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What is glamping?

So, what’s this luxury camping all about and why is it better than camping?

The portmanteau of ‘glamorous camping’, glamping combines all the creature comforts of a hotel or B&B with the simplicity of camping and the Great Outdoors. Basically, it takes the palaver out of camping and retains all the magic of sleeping under the stars, getting cosy alongside nature and listening to the pitter-patter of raindrops on canvas. No more wrestling tent poles, traipsing through the rain to collect water and sleeping on lumpy ground.

Having already made its way into the Oxford dictionary, glamping is described as: A form of camping involving accommodation and facilities more luxurious than those associated with traditional camping. Glamping is likely to satisfy any city slicker seeking a little refuge in nature—without foregoing any of life's luxuries.

Die-hard campers might criticize ‘glampers’ for being too posh to pitch, or categorise the pastime as camping with a higher price tag. Yet by putting the bells and whistles into camping, it’s undeniable that glamping is luring more of us back into natural environments and offering a welcome respite from our increasingly fast-paced and technological lives. So tentative campers can discard memories of sleep deprivation on flimsy roll mats and trying to brew a cuppa in a storm without burning down your leaky, two-man tent.

From kitchens and comfy beds, to hot tubs and heating, here are a few reasons why glamping trumps traditional camping:

Pre-pitched, weather-proof accommodation

While we all imagine camping in wall-to-wall sunshine and spending balmy evenings under the stars, the weather often has different ideas. And unless you’ve got a pop-up tent (which usually takes a lot longer to ‘pop’ down), pitching and preening your tent can be a bit of a faff. However, when you go glamping, you can just rock up, step inside your fancy canvas lodgings and let the holiday begin. From traditional yurts, tipis and bell tents, to tree houses, eco pods and safari tents, the choice of glamping accommodation is becoming increasingly diverse and luxurious. Some have designer interiors and hot tubs, while others are little more than a shell into which you can unload your own camping getup. Whatever you choose, rest assured it’ll be warm, dry and weather-proof – and already waiting for you.

A real bed

Which means a proper night’s sleep. Forget tossing and turning on lumpy ground and waking up at the crack of dawn in your damp, sweaty sleeping bag. Bag a yurt with a four-poster and you’ve hit the glamping jackpot, but a tipi with a futon can be just as magical when you can snuggle under a duck-down duvet and stargaze through the skylight.

Heat and light

Whether it’s solar fairy lights and a log burner, or panel heaters and mains electricity, you won’t have to rely on candles for light and warmth. So while you feel like you’re living at one with nature, you won't have to ditch your books, board games or cooking once the sun’s gone down, or chop your own logs for before getting toasty by the woodburner. More often than not, you’ll also be able to charge your phone, and many campsites even have wifi, should you wish to remain subscribed to the wider world.

Kitchen facilities

Forget baked beans, boil-in-the-bag rice and al fresco cooking when it’s blowing a hoolie. Glamping brings with it the more civilised invention of a fully equipped camp kitchen. Be it a basic lean-to with a washing up bowl, stove and a few utensils, or a built-in kitchen that Nigella wouldn’t sneer at, cooking while you’re glamping becomes a pleasure, not a chore. Whether you favour a wood stove and a Belfast sink, or a microwave and dishwasher, you can do away with your camping ‘spork’ and save the barbecue and al fresco cooking for when the sun shines.

On the subject of eating, another frequent dividend of glamping is the welcome hamper. Gone is the scrabble around for snacks while you’re trying to erect the tent and pacify frenzied children. Not only are the beds made and the fairy lights twinkling on arrival, there is often a small parcel of food and drink – whether it's a tin of butter shortbread, wine and local cheese, or freshly baked scones, homemade jam and lashings of clotted cream. Many glamping sites also have an honesty stall or small farm shop where you can snap up farm-fresh ingredients from your surroundings.

Stylish bathrooms

Smelly compost toilets and spider-infested shower blocks have put some people off camping for life. And while the long-drop loo and rustic amenities are part of the beauty of living hand-in-hand with nature, glamping has stepped up and brought the likes of power showers, en suite bathrooms and hot tubs into the camping experience. While you can’t expect every wild and gob-smacking glamping location to have a flushing toilet, you won’t want to shy away from the swanky bathroom facilities – whether it’s a solar-powered eco shower or a wood-fired clawfoot bath with a view.

Above all it’s the cracking locations, immersion in wild places and getting back to nature that lures people to sleep under the stars. And it’s the luxury and ease of glamping that sets it worlds apart from classic camping. It doesn’t mean that you’re too posh to pitch if you enjoy some creature comforts in the Great Outdoors. It just means that at the end of your glamping holiday you’ll feel utterly relaxed, and while you’re setting off home, the camping purists will still be trying to squeeze their damp tents back into their bags and pack up their poles, pegs and camping paraphernalia. And that alone is worth paying the higher price tag for.