Svalbard, Norway

While deserts might usually call to mind sun-baked landscapes full of sand and lacking in water, the actual definition of a desert is “a waterless, desolate area of land with little or no vegetation” and so polar landscapes, with their frozen conditions and dearth of life, are just as much a desert as the baking heat of the Sahara. It may be widely known that Antarctica is the largest desert in the world, but you may not be aware that the Arctic is home to a desert of its own, and growing tourism hotspot Svalbard is smack bam in the middle. As interest in far-flung icy destinations grows, Svalbard has unsurprisingly reached the top of many people’s bucket lists; an otherworldly snowscape where polar bears roam free and the sun doesn’t rise for half of the year. Grab a guide, don your warmest gear, hop aboard a skidoo, and leave the world (and precipitation) behind.

Where to stay: Funken Lodge, from £172;

Australian Outback

The world’s smallest continent is an exercise in contrasts. Often associated with glittering beaches and broad stretches of coastline, in reality Australia is one of the driest countries in the world, with 18% of its landmass classified as a desert, while an additional 17% receives such rare rainfall it’s on the cusp of becoming a desert too. Unsurprising, then, that there are some cracking trips to explore the orange-dusted outback. Base yourself in the heart of the country under the shadow of Uluru at Longitude 131º, where tents come with uninterrupted views of the astounding rock formation.

Where to stay: Longitude 131º, from £1950;

Palm Springs, USA

In the heart of the Sonoran Desert, Palm Springs is often more associated with glitz than it is scorching dust, be it the shining lights and superstars of the Coachella festival which rolls into the area every April, or the wealthy residents and holidaymakers who have made this desert oasis their palm tree-lined playground. Look past the captivating mid-century architecture and luxury store-lined streets, however, and you’ll find endless expanses of baking hot land to explore. The perfect base for adventuring into both the nearby Joshua Tree National Park and Death Valley slightly further afield, Palm Springs is a gateway to the hottest desert in the United States – both in temperature and in hype.

Where to stay: Sparrows Lodge, from £300;

Wadi Rum, Jordan

From Lawrence of Arabia to The Martian, Wadi Rum has a long history of featuring on the big screen. It’s unsurprising, given this is a stretch of land so alien it’s been nicknamed the Valley of the Moon. Sitting at the southern tip of Jordan near the Saudi Arabian border, Wadi Rum occupies 74,200 hectares of red rock land punctuated by transcendental rock formations and a unique topography hewn over hundreds of thousands of years by oceanic movement, tectonic plates and climate activity. Save money on an intergalactic journey and set your coordinates to Wadi Rum, where 12,000 years of human life are condensed into dust and stone and aeons-old hieroglyphics can be found around every corner.

Where to stay: Memories Aicha, from £180;

Bolivian Salt Flats

Like your desert on the colder side? Head to the Bolivian Salt Flats, also known as the Salar de Uyuni, that tower nearly 12,000 feet above sea level and lock in sub-zero temperatures during the southern hemisphere summer. There are two distinct times to visit, the rainy season (December to April), which sees the flats flood and transform into a crystal clear mirror to the sky, or the dry season (May to November), where the ground is cold and hard so you can drive across the thick crust of salt that extends to the horizon. The Salar de Uyuni are more than just their good looks, too – it’s a lucrative extraction site for salt and lithium, the element needed to power our phones, laptops and electric cars.

Where to stay: Palacio de Sal, from £123;

The Empty Quarter, UAE

Also known as The Abode of Silence, The Empty Quarter does what it says on the tin. It’s one of the most unforgiving places on earth, a vast, unbroken stretch of desert that has challenged even the most hardy adventurers and nomads for centuries. Receiving a pitiful 1.2 inches of rain per year, it makes Death Valley’s annual quota of 2.4 inches seem generous. Absent of roads, buildings and people, it’s a landscape that feels otherworldly – with a backdrop of 1,000-foot-high sand dunes that line up one after the other, mimicking the silhouette of camel humps. Untouched by light pollution and mainly cloudless, this is one of the few places on Earth where campers can experience sleeping under the stars.

Where to stay: Corinthian Travel, from £1,745 for 8 days;

Marfa, Texas

Upon visiting Marfa, a small Texan town in the Chihuahuan Desert, it might be hard to believe this desolate, biscuit-coloured terrain is where some of the world’s most legendary artists have forged their careers. Kickstarted by artist Donald Judd, who moved here from New York in the mid-seventies, this is the landscape that Georgia O’Keeffe dedicated years of her life to depicting and is home to the iconic Prada Marfa installation by Scandinavian artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset – a sculptural, non-functioning replica of a luxury Prada boutique that never opens its doors. It’s a place where you live small, with one cafe, corner shops selling crystals, and a handful of gas stations turned into galleries. Spend your days cosplaying as a troubled artist, melt away hours staring at cloud-brushed skies and become hypnotised by the dusty nothingness.

Where to stay: El Cosmico, from £53;

Sahara Desert, Morocco

Ouarzazate in Morocco is surrounded by one of the most cinematic deserts on the planet. So much so that the destination has its own studios, which have helped bring films ranging from Ben Hur and Gladiator to Babel and, er, What A Girl Wants to the silver screen. However, the glamour isn’t limited to the films shot here. Opt to stay in one of the many centuries-old kasbahs, where you can enjoy local culture served up in high style among oases of almond trees and palm groves. When you’re not making use of the hammam or sipping mint tea, trek into the Valley of Roses through corn and pomegranate trees to explore ancient Berber villages. Rockin’ the kasbah.

Where to stay: Dar Ahlam, from £1,386;

Atacama Desert, Chile

Coming in hot as the second driest desert in the world, just behind Antarctica, is the Atacama. Stretching across the north of Chile into the south of Peru, it packs in unforgettable mountain ranges, otherworldly salt pans, and geoglyphs from ancient civilizations such as Nazca Lines and the Paracas Candelabra. However, did you know that there are also plenty of really great places to eat and drink along the way? Stop off at some of South America’s most interesting vineyards, from Colchagua to the Maipo Valley, before heading into the sere landscapes of the desert for otherworldly explorations and star-gazing. We can already hear the corks popping.

Where to stay: Black Tomato, from £5,800 for 9 days;

Gobi Desert, Mongolia

There is a big difference between visiting a place and really experiencing it. Many of us travel to destinations, see the sights and eat the food without gaining an understanding of what it truly means to exist in this country and call the land home. Three Camel Lodge in the steppe of the Gobi Desert aims to completely immerse you in what it means to be Mongolian, educating guests on the nomadic nature and cultural customs. With stays ranging from two nights to eight, you’ll sleep in traditional ger tents and explore the surrounding desert by day, either on foot or camelback. Throughout it all, you’ll get a feel for the transient way of life that half of the Mongolian population still follow.

Where to stay: Three Camel Lodge, from £2,100;