Experience the elements in style
orget soggy groundsheets and stumbling over tent pegs, times have changed: thanks to a new wave of "glamping" (glamorous camping) sites, you can immerse yourself in the great outdoors while sipping wine next to your woodburning stove or kicking back on your four poster bed. So go on, pull on your posh wellies and experience the best of luxury camping...
Fancy swapping your airbed for a four poster? Jollydays, set in 200 acres of private woodland, has seven tented lodges bigger than most hotel suites, each sleeping six with wood burners, four poster beds, chandeliers and comfy sofas. Some even have their own showers. The bell tents are more basic, with coir matting and futons sleeping four. There are communal showers, a communal cooking hut, clay oven and dining/lounging area – perfect for kicking back after a day's activity in the Dales.
This family-run retreat in the heart of Alde Valley is all about green glamping. It's made up of a Mongolian-style yurt (sleeps up to five), wooden gypsy caravan (up to three), tipi (up to four) and bell tent (up to five), all powered by solar fairy lights and lanterns. There is also a cabin-style hideout-for-two. Cook supper in the communal kitchen or pizza oven; toast marshmallows on the camp fire; feed the resident hens and hire bikes free of charge. The site also has solar powered communal showers.
Set on a farm on the beautiful Northumbrian coastline, this “village” is made up of 20 cosy chalet-like wigwams that sleep up to five with heating, electricity and comfortable mattresses. The site has all you could ever need, from a communal shower block, shop and licensed cafe to a TV lounge and three Scandinavian barbecue huts – ideal for summer breaks. It also offers accommodation in three yurts, quad bike trekking and has its own a fishing lake, so anglers take tackle.
For glamping with a gypsy twist, head to this camp, perched on the edge of a cherry and apple orchard on Bouncers Farm. Choose from one of the two genuine bowtop wagons (each sleeps three), 1950s buccaneer (sleeps four) or old-fashioned burton vehicle (sleeps two), all of which have been lovingly restored, with comfy beds and original Queenie stoves. There's a communal toilet and shower room, too. Kids will love hanging out with the resident Kune Kune pigs, while in July parents can kick back with a sundowner and listen to the Opera in the Orchard.
Situated in a flower meadow on the edge of Bodmin Moor, this über-cool geodesic dome tent is the ultimate glamping retreat-for-two. Inside there's a king-size bed, woodburner and transparent wall, so you can wake up to panoramic views of the hills. There's a separate cube tent next door, with a bathroom (complete with a freestanding wood-fired bath tub) and kitchen. Every morning a breakfast hamper is bought to your door, and you can pre-order evening meals if you don't feel like cooking.
“The great indoors in the great outdoors” – that's how the POD people bill their wooden huts, and they're not far wrong. With over 40 locations across the country, from Oxfordshire to Devon, Norfolk to Cumbria, these wooden huts, sleeping up to five, are just the ticket for a cool camping break. They have French doors and (in most cases) a raised area of timber decking extending the living area providing somewhere to prepare food or sunbathe. Some sites provide beds, too.
Hearthworks offers tipis and yurts for hire in a every colour and size imaginable, sleeping two to 25. They will install the structures in the location of your choice anywhere in England, whether it's a back garden or deserted beach. It also hires tipis and yurts at a number of campsites in south west England.
If it's a retro camping experience you're after look no further than Betty, Flo, Elsie, Matilda, Dot, Gracie and Ruby. These 2-4 berth Volkswagen campervans (2006 or younger) are available to hire. Wind down the windows, turn up your iPod (playable through the camper speakers) and set off on the open road. Each camper is decked out with home-from-home glamping comforts: interior lights, fridge/coolbox, gas hob and grill, sink, even a heating system – ideal for those winter escapes.
Tucked amongst ferns and bluebells, on 16 acres of land around a spring-fed lake, these 40 authentic style North American tipis are the epitome of luxury camping. Sleeping between two and 12, each spacious tipi is filled with Turkish rugs, lanterns, comfy bed mats and bedding, with its own camp stove and cool box. Choose from the community space or your own private clearing for the ultimate seclusion. There are communal toilets and showers – or just rinse off with a morning dip in the lake. Perfect.
Follow a meandering path for 120 metres down unspoilt natural heathland, lined with bluebells and wood anemones, and you'll come to this wonderful away-from-it-all retreat on the edge of Bodmin Moor. It is made up of three yurts (sleeping two, four and six), filled with thick rugs, proper beds/futons piled with cushions, woodburning stoves and lanterns (the two larger yurts also have solar power). Each has its own compost toilet, and the bathroom yurt – with its gorgeous roll top bath – is a short stroll away.
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