Forget about wet feet and tangled guy-lines: times have changed. The new trend for 'glamping' – as a the name suggests, it combines glamour and camping – let's you get up close and personal with nature and also enjoy a glass of fine wine beside a wood stove or relax in a comfortable four-poster bed. So, grab your fancy boots and get set to discover the best in luxury camping experiences.
Jollydays, Scrayingham, North Yorkshire
Jollydays believe there's no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate camping facilities. Set in 80 hectares of private forest in the North Yorkshire Dales, the family-run site boasts 20 tents – four deluxe, nine luxury lodge and seven bell tents. At 75 square metres, the luxury tents are larger than most hotel suites. They sleep up to six people, and with wooden floors, four-poster beds, private toilets and sofas by the fire, they ensure space and comfort for the whole family. The bell tents for up to four people are slightly lower-key with futons and communal shower and toilet huts. Whichever you choose, you don't need to feel guilty about indulging yourself, as the site is highly eco-conscious.
Alde Garden, Sweffling, Suffolk
A relaxing retreat in the heart of Alde Valley in Suffolk, Alde Garden is an ecological paradise. The accommodation choices include a Mongolian yurt hand-fashioned from locally-coppiced wood, native-American-style tipis, bell tents, a wooden gypsy caravan and a refurbished cottage. There's no electricity on-site, but plenty of solar lanterns, and an old wooden outbuilding provides a communal space for cooking, eating and general lounging. The showers are solar-powered, or there's a more basic 'jungle shower' set among the trees and with a view of the neighbouring livestock.
Ekopod, Bodmin, Cornwall
Located in a meadow of flowers on the edge of Bodmin Moor, a spectacular geodesic dome tent offers the ultimate glamping experience for couples. Equipped with a king-size bed, wood stove and a transparent wall that lets you wake up to a panoramic view of the hills, it also has an independent cubic tent alongside with bathroom and kitchen. Each morning a breakfast hamper is left just down the path, and dinner is available if you don't feel like cooking for yourself.
The Pod, locations across the UK
Described as a “beautifully balanced space for living in the landscape” the Pod offers a true twenty-first century take on camping. Available at over 40 locations across the UK, from Oxfordshire to Devon, from Norfolk to Cumbria – as well as a few across the channel – these wooden cabins are set in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Different locations provide different facilities, but the basic Pod structure provides stable, insulated and secure accommodation at affordable prices. Pods sleeps up to five people and are perfect for a family getaway.
Pot-a-Doodle Do Wigwam Village, Scremerston, Berwick-Upon-Tweed
Located on a farm on the beautiful Northumbrian coast near Berwick Upon Tweed, this 'wigwam village' consists of three yurts and 20 cosy wooden wigwams that can accommodate up to five people, and each is furnished with heating, electricity and comfortable mattresses. The site boasts everything you could possibly need, including a shower block, shop, licensed cafe and bistro, and a spacious communal kitchen with TV lounge. There's even a Finnish BBQ hut that can be booked for exclusive use, and which may be the perfect answer to the vagaries of the British summer. There's plenty to do while staying, with quad-bike trekking, fishing and country and coastal walks.
Gypsy Campsite, Maldon, Essex
Nestled in an ancient woodland, on Bouncers farm, a former cherry and apple orchard farm, now mainly given over to pasture. As well as offering space for pitching your own tent, Bouncers Farm boasts its own Gypsy Camp, where two carefully restored bow-top caravans and a bender tent, all let as a single private space, provide a great place for a family or for couples travelling together. There are plenty of footpaths and cycle routes in the area and visitors can get up close with the farm animals which include free-range chickens, Kune Kune pigs and rare-breed sheep.
Hearthworks, southwest England
Heathworks is one of the UK's biggest suppliers of tipis and yurts, offering all the colours and sizes imaginable, with space to sleep from two to 25 people. Not only do they set up tipi fields at many of the big festivals, from Glastonbury to Womad, they will also arrange to erect their structures at selected campsites in southwest England. You could buy your own tipi or yurt, or hire one for a corporate or private event, and if need be they will come and set up for you whether it's in a back garden or on a deserted beach.
Snail Trail, Biggleswade, Bedfordshire
Betty, Flo, Elsie, Matilda, Dot, Gracie, Ruby... if these sound more retro than glam, it's not surprising as these are the names of the vehicles in the fleet of Volkswagen camper vans available for hire from Snail Trail. Offering almost all the comforts of home: interior lighting, fridge, gas stove and grill, sink and heating, the vans sleep 2-4 people and are perfect for a classic road trip camping experience.
Cornish Tipi Holidays, St Kew, Cornwall
Set in a woodland valley between the Cornish hills on a plot extending for 16 acres on the shores of a clear spring-fed lake, these 40 spacious American-style tipis are synonymous with luxury camping. Offering accommodation for two to 12 people, some are set as a 'village' or you can choose the more secluded private sites. Facilities include Turkish rugs, lamps, comfortable mattresses and bed linens, stove and refrigerator. And of course, the lake is right on your doorstep for those who fancy an early morning swim.
Cornish Yurt Holidays, Bodmin, Cornwall
Leave your car and follow a winding path for 120 metres through natural heathland dotted with wild flowers to bring you to this sheltered place set away from the world on the edge of Bodmin Moor. There are three yurts available (to sleep two, four and six), each equipped with thick carpets, one main bed and additional futons, wood stoves and lanterns. Each yurt has its own compost toilet and there is a shared bathroom yurt with a marvellous wood-burning heater that provides hot water though a spout straight into the roll top bath.
English Tourist Board
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