Hotels have long been designed like cocoons, shielding us from the elements of the outside world. However, a number of rural properties across the globe have recently thrown that model on its head, designing their rooms for optimum connection with nature. Here are seven places that pair the wonder of camping with the comfort of sleeping indoors – all by setting their beds behind glass walls. 

1. Panorama Glass Lodge – Iceland

Tucked into the rugged wilderness of West Iceland and South Iceland are three transparent cabins collectively known as the Panorama Glass Lodge. All lie less than two hours from Reykjavik but feel a world away with wrap-around glass panels revealing either fjord or volcano views. Your biggest decision will be whether to chase the midnight sun from the bed or in the private hot tub nearby.

A row of igloos made of glass are lined up in deep snow amid tall pine trees. Overhead, the wispy green shapes of the Northern Lights streak across the starry night sky.
The magical Northern Lights put on a show over Finnish Lapland @ Courtesy of Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort

2. Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort – Finland

Everybody wants to see the Northern Lights, but nobody wants to suffer through hours of subzero temperatures to make it happen. Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Finnish Lapland offers a solution: glass igloos. Lay back under your blanket and watch as the chartreuse glow of the aurora borealis dances across an untainted sky. By day, you can strip naked for a smoke sauna, taste-test the products of the on-site brewery or commune with the indigenous Sami reindeer herders who call this region home.

A simple wood-and-glass chalet stands on grass with a hedgerow behind it. Beyond, there are barren, rolling hills.
You won't have to take your eyes off the wilds of New Zealand @ Courtesy of PurePods

3. PurePods – New Zealand

The six PurePods scattered across the rugged wilds of New Zealand’s South Island are built – from the see-through floors up to the transparent roofs – almost entirely of glass. Reaching each cabin requires a quick stroll through the bush (typically 10–15 minutes) to ensure maximum privacy as you shower behind glass walls and sleep under a sea of stars. All come with the same promise: complete immersion in Frodo’s legendary wilderness.

A table is set for coffee inside a glass structure with wooden floorboards on the floor. Through the glass we can see the structure is affixed to a cliff-face, and there's a view way down to the valley below and the huge mountains surrounding it.
Some glass cabins require a head for heights @ Courtesy of Natura Vive

4. Skylodge Adventure Suites – Peru

A little bit of hardship makes the prize at the end all the more rewarding. At least, that seems to be the motto behind Skylodge, a vertigo-inducing complex of transparent capsules dangling from a cliff in Peru’s Sacred Valley. To reach these souped-up portaledges – and enjoy the condor’s-eye view – you must first climb a challenging 400m (1312ft) via ferrata route up to the top. The way back? Either zipline or rappel down!

Looking up at tall pine trees in a forest; due to its mirrored exterior, it's not immediately obvious that there is a cube-shaped treehouse standing in a clearing, reflecting the wooded surrounds.
The Mirrorcube at the Treehotel is almost invisible @ Courtesy of Treehotel

5. Treehotel – Sweden

You don’t need to go to Japan to appreciate the art of shinrin-yoku (forest bathing). Sweden’s dreamlike Treehotel sets you right in the middle of a pine grove, where you can meditate on the restorative power of nature without leaving your room. This imaginative resort near the regional capital of Luleå boasts distinctive cabins like Mirrorcube, a slick treehouse that disappears into its environment thanks to its reflective walls. Another, called 7th Room, offers floor-to-ceiling windows and a central terrace replete with net flooring.

Lush trees grow around a luxurious, glass-walled cabin; the interior is furnished in minimalist style.
Award-winning vineyard Viña Vik has accommodations that make the most of its surroundings @ Courtesy of Puro Vik

6. Puro Vik – Chile

Named one of the World’s 50 Best Vineyards in 2019, Viña Vik combines extravagant architecture, gallery-quality art, prizewinning wine and challenging hiking trails in one epic experience. Sleep on-site at Puro Vik, a collection of seven glass villas that hang from a hill in Chile’s Coastal Mountain Range. Each of these Miesian casas has transparent walls and al fresco bathtubs that overlook the sun-drenched wilds of the Millahue Valley.

A transparent perspex dome encloses an underwater hotel room, and large tropical fish can be seen swimming beyond its see-through walls.
In the Maldives, you can dive by day and sleep underwater by night © Justin Nicholas

7. The Muraka – Maldives

You usually have to strap on scuba gear to get the kind of prismatic underwater views offered at The Muraka, a cutting-edge suite at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. That’s because its bedroom lies beneath a curved acrylic dome 5m (16ft) beneath the Indian Ocean. You can also dine nearby at the world’s first undersea restaurant, Ithaa, where a panoramic backdrop of swaying coral awaits.

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This article was originally published in November 2019 and updated in May 2020. 

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This article was first published November 2019 and updated May 2020

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