without hiring a local guide will love the hotel’s outdoor hot tub.
São Lourenço do Barrocal in Monsaraz, Portugal
The Milky Way, part of the Dark Sky Reserve in Portugal
São Lourenço do Barrocal is a renovated farm, located in the medieval village of Monsaraz. The square picture windows of the farmhouse look out over the green fields of a 780-hectare estate, but it’s at night when the landscape really comes into its own. Only a 40-minute drive away travellers will find the Alqueva Dam and the official ‘Dark Sky Reserve’, a stretch of sky that offers outstanding opportunities for stargazing.
** The data scientists at Booking.com looked at the top destinations endorsed for ‘stargazing’ by travellers and then selected the highest rated hotels.