/ Travel & Leisure

Have you been ‘glamping’?

Want to unwind for a few days in nature but can’t face the privations of camping? Luxury camping, or ‘glamping’, might be for you…

Camping is great for a simple, inexpensive holiday. It’s can be perfect for a couple of nights or a few weeks, depending how adventurous you are.

Assuming you already own a tent, sleeping bag and the relevant apparatus, which any camping enthusiasts will do, then camping can really be a sigh of relief for your pockets.

However, for many – myself included – going for very long without creature comforts can be difficult.

Glamper fan

A few weeks ago, I dared to suggest that my partner and I go camping. I thought that he would be up for it because he tends to be the more adventurous out of the two of us.

So I was very surprised when a look of horror crossed his face at the prospect of camping. After a few moments to think about it he said, “let’s just go to the beach for a few days.”

Although disappointed, I wasn’t exactly surprised. Like skiing, camping is a bit of a ‘Marmite’ holiday – people either love it or loathe it.

But refusing to give up so easily, I began to look for alternatives to camping, and soon came across glamping. I’ve heard lots about it but never been.


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In the end, we booked a Moroccan style bell tent, at a campsite near Reading. My partner was dubious to begin with but soon warmed up to the idea and so, last weekend, we glamped.

Happy glampers

The most obvious difference to camping as I’ve previously known it was the size on the tent. There was a lot more floor space and headroom.

It also had a comfortable futon for a bed – luckily no sleeping on the floor for us – and a dining table and chairs, making preparing and eating meals a lot easier.

We were also provided with all the cooking equipment we would need. As well as two outdoor fire pits and an indoor wood heater. Not quite a 5* hotel, but it was lovely nonetheless. By far, the biggest plus was the flushing loo and hot showers. A commodity that many campers don’t have.


It wasn’t all perfect though. Compared to camping it was very expensive, not any cheaper than a hotel. Plus £20 per night if we wanted a dog with us, and they had to be on a lead at all times.

Obviously, it was self-catering so there was a lot of washing up. I don’t mind doing the washing up, but I do quite like to have a break from it when I’m away.

Not simply a holiday alternative, glamping is also great for music festivals. Many music fans are now opting for a VIP glamping package to see their favourite artists, instead of the more traditional, muddier alternatives.

For an average of £450 (inc. festival entrance ticket) you get a glamping tent, 24-hour reception, phone charging ports, glam area – with access to straighteners and curlers, as well as hot showers and flushing loos. But is that really worth it?

There are lots of alternative holidays out there. I am quite interested in tree house getaways, which are becoming quite popular. That might be my next outing. Or, possibly, we might just bite the bullet and go actual camping.


I used to tour and camp all over Europe when I was an active member of the Harley Owners Group.

Many of the sites that we visited supported Eurocamping, where you stayed in large permanent tents with proper beds and so on, or they also had chalets and caravans for hire. Often, no pre-booking was required, so we could just turn up and take our pick from the available choices.

For us, camping was a flexible and inexpensive form of accommodation. I don’t imagine I’d fancy paying hotel-like prices to camp though…

Camping in the last century with the likes of Canvas Holidays meant turning up at a site where a large tent, raised beds, fridge, cooker etc were already set up and waiting for you. And on sites with decent showers and toilets.

Seems to me that glamping is basically the same, but more expensive version, with foreign sounding accomodation such as yurts. There are also floating on lake, living in trees, Romany caravan versions to provide variety or a different spin on a basic concept.

Camping with large tents is great if everything is already set-up. In fact in early season one could get an extra week for three and we could also book several different Canvas sites to travel around France moving every four days or so.

Lots of fresh air is I think the best bit of camping so “chalets” or “static caravans” really are not the same thing even if they are in the depths of the country and on a camp site.

Patrick – a long day’s motorcycling usually ensured us more than enough fresh air, so we were quite happy to use the occasional chalet or static caravan.

I’d forgotten how cool it was to see tents with fridges in them 🙂

“By far, the biggest plus was the flushing loo and hot showers. A commodity that many campers don’t have.”

Actually, most decent permanents campsites have adequate or even nice toilets and showers.

There’s usually a decent restaurant or pub nearby too.

In the UK, the Sandy Balls site in the New Forest became one of my favourites.

Most decent sites have had them for several decades, Alex; but if you went more off-grid type of camping or even wild camping then obviously you’d need to remember the entrenching tool.

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I’ve camped (on sites and ‘wild’) on cycling holidays before and because you have to carry all your stuff with you, it’s been pretty basic and uncomfortable. But then again this does give you flexibility to find some pretty interesting places to set up camp. I stayed in a bell tent at a friend’s wedding in the summer and the experience was definitely a lot more comfortable!

The Carneddau and Glyders provide the best Wild Camping experience round here, Oscar, but not really suited to cycling. Where did you find wild camping at cycle-friendly levels?

A few spots in the Pyrenees. Technically probably shouldn’t have been camping there but I cleaned up after myself and wasn’t lighting fires.

Impressive to be cycling down there. You have my admiration.

Thanks Ian! I was on the Camino de Santiago. Has anyone else done it?

Not I. I have climbed in the alps (nothing incredibly daring, though) and around Snowdonia and did a lot of four season climbing, hiking and camping in the past.

In Scotland glamping is called a bothy. 🙂

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I always appreciate some irony, Sophie.

In England the term ‘bothy’ usually refers to a small hut in a public park or large garden where the gardener keeps the tools and can make a mug of tea. They are well designed to prevent anyone lying down in one. They also have a rich and complex aroma of grass cuttings and sweat.

We stayed in a “modernised” bothy for a week in June this year. No running water or electricity, no shower/bathroom, but a couple of stoves with the original bothy bit, plus an outside loo with a superb view over Loch Torridon! (Interesting sensation, draught coming up the loo…)

The owner had added an extension at the front of the bothy, a sort of conservatory, with a table and chairs, a gas stove, cooking implements and enough fresh drinking water to last us for a week. There was a water butt outside to do the dishes with, but the weather having been so good it was nearly empty! We were lucky the weather carried on being fabulous for a week and it wasn’t not too midgi-y either. (We’ve been there a few times when it’s been dreich, to say the least, and we were eaten alive by the midges). We loved it, but I’m sure we (I) would have hated it had it poured down with rain all week.

The experience reminded me of parts of my childhood: electricity and running water but no bathroom and an outdoor loo shared with the rest of the stair. My mum would have a bath in a tin tub in the kitchen when everybody was out. I remember running in the cold to go to the loo and running back to the warmth of the flat.

Otherwise we have taken refuge from the rain in various bothies throughout the years while hill walking, but never stayed the night. Folks generally look after bothies, they’re nearly always as clean as you can make them and tidy, and there’s everything you need in them if you’re caught out, except of course luxuries like running water, electricity and a loo. (The bothy near Loch Torridon escaped from a bad wildfire only by a few meters in the summer!) Great places to stay eg if you want to climb a hill but the trek to the foot of it has been a few miles already and you don’t then fancy tackling the hill itself.

Glamping such as described by Alex? Not for us, too expensive for what you get and too gimmicky. What’s the next fashion gonna be?

You had electricity? All we ‘ad was me dad’s bike, which ‘e ‘ad to pedal like ‘eck every night, just so we could see what the mice had left us in the mouse trap for tea.

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Scotland in November sounds more like “rufty-tufty camping”, not glamping.

Many now engaged in winter camping using RV’s or white vans but certainly not tents.

For sufficiently masochistic bikers, there are the Dragon Rally ( wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragon_Rally) and the Elephant Rally ( adventurebikerider.com/guide-to-the-elephant-rally/ ).

We were cleverer than that, we had the mice on hamster wheels. 🙂

Duncan’s right, I wouldn’t try camping in Scotland in winter, the weather is likely to be bad, plus the days will be short. A comfy city break in Edinburgh instead should be just the ticket!

This is the bothy that escaped the fire, Craig, on Loch Torridon:

This one’s a cracker, on the way to Beinn Dearg, a munro for those who are interested:

The Mountain Bothies Association is a good website to find out more about what bothies are in the mountain context.

And I thought it was short for a house of ill repute. Why I never tried it. 🙁