It’s no big secret that I’ve always been drawn to unique accommodations, the quirkier the better in my opinion. Run-of-the-mill hotels are not really my thing, which is why I’ve been using vacation rental services ever since I started traveling on my own. They offer personality in spades, more often than not they’re cheaper than a traditional hotel, and nothing brings the Type A planner in me greater joy than sifting through properties for hours upon end in search of the perfect fit for our travel style.
Which is why when I was recently introduced to glamping, I spent hours perusing rentals all over the world. Do I want to sleep in a yurt in South Africa? How about a tree house in the Pacific Northwest? Or maybe a teepee on the Mediterranean coast? I’ll take one of each for $200 (a night), please, Alex! And the cool thing is that with this service, you can do all of it—and plenty more.
This year, SVV and I are hoping to do some extensive national park travel in celebration of the centennial, and I scoured the web for a few of my favorite glamping spots within our own U.S. parks (as well as a few abroad, too). Here are a few of my favorites:
Luxury Yurt in Central California
Back when I was writing the Frommer’s California guides, I fell in love with the Cayucos area near Pismo Beach, about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. And I’ll be honest: Staying in a yurt has long been on SVV’s and my bucket list (can you believe this is one type of lodging we’ve yet to check off?!). So staying in a yurt beneath the towering oaks of Southern California—with access to yoga, wine tastings, a hot tub and more!—sounds like the recipe for a dreamy weekend to me indeed.
Tri-Level Tree House in Asheville
SVV and I have been eyeing this property as a potential trip for my upcoming birthday (to replicate my 30th when we met up with several Semester at Sea pals in Asheville for the holiday weekend). In a dream scenario to ring in 33, I’d love to hit the road with several of my food-loving Nashville friends and hole up in this Blue Ridge Mountain getaway for a weekend of cooking, drinking and camaraderie (OK, and a lot of social media snaps).
Teepee in France
I had a teepee as a kid that my mom let me take out into the backyard or set up in the playroom to “camp,” so being able to sleep in a full-size teepee sounds like a childhood dream fulfilled. The fact that this one is located in the Brittany province of northwestern France only adds fuel to my wanderlust.
Airstream in BC
If SVV and I ever pay off our house—or rather, ever stop working on said house and accumulating piles of debt as a result—mark our words that we will be buying an Airstream trailer. Until then, I’ll satiate that longing by heading up to Canada and checking into this Aistream stay, complete with a deck and hot tub (you can’t beat that!).
Camper Van in the American West
That iconic two-month road trip of the Western states that SVV and I took back in the summer of 2011 was that singular experience we just can’t stop talking about, even five years later. And while not everyone may be as lucky as me to have in-laws with a camping trailer, the good news is that you can rent a Mercedes campervan—with pick up and drop off in Palm Springs—and imitate our own epic journey, perfect for families or adventurous couples like us.
Sleeps: 2-4 people
Beachfront Safari Tent in Spain
My very first guidebook gig was in Spain, and as Spanish is the only other language I (sort of) speak, I’m always looking for a reason to return. This luxury tent stay just south of Barcelona that opens out onto the beach of the Mediterranean coast is all the excuse I need.
Stone Villa in Tahoe
I’ve spent plenty of time in cabins around Lake Tahoe—in fact, we were part of a cabin share during my winters as a Californian—but I have never seen as cool a property in the Sierra Nevadas as this one. It’s enough to have me researching airfare back to Reno, stat.
Sleeps: 14 people
Snow Yurt in Bozeman
If you’re new to these parts, you may not yet know about my obsession with Montana, but let’s just say that it tops my list of favorite U.S. states. And how cool to be able to stay in a yurt that’s not only in Montana but also has ski-in, ski-out access? It makes the whole apres thing a whole heck of a lot easier, and with bunk beds, it’s the ideal rental to accommodate a squad of snow-loving pals, too. (I don’t know about your squad but my squad would love to cozy up in that yurt as we pass the bottle of bourbon around the snug space until it runs dry.) Bonus: You’ll be just an hour and a half outside of Yellowstone if you need a day trip.
Sleeps: 6-8 people
Tree House in Hawaii
Hawaii is the one tropical honeymoon destination I’d never consider overrated, and what better way to kick off a new marriage (or other occasion for a romantic getaway) than stealing away to this secluded tree house deep within the fern forest of the Big Island just outside of Volcanoes National Park. (SVV, I hope you’re taking notes for our 10th wedding anniversary; it will be here before you know it, old man.)
Now it’s your time to dream and scheme your best glamping travel. I’m interested to hear what kind of property you’d stay in if given the chance. Would it be a dome, an eco-pod or maybe even a cave?