by Matt Ayres
If you like the idea of an outdoor holiday that places you in the heart of nature but hate the idea of wrestling with tent poles in the rain and spending your nights in a sleeping bag, glamping is the perfect holiday for you.
Unique experiences that combine a comfortable, luxurious stay with wild, natural surroundings are increasingly common, and what's more there are plenty of fantastic spots to go glamping right here in the UK. We’ve tracked down five immersive glamping experiences, each offering something unique that a conventional hotel holiday can’t match.
Create something in Dorset
Crafty Camping in West Dorset is comprised of three luxury bell tents, two yurts, a tipi and a shepherd's hut, each of which can be booked to experience the peace and quiet of the surrounding private woodland up close. Each of these 'tents' is kitted out with a king-sized bed, electricity sockets, heated towel rails and log burners – the yurts, tipi and hut also have private showers and washing facilities.
The main draw of this aptly named site, though, is the opportunity to take part in some seriously crafty woodworking courses. These range from two-hour 'have a go' courses (£42 for a spatula making, shrink pot making or whittling and knife care) to an ambitious five-day 'make a chair from a tree' course (£834 per person). We can't promise that you'll return from the forest a master craftsman, but the rare chance to learn traditional carpentry techniques in an authentically woody environment will make you feel like a bona fide artisan.
Go wild in Jersey
Durrel Wildlife Camp is located on the sunniest spot in the British Isles – alright, Jersey isn't technically in the UK, but it's close. The camp's cosy accommodation pods contain wood burning stoves, free WiFi, double or twin bed arrangements and mains electrity, and each comes with a private deck.
Cool as these little pods are, you'll probably want to spend your time checking out the adjacent Durrell Wildlife Park and getting up close to incredible creatures by booking a Behind the Scenes encounter. Time spend hanging out with meerkats, lemurs, gorillas and other rare, endangered animals while learning about how the park is helping to save them is bound to be an unforgettable experience for the whole family.
Make a splash in Northamptonshire
Located in the picturesque Central Northamptonshire countryside, Grendon Lakes spans 150 acres and 12 lakes, two of which are devoted to watersports. Wakeboarding sessions run by the team of experts at Club Wake Park can ensure that your stay in the ‘shire is wet and wild – alternatively, the other ten lakes are prime fishing spots for a more relaxed day on the water.
After experiencing all that the lakes have to offer, you can retreat to one of three Glamping Villages. Each contains three bell tents and sleeps fifteen people, with all the stuff you need to have a memorable stay – from warm, clean bedding to rugs, candles and fairylights. A fire pit surrounded by seating means you can spend the evenings toasting marshmallows and reminiscing about the day's gnarliest wipeouts.
Explore the Highlands in Inverness
Loch Ness Glamping offers the unique opportunity to stay in a purpose-built 'Armadilla' – a cosy eco pod that blends in with the stunning local landscape. Each is kitted out with a fridge, tea making facilities, LCD TV and underfloor heating, so you can enjoy some luxurious home comforts while camping out in Nessie's back garden.
Of course, you'll want to spend most of your stay roaming the stunning sights of the Great Glen, and this site is perfectly situated near Loch Ness for optimum Highland adventuring. The site is pet friendly, so any canine pals will be more than welcome to enjoy the local scenery with you.
Get a bird's eye view in Powys
Treehouses have a popular glamping experience, allowing guests to see the world from a new perspective while feeling like big, excited kids. Tree tents, on the other hand, are a little harder to come by.
The Red Kite Tree Tent – an elegant construction near Builth Wells in Powys, Wales – blends seamlessly with the surrounding woodlands. It's a cosy nest in the trees that will make you feel like a natural guest in the natural ecosystem, rather than a human intruder.