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Luxury is all in the experience, as these travel highlights prove. Sleeping in the Sahara, or waking up with Buddhist monks... You'll want to stay awake all night at these locations. Text: Bart-Jan Brouwer & Susan Poeder
Image: John van Helvert & Susan Poeder

Sleeping under the stars, Morocco

Dar Ahlam, in the town of Skoura, is a hotel in a hundred-year-old kasbah. A hotel with stories. Even if you stay there for a week, you will never eat in the same setting. A new story is created every time, in a new place. You should definitely also spend a night in the camp that Dar Ahlam has in the Sahara. The route there is framed by mountains in all shades of red, against which green reed plumes and yellow bushes stand out sharply. The sun is shining, the earth is cracking from drought.

Eventually you will end up at the famous sand dunes. The last meters to the camp are covered by dromedary, swinging past razor-sharp dune tops that seem to be set on fire by the setting sun. The tent is decorated with floor cushions, a double bed and even portraits on the wall. A little later, with your bare feet in the sand, you are dining in a dune pan, in a sea of ​​candles. It is getting dark. A starry ceiling shines above you. Wherever you look: stars. A place where you would want to stay for a thousand and one nights.

Sleeping in the woods, Sweden

'Sweden's most primitive hotel' is how Kolarbyn Eco-Lodge in Skinnskatteberg positions itself, which has twelve forest huts modeled on the meager shelters of foresters a hundred years ago. After a day of making charcoal, all that awaited them was a wooden bed with sheepskin and a wood stove – nothing else fits in a kolarkoja, as the houses are called. There is no electricity, no running water, let alone Wi-Fi, minibar or jacuzzi. It is not possible to stand upright, because then you will hit your head on the sod-covered roof. You have to chop wood for the stove yourself, you get water from the well, you make coffee and tea by putting a kettle of water on the campfire, and you bathe and do the dishes in a nearby stream.

And the toilet? Indeed: the traditional shelf with lid. Besides going back to the time of the foresters and experiencing how they lived, you can participate in all kinds of safaris, go fishing or enjoy a sauna by the lake. Kolarbyn is also open in winter. The environment is then suitable for this snow shoe hiking and wolf safaris: no better way to find wolf tracks than in the snow.

Sleeping in a Buddhist monastery, Japan

Koyasan, a small town in the middle of Japan's main island, is ideally suited to experience what it is like to live like a monk in a Buddhist temple. Some temples offer places for pilgrims and tourists to stay, called shukubō. You sleep here in simple traditional rooms with tatami floors (mats made of rice straw) on thin futon mattresses on the floor. 90 minutes away from neon-lit Osaka, you'll find peace and simplicity like you won't find anywhere else.

Wake up to the sound of Japanese maples rustling in the wind. In the distance you hear a soft gong signaling monks to get to work. At 06:00 am it is time for the morning ritual where prayers are said and you enjoy a vegetarian, sometimes vegan breakfast together. These 'shojin ryori' meals are prepared with ingredients from the area and have an almost culinary feel. Dinner is served in your room where your futon has been replaced by a kotatsu. Whether you come here for a multi-day stay of esoteric meditation, or just want to get a taste of pure Japan for 48 hours, it is an experience that will undoubtedly stay with you most from the land of the rising sun.

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LXRY List 2019

These special destinations are a selection of special trips from the LXRY List 2019. This coffee table book (€50) contains the best luxury addresses in the Benelux. Curious who else is on our list? Then click on the link below.