Glamp it up
This year’s sunshine summer holidays are looking pretty uncertain, particularly if you’re stuck in an isolation hotel when you get there and again when you return.
Spending a fortnight confined to a room in a Travelodge at Heathrow isn’t anyone’s dream destination. So maybe now’s the time to support our own tourism industry and take to a tent or glamping pod?
Camping is not for everyone. If you pack nine pairs of shoes for a long weekend and the idea of a shower block makes you break out in hives, then taking off into the wilds with a giant backpack isn’t going to help you relax and appreciate the wonders of nature. Leave eating beans from a can and wiping your bottom on dock leaves to Bear Grylls. Holidays shouldn’t be about mere survival, so you need something with Wi-Fi, a hot tub, a decent view and an ice-bucket for the champagne.
Choose a pod, a yurt or a giant bell tent. Here are a few of our picks…
Tomatin Glamping Pods
These wooden glamping pods get rave reviews for the view and the well-equipped facilities including a BBQ and satellite channels. The pods sleep up to four people, but may be best suited for a getaway as a couple.
In good weather, the drive through Deeside and out on the Cockbridge to Tomintoul road is pleasingly scenic and you can do a little shopping or stop in Ballater for lunch.
Aviemore offers plenty for families to do, including a visit to the Highland Wildlife Park at Kincraig, osprey viewing at Boat of Garten, or, more for adults, a tour of Tomatin Distillery.
North Coast 500 Pods
Over on the west coast at Achmelvich, these pods offer a superb sea view, a two minute toddle down to the white sands of Achmelvich beach and a great stopping off point if you’re tackling the North Coast 500 road trip. The location may look remote on the map, but they still have Alexa and Netflix as well as free Wi-Fi, so if you do take the kids, they’ll not moan about medieval conditions.
Achmelvich is a popular spot on sunny days, particularly with kayakers and fishing enthusiasts. There are some superb walks, lots of wildlife to spot and hiking up Suilven could leave you breathless at the grandeur of the views, or just the effort of getting up the slope when you’ve been stuck in for months.
Sandhaven Door to the Shore
Sandhaven has the merit of being very close to home, being about 50 miles north of the city, between Fraserburgh and Rosehearty. It also has some picturesque traditional fishermen’s cottages that nestle end on to the sea.
Door to the Shore is a cosy camping pod complete with fire pit and a white picket fence. Open the gate and you find yourself on the rocky shoreline. If you pre-book, you can go cycling, play tennis, fish, try snorkelling or canoeing or even go windsurfing, go dolphin spotting or just visit the many small towns and villages that dot the Moray coast. It’s a great base for a weekend pottering round antique shops or just exploring rock pools. There are some superbcafes and fish and chip shops dotted along the coast.
Great Glen Yurts
How about an authentic Mongolian Yurt? These are big enough to sleep five people in comfort, so you can take the kids too. The yurts are remarkably cosy and thoughtfully furnished with double beds, sheepskin rugs, lanterns, midge nets and everything you might need for your stay.
The location, on an organic farm at the foot of Ben Nevis, is perfect for adventure loving families. There are plenty of opportunities for hiking, golfing, climbing or fishing as well as horse riding. Plan ahead and you can take a boat trip to visit the islands of Eigg, Muck and Rum, spot eagles, dolphins and seals or try paddle boarding or sea kayaking.
Skye Eco Bells
This is a great option if you want a tent rather than a pod for your glamping adventure. It’s an ecoglamping site with sea views, fire pits and a moorland setting. It’s also off grid, so there’s no electricity or wi-fi and phone coverage is patchy. Perfect if you need to get away from everything or rediscover each other.
Lastly, one for the incurable romantics. Roulotte Retreat has a small collection of handcrafted French roulottes, or gypsy caravans. They are sited in a wildflower meadow round the edge of a small lake and combine simplicity with a touch of luxury in the form of a wood-fired hot tub. Each is decorated in rich colours and sumptuous fabrics. There are plenty of walks through the Eildon Hills, cycling, bird watching, or you can book massages, hire bicycles or arrange horse riding sessions. At 3 miles from Melrose, the site is far enough from town to feel immersed in nature, but close enough to take advantage of local shops and restaurants.