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Bell Tent Glamping

We love anything that helps you start adventuring; so glamping gets a huge thumbs up from us!

What is Glamping?

Glamping is a portmanteau of the words ‘glamorous’ and ‘camping’. A luxury camping trend that's become so popular, the word was even added to the dictionary in 2016.

Basically, think regular camping but without the soggy tents, flimsy roll mats and nature wees!

Glamping and camping: What are the key differences and which is for you?

There are a few key differences between camping and glamping.

         The Structure ⛺

On a traditional camping trip you’ll need to bring your own tent and work out how to put it up (results may vary)!

For a glamping trip, however, you won’t need to do any setting or packing up. Your accommodation and facilities will be ready and waiting for you on arrival. Many glampsites even provide treats like bed linen, hair dryers, wood burning stoves or maybe even a hot tub!

This takes a lot of the stress out of the experience, as it means you can pack a lot less camping gear and start enjoying yourself as soon as you arrive! Wahoo.

         The Facilities 🚽 🚿

Just like at a nice hotel, you’ll find luxuries like real beds, private flushing toilets and hot showers, electricity and heating on a lot of glamping sites.

Depending on where you decide to go for a regular camping trip, you’ll usually find there are no, or a lot less luxurious facilities- think shared shower and toilet blocks and no electricity or heating.

         The Cost  💷

Whilst camping can be a great low cost holiday option, glamping does tend to be a little more expensive, although costs can vary greatly depending on location. 

It is possible to go glamping on a budget, we’ll delve into this later! 

Ultimately, just like most other things, it comes down to balancing out the cost vs convenience.

Which one is for you very much depends on your budget and how luxurious or rugged you want your experience to be.

A glamping experience is a lot more convenient than regular camping, but these added conveniences will cost you.

Glamping Types

There’s a huge range of glamping accommodation options to choose from, in a whole host of locations, so you’ll definitely be able to find something great in your budget!

Here’s a quick rundown of the most common glamping structures, to help you work out which is best for your trip.

Exterior shot of a bell tent on a river bank.

The bell tent is a glamping classic. It has a conical structure with a centre support pole covered with cotton canvas.

⛈ Wind and rain resistant, but canvas is not as weather-proof as more solid walls & roofs.

💷  Cheaper than other options.

⛺  Less spacious with only one open-plan room. No separate living area or porch.

🏞  No windows to admire the view.

🔐 No lockable doors.

🚽 No en-suite bathrooms or cooking facilities inside.These are usually in separate outhouses.

🌞 Quite poor temperature control. Although it is possible to install heaters and fans.

♿ Easily accessible.

Best for: If you're on a budget

The inside of a yurt.

A yurt is a circular dome tent with wooden lattice-work structure, originating from Mongolia.

⛈  Stronger than a bell tent, but not as weather-proof as solid walls & roofs.

💷  On the cheaper end of the glamping scale.

⛺ Larger and more spacious than a bell tent. Typically just one open-plan room.

🏞 Does not usually have windows to admire the view.

🔐 Can have a lockable secure door. 

🚽 Can have the option for en-suite bathrooms and inside cooking facilities.

🌞 Quite poor temperature control. Although installing wood burning stoves or fans can help.

♿ Easily accessible. 

Best for: If you have accessibility requirements

Wooden glamping pod with a green door on grass in Scotland.

Glamping pods are small structures usually made from wood.

⛈ Solid doors and walls- able to withstand even the most extreme weather conditions.

💷 On the more expensive end.

⛺ Quite compact but you are able to have separate defined rooms.

🏞 Glass doors and/or windows to admire the view.

🔐 Lockable secure doors.

🚽 Will usually have en-suite bathrooms and kitchen facilities.

🌞 Excellent temperature control and heating systems.

♿ Easily accessible- though may lack space inside.

Best for: Privacy

A forest tree house.

What could be more magical than staying in a treehouse high above the ground?

⛈ Solid doors and walls, although being elevated means it's more exposed to the elements.

💷 On the more expensive end.

⛺ Can be very spacious with multiple separate defined rooms.

🏞 Glass doors and/or windows to admire the incredible views.

🔐 Lockable secure doors and very private.

🚽 Usually have en-suite bathrooms and extensive kitchen facilities.

🌞 Excellent temperature control and heating.

♿ Elevated so lots of steps to navigate.

Best for: Most unique experience

A vintage caravan Airstream in a green field on a sunny day.

An Airstream is a US brand of mobile home with distinctive rounded edges and a polished aluminium shell. 

⛈ Solid doors and walls- fully wind and rain proof.

💷 On the more expensive end.

⛺ Quite compact and narrow but cleverly fitted to make the best use of the space.

🏞 Windows to admire the view. 

🔐 Lockable secure doors and are very private.

🚽 En-suite bathrooms and kitchen facilities.

🌞 Warm in summer as the aluminium exterior heats up quickly in the sun.

♿ You will need to step up into it.

Best for: Internal facilities 

A safari tent with hardwood floors and luxury furniture.

Safari tents are the height of glamour, usually fully furnished with hardwood floors.

⛈ Rain and wind resistant but less so than solid walls & roofs.

💷 On the more expensive end.

⛺ Very spacious and can have separate defined rooms using canvas partitions.

🏞 The front can fully open up onto a veranda.

🔐 No lockable secure doors. Can lack privacy.

🚽 Can have en-suite bathrooms and kitchen facilities.

🌞 Very airy. Also can have heaters and under-floor heating.

♿ Easily accessible. 

Best for: The whole family/large groups of friends

Glamping Dome on a sunny day

A glamping dome is a clear bubble-like structure.

⛈ Completely weatherproof in any climate. 

💷 On the more expensive end.

⛺ Can vary in size but usually just one large open space.

🏞 Expect the best 360 degree views.

🔐 Lockable secure doors. Though they can lack privacy.

🚽 Usually have en-suite bathrooms and kitchen facilities inside the dome.

🌞 Insulated against heat and cold, often fitted with wood burning heaters too. 

♿ Usually easily accessible. 

Best for: Stargazing

A shepherds hut outside woodlands on a sunny day.

Originally used by shepherds, when they were caught out in the elements, during lambing season. 

⛈ Solid walls & roofs - so will keep you dry.

💷 On the cheaper end.

⛺ Compact but well designed open plan room.

🏞 Glass windows to admire the view.

🔐 Lockable secure doors. They are also very private.

🚽 May have a small bathroom & kitchen- or they may be in a separate out building. 

🌞 Usually have heating systems to keep you warm.

Steps leading up-to the entrance.

Best for: A romantic break

A tipi lit up by the sunlight creeping through the trees.

Tipis & Wigwams are temporary dwellings originally used by Native Americans.

⛈ Wind and rain resistant but canvas is not as strong as solid walls.

💷 On the cheaper end.

⛺ One open-plan room with a lot of head height.

🏞 No windows to enjoy the view from inside.

🔐 No lockable secure doors. Although they are quite private.

🚽 No en-suite bathrooms but will have cookers inside.

🌞 Smoke flaps and openings at the top, so you can have an open fire inside.

♿ Usually easily accessible.

Best for: Authentic traditional experience

A small brown log cabin surrounded by snow.

A log cabin is a small house made from whole or split logs.

⛈ Solid walls and a roof- so very weather proof.

💷 On the more expensive side.

⛺ Can vary greatly in size, from tiny rustic shelters to huge log houses.

🏞 Glass windows and doors, so you can enjoy the view from inside.

🔐 Lockable secure doors. They are very private.

🚽 Usually have toilets and showers inside. They will also have extensive cooking equipment.

🌞 Often have heating systems and/or wood burners.

♿ Usually easily accessible.

Best for: A cosy winter break

A gypsy caravan in Wales

A Gypsy Caravan is a traditional, intricately decorated mobile home.

⛈ Solid walls and a roof- so very weather proof.

💷 On the moderately expensive side.

⛺ Can vary in size, they will usually be quite compact but with cleverly defined spaces.

🏞 Glass windows and doors, so you can enjoy the view from the inside.

🔐 Lockable secure doors. They are also very private.

🚽 Don't usually have bathrooms inside. Often in a nearby outhouse. They do have compact kitchens inside.

🌞 Often have heating systems or wood burners.

♿ Will often have steps leading up-to the entrance.

Best for: Solo adventurers

Stay in this grounded plane with outside seating and outhouse.

Although some may argue these aren't glamping, the trend for repurposing old transport continues to grow!

⛈ Solid walls and roofs- so very weather proof.

💷 On the more expensive end.

⛺ Vary greatly in size, usually quite compact but cleverly designed.

🏞 Usually have glass windows and doors, so you can enjoy the view from inside.

🔐 Lockable secure door. Also very private.

🚽 Won't usually have bathrooms or kitchens inside. Often in a nearby outhouse.

🌞 Will often have heating systems or wood burners installed.

♿ Often have steps leading up-to the entrance.

Best for: A storybook experience

Glamping, Boutique Camping, Luxury Camping; is there a difference?

No! Boutique camping and luxury camping are just other terms for glamping. They are all used interchangeably to refer to a more luxurious camping experience.

Why is glamping so popular?

Our favourite thing about glamping is that feeling of sleeping under real canvas. Real canvas is so much more magical than modern-day lightweight tents.

We also love finding sites in really unique locations, especially ones with cool additions like hot tubs and fire pits.

And we’re not the only ones! Research by Arizton predicts that the European Glamping market will reach roughly $1 billion by 2025, with the UK being the stand-out growth market.

Some say this rise is due to the growing popularity of wellness and mental health trends, as well as movements like the Danish idea of ‘hygge’ .

In addition to this, research carried out by Barclays bank in 2019 discovered that more than half of 25-34 year olds surveyed planned to spend more holidays in the UK. 

Nicknamed ‘The Great British Staycation’, the trend was accelerated even further by the outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020, with 89% of Londoners opting for a UK staycation over a holiday abroad the same year.

Why should I go glamping?

  • If you’re looking for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly holiday

For the eco-friendly, you’ll be pleased to know that:

    • Glamping structures are regularly created using sustainable materials.
    • Travelling for a staycation rather than flying abroad means less emissions.
    • Glamping sites tend to be more environmentally aware and use more solar and wind power than your average hotel.
  • If you’re new to camping 

Glamping is an easy introduction to camping. It means you can get the best of the great outdoors, without all the hard work or having to rough it!

  • If regular camping isn’t usually accessible to you

The extra facilities at a glamping site (like proper beds, electricity and flushing toilets for example) make it much more accessible than regular camping.

If you’re a little older, have medical conditions, disabilities, or young children, you’ll still be able to enjoy a glamping holiday.

  • If you’re looking for a digital detox 

‘Do more things that make you forget to check your phone’. 

Switch off and spend some quality time with your friends and family (instead of being constantly distracted by your phone or the television!). Even if your glamping site does provide wifi, we recommend not connecting to it, to give yourself a proper break!

  • If you’re looking to boost your mental health

Glamping is good for your mental well-being. Fact. 

“In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows”  

The above quote is taken from “Nature” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, a well-known essay about the healing powers of the wilderness. Published in 1836, It may be century-old wisdom but the theory still holds true today.

A 2020 government study, found that people who spent more time in nature were significantly more likely to report good health and higher psychological well-being when compared with those who don’t visit nature at all.

 In fact, the positive health effects of nature are now so widely accepted that GPs in Shetland have started prescribing ‘Nature’ for their patients. They think it could tackle a range of conditions, such as high blood pressure and anxiety.

Similarly, a study from Specialised Covers, found that a third of the UK, felt that camping and caravanning had a ‘very positive’ impact on their mental health.

Who is glamping for?

You! From couples looking for romantic getaways to solo adventurers; families with young children to groups of friends on stag and hen dos- there’s a glamping style for everyone!

Where can I go glamping?

New glamping locations keep popping up all over the world all the time, so you’ll definitely find something you love!

From the insulated glamping pods of the White Desert Camp in Antarctica, which will set you back around £9,911 to a night to glamping in your own garden for free, the possibilities are endless! 

Multiple glamping pods in Antartica.
A bell tent in someones back garden

The most popular places in the UK for a glamping holiday are: Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Yorkshire, Cumbria, Dorset, Kent, the Lake District, Somerset, Devon & Norfolk.

Glamping in England

Some of our favourite glamping breaks in England include: 

Tipi in Priors Hardwick, England

Exterior shot of the brown tipi in Priors Hardwick.
Inside shot of the tipi in Priors Hardwick, England.

💚  The tipi is in a secluded location, near a canal, in the middle of a 450 acre working farm. It’s so private, the only people you’re likely to see, are on the narrow boats floating past!. 

💚 The outdoor area has a wood-fired bath, wooden deck chairs and a fire pit.

💚 A woodburning stove, thick duvet and hot water bottles will keep you warm inside the tipi all year round.

💚 Cooking facilities are also provided, a short walk away, in a converted shipping container.

Find out more here.

Bell Tent in Dartmoor, England

A shot of the outside of the bell tent in the Dartmoor National Park in England.
Inside shot of the bell tent in the Dartmoor National Park.

💚   The bell tent is in a beautiful, peaceful setting, inside the Dartmoor National Park.

💚   There’s a wood burning stove inside the tent, to keep you cosy in winter.

💚   The kitchen is in a separate outdoor space, with a gas stove and fresh milk provided from the local dairy.

💚   Located in an orchard, the hosts say guests are welcome to help themselves to fresh apples, pears and blackberries when ripe. 🍎 🍐 🍇

Find out more here.

Glamping in Scotland

Some of our favourite glamping locations in Scotland are: 

Tree house in Spean Bridge, Scotland

Exterior shot of the wooden treehouse in Spean Bridge, Scotland.
The wooden interior of the tree house in Spean Bridge in Scotland.

💚   A truly unique little place with wonderful views. Guests wake up to the relaxing sounds of the stream below.

💚   The treehouse is big enough for the whole family (2 adults & 2 children).

💚   It’s great if you’re looking for a proper off grid experience, as there is no electricity or wifi. 

💚   There’s a woodburner to keep warm and candles for after-dark.

Find out more here.

Vintage Air Stream in Dull, Scotland

Exterior shot of the vintage airstream in Scotland.
Hot tub and private outdoor seating area with fire pit in Dull, Scotland.

💚  A unique experience in a vintage 1973 Airstream.

💚  Situated in organic gardens, in the stunning countryside of Highland Perthshire. 

💚  Beautiful private outdoor area, with fire pit and hot tub.

💚  Inside has a flushing toilet, hot proper shower and extensive cooking facilities.

Find out more here.

Glamping in Wales 

Some of our favourite glamping spots in Wales are:

Yurt at Eco Retreats, Dyfi Valley Forest, Wales

A round green yurt with a wooden door in Wales.
An outdoor white cast iron bath out in the forest in Wales.

💚   Very private and secluded- the site has just 5 yurts over 50 acres of land, deep in the Dyfi forest.

💚   Try an outdoor bath with a view!

💚   Great for a relaxing, off-grid experience, as there’s no electricity or wifi.

💚  Environmentally friendly- the site has compost toilets & running water filtered via a mountain spring.

Find out more here.

Safari Tent in Carmarthenshire, Wales

Exterior shot of the safari tent in Carmarthenshire, Wales.
Inside of the safari tent in the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales.

💚   Breathtaking views of the Tywi Valley in the Brecon Beacons National Park.

💚   Room for the whole family/groups of friends (sleeps 6).

💚   Totally private and secluded.

💚   Large outdoor area with hot tub, bbq and seating area.

💚   Inside includes a log burner, flushing toilet, proper shower and extensive cooking facilities.

Find out more here.

Glamping in Northern Ireland

Glamping Dome in Ballymena, Northern Ireland

A glamping dome at night.
Inside shot of glamping dome in Northern Ireland.

💚  You’ll have full view of the sky overnight, perfect for stargazing.

💚  Full size bath and flushing toilet inside the dome.

💚  Fire pit & bbq in the outside area.

💚  The hosts provides breakfast hampers and smores kits.

Find out more here.

Glamping Pod in Ards, Northern Ireland

Exterior shot of Glamping Pod in Northern Ireland.
Inside shot of a glamping dome including double bed, sofa and kitchen.

💚   Cute and quirky little pod, beautifully decorated throughout.

💚  Perfect location for visiting Belfast City, the Ards Peninsula, Mourne Mountains and many of the locations used in the Game of Thrones series.

💚   The pod has a flushing toilet and hot shower. It also has limited kitchen facilities including a microwave and mini fridge.

💚   Guests receive tea, coffee and tray bakes on arrival.

Find out more here.

Glamping At Festivals

Glamping is an excellent option if you want to go to a festival, but still want to have a quiet place, where you can get away from the crowds and relax. Where will you appreciate your comfy bed and hot showers more, than after a busy day and night of outdoor fun and activities?!

Most festivals offer glamorous camping of some kind, which you can usually book on their website. At popular festivals, such as Glastonbury and Tomorrowland, the glamping can sell out as quickly as the tickets, so make sure you book as early as possible!

Luxury glamping at festivals tends to be more expensive than at dedicated glampsites. This is due to the temporary nature of the setups, but you do get all the additional fun of a festival, right on your doorstep!

When is the best time to go glamping?

Anytime! The best thing about glamping over regular camping, is that you’ll have the mod cons (like heating!) to ensure you can cope with whatever the Great British weather throws at you! You can go year round and guarantee you’ll still have an amazing experience! 

Spring Glamping (March, April, May)

Stargazing next to a yurt at night.

We love glamping in the UK in spring, as it’s one of the best seasons for stargazing. 

The nights are longer than in summer but not as chilly as they are in the depths of winter!.

As light pollution makes it difficult to see things in the night sky, you’ll be best off picking a location away from a town or city, to guarantee the best view. 🔭

Summer Glamping (June, July, August)

A woman goes for a wild swim in a lake near some Scottish mountains.

Summer is a great time to go glamping. With the sun shining, you’ll want to make sure you pick somewhere with a great outdoor seating area (preferably with a bbq and firepit!)

You might even like to try some wild swimming- if your holiday is somewhere near water!

Autumn Glamping (September, October, November)

Man and a woman walking on an autumns day

Autumn is great for walking or hiking, as you can see all the wonderful brown, red and golden colours of the fallen leaves. 

The cooler weather also makes it a lot more comfortable (and less dangerous) than in the heat of the peak of summer.

Winter Glamping (December, January, February)

Glamping Dome out in the snow

Glamping in the UK winter is super cosy. Make sure you book a shelter with a wood burning stove or heating system to keep you warm and toasty. 

You can also usually find a much better deal on accommodation at this time of year too!

What should I bring with me?

One of the things we love about glamping, is that you don’t need to pack nearly as much, as you would for a regular camping trip. So leave those tents, pegs, chairs and stoves at home! 

Don’t forget these things though:

  • Weather-appropriate clothing 🥾

We hate to ‘dampen’ the mood, but no matter how fancy your accommodation is, the British weather can be very unpredictable. This means you’ll need rain and wind-proof clothing, if you want to venture out into the wilderness!

  • Board Games 🎲

Handy if the weather means you have to spend a bit more time inside on your trip. 

  • First Aid Kit 🩹

Always best to be prepared in case of any minor accidents.

  • Torch 🔦

Useful if you want to venture outside at night. Particularly handy for star-gazing.

  • Food 🍌

Always check what cooking facilities are available before you arrive, as this will greatly impact the types of meals you can whip up on your trip. 

Even if there aren’t any cooking facilities, there are some great recipes even if you have to bbq over a campfire!

         And definitely don't forget some snacks!

History of Glamping

Although the word ‘glamping’ is relatively modern, you may be surprised to learn, that some of the first known examples date all the way back to the 1500’s!

1500’s

The earliest known example of ‘glamping’ was as far back as the 16th Century. 

In preparation for the arrival of King James V and his mother Margaret Tudor, the Scottish Earl of Atholl created a lavish ‘temporary palace’ in the Highlands.

The palace was made of tree branches hung with tapestry and silks with proper glass windows.

A portrait of King James V of Scotland on a green background.
Drawing depicting the Field of the Cloth of Gold in the 16th Century

1520

 Perhaps the most extravagant example of glamping in history, is the Field of the Cloth of Gold.

A diplomatic summit held between Henry VIII of England and Francis I of France. It was a lavish display of wealth on both sides. Around 2,800 tents were erected with fountains flowing with red wine.

1720

In 1720, Sultan Ahmed III (of the Ottoman Empire) is documented as having thrown a 15 day festival, celebrating the circumcision of his four sons.

A huge tent city was erected- including a massive three-pole banquet tent. The tent poles were tipped in gold and enclosed with a cloth fence. Ten thousand jars of sherbert were ordered to feed the guests.

Ottoman Empire
Black and white photo of a man and a giraffe on African Safari in the early 20th century.

1920

In the 1920’s, glamping was beginning to become more widespread- as it was adopted by the upper classes whilst on African safari holidays.

Wealthy British and American travellers were not willing to rough it on their African adventures, so they stayed in luxury safari tents. 

Complete with electric generators, folding baths, bathroom facilities and even cases of champagne!

2005 

As festival audiences began to diversify, a gap in the market began to emerge. Festival goers with higher disposable incomes, fed up with the dirty toilets and uncomfortable beds, were desperate for a more luxurious festival camping experience.

In 2005, BBC news covered the first instance of luxury camping options available to Glastonbury festival goers. 

The introduction of these glamping sites was initially controversial-  with many arguing it was not in keeping with the spirit of Glastonbury.

Camp Kerala at Glastonbury
Deluxe Safari Tent- Glamping at Camp Wildfire

 Today

Today, despite those initial reservations, most festivals (including Glastonbury) offer an amazing range of glamping options.   

Check out the selection we have on offer at Camp Wildfire (including these incredible en-suite safari tents) here.

 

Away from the festival world, glamping is booming, with new, amazing sites popping up all the time. So definitely consider making your next break a glamping holiday, we promise you won’t regret it!

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Glamping: Everything you need to know.

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