Top 10…British glamping trips

Planning a staycation this summer? With everything from gypsy caravans to forest hideaways available, glamping takes the hard work out of camping. Jeff Holman rounds up 10 of the best

orget singed sausages and chilly toes courtesy of a damp sleeping bag, luxury camping or glamping, has made nights under canvas cool again. From tents containing the sort of fittings that wouldn’t look out of place in the Savoy to the weird and wonderful array of yurts, tepees, cabins and treehouses on offer, glamping is making camping a pleasure rather than an endurance test. And unlike hotels, glamping offers you the chance to really get out into the wilderness and enjoy nights under the stars without missing creature comforts.

Ian Peet of Go Camping UK has seen a surge in requests for glamping trips, many from urbanites. ‘These trips are better [for city dwellers] than a hotel, which may resemble their home environment which they are trying to escape,’ he says. Lots of people want to get out into the great outdoors but aren’t willing to try full on camping, because as Peet points out, it’s ‘too uncivilised’ for them. That’s where glamping comes into its own. ’It’s the appeal of beautiful natural settings with the luxuries of the home,’ says Paul Irish of the Yurt Retreat. ‘Customers are surprised by how luxurious it is and it’s a great location without the [logistical] problems of camping.’ 

Travel author, Jonathan Knight, says that luxury camping is a great way to get first time campers to dip their toes in and adds that it appeals to people who haven’t done a lot of camping before and don’t have any of the equipment. Knight, who co-authored upcoming book Glamping Getaways: Stylish Stays Around the UK definitely sees the appeal. Because these trips allow people to enjoy nature without the labour of building a fire or setting up a tent, it attracts people who might be intimidated by the full camping experience. Another reason for this growing trend is that it offers something distinctive and new that most people haven’t seen before and can’t get anywhere else. ‘People are a bit board with the boutique hotel experience,’ adds Knight. ‘They want to try something more unique.’ Here’s our round up of the best glamping experiences the UK has to offer, whether it’s a yurt you’re after or something a little more unusual.

Country House Hideaway
Why it’s great: A novel take on the classic country house weekend, Country House Hideaway has four glamping sites, all located in the grounds of a stately home. Tents contain a master bedroom, bunk beds, and a canopy bed as well as a fully equipped kitchen complete with coffee grinder. Each site has an additional ‘discovery tent’ is packed with gizmos such as telescopes for exploring your gorgeous natural surroundings including some for children. A wood-burning cart equipped with a stovetop is provided for cooking and also heats the water for washing. Oh, and did we mention that there’s a bike hooked up to a dynamo and mobile car battery which stores your electricity and allows you to generate electrical power yourself? Locations include Wyresdale in Lancashire, Chesters in the Scottish Borders, Layer Marney Tower in Essex and the grand Tudor pile, Acton Scott, in Shropshire. 
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The Yurt Retreat
Why it’s great: Located on a working farm in Somerset, the Yurt Retreat offers four 20-foot luxury yurts that each sleep up to four people. Yurts are situated on a redwood platform and each has its own wood burner, stovetop kettle, outdoor fire pit and private bathroom, complete with flushing toilet. Inside, there’s hand-made furniture and cute decorative touches such as red and white bunting. An electricity point next to each yurt provides power for mobiles and hairdryers, and there’s a communal lodge that contains a wonderful country kitchen, luxury showers and a comfortable lounge to relax in. The nearby village, Hinton St George, is home to the Lord Poullett Arms, an award-winning gastro pub, while the picturesque town of Lyme Regis is a 30 minute drive away. Somerset is also home to part of the grandiose Jurassic coastline, which includes some of the UK’s most stunning rock formations such as Durdle Door. The 900-year-old former Cistercian monastery, Forde Abbey, is 10 minutes away and benefits from 30 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens.
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Yaxham Water Bell Tents
Why it’s great: Great for families and couples alike, no matter who’s coming to stay in one of Yaxham’s pre-erected tents, they won’t be disappointed. A wood burning stove keeps the tents toasty and there’s romantic lighting, perfect for dinner once the children are in bed. The kitchen has all the essentials including a fridge, crockery and mains. Onsite features include communal showers, a licensed restaurant, playground and a farm shop. Set in the heart of Norfolk, the surrounding area offers spectacular walking, cycling, and sightseeing opportunities, including the nearby Sandringham estate and the seaside town of Cromer.
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The Dome Garden
Why it’s great: Slap bang in the middle of the Forest of Dean, accommodation at the Dome Garden doesn’t skimp on the comforts. Each dome has its own timber deck and wood burning stove, as well as a timber shower and bathroom building complete with flushing toilets. Showers are heated using a small wood-burning boiler stored in recycled whisky barrels. Beds, wooden floors and an outdoor fridge are all included. At the centre of the site is an organic B&B that serves food and provides an alternative for anyone who doesn’t fancy braving a tent. Nearby attractions include the Sallowvallets off-road mountain biking zone, which takes in a variety of terrain and includes both novice and expert trails. Canoeing and hiking opportunities are also available, while the Clearwell Caves are perfect for geologists and history buffs alike.
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Romany Caravan Holiday
Why it’s great: Beautifully painted and fully furnished, Romany Caravan Holiday’s gypsy caravans, located just outside of Porthcawl  on the south Wales coast, are perfect for a totally unique getaway. Space inside is limited, so the beds aren’t huge but there is a private hot water shower and toilet, a barbecue area and plenty of space for an additional tent. Each caravan has panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and at night, you can look up through the caravan’s sun-roof at the stars. Part of the Glamorgan heritage coast, the surfing mecca of Porthcawl isn’t far away while picturesque towns such as Bridgend and Maesteg are a short drive away.
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Why it’s great: Cornwall has already provided us with the pioneering Eden Project, and now the country is playing host to a new form of eco-glamping. The one-off ‘Ekopod’ comes complete with hardwood floors, sheepskin rugs, a king size bed, a cool box and a kitchen area with a wood burning stove. The bathroom has a bathtub heated by a small wood-burning hot water heater, a portable pump shower and an eco-friendly composite toilet. On the edge of Bodmin Moor, the Ekopod is a great base for getting to know one of the UK’s last remaining wilderness areas. Climbing trips up Roughtor and Brown Willy are highly recommended as are surfing lessons at the nearby Widemouth Bay. Back on dry land, the Ekopod is also close to the scenic South West coastal trail.
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The Hatch Cabin
Why it’s great: This quirky spot has its own private garden and 35 acres of surrounding Worcestershire countryside to enjoy. With one double bed and four bunks, there’s plenty of space inside, with the kitchen located just behind the cabin. Guests have access to a private bathroom with an electric shower and flushing toilets, as well as a shared washing machine. There’s also an onsite tennis court, while at the main house, there’s a fully functional recording studio with a performance space should you be feeling especially musical. The nearby town of Tenbury hosts the Tenbury Countryside Show at the beginning of August and the ‘Applefest’ – an event dedicated to all things cider – in October. The striking Ludlow Castle isn’t far away and the picturesque town of Malvern is well worth the trip. If you’re planning to head to the Hay-on-Wye literary festival this summer, the Hatch is close by.
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Ecopod Boutique Retreat
Why it’s great: With stunning views of Castle Stalker and Loch Linnhe on the west coast of Scotland, the Ecopod Boutique Retreat is perfectly placed for exploring Scotland’s natural and historical wonders. Along with luxury beds (complete with organic cotton bed linen) and a full set of designer furniture, the Ecopod Boutique Retreat also provides slippers, robes, a hamper of locally sourced goodies and organic toiletries. A free grocery basket with a food order service is available for longer stays. Extras include a flat screen television, an iPod dock and a music and DVD library. Heating is courtesy of woodburning pellets and there’s a wonderful cedar wood hot tub outside.
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Mayrose Farm Camping
Why it’s great: An unusual take on the glamping theme, North Cornwall’s Mayrose Farm plays host to ‘Glampods’; large canvas tents set in a private field. Each tent has its own garden, filled with an eclectic selection of flowers. The tents sleep up to four people and come with their own kitchen, a barbeque wood burner, and a fire pit with a kindling pile. The farm also has a swimming pool that’s perfect for distracting children for an hour or two, a farm shop with local produce, a duck pond and farm animals to play with. A short drive from Mayrose Farm, is the legendary Arthurian castle of Tintagel, the wonderful Jamaica Inn museum and the North Cornish coastline with its white sand beaches and glorious coastal views. The sleepy village of Padstow, home to four of Rick Stein’s fabulous fish restaurants; the Seafood Restaurant, St Petroc's Bistro, Rick Stein's Café and Stein's Fish & Chips, is also nearby.
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4 Winds Tipis
Why it’s great: A Native American-style camping experience in the middle of the Lake District? Thanks to 4 Winds Tipis, that’s exactly what visitors to their Ambleside campsite can expect. Each Tipi has is fully furnished with a cool box, outdoor fire and barbecue area provided, so leave your tomahawk at home. The site also has communal showers and toilets as well as a fire bowl. Guests can also use the nearby Windermere Hotel’s leisure and fitness facilities, which include a gym, indoor swimming pool and sauna. Check out the nearby lakeside village of Hawkshead, which does a good line in quaint historic pubs and benefits from stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Lake Windemere itself is only seven miles away and is surrounded by footpaths. Visit the cloud-capped Langdale Pikes mountain range for panoramic views and a host of climbing opportunities.
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