In recent years, a new trend has taken the world of travel by storm, offering adventurers a unique way to connect with nature: glamping. It is a mash-up of ‘glamorous’ and ‘camping’. If you love camping but want a nice soft bed to sink into at night, then glamping is your friend. It provides travellers with the opportunity to experience the great outdoors without sacrificing the comforts and luxuries of a high-end resort.
Camping with comfort, style and luxury
Glamping represents a departure from traditional camping by emphasising comfort, style, and luxury. Unlike traditional camping, where sleeping on the ground in a tent is the norm, glamping offers an array of accommodations that range from cosy cabins and yurts to treehouses, safari tents, and geodesic domes. These structures often come equipped with comfortable beds, private bathrooms, electricity, and even Wi-Fi, blurring the boundaries between outdoor adventure and indoor indulgence.
There is a really wide variety of accommodation that qualifies as glamping, from bell tents to modified double-decker buses. You might find yourself in a deluxe shepherd’s hut or a no-frills safari tent. One thing’s for sure, the owners will have put their own quirky stamp on it and that’s an aspect most people really enjoy. Glamping also appeals to those seeking unique experiences and Instagram-worthy backdrops, as the accommodation often boasts breathtaking views and stylish interiors.
I caught the glamping bug a few years ago and have enjoyed some wonderful trips with my sister and, more recently, my husband. I love the opportunity to disconnect from my busy life and reconnect with nature in a way that hotels just can’t offer. From stargazing to hiking, cooking over an open fire to sitting outside with a good book, glamping lets me unwind without having to carry a huge backpack.
Glamping on the Isle of Wight
One favourite trip was the Windmill Campersite on the Isle of Wight. The owners have built their own Heath Robinson-esque shower shacks and toilets, and accommodation varies from shepherd’s huts to helicopters(!). I stayed with my son in a modified classic VW campervan while my sister opted for the slightly comfier shepherd’s hut.
One of the joys of glamping is a communal social area where you can meet other guests. Windmill Campersite has a magnificent ancient pizza and jacket potato oven and a lovely firepit to sit around at night. It even has its very own silent disco and a grain silo converted into a family cinema. The children particularly enjoyed collecting free eggs from the chickens on site.
Glamping in Wales
My husband and I loved our trip to the Living Room Treehouse experience in Wales. Set on a sheep farm, the glamping site has six treehouses, hand built into the trees. They are extremely private and it’s just you and many curious sheep! The treehouse we stayed in had an outdoor shower and a wonderful wood-fired hot tub among the trees. This was the first wood-fired hot tub we had used and, though it takes a while to warm up, we were amazed at how hot it got and how long it retained its heat. The treehouse was heated by a wood stove which also heated the hot water.
We loved sitting on the veranda (at tree height!) in the evening looking out over the valley. We really enjoyed an outing to the Centre for Alternative Living and were very envious of their incredible polytunnel, complete with fig trees.
Glamping at Dungeness
We also had a fantastic trip to Gooseberry Field Glamping (sadly now closed) where we stayed in a vintage Airstream Camper – very stylish. This site has several bell tents and an amazing veggie garden. The owners had a pizza night, where guests could make their own pizzas to be cooked in a wood-fired pizza oven – delicious!
We also enjoyed the wood-fired hot tub hand-built by the owner inside a Victorian tar boiler. We did, in fact, sit in the hot tub under an umbrella, drinking prosecco in the rain. The quirks of English weather! From here it was just a short drive to see artist and filmmaker Derek Jarman’s incredible house and garden, Prospect Cottage, in Dungeness, where we ate delicious fish and chips from a hut on the beach in, you guessed it, more rain. It was well worth a visit though to this atmospheric nature reserve.
Running our own glamping site at Milberry Green Meadows
We had long dreamed of opening our own glamping site when we retired but, after I had a scary encounter with breast cancer a couple of years ago, we decided to go for it and now have our very own glamping site, Milberry Green Meadows, complete with bell tents and shepherd’s huts. We spent our wedding night in one of our own shepherd’s huts and could not believe how comfortable the bed was! We love sharing our love of glamping with our guests and hope they leave with the same love of glamping we have.
Of course, we chose a glamping trip for our honeymoon. This time we thought we would go for the slightly more glamorous end of glamping and stayed in a peaceful cabin called “Silent Owl” in Dorset. Set on a farm, the cabin has some especially deluxe features, like an enormous copper bathtub. It also had a wood-fired hot tub on the patio, as well as a wood-fired pizza oven and firepit. We spent a day trip exploring the Jurassic Coast, and another on an arduous hike around the local area, followed by a well-earned pub lunch.
How to find and book a glamping holiday
Where do you find these glamping sites? There are a few booking platforms to look out for including Wanderlust, Pitch-Up and Campsites, but you can also search for ‘cabins’, ‘camping’ or ‘yurts’ on AirBnB or search for ‘tents’ on Booking.com. Another way to find these unique businesses is simply to use your browser to search ‘glamping – insert whatever area you want to stay in’.
Although we have done our glamping in the UK, glamping is an international phenomenon. My friend Natasha, for example, has a glamping site in Lusaka, Zambia called Tilley’s Hill where she holds wellness retreats.
One thing I enjoy about glamping is its focus on sustainability and eco-consciousness. Many glamping sites embrace environmentally friendly practices, such as using renewable energy sources, implementing water conservation measures, and employing eco-friendly building materials. Some even integrate educational programs that promote environmental awareness and conservation.
Our own glamping site offers a “Nature Rangers” activity where I describe the plants and animals that can be found on-site, including several protected species. You can read more about our rewilding efforts here. By combining luxury with eco-consciousness, glamping offers an alternative for travellers who seek to reduce their ecological footprint without compromising on comfort.
Some top tips:
- Think about your comfort level – do you want a no-frills unfurnished bell tent? Or a well-stocked cabin?
- Read the information provided carefully so you know what to pack. Some places provide bedding, pots and pans or towels but others don’t. There’s a really wide range, so check or ask before you go.
- Check the rules on soap etc, some sites will operate a sulphate-free policy or will ask you to use the eco-friendly products they provide.
- Check what cooking facilities (if any) there are, or if there are restaurants, pubs etc nearby. For remote areas, you may be expected to bring all your food in with you.
- Take cash for the honesty shop if there is one.
- Take warm clothes, especially for nighttime. The temperatures can really drop at night and you will feel it, especially in a tent!
- Remember you may be up close with nature in all its forms. Take insect spray, sturdy boots for navigating rough ground, and remember the owner will not be able to control elements like dew or the weather!
- Try and leave your accommodation as you found it. Many glampsite owners will do their own cleaning and some will have day jobs as well as running the site. Take your rubbish with you, or put it in the bins provided, sweep up, and generally be good guests.
- Leave a review if you can as it will help other travellers to work out if this is the right place for them.
Transforming the way travellers experience the outdoors
The glamping trend has transformed the way travellers experience the outdoors, offering a luxurious and comfortable alternative to traditional camping. Its allure lies in the ability to combine the joys of nature with the conveniences of modern living, making it a popular choice for adventurers seeking a balance between adventure and relaxation. With glamping destinations spread across the globe, travellers can indulge in unique and immersive experiences while enjoying breathtaking landscapes. As the trend continues to grow, glamping promises to redefine the way we connect with nature, offering a harmonious blend of luxury and wilderness. I, for one, am busy planning our next trip.