Top 10 Most Romantic Sleep-Outs and Star Beds

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By Shona 01 February 2018

If you are an adventurous couple and want to pull out all the stops, then why not indulge in a romantic getaway to Africa? Your trip could involve tracking and tracing the big game through private nature reserves during the day, and sleeping under the star-strewn skies at night while listening to the calls of nocturnal animals.

With lodges now offering sleep-outs featuring gigantic four-poster beds, mosquito nets, luxury bathroom facilities, and complete privacy, you can experience a night under the stars without sacrificing any of your favourite luxuries. To gain some serious relationship points with your partner, why not book a stay in one of these top 10 star beds?

1. Loisaba Star Beds, Kenya

The Loisaba Star Beds are top of our list for a reason… like bright-red beacons hovering on the edge of the escarpment, these four-poster beds have unhindered views towards popular waterholes and the wide plains of Laikipia. Each star bed is set on a raised wooden platform and is rolled out from under a thatched roof all the way to the platform edge. Spending a night here means you’ll fall asleep watching the stars twinkle and wake up to the sun rising, accompanied by a warming beverage and a promise of wildlife-filled activities awaiting you.

2. Meno a Kwena, Botswana

The lodge of choice for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s romantic trips to Botswana, Meno a Kwena is an authentic safari camp full of character and adventure, and positioned on a cliff edge overlooking the Boteti river. The real draw of Meno a Kwena is the bushman walks, in which guests can head out with the indigenous locals to learn about their fascinating traditions – they might dig out a scorpion and try to pick it up by its sting, play games by catapulting arrows as far as possible on  a dirt mound, or sing and dance by way of evening entertainment. The surroundings of this lodge make for a fantastic contrast to the scenery of the Okavango Delta, as from Meno a Kwena guests can explore the vast stretches of the Makgadikgadi salt pans, go meerkat spotting, and enjoy a sleep-out experience under the stars in the heart of the magical white pans.

3. Lion Sands, South Africa

‘Luxury’ and ‘treehouse’ are two terms we never strung together until Lion Sands constructed their three outrageously opulent and beautiful star beds, named Chalkley, Kingston, and Tinyeleti. With one treehouse built around a 500-year-old leadwood tree, another comprising a stilted glass observatory in a secluded position behind some boulders, and the third set up near the banks of the Sabie river, these treehouses are not just rudimental wooden platforms but rather strikingly designed love forts. With lanterns lighting the way, wine keeping you calm (as the animals forage beneath you), and billions of stars setting the scene, Lion Sands is a must for an adventurous and romantic night on safari.

4. Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge, South Africa

The award-winning architects who designed Sanctuary Makanyane Safari Lodge did so with the environment in mind and requested that the builders used local woods, stone, and thatch to ensure that the eight luxury suites blended beautifully into their surroundings. Though hidden amongst the forest foliage, the glass-fronted suites have panoramic windows and private sun decks, which all look out towards the Marico river. Sanctuary Makanyane is located in the malaria-free Madikwe Game Reserve, so it has a distinct advantage – a mosquito net is not entirely necessary when enjoying its star bed. Each bed consists of a raised hide overlooking a waterhole and dotted with pillows, blankets, lanterns, and a comfy mattress.

5. Kanana Camp, Botswana

‘Beneath a blanket of stars’ and ‘nestled above a necklace of islands’, Kanana Camp’s description of its sleep-out deck conjures up Rococo-esque images, possibly dominated by pastel-tinted lighting, a grand bed, and a soft-billowy mosquito net, which is pretty much on point. Kanana’s sleep-out offering has two levels – the lower deck provides necessary amenities, while the upper deck, where the bedroom is located, features views of the vast plains with their grasslands, big game, and a popular waterhole. If you choose to stay in the sleep-out, you’ll be driven to the deck after dinner and fall asleep listening to the sounds of the African bush.

6. Little Kulala, Namibia

As it is located in the Sossusvlei area of Namibia, the emphasis at Little Kulala is placed more on the breathtaking desert scenery than on the wildlife sightings available – although you can spot residents such as gemsbok, jackal, aardwolf, and ostrich. An absolute highlight would be to wake up before sunrise and head out to the ochre-coloured dunes to watch the sun rise over the huge waves of sand – combine this with a night sleeping out under the stars, and you have a recipe for an experience of a lifetime. In terms of sleep-outs, this camp does things a little differently. Instead of having a separate sleep-out platform, Little Kulala has a high terrace on top of each chalet, where on request you can have a bedroll laid out – certainly handy if nature calls in the middle of the night.

7. ol Donyo, Kenya

Though no two are the same, each of the ten suites at ol Donyo features its own exclusive plunge pool and rooftop terrace, where a stunning star bed can be set up. Nestled in the foothills of the Chyulu Hills, ol Donyo is exceptionally well placed for full views of the snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro – and it’s also in the path of seasonal elephant migrations. As well as enjoying a night sleeping out under the stars, guests can go on a traditional game drive to see all of the Big Five and head out on a thrilling horseback safari – for the more advanced rider, you can even include a fly-camping riding safari in your stay.

8. Motswari Geiger’s Camp, South Africa

Motswari Geiger’s Camp was originally the family home of Roland Geiger, and although it has been converted into a luxurious and exclusive-use hideaway in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, it retains its homely feel. Described as a private bush snuggery within the wildlife-rich Great Kruger National Park, Geiger’s Camp also has a superb star bed, called the Giraffe’s Nest. This comes complete with sumptuous beds, cosy chairs, an eco-bathroom, a retractable canvas roof, and 5-metre-high views of the surrounding bush and beasts.

9. Tswalu Kalahari, South Africa

The Malori, meaning ‘dreamer’ in Tswana, is Tswalu Kalahari’s impressive sleep-out. It is raised over a 100,000-hectare private game reserve and has exquisite vistas across the vast plains of the Green Kalahari. The king-sized bed, either set under the thatched overhang or pulled out onto the uncovered deck, faces south-west to present the incomparable light show that is the Kalahari sunset – a palette of oranges, pinks, and reds. If you stay at The Malori, you’ll be driven out to the platform in time for a sundowner, followed by dinner and a cheese-and-biscuit platter on the veranda, accompanied by a night cap. Having counted the shooting stars and listened to the call of the African wilderness, you’ll wake at sunrise and head back to Tswalu Kalahari via a traditional game drive, a morning walk, or even by horseback – why not?

10. Norman Carr Safaris, Zambia

The most remote and back-to-basics star bed on our list, the Norman Carr Safaris sleep-out is unique in that staff set up a temporary mattress on the riverbed, or more specifically on the white sands of the Luwi river. It isn’t just a night under the African skies, but rather a walking safari that has you overnighting in the bush between camps. We recommend starting at Nsolo Camp and finishing in Kakuli Camp, both of which are renowned for their walking-focused activities and game viewing in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park. As guests will be sleeping on the seasonally dry riverbed, this sleep-out experience is not available during the rainy season, so it’s best to visit in peak season between July and October.

If you’d like more information on planning a romantic safari honeymoon to Africa, find out about our favourite luxury lodges and trips below. Alternatively, feel free to call us on 020 8547 2305 or send us an email at [email protected]