Europe's best glamping holidays 2013
Written by Victoria Evans
Camping is one of life's simplest pleasures and undoubtedly something everyone should try at least once. However, having camped in a damp field with nothing but canvas between me and the elements, the idea of quirky retreats and chalet tents appeals a little more these days. If you feel the same way, you might want to try glamping. Taking the budget holiday market by storm in recent years, it's the great outdoors for those who'd miss their bed too much.
I'd always fancied the sun-kissed delights of Portugal's southern strip, but accommodation there can be expensive. So how 'bout staying in tipis or even a disused German fire engine? This is something you can do at the Eco-Lodge Brejeira, near Silves. The city of Faro is an hour's drive away, but I found the hire car really useful for exploring the hills inland, as well a few essential trips to those beautiful beaches.
Fancy a wine tour in central France? You don't need to stay in one of the area's numerous chateaux to do so. You can find glamping sites like La Chapelle Blanche, St Martin right in the heart of the valley, close to Medieval treasures such as Loches and national parks like Livradois-Forez. Choose between painted caravans or sky-lit cabins for your stay.
Glampers heading to southern Spain will be spoilt for choice, with hidden retreats in the Alpujarras region as well as the Rio Genal Valley. We went for the latter, staying at Cloud House Farm in the shadow of the Sierra Bermeja mountains. Each yurt is crafted by hand and comes with its own title, like the Orange Grove Yurt (aptly named, as it turned out).
If you've ever felt like doing Venice without the hustle and bustle of the crowds, glamping at Canonici di San Marco in nearby Mirano might be your best bet. Our accommodation was not so much a tent as a full-blown lodge, complete with four-poster bed and sumptuous soft furnishings. The famous floating city is only 13km away and I would recommend the scenic, 20-minute train ride to Padua as well.
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is one of my favourite destinations, and the best thing about the glamping here is the eco-friendly options: The Really Green Holiday Company on the west coast offers solar energy showers and compost toilets. For the deluxe side of things, Nodes Point in Priory Bay opened last year with a full butler service and private beach.
So if the idea of a staycation is sounding a little dull and you still want to claim a small slice of luxury for your money, this might be the ideal mix of fresh air and home comforts for your summer holidays 2013. Whether or not you share my views on traditional camping, glamping can be a fun compromise that won't leave anyone running for the nearest hotel.
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