Camping Under the Stars -- Atop a Manhattan Hotel

SAN DIEGO ( TheStreet) -- For some, camping, by definition, includes slathering on bug spray, forgoing showers and cooking meals over an open fire.

Sometimes it even includes hunting down those meals.

But for the well-heeled, there's an entirely differently version of camping that can be had -- specifically when visiting the urban metropolis of New York City.

Think luxe bed or tent on the leafy terrace, rooftop or balcony of an upscale hotel. Deluxe pillows and bedding. A first-class meal if you choose, complete with strawberries and champagne. Even candlelight. And a spectacular night of gazing up at twinkling stars and the fabulous New York City skyline.

"This is a bucket list type of thing to do. New York City can be a once in a lifetime type trip, and this makes it even more memorable," says Steve Sasso, general manager of Affinia Gardens on New York's Upper East Side. "It's one of those unique experiences you can't get anywhere else."

Open-air, luxury accommodations in New York City, atop a high-rise or skyscraper -- sometimes referred to as glamorous camping, or "glamping" -- is growing in popularity.

Affinia Gardens offers the opportunity when you book either a terrace suite or a patio suite, which range in price from $309 to $700 a night depending on the season. It's one of a handful of hotels in New York City that offer such an experience.

"For the most part this was our guest's idea. We get a lot of requests from couples and families," Sasso says. Sometimes it's the kids sleeping outside under the stars. And sometimes it's the parents.

The option to sleep under a glittering canopy of skyscrapers is part of the hotel's "Terrace Menu," which includes the ability to order such traditional camping staples as a "Smores Kit" (complete with chocolate and marshmallow) and such fun camping accessories as glow sticks.

And for those who want to customize their urban camping experience down to the very last detail, the hotel also offers a selection of six Affinia "Dream Pillows" for camping -- the most popular of which, says Sasso, is the "Sound Pillow" with ultra thin speakers that allow guests to listen to their choice of music while drifting off to sleep under the stars.

The hotel will also provide yoga materials for guests who want to wake up in the morning and work out in the open air.

"It's a really unique and amazing opportunity, " Sasso says.

And while some hotels are winding down their glamping season right about now, as the weather grows cooler, Sasso says Affinia has no strict seasonal limits on the activity and will continue to honor such requests from guests as long as the weather allows.

Michael Luongo, a New York University professor and a travel journalist, says glamping is part of a larger trend in New York City of using rooftops and outdoor spaces more since 9/11.

"In New York City in particular, the rooftops are something we use all the time. But the notion of using them more formally developed a little more after 9/11 because we lost one of our great observatories in the World Trade Center. When that was lost other buildings started thinking about their position as observatories," Luongo says. "So hotels were thinking of ways they could use rooftop spaces more publicly, putting bars on the rooftop or gardens, and from that you started seeing these luxury camping experiences."

Luongo says the trend has also become more popular in New York City in recent years because the air in the city is cleaner, allowing for a better view of the stars and the skyline.

It's unclear whether the trend has spread to other cities across the nation, where some might argue the skylines are not nearly as spectacular.

"It's an interesting trend, particularly if someone is going to come to New York City for a once in a lifetime trip. There's nothing like the New York City skyline," Luongo says.

Oh, and when glamping in New York City -- no bug spray is needed.

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