the art of glamping
It’s like camping, but with hot tubs and comfy beds! Here’s our complete guide to glamping in the UK…
You’ve probably overheard people talking about glamping. You might have snuck a look at those exciting pictures of yurts and bell tents in the glossy magazines. You may even have asked yourself: Am I a secret glamper?
Well there’s a simple test to find out. Consider the following questions:
- Do you like waking up to the sounds of nature, but not to the feel of freezing cold skin and a sore back?
- Do you like listening to the gentle pitter-patter of rain falling on canvas, but not have it dripping onto your face in the middle of the night?
- Do you like adventure, but also soft pillows and proper bathroom facilities?
- Are your children desperate to try camping, but you prefer boutique hotels and spas?
- Does the prospect of trying to put up a tent in a stiff breeze fill you with existential dread?
If your answer to any of the above is ‘Yes’, then glamping is for you! Read on…
types of glamping
Now that you know that you’re a glamper, the first decision is what kind of luxury outdoor accommodation you’re going to go for. Here are some of the main options:
Yurts were originally portable tents made of animal furs used by the nomads of Mongolia and Central Asia. In the world of British glamping they’re essentially large, round, canvas holiday chalets – a tent where you can stand upright, sleep on a four-poster bed, use wifi and even enjoy a hot tub.
Where to go: You can find great sites with luxury yurts and similar bell tents in beauty spots across Britain. There’s Secret Cloud House in Staffordshire, The Yurt Retreat in Somerset and many more – just google ‘yurt holidays UK’ to find one near you.
Perfect for a weekend getaway in the rolling hills of the English countryside, where gentle streams flow and the sheep graze in peace – only in significantly more comfort than the shepherds of yesteryear.
Modern shepherds’ huts contain en-suite facilities, full-sized double beds, garden ovens and firepits ready for late-night barbecues.
Where to go: Dimpsey shepherd’s hut in the Blackdown Hills, Somerset, includes a wood-fired hot tub and is within striking distance of Dorset and the Jurassic Coast.
If you prefer to sleep high amongst the branches, then high-end adult-sized treehouses are for you. Often beautifully handmade from wood by master carpenters, they can make all your Robin Hood fantasies come true.
Where to go: Guy Mallinson’s Woodsman’s Treehouse [above] in Dorset is the ultimate luxury treehouse, and includes a sauna, a slide, an open-air tree shower and a window in the floor. (You’ll have to book well ahead though as it’s very popular!)
With a geodome you get to sleep in a sort of environmentally-friendly igloo or private, miniature Eden Project – a perfect blend of nature and technology.
Where to go: Cosy Under Canvas on the English/Welsh border offers a choice of eco-friendly geosidic domes for couples or families, complete with snug duvets, fluffy sheepskins, hot tubs and wood-fired showers.
Ideal for big summer parties, weddings and any outdoor event where you need temporary accommodation, pods are like portable miniature hotel rooms with proper beds and facilities. They pop up at festivals in colourful little villages.
Where to go: Podpads is at Cornbury and all the best festivals across the UK.
converted vehicles – and other unusual places
Fancy something even more unusual? How about a converted bus near Haye-on-Wye, or an upcycled boat in North Devon? Enterprising individuals around the country have turned all sorts of things into cosy sleeping quarters.
Where to go: Wherever the mood takes you! Try this list of unusual glamping dwellings for starters.
tips for the perfect glamping getaway
Once you’ve booked your yurt or dome or treehouse, there are certain things you can do to maximise the unique benefits of glamping. Here are some tips:
1. make the most of the extra time…
One of the big advantages of glamping over normal camping is the extraordinary amount of time you save by not having to assemble and disassemble tents, build campfires, fetch water, faff around with wet shoes and so on.
So glamping is a perfect opportunity to really enjoy all the best things about the great outdoors. Long walks, bike rides, nature trails, games with the family… Everyone is in a good mood without all the stresses of basic survival – and when the day is done, you can just flop into your warm, soft, readymade beds. Bliss!
2…and the extra space in the car
With the boot not taken up with camping equipment and sleeping bags, you can fill it instead with the kind of luxuries that ordinary campers have to leave at home. Music speakers, board games, croquet sets, you name it… plus of course lots of clothes to cope with whatever the British weather throws at you.
3. be smart with menu choices
Even though many glamping spots offer excellent kitchen facilities, the reality is that you’re going to want to minimise washing up and keep things simple. So in addition to barbecues, stick to one-pot recipes for your cooking. You can find some fantastic ones at BBC Good Food, Delia Online, Jamie Oliver and many other places.
4. pack a few home comforts
Having paid for a sumptuous dwelling, you’ll want to spend a decent chunk of your time enjoying being inside it. So make sure you pack a good book, headphones, and – top tip – a pair of bedroom slippers for maximum cosiness.
And don’t forget your favourite breakfast cereal (we recommend Macchu Picchu muesli as being a suitable combination of adventurous and luxurious).
Recreating the glamping experience at home
If your preferred glamping destination is all booked up this summer, or budgets are a bit tight, then why not simply recreate the experience in your back garden?
All you need is to set up your tent, and then absolutely fill it with rugs, pillows, cushions and duvets, add some mood lighting in the form of gentle LED lamps, and set up a barbecue outside for toasted marshmallows. (Make Life Lovely has some great tips on DIY glamping here.)
And if it gets too cold at night, you can always sneak back into your bed while the kids are fast asleep…