Glamping is camping with added glamour and luxury. It combines the fun and freedom of camping with a few home comforts, so it’s great for ladies who can’t do without their hairdryers, and fellas who can’t go a night without their electric toothbrushes. With glamping, you can bypass the long, fiddly process of setting up a tent, and you feel less like you are slumming it for the night because you’re staying in a stable, ready-constructed, cosy tipi, cabin or yurt. Plus, you have the added peace of mind that you’ll be able to kip comfortably (hopefully!), rather than on a potentially uneven grassy plot.
Popularised by some of the cast from The Only Way Is Essex, glamping is ideal for days when it might be rainy or cold, because you have the little niceties including a stable roof over your head, a full-length mirror (phew!), a bed with a mattress, power supply and kettle. I’m really selling this, aren’t I? But, I should add, however, that glamping doesn’t guarantee that creepy crawlies will be kept at bay!
Having never attempted camping before, glamping was a positive introduction to the concept. The toughest part was preparing for the trip, i.e. deciding what to take and what kinds of meals to cook – but thanks to advice from friends and family, and a little bit of Googling, we managed to over-pack, which, in my book, is better than being unprepared! I’ve compiled a camping checklist for those considering a trip.
I was slightly weary of using communal showers and toilets, but thankfully the facilities at the campsite we stayed at (Lee Valley Campsite, Sewardstone) were very clean and just a short walk from our cabin. Still, I’d recommend you take a pair of flip-flops for when you go for a shower – you don’t want to catch any verrucas! I’d also keep some toilet roll handy, just in case – and a torch, if you’re the kind to need the loo in the middle of the night. The campsite even offered a laundry service; provided taps for drinking water and shared sinks for washing up, so it felt like all bases were covered on our stay!
Meals for camping
You have to plan your meals in advance if you’re not intending on leaving the campsite once you arrive, so we did a big supermarket shop the day before we left, and stuffed all the bits into cool bags. We decided on:
Lunch: Vegetarian and meat sausages and burgers. We’d cook the sausages and burgers on the barbecue, and caramelize some onions on the stove.
Dinner: Gnocchi and crusty bread. As gnocchi is vacuum packed, it’s ideal. All we needed was a tin of pasta sauce and an onion to cook and then mix through it.
Dessert: Raspberries, strawberries, banana and chocolate for fondue. We had mini fondue sets at home and seeing as the chocolate only required a tea light candle to warm up, the fondue was very self-sufficient, albeit a little messy!
Breakfast: Eggs, beans, waffles, mushrooms and pancakes. We bought bottles of ready mixed pancake batter, into which we only needed to add cold water, and then shake. A little bit of a cheat but minimum fuss and mess – highly recommend!
Snacks: Mini cheese and onion and sausage rolls, dried fruit and crisps.
We’d packed a camping stove and also managed to get our hands on an electric, plug-in cooker, which was very practical. While some of the others in the group were tempted to nip off to a local café for lunch, the cooking part of the glamping was one of my favourite and most rewarding experiences – I felt self-sufficient and rather proud!
The week before we went camping, we made our own piñata to play with. It was very easy to do; all you need is flour, water, newspaper, some coloured paint or tissue paper – instructions here.
We also took some board games and were lucky enough to have balmy weather so we spent the majority of the evening outside our cabin, on our own picnic tables and blankets and the large picnic tables already provided by the camp. Our campsite did not allow us to have open fires or else we would have enjoyed roasting marshmallows. As the night became chillier, we took our games indoors, into the light of the cabin.
After a great day in the outdoors and evening around the barbecue I was looking forward to a warm, comfortable night’s sleep in my sleeping bag. As much as I would like to say I had a pleasant night’s sleep, I didn’t. We had a few incidents with bugs falling on our pillows, gigantic spiders and disturbingly loud noises from creatures scratching or scurrying outside of our cabin keeping us up (you can tell I’m a city girl at heart, can’t you?), but the other half of our group in the other cabin slept fairly well.
Even though I enjoyed convenience and little luxuries provided by glamping, not being able to get to sleep at night was a big put off. I’m left wondering whether I would have had a better kip in a tent, and should try ‘proper’ camping before I made a judgement. That might just have to be my next challenge, if I’m brave enough…