Glamp­ing it up in lux­ury and com­fort at Leeds Castle

Hav­ing en­joyed – or not – a night un­der can­vas in the New For­est and de­cid­ing they were no fans of tra­di­tional camp­ing, and fam­ily tried it in style at Bri­tain’s loveli­est castle in Kent. Guess which they’ll be do­ing in fu­ture?

Harefield Gazette - - TRAVEL -

WHEN does camp­ing be­come glamp­ing? Is it stay­ing in a big sturdy tent that has al­ready been set up for you? Is it the in­tro­duc­tion of a four-poster bed in­stead of a blow-up mat­tress? Or is it just sim­ply get­ting a de­cent night's sleep un­der the stars?

The an­swer is all of the above at Leeds Castle in Kent, where you can spend a night in me­dieval glamp­ing tents, as well as hav­ing two whole days to look around the his­toric side it­self.

I had taken my wife and two daugh­ters ‘proper' camp­ing the week be­fore in the New For­est and de­cided af­ter a ter­ri­ble night's sleep that stay­ing in a tent was not for me. But af­ter a stay at Leeds Castle, glamp­ing, not camp­ing, is much more up my street.

We ar­rived at Leeds Castle at about noon on the day of our stay so we could have a look at the me­dieval castle's fin­ery be­fore we checked into our glamp­ing tent (which can be any time af­ter 3pm on the day of ar­rival).

The pack­age al­lows you both days ei­ther side of the sleep­over into the castle grounds, so don't worry if you ar­rive slightly later, although I'd ad­vise us­ing both days fully.

Af­ter park­ing up we headed straight to the castle it­self, which looked beau­ti­ful in the af­ter­noon sum­mer sun, en­veloped by a lake upon which gon­doliers were punt­ing tourists around the main build­ing.

The in­te­rior of the castle is just as im­pres­sive, with rem­nants from its first in­car­na­tion in the 1100s when it was built as a Nor­man strong­hold, and was later a favourite res­i­dence of King Ed­ward I be­fore, in the 16th cen­tury, be­com­ing home for Henry VIII's wife Cather­ine of Aragon.

Most rooms in the castle are in su­perb con­di­tion, many dis­play­ing fur­ni­ture and fash­ion through­out the ages – from knight's ar­mour right up to a board­room which was used for the North­ern Ire­land peace talks of 2004.

There are au­dio guides avail­able, but we were happy to wan­der round read­ing the in­for­ma­tive snip­pets of text around the castle, while the chil­dren used trea­sure maps to spot items, keep­ing them in­ter­ested through­out.

Af­ter the self-guided tour it was 3pm, so we de­cided to check in to our abode for the night and we were not dis­ap­pointed by the tent's in­te­rior, which in­cluded a four-poster bed for the adults, with soft linen, pil­l­lows and throws in­cluded (beats a blow-up bed hands-down), while the chil­dren's camp­ing beds com­plete with warm sleep­ing bags were also very com­fort­able.

There were also chairs in­side and out­side the tent where you could re­lax with a cold drink in rel­a­tive pri­vacy from the other glam­pers.

There were clean toi­lets and showers a short walk from the glamp­ing area, as well as kitchen equip­ment if you needed it, but we didn't as we were go­ing to make full use of the sev­eral bar­be­cues at the site.

It was bliss sit­ting next to a camp fire eat­ing burgers, hot dogs and marsh­mal­lows, warmed on a camp fire as the sun went down, be­fore re­tir­ing to the lux­ury tent, where we also made use of the wood burner to keep us toastie through the night.

Af­ter a bliss­ful night's sleep we were wel­comed by the de­liv­ery of break­fast, which needs to be or­dered at an ex­tra cost when book­ing. We were treated to ba­con butties, cof­fee and hot cho­co­late, although you can also opt for the con­ti­nen­tal op­tion.

Be­ing fed, show­ered and packed up by 10am, we headed back into the castle grounds for the rest of the day and there was still plenty to see that we hadn't the day be­fore.

There were peace­ful gar­dens to walk around and a great maze with an un­der­ground grotto as the prize to visit at the cen­tre. We were also im­pressed by the Dark Skies film shown in­side a tent which gives an eye-open­ing ac­count of the Bat­tle of Agin­court.

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