Here’s our top ten things to consider when planning a glamping holiday…
With everything that is happening in the world at the moment, fires, flooding, sandstorms and a potential coronavirus pandemic, it’s no wonder that people are planning staycations in the UK this year. The prospect of escaping into the fresh air and away from the crowds may seem very welcome, which makes glamping a really good option for your summer 2020 holiday. But if you’re new to all this glamping lark how do you decide what you should and shouldn’t be looking for when booking your trip. Here’s our top ten things to consider when planning a glamping holiday…
1. Am I ready to go truly off-grid?
Different places interpret ‘glamping’ in different ways. For some sites, it can mean every luxury under the sun – flat-screen TV, hot tub, espresso makers, the works! – just under canvas or in a pod setting. Other places may just provide a tent and basic sleeping and cooking equipment where you are expected to bring your own bedding and torches. Have a think about how prepared and well-equipped you are for the different styles of glamping and be sure to check with the site owners on what is and isn’t included. For example, at The Forge, we are completely off grid for electricity and rely on solar energy for all our lighting and phone charging but do provide running water and showers.
2. Do I want to be near other people?
Some glamping sites are designed with families and friends in mind and have their pitches set up close together for optimal socialising! Other places will be much more remote, sometimes with maybe only one or two spaces if you are really looking to get away from it all for a few days. You will tend to find that the sites which can accommodate more people may be a little noisier and ‘livelier’ (remember you can still actually hear everything through a bell tent!) but they will also have better provision of activities and facilities, especially for children. If you are going for a more remote site, be prepared to take some good books and a packet of cards! At The Forge, we like to think that we strike a happy medium between offering enough privacy for those that want it, for example in our Arenig tent and our Gypsy caravan and log cabin which are situated in hidden away corners. But also providing lots of communal space for parties and events, plus our bell tents are situated about 25 metres apart so you can easily drop in your friends if you have rented the whole site.
3. Can I take the dog?
Just because glamping is seen as a very wholesome and outdoor pasttime, don’t automatically assume that you can take your dog with you. Many sites have restrictions on pets completely, and some will have rules around where you can and can’t let your dog go. Also watch out for daily surcharges for your pets, which can soon mount up over the course of a week-long holiday. Bringing your pets* is not something you will ever have to worry about at The Forge as we welcome all our four-legged friends with open arms. With our hill fort, large enclosed green spaces and cosy fireside rugs, we sometimes feel like our glamping site is more geared up for the dogs than the humans!
*and by pets we are happy to accept, dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, anything really – we even have a goat coming to stay this summer!
4. What about the weather?
Any glamping trip taken in the UK is obviously at the mercy of the Great British Weather- there’s no denying that! And unfortunately, there is also no way of predicting whether there will be a heatwave for that one week of holiday that you have booked off in August. Our advice on this one is to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. When researching glamping sites, check whether the tents or the pods are heated all year round and whether they have any undercover seating and dining areas. Are there hooks or places where you can dry off soggy clothes and wellies? Are there hot showers or hot tubs to warm up again? All these things, plus packing a comprehensive set of waterproofs and many changes of clothes will also help keep you smiling, whatever the weather! As Alfred Wainright once said, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing!”
5. Do I want to stay put?
Some people may want to use their glamping site as a base from which to go exploring the local area, heading out each day for their own adventures. Others may want to get where they are going and then turn off their phones, hide the car keys and not go anywhere for a few days. If the latter option sounds right up your street, then make sure you find out about any potential activities on site. Some places will provide children’s play areas and basic sports facilities, others may have more structured activities on site. We are lucky enough that The Forge is also the home of the Wild Bushcraft Company which offers a whole range of outdoor activities, from half and full day bushcraft courses, to knife making and bow and arrow making workshops. Plus, during the school summer holidays we will be offering lots of FREE taster sessions in fire-lighting, campfire cooking as well as the opportunity to lend a hand around the farm collecting eggs and chopping wood.
6. Can I have my own campfire?
Campfires are synonymous with glamping, but you’d be surprised how many sites won’t actually let you have a real fire on site. If toasting marshmallows under the stars, snuggled up under blankets around a campfire is high on your list of priorities be sure to check this out before you book. For us, the campfire is very much The Main Event and all our tents and our Gypsy caravan have their own fire circle plus all the equipment you could possibly need to build the best campfire of your life. We also have a large communal fire circle on our Iron Age hill fort which all our guests are welcome to use – it’s the perfect spot for a sundowner in the summer.
7. I love my sleep – will there be comfy beds?
Most glamping sites have decent beds with real mattresses and bedding provided but definitely check this out before you click book. ‘Beds’ can be interpreted as anything from a mattress on the ground to fold out camping types to proper four posters so investigate thoroughly first. At The Forge we use futons which are easy to fold up into sofas for more room if required and have receiveds great feedback from our guests. And on the sleep front, conversely to what people can find when they stay in a regular hotel or guest house, you will probably find that you sleep much better on a glamping holiday. We put this down to a combination of loads of fresh air, time away from screens and getting in tune with the Circadian rhythms of nature.
8. Will I be able to cook my favourite things?
Depending on the set up of the glamping site, you will definitely be able to prepare lots of yummy food. However, even the most luxurious of spaces will be unlikely to have a full-on oven so bear this in mind when planning your glamping menu. i.e. pizzas could be tricky! Most places will have a gas hob or camping stove which covers most eventualities and ensures you can boil a kettle for that all-important first coffee of the day. If you are feeling particularly adventurous, you could also check whether the glamping site has the kit to cook over an open fire. Many will have standard barbecues but for a real break from the norm, try frying up your bacon on the flat plate or making a stew in the Dutch oven. We supply all of these as standard in our bell tent camp kitchens at The Forge.
9. Should I be worried about the toilets?
Glamping is really not about grabbing a spade and a roll of toilet paper and disappearing for half an hour. Many sites these days have proper flushing toilets so absolutely no different from what you would be used to using at home. Sites with more of an off-grid ethos may offer composting toilets and these are really nothing to be afraid of! There are many misconceptions about composting toilets being unhygenic and smelly, but in fact nothing could be further from the truth. We have six composting toilets at The Forge and our guests love them, even those who were initially sceptical. Instead of water, we use sustainable wood shavings to create little air pockets to promote aerobic decomposition and we separate off wet waste to avoid nasty smells. After two years the compost created can be used to feed our trees in our new woodland. So not only are you able to experience something new, you can sit pretty on the loo knowing you are doing your bit for the environment too!
10. How long do I want to go for?
Unlike camping which involves carting A LOT of kit around the country and then significant effort to set it all up, with glamping you can literally just rock up and everything is there ready for you. This means that on average people will plan a camping trip for a week or more, whereas glamping breaks tend to be just for a night or two. Some sites do still offer one-night stays, but you will find that due to the cost and effort associated with changing sheets and preparing the tents or pods, increasingly there are minimum night stay restrictions, especially over the weekends and bank holidays. But this is not only for the benefit of the glamping site owners - many people who are new to glamping will tentatively book a night just to see if they like it but then always kick themselves for not booking for longer as they regretfully head back home the next day! Our advice is to be bold and make a real break of it. There is nothing quite like a glamping holiday to help you escape from all the hustle and bustle of the modern world and really, truly relax.
Highly recommend this incredible site. We had the entire place with five families with ages ranging from 2 to 11 in the kids and everyone was happy from the dog to the mummies! I'm truly converted to Glamping!
The beautiful bell tents are so comfortable and the kitchens have everything you could need. Jamie and Sheena were the perfect hosts and I would recommend taking part in some of the activities. My 11 year old Son said that the Axe-throwing was the 'most awesomest thing' he had done and my 8 year old daughter wants a fire-lighter spark for her birthday!! I honestly cant recommend it enough and we WILL be back!