Live in a Bubble on Your Next Camping Break
Glamping (glamour camping) just got better thanks to a surge in inflatable, transparent ‘bubble’ tents, which are popping up all over the globe. If you are like me who doesn’t fancy the idea of sleeping in a tent then these are for you.
Bubble lodge, Mauritius
Immerse yourself in the wild surrounds of lie Aux Cerfs, an island off the east coast of Mauritius, by bedding down in these brand new, eco-friendly bubble cocoons - the only accommodation on the island. One of the three domes is hidden away in the forest, while the other two are on the sands of Filibusters beach.
Each lodge comes with a master bedroom, bijou bathroom and see-through lounge, giving you views of the soft clouds scudding across the Mauritian skies.
Guided nature walks take you through woodland filled with chattering birds and, after a day of water sports or hiking, your own private butler will bring you dinner as the sun sinks into the horizon, then serve you tea as you bed down for the night. Glorious.
Search the skies for: The Southern Cross - despite the name, it's actually a diamond-shaped constellation with two stars revolving around one another.
How to get there: Fly into Plaine Magnien, drive 45 minutes to La Place Belgath then take a boat across to lle Aux Cerfs.
Australia's first pop-up bubble tent location launched just last year. Set on a working farm about 200 kilometres from Sydney, the three teeny tents (each just 3.5 metres wide) are completely removed from one another. Each has a queen-sized bed and goosedown pillows, hot-water bottles, raincoats (best to be prepared), eye masks and a telescope.
You'll be cooking your own meals over a campfire stove and watching out for wallabies bounding across the Capetree Valley. Nights are quiet and you'll have to brave the compost toilet, but the Virgo tent (they're named after constellations) has its own hot tub. So, swings and roundabouts ...
Search the skies for: The crates of the moon, which you can identify and even photograph using your in-bubble telescope.
How to get there: Fly into Sydney, then it's a (slightly bumpy) three-hour drive to the tents.
At this serene little bubble camp, you can wake up in the middle of a Provencal forest, surrounded by nothing but towering pine trees and the soft babble of the birds' morning chorus.
The four secluded bubbles boast panoramic views of the French countryside, private bathrooms and comfy textiles. Each is also themed - from the Zen bubble, filled with soul-soothing wooden Japanese furniture and a Kyoto bed, to the Love Nature bubble, which comes with grass flooring, in case you feel the need to get even more in touch with nature.
The city of Marseille is only 30km away and a trip to the sunny coast should take no longer than an hour. Back at the bubbles there's an on-site chef who will rustle up dishes on-demand, and (most importantly), a well-stocked wine and champagne bar.
Search the skies for: Anatares (a giant red star in the Milky Way) can easily be spotted, as light pollution is nonexistent here.
How to get there: Fly into Marseille - Provence airport, then it's a 50-minute drive.
The Highlands, Tanzania
Scattered around the craggy slopes of the extinct Olmoti volcano near Tanzania's Ngorongoro Crater, eight sci-fi-style bubble tents peek out from their wildflower-strewn surroundings. Externally, they're desiged to mimic the boma houses of the region's semi-nomadic Maasai tribe, but inside they're a homely blend of pared-back Scandanavian cabin and Scottish hunting lodge - dotted with black-and-white images of villagers and Maasai-inspired tartan cushions.
Perched at a dizzying 2,670m above sea level (higher than most European ski resorts), nights here get bitterly cold, but the bubbles stay snug thanks to their heat-efficient design, wood-burning stoves and velvety fake furs. Don't forget your binoculars for animal-spotting from your bed: the highlands are home to leopards, buffalo and elephants.
Search the skies for: The constellations Gemini, Leo and Canis Major.
How to get there: Fly into Kilimanjaro airport, then take a domestic flight to Arusha, a four-hour drive from the crater.
Finn Lough, Northern Ireland
Love the great outdoors but fine the allure of a four-poster bed too mighty to resist? Check into a bubble at Finn Lough in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.
The 75-acre resort on the shores of pretty Lough Erne is a haven for bikers, hikers and swimmers. The seven bubbles offer proper privacy (not counting the nosy squirrels you might spot peering in) despite their 180-degree views. Each has an opaque mini-bubble bathroom with flushing loo, posh toiletries and a surprisingly powerful shower - plus there's under flooring heating and comfy armchairs for afternoons of nature-gazing.
Take a kayak out on the lake or unwind at the new Nordic-style sauna, before tucking into wild rabbit and leek turnover at the restaurant, and retiring to your bubble to watch the sky erupt with stars.
Search the skies for: The constellation of Cassiopeia - look for its distinctive 'W' shape, formed by five bright stars.
How to get there: Fly into Belfast, then it's a two-hour drive.
The simple, clean-as-a-whistle design of these four bubbles scattered on the south-west side of Lake Constance ensures you could not feel more immersed in nature.
Don't expect any fuss - there's a chic but simple double bed on a wooden platform, a bedside table and picnic chairs outside. The surroundings are the real draw here: swathes of vineyards, roaring waterfalls and pebbled lakeside beaches.
Each bubble comes with two bikes, so there's the charming novelty of being able to pedal east into Austria for lunch one day then north to Germany the next. You can also explore the area's Bronze Age dwellings and Baroque churches.
You'll have to grapple with the German website to book, but what's Google Translate for, if not this?
Search the skies for: The great bear, the seven bright stars forming the famous pan-and-handle constellation.
How to get there: Fly into Zurich, then drive between 30 minutes to an hour to one of the four different sites.