What is your idea of the perfect camping experience? Is it waking up in a comfy bed to the smell of fresh coffee brewing? Doing nothing in quiet and peaceful surroundings? Having fun around the camp fire with the family?
If this sounds good then you might just be half way to trying out your first UK glamping holiday. You won’t be alone in converting to this type of camping holiday. Since it hit the headlines a few years ago, glamping has enjoyed a huge surge in popularity, especially among couples, families and groups of friends looking for something different from the typical camping experience.
What exactly is glamping?
Glamping is the top end of the camping market. It differs from ‘normal’ camping in that the focus is on comfort, luxuries and having the very best of it. More often than not glamping sites are ready for you to move into straight away. The beds – yes, real beds – may well be already made up with fresh linen, and the fire, wood burner or frontier stove (a super efficient type of woodburing cooker) lit ready for your arrival. So all you have to do is pop your bags down, put the kettle on and get on with the business of having fun.
What this means is that the nitty gritty of ‘normal’ camping such as putting up the tent, carrying heavy backpacks or pumping up lilos become a thing of the past! For some people, of course, these are the things that make camping such a joy, but for those who’d rather concentrate on taking it easy, it makes the whole experience a whole lot less like work.
Staying on exclusive sites
Glamping sites are often exclusive affairs too, which means that you may well be one of just a handful of campers staying at any one time. On some sites you may be the only people staying! So all you’ll see from your yurt or safari tent is open countryside – and perhaps a few other like minded glamping folk. In some places you’ll be greeted like a member of the family rather than a paying guest. That’s worth a lot!
Your chance to find out what suits you!
Going glamping also gives you an opportunity to try different styles of accommodation. At one end of the scale you might expect to find an ultra luxury, traditional, handcrafted yurt, similar to those used by indigenous people in Mongolia and built by craftsmen like Paul King at Woodlandyurts. At the other end of the scale you could be super cosy and comfy in a hand built eco pod, such as those made by Greenliving. While simple, they still offer a great alternative to traditional canvas.
Between the two you can expect to find all kinds of other wonderful accommodation that includes shepherd’s huts (a simple wheeled hut as used by shepherds looking after flocks away from home), tipis (the sort you might associate more with the wild west than the Westcountry), traditional bell tents (a round tent with plenty of space for all), safari tents with loads of space (think of an A-frame but bigger!) and even gypsy caravans and Airstream trailers.
At its most luxurious, everything in your glamping accommodation, and we mean everything, will be provided. Some sites even offer the chance to ‘look after’ your own egg-laying chickens for the duration of your stay, while others, will give you the chance to sample local specialities or local cooking. Away from the feather beds and real duvets you’ll get to enjoy beautiful surroundings, local attractions and events and a level of personal attention you might not get with a large traditional campsite.
The ‘history’ of the glamping movement
Glamping has always been with us. It’s just that, until recent times, you could argue that it didn’t have a name. Until the term was first coined by combining ‘camping’ and ‘glamour’ sometime in the early 2000s, glamping was just camping with all the luxuries.
Wanting to live comfortably is nothing new, even for people on the move. Nomads and wandering folk have always taken everything with them – including the kitchen sink - simply because that’s the way they lived. They might have led harsh lives compared to ours but their temporary dwellings weren’t without their comforts. They had animal skins and finely woven carpets to make life better. They had open fires, cooking pots, washing facilities and everything they needed for a life on the move.
Wealthy Europeans on safari in Africa or in India during the days of the Raj may also have relished an outdoor existence but weren’t afraid to bring their home comforts with them either. Ok, so they may have had porters and chefs to carry and cook for them but at least they were out in nature!
Even the ‘motorised vagabonds’ who explored 1920s America (and these include Henry Ford) didn’t go without their ‘basic necessities’. The USA’s first motorhome, the Pierce Arrow Touring Landau, an expensive and luxurious coach-built car-cum-camping wagon, had a bed, a toilet and a telephone so you could phone the chauffeur!
Glamping today - the best of both worlds
Today glamping isn’t so much about going on safari or trekking into the Hindu Kush as much as enjoying an outdoor life in comfort, in brilliant locations with a few of your nearest and dearest. It’s the very best of both worlds, satisfying your wanderlust but without any of the hardships that are sometimes associated with camping.
Yes, you are under canvas but you can still have your feather bed, down duvet, wood burning stove, running water, flushing loos and freshly ground coffee in the morning.
Glamping is camping at its most beautiful, refined and, well, downright glamorous. And it’s no fad either. Glamping really is here to stay!
But it’s expensive to glamp, isn’t it?
No it isn’t!!! Glamping is the top end of the camping market, yes. But while you might expect to pay handsomely for a luxury tipi backstage at a music festival, there are lots of places where you can glamp for a lot less than you might think – and certainly a lot less than you’d pay to stay at a boutique hotel or an upmarket B&B.
Camping has always been a great value for money holiday and glamping is no different. However, the price will depend on what you choose. Simple eco pods can be surprisingly good value while larger family safari tents on exclusive sites where you are the only guest are going to be more expensive, naturally. But, at the end of the day it’s all about the experience and being out in nature, spending time with the ones you love and enjoying a carefree existence. And that is priceless.
Where is best for your glamping trip?
Thanks to its popularity, there are glamping locations all over the UK, from Cornwall to the north of Scotland. So the first thing to think about when you come to booking is to work out where you want to go. If you want to see the glories of the Welsh coast or visit Snowdonia National Park then a trip to stay in a yurt in Wales will give you everything you need and more. Then again, what if you wanted to see the Highlands and Islands? Scotland has more than its fair share of glamping sites. Between the two there are plenty of other options – with more joining Campsited all the time – including glamping pods in Yorkshire and an award winning site with eco friendly geodomes in the Welsh borders that features wood fired showers, solar powered lights and every comfort you can imagine – and all of it is off-grid!
You can book online too by choosing dates and telling us how many there are of you. It’s that easy!!! We are adding new sites all the time. And don’t forget to share it with your friends – or perhaps give them a little nudge to book something for a special celebration!
Our top ten tips for first time glampers
1. Find a site that’s situated somewhere fantastic by searching our great glamping locations! How about glamping in the hills in Yorkshire or glamping by the sea in Cornwall for starters? You could do worse!!!
2.Book well ahead to get the dates you want or book at the last minute to make the most of the best deals, if you don’t mind travelling.
3. Try it for a weekend away or a short break before committing to a week or longer. Booking during the week can often fill awkward gaps for glamping site owners so you may find some great deals.
4. Do a bit of research before you book. There is no ‘one size fits all’ glamping experience - other than enjoying being out under the stars – so doing a bit of research into the types of accommodation will suit you will make all the difference. Is it a yurt or a pod, a bell tent or shepherd’s hut? Only you can decide!
5. Talk to the site owners about what you need to bring, although you can pretty much expect everything to be laid on, including bedding. Some sites do breakfasts and dinner but best to check before so you know what kind of supplies to bring.
6. As far as clothing goes, be prepared. That means taking wellies and walking boots and Pac a Macs and jumpers. While lots of places will have wood burning stoves and open fires, it can still get a little chilly at night. And you can’t always rely on good weather.
7. Don’t count on having electricity or Wi-Fi. It’s part of the beauty of some sites. Living by candlelight or kerosene lamps can be beautifully romantic but isn’t for everyone. Take a couple of decent books.
8. Relaxing is the most important thing. Glamping enables you to be free from the worry of having to make your bed or pitch your tent when you get there. You just move straight in. So you’ll always start on the good foot.
9. Plan your days out. Glamping sites are often in fantastic locations with lots to see and do when you are there. So think about renting bikes or surfboards or checking out local attractions… a little planning can go a long way when it comes to this.
10. Bring the family pet…or not. Some glamping sites welcome dogs with biscuits and open arms, others don’t. So if you are looking for dog friendly glamping or for dog-free glamping, best check it out in our listings first!