Some of the first holidays I ever took were camping trips, and I loved sleeping under canvas, being out in the fresh air and surrounded by nature. But somewhere along the way the fun wore off – arriving in the dark and trying to pitch a tent by torchlight, sweltering by day and freezing at night, braving communal shower blocks, and having to schlep across a field in the middle of the night whenever you needed the toilet. A proper bed, an en-suite and a wifi connection became my holidays must-haves, and camping was firmly relegated to the past.
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But over the last few years, camping’s had a glam makeover. The term ‘glamping’ was first coined in 2005 and since then there’s been a huge surge of interest in getting back to nature in style, with sites springing up across the world. Companies like Yelloh! Village have taken the good bits of camping and upped the ante with improved facilities and enough sleeping options – from African-style safari tents to gypsy caravans – to tempt us unwilling campers back on side. But what elevates a camping trip to a glamping trip? Here are my five key ingredients.
5 ingredients for the perfect glamping trip
1. More than just a tent
Tents have come a long was since the sturdy A-frames I used on Guide camps (the smell of canvas is still guaranteed to transport me back 25 years…). Now they’re lighter, cheaper and easier to put up than ever. But if you want to fly and not carry tons of luggage, or there’s a group of you and you don’t want to all squeeze into a tent, or if you just fancy something a bit more luxurious, there are plenty of different glamping options available at Yelloh! Village sites.
How about a cute camping pod in Minorca, a small but perfectly formed bolthole for two with its own bathroom? Or a Mongolian-style yurt in France which sleeps four and comes with pretty painted furniture. Or what about a treehouse in the Loire Valley complete with a spiral staircase, air con, a fitted kitchen and designer bathroom? The chance to stay somewhere quirky and different is always a bonus for me, and you definitely won’t feel like you’re roughing it.
2. Brilliant locations
A big part of the attraction of camping is that feeling of living outdoors – keeping your doors open to let the breeze in and spending evenings sitting out on the terrace with a glass of wine. And being outside so much means you want to choose a good location to do it in. My perfect spot is somewhere peaceful where you can relax but which has plenty to see nearby.
Yelloh! Village have 86 sites across France, Spain and Portugal, with a mix of seaside, mountain, river and countryside locations to choose from. Among them are some of my favourite spots in Europe. Like Lagos in the Algarve which has some of the most beautiful beaches in Portugal, with golden sand and rocky red cliffs. Or the Dune du Pyla near Arcachon in southwest France, where Europe’s largest sand dune is surrounded by the Medoc wine region.
3. Lots of useful facilities
Although it’s good to have things to do nearby, you don’t want to have to get in the car every time you need a pint of milk. Yelloh! Village sites are almost like a mini village with shops and other facilities on site so you can easily access them. Families are really well catered for. If you’ve got small children then travel cots and high chairs are available so you’ve got less luggage to carry. And for older kids there are kids’ clubs targeted to different age groups.
Yelloh! Village sites are split into two categories – Authentic sites, which are more off-the-beaten-track with rural locations and a focus on heritage and culture. Or Club sites with a bigger range of facilities on site like swimming pools, aquaparks, wellness centres with spa treatments, sports facilities, events like cookery classes, and evening entertainment. Sites vary in size and facilities, so you can decide whether you want lots to do or would rather just relax.
4. Good food and drink
Toasting marshmallows and cooking slightly underdone sausages on the BBQ are an essential part of any proper camping experience. But with all the amazing food and drink available in France, Spain and Portugal, it would be a shame not to take full advantage of it. Yelloh! Village sites usually have a bakery and grocery on site as well as cafés and restaurants.
It’s not just the usual campsite burger joints either (though there usually is one of those too), some sites have high-end panoramic restaurants where you can dine in style with a sea view, or beach bars for those all-important sunset cocktails on the sand. So there’s chance to try some of the local specialities – like paella on the Costa Brava, oysters from the Bassin d’Arcachon, wine from the local vineyard in Saint Emilion, or cassoulet in Carcassonne.
5. An eco-friendly approach
If you’re looking to cut down your ecological footprint, then camping is one of the lowest impact forms of holiday accommodation you can choose. As the facilities add up the impact does start to get higher, but Yelloh! Village have several sites which have been awarded the EU Ecolabel or Clef Verte eco certifications. They’ve got a good range of green policies in place at their sites, as well as opportunities for guests to do their bit to reduce their impact.
There are recycling points for waste and composting for organic matter. Some sites use electric vehicles and have free bike hire for guests. Others use ground source heat pumps or solar panels to heat water for their aquaparks. Waste water used for watering the gardens. And guests are encouraged to reuse their towels and bed linen to cut down on water and electricity use.
Glamping with Yelloh! Village
Yelloh! Village offer a range of three-, four- and five-star campsites across France, Spain and Portugal, with 86 ‘open air hotels’ in countryside, seaside, riverside and mountain locations.
Campsite images courtesy of Yelloh! Village (except the terrible one of teenage me of course!).