How to be a happy glamper
Yurts with four-poster beds, ‘canvas cottages’ with roll-top bathtubs, log cabins with coffee machines... Jonathan Knight selects 40 ways to luxuriate in the great outdoors
In 10 short years, glamping has experienced a meteoric and metamorphic rise. Since “posh” camping first reached the wider public consciousness with reports of floral-wellied celebrities enjoying highend tipis at Glastonbury, it has steadily become a mainstream favourite across the UK and beyond. Traditional campers have been won over by the idea of upgrading to more comfort, while self-catering stalwarts are attracted by the quirky, fun, family-friendly appeal, and bags more space and fresh air than your average cottage.
But while a decade ago a dusty tipi with a soggy foam mattress, hessian rug and a scattering of bunting was considered enough glamp for your buck, nowadays, that just won’t cut it. Instead you can opt for a floating cabin, an elaborate chateau-inspired treehouse, or a cleverly converted shipping container set beside its own lake. These innovative outfits are offering ever higher levels of luxury to a demanding public – some of the recommendations here boast not only hotel-standard beds and Egyptian cotton sheets, but minibar, cappuccino maker, private hot tub and massage packages. (Novice glampers should note – luxury levels are not universal, so be sure to check exact facilities before booking.)
While improved levels of comfort mean that a glamping break shouldn’t bother the weather-worriers in the same way that camping does, an increase in options on the Continent means that sunshine can now be more or less guaranteed with your glamping holiday. You might even risk leaving your wellies at home.
Beside the sea: Britain
Hillfort Tipis Pembrokeshire
1 On a high bluff commanding views of the Pembrokeshire coast, this long-established, but defiantly untouched, site spreads across a heather-clad 30 acres. Though bell tents and tipis include beds, solar lighting and cooking equipment, it’s all at the rustic end of the glamping spectrum. There’s no electricity, showers are housed in a converted horsebox and campfires add to the lo-fi atmosphere. Explore the remains of the Iron Age fort, stroll the Pembrokeshire Coast Path or watch for dolphins off Strumble Head.
Tipis and bell tents from £43 per night for four people (07790 986868; hillfort-tipis.co.uk).
Koa Tree Camp Devon
2 Adventure and luxury meet at this family-friendly smallholding three miles from the north Devon coast. Five yurts, three bell tents and a pair of log cabins are supplemented by a fully equipped “surf shack” kitchen and underfloor heated bathrooms, while a rainy-day room provides activities such as cookery courses, cinema evenings and pizza nights. The Koa Tree Surf School runs from Sandymouth Beach near Bude, with the coastal footpath providing the perfect viewing platform.
Bell tents, yurts and log cabins from £240 for a short break (Mon-Fri or Fri-Mon). Each sleeps a maximum of six (07492 750861; koatreecamp.com).
Amber’s Bell Tents Norfolk
3 Four furnished bell tents in the grounds of 17th-century Wiveton Hall make up Amber Wykes’s newest glamping enterprise, following her first successful site at Mannington Hall. Inside, the bells feature a double bed, wood-burner and cool box, with local produce available from the neighbouring farm shop. There’s a pick-your-own fruit farm in the grounds and a great cafe. It’s 200yd to the Norfolk Coast Path, which leads to Blakeney National Nature Reserve and on to Morston, where boats chug out to the grey seal colony at Blakeney Point.
Bell tents from £85 per night for two people (07580 072861; ambersbelltents. co.uk).
Wheems Organic Farm Orkney Isles
4 Not only seaside but seaencircled, this far-flung hilltop site on South Ronaldsay island has retained its small-scale, family feel despite the addition of two wooden pods and a furnished Mongolian yurt. Custom-made flooring, naturally wonky wooden beams and a log-burner make the latter stand out, while sea views and campfires draw guests outdoors. It’s a 10-minute stroll to a pristine sandy beach or a 20-minute drive to the quaint, stone-paved streets of Kirkwall.
Yurt prices start from £45 per night for up to four people (01856 831556; wheemsorganic.co.uk).
The Bells of Hemscott Northumberland
5 In the sheep-grazed meadows of Hemscott Hill Farm are 12 bell tents, some sparsely furnished, others with everything you could possibly need, accompanied by a single adults-only shepherd’s hut sleeping two. Offgrid toilet, shower and dishwashing facilities are relatively basic but well maintained, and campfires are allowed. Wildlife abounds; a lake attracts migrating geese to join the ducks and chickens on site and it’s a 10-minute walk across the dunes to reach the seven-mile sands of Druridge Bay, backed by multiple nature reserves.
Bell tents from £70 per night for two people (07876 344509; thebellsofhemscott.com) Beside the sea: Europe
Portsalon Luxury Camping Co Donegal, Ireland
6 Just five yurts populate this 18acre site on Donegal’s dramatic Fanad Peninsula and all enjoy views across Lough Swilly. Woodburners, king-size beds and exposed wood spangled with elegant lights add romance, while there’s a separate building housing the kitchen and communal space. Towels, toiletries and fresh produce from the garden are all provided. It’s a short stroll to sandy Ballymastocker Bay, voted the second best beach in the world (after the Seychelles). Yurts from €60 (£46) for two (0035 3 8760 16654; donegalglamping.com).
Elska Organics Tenerife, Spain
7 Away from the resorts on Tenerife’s unspoilt east coast, Elska Organics offers three mountainside caves and a yurt with double beds in each and a communal “cave kitchen”. A chemical-free pool and morning yoga on the sun terrace fit with the eco-friendly philosophy of the place, as do the surrounding fruit trees and olive groves. The closest beach is just a 10-minute drive away, while a hike inland takes you up Spain’s highest mountain. Caves from €46 per night for two people (0034 6 0001 4389: elskaorganics.com).
Bot-Conan Lodge Brittany, France
8 With its own private sandy beach, flanked by mature woodland on all sides, BotConan Lodge is a far cry from the busy sites further along Brittany’s coast. A dozen family-sized safari lodges maximise on living space with an outdoor kitchen and separate luxury bathroom facilities, while the meadow leading down to the beach has ample space for picnicking and games. The port of Concarneau is just across the bay, where a captivating fishing museum chronicles the town’s main industry.
Safari tents from €74 per night sleeping up to five people (0033 611 051 943; botconan.com).
O Tamanco Leiria, Portugal
9 Two yurts and eight glassfronted tubes made out of reclaimed concrete scattered among the wilderness form O Tamanco. Though 10 minutes from the coast, an abundance of trees and a lack of tarmac create a real distance from Portugal’s bustling resorts. Yurts feature king-size beds and a wood-burner, while tubes are fitted with raised sleeping decks. The most popular beaches lay around Figueira da Foz to the north, though a saltwater pool means there’s no rush.
Tube prices from €25 per night for two people; yurts from €75 per night (00351 2 3695 2551; campismo-o-tamanco.com).
Yurts Tarifa Andalusia, Spain
10 This family-run yurt site is just over a mile from Tarifa – Spain’s most southerly point and the windsurfing and kitesurfing capital of Europe. Roll-up windows and tiled floors help keep the interiors cool, as does a covered terrace outside. The organic garden is home to a donkey and chickens, with produce supplying the owners’ local restaurant and sold on site for cooking in the shared kitchen. Home-cooked breakfasts can also be ordered. Yurts from €55 per night for two people (0034 6 265 38423; yurtstarifa.com).
Vedetta lodges Tuscany, Italy
11 On a slope tumbling down to Follonica Bay, five en-suite safari lodges are scattered beneath a hilltop hotel. Airy open-plan interiors – featuring a king-size bed, minibar and cappuccino machine – lead out to a veranda overlooking the medieval town
of Scarlino. Hotel benefits include full room service and use of the pool, bar and award-winning restaurant. Bikes can be hired to reach the local beaches or tour the mountain trails, though be sure to return for the sunset views.
Safari tents from £160 per night for two people (0039 0 5663 7023; relaisvedetta.eu).
Charming Slovenia Herbal Glamping Mozirje, Slovenia
12 On the banks of the River Ljubnica beneath a pinecovered slope, Charming Slovenia focuses on all things herbal – from its shop selling teas and ointments to its syrup-making workshops. En-suite accommodation is a cross between a mountain lodge and safari tent, with a canvas skin but wooden mezzanines and interior fittings. All 10 lodges are spread around a central circular pool and each features a private Jacuzzi. Relax with massages, facials and two saunas or head to the hiking trails and watersports on the Ljubnica.
From €150 for four people per night (00386 3 166 3777; charmingslovenia. com/en/herbal-glamping-ljubno/ accommodation.html).
Châteaux dans les Arbres Dordogne, France
13 On a 26-acre estate in the heart of the Périgord, five wooden cabanes, each with a private hot tub, take architectural inspiration from the French châteaux of the region. Four grand, turreted structures sit stilted among the trees, while the fifth floats on the edge of a small lake with an open-fronted bedroom overlooking the waters. There’s a walk-in shower, minibar, coffee machine, full room service and massages available, while a heated infinity pool and treetop terrace are shared by guests.
Wooden châteaux from €235 per night for two people including breakfast (0033 6 3064 2600; chateaux-dans-lesarbres.com).
Lincoln Yurts Lincolnshire, UK
14 Each of the five yurts in this horse-mown meadow seven miles from Lincoln boast an impressive assortment of comforts. Along with king-size, four-poster beds, wood-burners and decorative candle lanterns, features include a piano (in the French and Gothic Yurts) and a rosewood wedding bed that’s over 125 years old (in the Balinese Yurt). There’s a sauna, Jacuzzi bathroom and a reading room for rainy days, plus the excellent Farmer’s pub 10 minutes’ walk away.
Yurts from £75 per night for two adults and up to three children (07429 371702; lincolnyurts.com).
Secret Cloud House holidays Staffordshire, UK
15 A menu of essential oils allows guests to choose the aroma of the sauna at Secret Cloud House Holidays. On the southern edge of the Peak District, the four yurts are also each accompanied by a hot tub and plush private bathrooms, while massage treatments by candlelight take place in front of a roaring fire. Dressing gowns, toiletries and towels are all provided. It’s a five-minute drive to the national park and the Peak Wildlife Park is also down the road.
Yurts from £250 for a two-night midweek break for two people including breakfast (07845 939603; secretcloudhouseholidays.co.uk).
Sites for sightseeing
Twitey’s Tipis Warwickshire, UK
16 On the 400th anniversary year of Shakespeare’s death, this simple tipi camping site four miles outside Stratford upon Avon is well placed for a car-free history holiday. Interior furnishings are relatively sparse – there are mattresses, rugs and cooking equipment – but this is in keeping with the untouched, wild-grass surroundings. Cycle into town to visit Shakespeare’s school, houses and the theatre, or join one of the daily history walks. Seven miles north, Warwick Castle also runs family events throughout the summer. Tipis from £195 for four people (07725 944204; twiteystipis.co.uk).
Hüttenpalast Berlin, Germany
17 Inside a former vacuum cleaner factory, within walking distance of such iconic sites as the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie, this innovative urban glamping site sets restored vintage caravans amid greening house plants and light, whitewashed walls. Each caravan bedroom has an individually designed interior, while the enclosed setting means sofas, dining furniture and bathrooms are all outside your caravan walls. The in-house cafe is popular with guests and locals alike and bikes can be hired (€10/24 hours) for exploring the city.
Caravans from €69 per night for two people (0049 30 3730 5806; huettenpalast.de).
The Original Hut Company East Sussex, UK
18 The eight shepherd’s huts of 200-acre Quarry Farm would ordinarily steal the show – wood-burners, custom-built beds and locally crafted kitchen fittings show impressive attention to detail. Yet the farm’s other attractions are just as appealing: kayaking and paddle boarding are available on the River Rother and the Kent & East Sussex Steam Railway runs right through the farm. National Trust-owned Bodiam Castle is a 15minute stroll across the fields, while historic Rye, Hastings and Battle are all within 10 miles.
Huts from £82 per night for up to four people (01580 831845; originalhuts.co.uk).
Ca’savio Venice, Italy
19 The first Italian campsite to host authentic American Airstreams, what this beachside encampment lacks in small-scale intimacy it makes up for with location alone. It takes just 40 minutes to skirt through the islanddotted Venetian lagoon to the dock outside St Mark’s Square and from there the city is your oyster. The Airstream trailers feature a double bed and extra pullout, ideal for two children, with a kitchen area and outdoor deck covered by an inbuilt awning.
Airstream trailers from €120 per night for up to four people (0039 041 966 017; casavio.com).
Les Roulottes Loire, France
20 Five miles upstream from the Château of Blois, five circus caravans ranging in age from the Twenties to the Seventies are located on the banks of the River Cosson. While all have been restored appropriately, filled with antiques and painted in rich reds, greens and carmines, their surroundings are equally gorgeous. Chambord – perhaps the most famous Loire Valley castle – is five miles away, Cheverny is eight miles and there are a dozen more châteaux within an hour’s drive.
Roulottes from €120 for a fournight midweek break for two people (0033 6 6774 9493; lesroulottes.fr).
Yurt Holiday Portugal Coimbra, Portugal
21 Zig-zagging steps lead down a wooded hillside to twin yurts sitting at the foothills of the Serra da Estrela mountains. Private bathrooms,
king-size beds and a honeymoon package that can include massages and guided excursions provide the obvious romantic touches. It’s the secluded setting, though, that proves most memorable. Days exploring mountain villages, wild swimming and tucking into home-cooked meals on the owners’ viewing veranda are best finished by opening up the yurt roof to enjoy the dark night skies.
Yurts from €75 per night for two people, including breakfast (00351 2352 08562; yurtholidayportugal.com).
Skye Shepherd Huts Isle of Skye, UK
22 The wild landscape of Skye is offset nicely by the cocooned interior of the two shepherd’s huts at this small-scale site. A custom-fitted bed, wood-burner and breakfast delivered to your doorstep make it difficult to leave. None the less, the views across the moors to the mountains of Knoydart or the distant Isle of Rum will draw you out. Hiking, biking and sea kayaking can all be arranged – and there are drying facilities and bike storage on site.
Huts from £80 per night for two people, including breakfast (07580 559745, text only; coolcamping.co.uk).
Auvergne Naturelle Clermont-Ferrand, France
23 Hidden from view amid the pine-clad slopes of the Livradois-Forez Regional Natural Park, Auvergne Naturelle has an almost alpine feel. Four en-suite yurts are cleverly positioned to maximise privacy and thoughtful touches like open-slat wooden showers provide a link to the surroundings. Evening campfires and streamside strolls are a staple, while, 30 minutes up the hill, La Chaise-Dieu is famed for its antique shops and Gothic abbey – visit in August for the world-famous classical music festival.
Yurts from €80 per night for two people, including breakfast (0033 4 7176 3853; yurtholidaysfrance.co.uk).
Green Mountain Yurt Andalusia, Spain
24 Edging the Sierra Nevada National Park, this aptly named yurt sticks to its Mongolian roots, with traditionally exposed, steam-bent chestnut latticing the curved walls. Light wooden furniture, patterned rugs and a log burner accompany the double bed and there’s a well-equipped kitchen outside. Guests can have vegetables and herbs from the mountainside garden or enjoy a night off, with home-cooked food outside the owners’ wisteria-clad villa. Riding, hiking and canyoning in the Río Bermejo are all within a few hundred yards.
From €60 per night for two people (0034 6 4643 0656; greenmountainyurt.com).
Shepherds Hide Essex, UK
25 Fronted by 55 acres containing ponds, tidal creeks and salt marshes, this single shepherd’s hut feels wonderfully separate from the pickyour-own strawberry farm behind it. Underfloor heating accompanies the wood-burner and a fitted kitchen has everything you need, while a tasty welcome hamper, Britishmade toiletries and decorative homewares show great attention to detail. Footpaths weave past a historic tidal mill towards Alresford Creek – ideal for bird watching – and on to the Essex coast, three miles away.
From £100 per night for two people (01206 303608; theshepherdshide.co.uk).
Lakeside or riverside sites
Cabanes Flottantes du Lac de Pélisse Dordogne, France
26 Reached by rowing boat, two ingenious floating cabins bob in the middle of Lac de Pélisse, a wildlife haven 62 miles from Bordeaux. Encircled by a sun deck, each timber cabin is mirrored inside by superb joinery that includes furnishings and beds. Breakfast is paddled to your cabin each morning and there’s a barbecue back on terra firma. Rent kayaks to explore the rest of the lake or bring fishing tackle to cast from your deck chair. From €140 a night for two people (0033 6 2 96 6596; cabanesflottantes.com).
Mille Etoiles Ardeche, France
27 It’s a 20-minute scramble from Mille Etoiles’ forested perch down to the River Ardeche, where local canoe rental is a cinch – shuttle buses can pick you up downstream. Though the setting gives a wilderness feel, a playground, paddling pool and pizzeria occupy a large clearing and every comfort is catered for – from lanterns at night to toiletries in the washrooms. Eleven yurts are furnished with double beds and bespoke wooden furnishings, while a pair of safari tents provide extra space for families.
Yurts and safari tents (sleeping up to seven) from €90 per night for two people (0033 4 7538 4277; campingmilletoiles.com).
The Lake Cornwall, UK
28 Accessed via a long, private road, this ingeniously converted lakeside shipping container offers utter isolation on Bodmin Moor. The design is both functional and contemporary, with a double bed, kitchen and a sliding glass front wall, while a separate shower and toilet chamber make the most of the space. A shingle beach leads down to the jetty, where a small rowboat can be paddled around the lake. Heathery surroundings hide an abandoned Victorian clay mine. Ideal for those seeking solitude – the nearest shops are eight miles away. From £100 per night for two people (01579 321263; coolcamping.co.uk).
Henfryn Farm Carmarthenshire, UK
29 Hereford-cross cattle and Llanwenog sheep are moved from a riverside meadow at Henfryn Farm each spring to make room for four furnished bell tents; one directly on the riverbank, the others slightly hidden from its view. The off-grid bell tents have wood-burners for heating and all essentials are provided. The languid River Teifi is ideal for paddling, while adjoining acres of SSSI (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) landscape mean wildlife is abundant, including the occasional otter.
Bell tents from £135 for two people for two nights (01743 860576; henfrynfarm.co.uk).
Hoeve Waterschap Friesland, The Netherlands
30 One of the first farms to be built on the reclaimed, canallatticed lowland beside Lake IJssel, Hoeve Waterschap is a family site with a hands-on philosophy. Children can help collect eggs, feed the sheep and herd cattle, or borrow canoes to paddle the Pieter Christiaan canal (also suitable for swimming). Luxury safari tents are divided into a double bedroom, bunk room and open living space, with a country house-style kitchen containing a wood-burner and stove. Book a “Frills” tent to add a private hot tub.
Safari tents from €299 for a weekend for up to six people (01420 80804; featherdown.co.uk).
Loose Reins Dorset, UK
31 The seemingly incongruous blend of luxury, the American West and a rural Dorset meadow combine to form this imaginative glamping experience. Pioneer-inspired, en-suite cabins on this site near Blandford Forum feature king-size beds and country home-style kitchenettes, with wooden rocking chairs. A qualified trainer provides riding or horsemanship lessons, while more experienced riders can take tours into Dorset’s surrounding Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. From £103 per night for a four-person cabin (01258 863533; loosereins.co.uk).
The Dandelion Hideaway Leicestershire, UK
32 It’s difficult to offer both romance and a family-friendly focus but this Midlands site treads the line perfectly. Children can get hands-on around the farm, which is home to goats, hens and Shetland ponies, while the five “canvas cottages” come complete with farmhouse-style kitchen and spacious living quarters. Faded linens, chunky oak furnishings and a roll-top bathtub in each add to the charm. For maximum indulgence, Bluebell cottage has a wood-fired
hot tub and a tree house sleeping two.
Canvas cottages from £725 a week for up to six people (01455 292888; thedandelionhideaway.co.uk).
Simply Canvas Aquitaine, France
33 Furnished with traveller’s paraphernalia – ornate globes, travel books and wicker furniture – six safari tents are accompanied by a pool, wooden sun terrace and a barn-cum-playroom with table football, ping-pong and board games. Breakfast is an informal affair; eat at the long outdoor table, with views of sunflower fields, frying eggs from the roaming chickens and vegetables from an impressive garden. The empty country roads, leading to Bergerac (19 miles), are ideal for family cycles and bike hire is free.
Safari tents from €85 per night for two people including breakfast; tents sleep up to six, €20 per extra person (0033 6 8176 8594; simplycanvas.eu).
Cloud House Farm Andalusia, Spain
34 An hour from historic Ronda, Cloud House Farm’s two remote, mountainside yurts boast some of the finest views of any glampsite. Olive, lemon and orange groves skirt each yurt’s private clearing, with a wooden kitchen station and hammocks on the veranda outside. Rope swings and swingball occupy children on site and, though there’s no pool, a 20-minute walk to the local rivers – the Almarchal and the Genal – rewards guests with stunning natural pools.
Yurts from £70 per night for two adults; children £10 per night (0034 6 4523 8742; cloudhouse.es).
Glisten Camping Aquitaine, France
35 Located in the foothills of the Pyrenees, Glisten Camping’s six striking geodesic domes boast doorstep access to hiking trails and some of the best cycling routes in south-west France. It’s a 15-minute drive to the coast with surfboard hire available on site to take advantage of the famous Biarritz swell, while a stream and two swimming pools provide further watery distractions. In the contemporary-chic interiors children can sleep in quirky hanging pods and a family-friendly bar-restaurant has views of the play area.
Domes from £75 per night for up to six people (08443 440196; glistencamping.com).
Walnut Tree Farm Algarve, Portugal
36 Steps wedged directly into the tree trunk make it a challenging climb up to this wooden hut, perched in a 100year-old walnut tree. The small, relatively stark interior is almost filled by the double bed, but a toilet, shower and well-equipped kitchen have plenty of space down on ground level. Prop open shutters to peer into the branches and down to orange groves in the garden below. It’s a 25-minute drive to the Atlantic coast – swim in the River Seixe en route.
Treehouse from £58 per night for two people (00351 2 8299 1904; walnut-tree-farm.com).
Forest Escapes Normandy, France
37 The 100-acre grounds of Château de la Baudonnière play host to two newly built tree houses, raised among the canopy of native European woodland. The larger has a three-bed bunkroom and a mezzanine floor for the master bed, while the smaller, on just one level, sleeps one person fewer. Private toilets and showers are back on terra firma, while meals are served inside the château itself. A wealth of activities include canoeing, archery, raft building and more, with tours to Mont St Michel a particular highlight.
Tree houses from £495 per adult, £465 for children (six to 16 years old) per week, all inclusive (01273 803030; forestescapes.com).
Lima Escape Braganca, Portugal
38 On a forested nose poking out into a lakelike section of the River Lima, the two glass-fronted “treebungalows” at Lima Escape have a functionality that suits their name. Inside the cubic structures there’s a modern kitchenette, double bedroom and bathroom, while an extended veranda offers tree-lined views of the waters beyond. Set within the Geres National Park, the site is popular with hikers, bikers and birders. Visit before June to see the best of the wildflowers. From €60 per night for two people (00351 2 5858 8361; lima-escape.pt).
Red Kite Tree Tent Powys, UK
39 Featured on Channel 4’s
Amazing Spaces, this giant turquoise orb – a hybrid of aluminium and steambent ash – sits suspended among the pines by unobtrusive metal wires. Inside, a central support pole is surrounded by a double bed and wood-burner; a felted magenta lining enhances the cocoon-like feel. A large deck features a cooking space overlooking a stream. Guests have the wildlife-rich, 80-acre wood to themselves. There are red kites at nearby Gigrin Farm Feeding Station. Adults only.
From £385 for three nights for two people (01865 764087; sheepskinlife.com).
Crafty Camping Dorset, UK
40 New this summer, Crafty Camping’s elaborate, adults-only treehouse includes an extra bath and private rooftop sauna, shielded by moss-and-fern woven walls. Crafted around a veteran oak, the house is reached via a spiral staircase and swinging rope-bridge, leading to a contemporary interior space with kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and ceramic wood-burner providing all the heating. A huge skylight allows you to view the canopy above and the veranda has a pizza oven and barbecue.
From £552 for a two-night midweek stay for two people (01460 221102; mallinson.co.uk).
A bell tent on the meadows of Hemscott Hill, below. Cover image: inside one of Glisten Camping’s geodesic domes in Aquitaine, France Herbal remedies are on the menu at the Charming Slovenia retreat in Mozirje, above
One of the cabanes at the Châteaux dans les Arbes, below
Accommodation at Ca’savio in Italy is in American Airstreams, above
Child’s play with Simply Canvas in Aquitaine, France, above
A colourful yurt in Coimbra, Portugal, above; a Skye Shepherd Hut, below
The delights of the Dandelion Hideaway in Leicestershire, below
Treehouse fun at the Lima Escape in Braganca, Portugal, above