With new accommodation ranging from rustic-chic roundhouses to glamorous safari tents, glamping in the English and Welsh countryside has been elevated to an art. Here’s where to book a getaway with the whole family this summer.
Pitched away from the main hotel, The Samling’s luxurious tents sit on the fringes of a wood in the Lake District. As we ease our way back into the world of travel, families not quite ready for bustling cities or packed-out resorts might find the answer in glamping.
Photograph by The Samling
Published 12 Jun 2021, 08:00 BST, Updated 25 Jun 2021, 11:03 BST
If you thought glamping was merely camping with a few extra frills, then think again. The trend for bedding down under a glammed-up canvas has taken off since the first yurts started popping up in the early noughties — so much so that ‘glamping’, or ‘glamorous camping’, was officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2016. Accommodation can range from vintage shepherd’s huts with fitted kitchens to grand safari tents with four-poster beds or high-end treehouses with wraparound balconies.
And that’s only half the fun: a glamping getaway is all about the experiences, whether that’s sunrise yoga sessions, private chefs and wild swimming sessions all thrown in. As we ease our way back into the world of travel, families not quite ready for bustling cities or packed-out resorts might find the answer in glamping — and there are plenty of incredible sites across England and Wales to sample this summer.
Woolley Grange Hotel, near Bath, has partnered with The Pop-Up Hotel company to bring glamping tents to the grounds of their stately property. Guests have free access to all the top-notch facilities in the hotel — including 90 minutes of free childcare a day.
Photograph by Luxury Family Hotels
1. Luxury Family Hotels Pop-up-Hotel, Bath
Enjoying the great outdoors has rarely felt more luxurious than on a stay at this new glamping concept. The result of a collaboration between Luxury Family Hotels and The Pop-Up Hotel company (an enterprise versed in erecting fancy tents at Glastonbury and other major events), the glampsite is in the grounds of Woolley Grange Hotel, close to the city of Bath. And in-need-of-a-break parents can expect the peak of luxury in the two-bed suites: crisp bed linen, bath products, private bathrooms, fresh towels, power points and terraces for munching on breakfasts delivered to your door. There’s a nearby pop-up cafe and bar for those long, balmy nights and free access to all the top-notch facilities in the hotel — including 90 minutes of free childcare a day. Hallelujah!
How to do it: From £375 a night, B&B. luxuryfamilyhotels.co.uk
A guest enjoys the grounds of Woolley Grange Hotel, near Bath, this summer hosting luxury glamping experiences for the whole family in its scenic grounds.
Photograph by Luxury Family Hotels
2. Hidden Valley Yurts, Monmouthshire
A sweet spot for a switched-off experience, this collection of five yurts — three of which sleep up to seven, and two sleep up to five — is surrounded by wildflower meadows in a secluded wooded valley. Raglan and Usk Castles are close by, but this is a site made for relaxing, from thumbing through a book on your yurt’s terrace to playing boules late into the evening. There’s a campfire nook, a wood-fired-pizza oven and a safari-style dining tent. The yurts have proper, sturdy beds and wood-burning stoves, and a couple even have their own toilets. If it’s a fine evening, you can even pull off the rain cap to stare at star-strewn skies while curled up in bed. If you’re after even more seclusion, check into the Lake House — a spruced-up cricket pavilion that’s now a two-bed bolthole with a terrace opening to lake views.
How to do it: From £445 per yurt per week. hiddenvalleyyurts.co.uk
Hidden Valley Yurts, near Raglan and Usk Castles, is made for relaxing — from thumbing through a book on your yurt’s terrace to playing boules late into the evening.
Photograph by Hidden Valley Yurts and Lakehouse
3. Experience Freedom, Isle of Wight
While you won’t hear a lion roar from your bedside, safari tents still add an extra layer of fun to a glamping escape with kids. Experience Freedom is an offshoot of the Caravan and Motorhome Club and, for the summer season, it’s added four new canvas safari tents to its Southland campsite, pitched at nudging distance from the island’s Shanklin and Sandown Beaches. Inside, there’s space for up to five — spread across two bedrooms — and there’s a plush kitchen and a living area that opens to a terrace where guests can simmer down with a sundowner.
How to do it: From £39 a night (two-night minimum stay). experiencefreedom.co.uk
Read more: A beginner’s guide to wild camping
For the summer season, Experience Freedom has added four new canvas safari tents to its Southland campsite, pitched a stone’s throw from the Isle of Wight’s Shanklin and Sandown Beaches.
Photograph by Experience Freedom
4. The Samling, Lake District
One of the latest, greatest creations on the UK glamping scene this summer are the new Prospector Tents at the enduringly luxurious The Samling. Pitched away from the main hotel, the tents sit on the fringes of a wood. Guests can take their butler-brought morning coffee on their terraces while enjoying expansive views of Lake Windermere and the surrounding fells suspended in the morning mist. There are four-poster beds and wooden dining tables inside, and although this is an upmarket spot catering to adults, younger guests are never going turn their noses up at exploring nearby trickling becks and rocky hillsides.
How to do it: From £3,000 for two nights. thesamlinghotel.co.uk
One of the most exciting additions to the UK glamping scene this summer are the new Prospector Tents at the enduringly luxurious The Samling.
Photograph by The Samling
5. Penhein Glamping, Monmouthshire
A working farm near Chepstow sets the scene for this glampsite with its clutch of Iranian alachigh tents. Inside the dome-like pods are beds with timber headboards, fresh flowers on bedside tables, stargazing windows, mini kitchen areas with cool boxes and en suite toilets. The farm’s natural springs supply the sink and there’s a wood-burning stove for dinners al fresco. Can’t be bothered to cook? The owners will call in chefs who’ll prepare a meal using local produce. The grounds are vast and have stirring views of the countryside, and there’s plenty of ancient woodland and meadows to explore. Head to Castroggi Brook, where kids and adults alike will love paddling in the shallows, or stay on-site for a host of outdoor experiences, from bushcraft to den-building.
How to do it: From £140 a night; minimum stay two nights. penhein.co.uk
Penhein Glamping’s Iranian alachigh tents offer beds with timber headboards, fresh flowers on bedside tables and stargazing windows in the dome-like pods.
Photograph by Penhein Glamping
6. Swallowfields Luxury Glamping Retreat, Castlemorton
As lockdown was tentatively lifted in spring, so too was the curtain on this new rural glamping retreat at the foot of the Malvern Hills. It’s a collection of art deco-inspired spa lodges, all doused in luxury, and with space for up to six guests — and two visiting dogs. Expect velvet cushions, private bathrooms, ridiculously cosy beds, flatscreen TVs, wi-fi and coffee machines. The best bit? A drinks cabinet stocked with locally sourced craft wines, beers and ciders, made for supping in the outdoor hot tub.
How to do it: From £29 per person, based on six staying. swallowfieldsretreat.co.uk
Swallowfields Luxury Glamping Retreat, in the Malvern Hills, offers a new collection of art deco-inspired spa lodges.
Photograph by Swallowfields Luxury Glamping Retreat
7. The Little Shire, Somerset
New Zealand is off limits for now, so Tolkien fans, great and small, can immerse themselves in The Shire at this new hideaway on a working farm near Wells. Seemingly buried into the grassy hills of the farm, the three-bed Wabbit has all the perks of a luxe hotel — fitted kitchen, walk-in shower, proper beds — but with an extra side of whimsy. Guests can hunker down in the wood-fired hot tub, toast marshmallows in the camping shed, and watch the kids as they tackle the play area. There’s an on-site farm shop too to stock up on artisan breads, organic wines and nibbles for those country rambles.
How to do it: Luxury Coastal offers three nights from £707. luxurycoastal.co.uk
Seemingly buried into the grassy hills of a Somerset farm, the three-bed Wabbit in the The Little Shire has all the perks of a luxe hotel.
Photograph by The Little Shire
8. Castle Knights camp site, Monmouthshire
For a night in the shadow of a looming tower wall, this glampsite is pitched in a field beside Usk Castle — a ruin in the gardens of a private family home. To explore the castle, you have to be a member, but stay at Castle Knights, and you can gaze at the crumbly tower walls from the decking of your cabin. Some are on the smaller side, like the Shepherds Cabin, sleeping two with a mini kitchenette and a wood-burning stove, though the Yurt and the fortress-like Glyndwr Fort have space for four, with cosy beds and furniture. Plus, there’s a communal kitchen a short walk away, snaking footpaths that dip towards the Usk River and bikes for hire.
How to do it: From £100 per night in the Yurt. castleknights.co.uk
The Willow Roundhouse is a passion project that’s taken more than two years to finalise and now joins a fleet of luxury yurts on Round the Woods’ 20-acre site in Norfolk.
Photograph by Round the Woods
9. Round the Woods, Norfolk
Husband-and-wife-duo Kate Symonds and Seb Burns, unveiled Willow Roundhouse in the spring — a passion project that’s taken more than two years to finalise and now joins a fleet of luxury yurts on their 20-acre site. Painstakingly built using natural or reclaimed materials (including a storm-felled oak tree carved into kitchen counters) the clay roundhouse is undeniably a cut above your average glamping bolthole and can sleep up to seven. There’s a large wooden bed, a hanging rattan chair to thumb through a book, a kitchen and large dining table to gather round, and an outdoor wood-burner for those cosy evenings. And this being Norfolk, there are plenty of wild, golden beaches to lose yourself in, too.
How to do it: From £380 for a two-night break. roundthewoods.co.uk
At Wild Canvas Camping in Bedfordshire, digs for the night could be tipis handmade in Glastonbury or spruced-up tri-lodge tents.
Photograph by Wild Canvas
10. Wild Canvas Camping, Bedfordshire
For a focus on activities, look to this fresh pop-up campsite in the verdant grounds of Bedfordshire’s Turvey House estate. It’s run along the lines of a festival, with a rotation of family-friendly and wellness-based workshops on the bill, from nature walks and SUP sessions to daily yoga. Your digs for the night could be tipis handmade in Glastonbury or spruced-up tri-lodge tents, with separate private showers and loos. Meanwhile, on the menu are the obligatory wood-fired pizzas and burgers from cult restaurateur Patty & Bun.
How to do it: Tri-lodge tipi tents from £100 a night. wildcanvas.uk
Pixie Woods, Devon. This year, Canopy and Stars launch its Campout concept, hoisting up bell tents in 12 locations across the country that will remain popped up until the end of September.
Photograph by Canopy and Stars
11. Canopy & Stars Campout 2021, Devon and elsewhere
Glamping operator and all-round know-it-all when it comes to bedding down in nature Canopy & Stars has a plethora of quirky and interesting hidey-holes on its books. And this year it’s going one step further with the launch of its Campout concept, hoisting up bell tents in 12 locations across the country that will remain popped up until the end of September. Opt for Pixie Woods on a farm in Devon and you’ll have two bell tents with space for up to six sleepers, outdoor barbecues and firepits, and jaunts to Dartmoor, Exmoor and the Tarka Trail when you feel like venturing out.
How to do it: Bell tent for six from £190 a night. canopyandstars.co.uk
The creators of Cowmans Cabin took a converted lorry bed trailer and added in natural and recycled materials to conjure into being this rustic-yet-remarkable retreat.
Photograph by Cowmans Cabin
12. Cowmans Cabin, Herefordshire/Shropshire
While most of us watched too much Netflix during lockdown, the family at this dairy and sheep farm set about tinkering with a new, unique stay. They took a converted lorry bed trailer and added in natural and recycled materials to conjure into being the rustic-yet-remarkable Cowmans Cabin on the Herefordshire-Shropshire border. There’s a double and bunk beds, a kitchen for rustling up brekkies and an indoor shower, plus hot cocoa courtesy of Hotel Chocolat. Plus miles of bucolic loveliness right on your doorstep.
How to do it: From £150 a night. cowmanscabin.co.uk
Flamborough Glamping & Vineyard have launched eight luxury glamping pods, and the husband-and-wife team at the helm have plans to open a winery.
Photograph by Flamborough Glamping & Vineyard
13. Flamborough Glamping & Vineyard, Yorkshire
New on the UK viticulture scene is this freshly planted vineyard in the coastal hub of Flamborough. There are plans for a winery but, in the meantime, the husband-and-wife team at the helm have opened eight luxury glamping pods, which loom over sea vistas and, in the other direction, rows of grape vines. Each has its own bathroom, kitchen and living space, and there’s a sofa bed for the kiddies — plus, underfloor heating if things turn chilly. And if you haven’t discovered the rock pools, chalky cliffs and golden sands along this stretch of coast, well, you’re in for a treat.
How to do it: From £250 for two nights. flamboroughgv.co.uk
Read more: Must-have camping gear for summer 2021
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