Call me a lightweight but I can’t really cope with more than one or two nights of camping – the old school, blow up mattress, damp sleeping bag, hiking to the loos variety anyway. Good news, then, that glamping has hit the mainstream in the West Country with everything from high end yurts to cool and minimalist ecopods to tempt you.
Glamping makes so much sense. It's cheaper than travelling overseas, you get the romance and buzz of a proper back to basics, wilderness holiday with a good night's sleep at the end of it. No electricity, so no phones, laptops, ipads and 24/7 interruptions - for once, you can leave stressed out modern living behind. Two of my all time favourite holidays were in a VW camper van (broke down day 2 but day 1 was awesome) and in a converted railway carriage (middle of the night stomping to the outside loo), which I dreaded but loved. Luxed up, 5 star hotels, no matter how fabulous, just don't induce the same bank of memories.
Tom Dixon founder of Bristol based glamping experts Canopyandstars says glamping should be about the experience you take away with you.
"Glamping is really on trend at the moment. Of course the little touches that make somewhere stand out are important but what also matters is the experience of eating local food and all the things you learn from being in such a magical and beautiful place."
Kate Fellows who runs boutique yurt camping at Pencuke Farm in Cornwall has found families, in particular, love the getting away from it all vibe of a glamping trip.
She says: “We have found there’s more of a trend for simple holidays but people don’t want to give up their luxury. Time after time we’re told this is a brilliant family holiday because without electricity – so no TV or computers –you are spending lots of real quality time together playing board games or just chatting under the stars.”
From horseboxes to yurts and everything in between here's our Top 10 glamping spots in the South West.
Canopyandstars is a brilliant place to start. You'll really need to rifle through this amazing site yourself but we had to bring your 3 of our canopyandstars South West favourites starting off with The Roundhouse in Cornwall, a converted Iron Age roundhouse on Bodrifty Farm outside Penzance. Historical, quirky and fully romantic - this comes with a handmade four poster bed, duck down duvet and Egyptian cotton sheets. Two of our most-loved beaches - Sennen Cove and Porthcurno - are just a short drive away.
Modernists need look no further than the Ekopod on the edge of Bodmin Moor which has its own kitchen and bathroom all kitted out in suitably cutting edge furnishings. Welcome hampers are stellar apparently with the best local produce and there's surfing at Widemouth Bay.
And we couldn't ignore the Lovestruck, not with a name like that and the fact that it scores full marks for originality - this one's in a converted horse box. In the grounds of beautiful Pennard House in Somerset, underneath two oak trees and beside a bluebell wood, it's picture perfect outside, laid-back cool on the inside.
Featherdown Farm, Boswarthen, Cornwall
Yes you’re under canvas but once inside you certainly wouldn’t think so (see main picture) with double beds and good Eyptian cotton bed linen, bunk beds for kids, hot showers, a stove to cook on and wooden floors. Most yurts also have a sea view and you can even soak in a hot tub looking out at St Michael’s Mount. You can stock up on gorgeous local Cornish produce from the farm larder and indulge yourself with Maddy’s home cooking at night (her lasagne comes highly recommended). Featherdown has several farms in the South West for you to choose from.
The beautiful beaches of Porthcurno and Sennen Cove are close by, as is the wonderful open air Minack Theatre.
Hiring a camper van in Cornwall and pootling around the coast from campsite to campsite is another way to go. The VW vans are seriously slow which takes a little getting used to but isn't being on a go slow what proper holidays are all about? There are various companies to choose from but we like Cornwall by Campers which has two VWs - Hattie and Humfrey - (this is standard VW speak, better get used to it) - lovingly restored and decked out in vintage style - think Orla Keily fabrics, Cath Kidson mugs, old school bush radios. Beds are comfy, the open roads are yours. Weekly from £450.
We love everything about Lovelanecaravans on the Lizard Peninsular in Cornwall (including their name). It’s the old fashioned caravan holiday updated for the 21st century - except that you're stationary, of course – quirky, stylish, vintage caravans with all mod- cons and perhaps best of all bang next door to Roskilly’s Organic Ice Cream Farm (knock out ice cream and a gorgeous farm full of chickens, ducks, sheep and pigs to wander around). Most of the caravans are 50 years old and have been lovingly restored and fitted out with vintage kitchens, comfortable beds. There’s no electricity just candle-light, paraffin lamps and the stars of course – get back to basics with a little luxury thrown in.
Pencuke Farm Cornwall
Pencuke Farm have nailed the whole luxury yurt thing - just check out the picture: wooden floors, huge double bed, dining table, inside your tent. The farm rears livestock, grows organic vegetables and sell it in the farm shop. Spend the days surfing, stock up on ridiculously local produce to cook over your camp fire, and fall asleep gazing at the stars through the skylight. Bliss.
Pop Up Hotel at River Cottage, Devon
Loving the idea of the Popuphotel at the River Cottage – stunningly good food in a spectacular location in bell tents kitted out with proper beds, power showers and ensuite loos. Kick back with a cocktail on your in-tent leather sofa and eat 3 meals a day overseen by head chef Simone Isidori (formerly of Bristol's famed Zazu's Kitchen) and a team of River Cottage chefs. Yes please. Pop Up Hotel will be at River Cottage during August and early September.
The Yurt Retreat, Somerset
The Yurt Retreat on a working farm near Hinton St George in Somerset, offers 20 foot luxury yurts with woodburners, outdoor fire pits and your own private bathroom. There’s even an electricity point to charge up your mobile/ipad should you want contact with the real world. Close to the beautiful beaches of the Jurassic coastline and your local village has an award winning gastro pub Lord Poullett Arms. Perfect.
The Park at Mawgan Porth, Cornwall
A short stroll from the surfing heaven of Mawgan Porth, is this 27 acre of beautiful parkland where you can take your pick from stunning yurts, caravans, eco lodges or American Airstream trailers with trendy minimalist fittings (our personal favourite). There's a central yurt kitchen for cooking, an indoor pool for rainy days and an outdoor one for when the sun shines.
Cornish Tipis Holidays Cornwall
Arguably pioneers of the whole glamping scene this company has been going since 1996 and offers the full, Swallows and Amazons back to nature experience - waking to birdsong. swimming in the lake before breakfast, bacon and eggs on the camp fire. Don't look for double beds and all mod-cons - this is traditional tipi land providing a holiday your kids will never forget. Tipis are close together so this is one to book with a group of mates or take a sociable outlook with you. You'll find warm Turkish rugs on the floor, a camping stove and cool box but bring your own air beds (and top quality bed linen, of course).