Enjoy the great outdoors in New York
IN THE concrete jungle of New York City, where open sky can be hard to find, the latest luxury offering is a night under the stars - or under twinkling city lights, at least.
Be it terraces or high-rise balconies atop art-deco buildings or glass-walled modern structures, this new breed of hotel offers straight-up views, with nary a window pane or curtain to impede the breeze.
In a city where air pollution, bright lights and the dizzyingly tall skyscrapers of the Manhattan skyline can obscure the stars, some hotels say they offer travellers a unique experience.
"When we identified something we thought would really delight people and give them a one-of-a-kind chance of living, we quickly tried to make that happen," said Ms Elana Friedman of luxury-hotel group AKA.
For the not-so-insignificant price of US$1,995 (S$2,540) a night, the AKA Central Park promises a five-star "outdoor" bedroom 17 floors up, complete with a queen-size bed, candlelit dinner, fireplace, romantic snacks and a giant telescope to admire the stars in the city that never sleeps.
To the strains of live jazz, Brazilians, Australians, Emiratis and even New Yorkers spend the night doing what travel agents call urban "glamping", short for "glamorous camping".
Born of a desire to enjoy the great outdoors - without missing out on the pleasures of a comfy mattress - the trend of luxury camping took hold in New York only recently , after the exceptionally harsh winter of 2011.
"Our guests started to get that kind of cabin fever and really wanted to be able to have that outdoor experience," explained Ms Susana Ramos, marketing manager for Affinia Gardens, which also offers open-air luxury accommodation in Manhattan.
But the guests were not looking to rough it. "After such a crazy snowstorm, they really wanted to have a warm, summery, outdoor experience," she said.
Affinia Gardens' outdoor suites - which include tents on leafy terraces in the Upper East Side - range from US$309 to US$700 a night, depending on the season.
As Dutch tourist Jeff Jungbeker entered one such space for the first time - with the glow from a candle illuminating the comfortable bed and a bottle of chilled white wine - the 42-year-old said he was astounded.
Few hotels currently offer this type of experience, but they are part of a wider movement in the Big Apple to reclaim the rooftops, said travel expert Michael Luongo.
"There is nothing that says America as much as a skyscraper. It's our gift...to architecture. That's our legacy."