Yurts: the New Hotel

The nomads in Outer Mongolia created them out of necessity, now eco-tourists in France and Spain are vacationing in them for fun. Yurts, those large round tents, last seen in geography book photos with hairy warriors standing in front of them, have been re-invented. At the Hoopoe Yurt Hotel, near Ronda, Spain, you can choose between traditional Mongolian yurts with hand-painted roof poles, or Afghani style ones, which are more rustic. They stand above ground on a wooden bse. The owers are committed to environmental conservation and maintaining the natural beauty of the locale. Each yurt has compost toilets, uses recycled water and has iits own solar system for heat. Set amongst the cork trees, visitors can wander the olive groves, swim in the pool or watch films projected onto the side of the yurt. ::Yurt Hotel

For the travellers in need of more luxury, there is the Milles Etoiles camp in the southern France countryside in Languedoc. Canvaschic has 12 handcrafted yurts made of oak and ash, complete with fluffy towers, king-sized beds and hammocks in private relaxation areas. Despite the palatial trappings, they are eco-friendly. There is no electricity, the showers are rainwater supplied, with solar heating and the place is lit by candlelight. The setting, in an oak-forest nature reserve, is spectacular. It overlooks the Ardeche River gorge, with paths to the river for hiking and swimming. Get ready--yurts are spreading--coming soon: Turkey and the Swiss Alps.:: Canvas Chic via Evening Standard