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What is Glamping? Everything you need to know

Glamping Pod in Northern Ireland

Image Credit: The Finn Lough Resort Nother Ireland.

Glamping Definition

According to Wikipedia: 'Glamping (the word represents a portmanteau of "glamour" and "camping") describes a style of camping with amenities and, in some cases, resort-style services not usually associated with "traditional" camping'.

Glamping isn't Camping

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Glamping originated in the UK – if you don’t believe us, ask Google. The search engine giant recorded that searches for the term began to be conducted in numbers around 2007, specifically in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

Since then the craze has well and truly taken hold, as holidaymakers in the UK and around the globe embrace everything that is good about camping, while leaving out all the bad bits.

The easiest way to define glamping is perhaps provided by the name itself – a hybrid of the two words ‘glamour’ and ‘camping’.

Glamping Lodge Love2Stay Shropshire

Image: Glamping Lodge Love2Stay Shropshire

This is a holiday choice which takes the adventure of a camping trip and combines it with a level of luxury often more akin to a boutique hotel.

Glamping is now embedded in the public consciousness – nearly a third (31 per cent) of respondents to a survey in 2017 (‘FamilyBreakFinder –Family Travel Plans 2017 Survey') said that they intend to try glamping.

Inside Glamping Lodge - Love2Stay Shropshire

Image: Inside Glamping Lodge Love2Stay Shropshire

In this article we examine the glamping movement and its rise in the UK, look ‘prehistoric’ examples of glamping which may have inspired today’s resorts, speak to an expert on the glamping trend, and peek into our crystal ball to see what could be next for this highly creative market.

What is Glamping and why did it originate in the UK?

Love2Stay Glamping Lodge

Image Credit: Love2Stay Glamping Resort with private hot tubs in Shropshire

As the birth place of the English language to which the phrase ‘glamping’ belongs, perhaps it is no surprise that the UK is where modern glamping originated.

But which other reasons are there for glamping emerging in the UK? And why 2007? The clue could lie in the economy. The UK was, at that time, on the cusp of being hit badly by a recession.

Naturally, holidaymakers tend to look closer to home when budgets are tight, but it appears that the traditional weekend away in a seaside B&B was getting boring.

With a host of beautiful landscapes to enjoy - from the Lake District to the Peak District, the Cotswolds and the Shropshire Hills - and national trails covering 2,500 miles, the UK is nation of walkers; with one problem.

The weather has a tendency to become inhospitable at any time from September through to April, with the summer often seeing rain, too.

That’s where glamping has met the demand for comfortable living while being able to embrace nature, rather than retreat to its edges.

The sheer range of glamping options in the UK is now befitting of the country which invented it. From the luxury Glamping lodges of resorts such as Love2Stay on the England-Wales border, to the pods, teepees and yurts which are now spread across rural areas, glamping has provided British holidaymakers with the opportunity to explore their own country.

A decade later, glamping has gone global. While the US, a country full of wide open spaces and breath taking scenery, may have taken on the mantle of the de facto glamping hub, you can now go glamping all over the world, from Chile to Sweden and Thailand.

The roots of glamping

To understand where glamping came from, we must strip down the term to its very essence. Luxury tent accommodation goes way back to the days of the Ottoman Empire, when imperial tents were brought along for military campaigns.

These huge structures, sometimes consisting of 24 panels, were surrounded by embattlements, and according to Professor Nurhan Atasoy, were used to house banquets and celebrations.

They were decorated ornately, and were every bit as imposing as permanent structures which housed rulers.

In the UK, it could be argued that glamping began on the Atholl Hunt in The Highlands of Scotland, where the Earl of Atholl did all he could to replicate home comforts inside lavish tents.

It was all in honour of a visit from King James V in the 16th Century.

European travellers to Africa in the early 1900s were glampers, and their safari holidays were characterised by full support teams to ensure a luxury standard of living inside their huge pitched tents.

Keeping out sandstorms and unwanted creatures of the night, these early glamping spots were known to suffer from no shortage of bathing or dining facilities, hosting their guests in the style to which they had become accustomed.

Fast forward to the present day, and we can see these glamping roots represented in many of the structures used in modern glamping resorts. It is also clear from the past that the desire to explore is human nature – as is the stipulation of a comfortable night’s sleep!

An expert view on the glamping explosion

What of the people who represent the glamping industry itself? Are they amazed at the way in which glamping has become so popular, so quickly. Here Linda Clark from Glamping.com talks to Love2Stay about the incredible rise of the luxury rural break.

Linda said: “The search for new experiences has contributed to glamping's popularity. The ability to immerse oneself in the glamping destination remains another selling point for those seeking experiential travel.

“Glamping is a way to experience the great outdoors without sacrificing luxury. Time off from work is a luxury and many find that time precious.  People are looking to spend it in an experiential way in a unique setting so why not a treehouse, tent, airstream, yurt, dome, eco-lodge or over the water hut, to name a few!”

Glamping: The future

Glamping has come an awful long way in the space of a decade, but what do the next few years hold? We’ve decided to stick our neck out and make a few bold predictions on future glamping trends:

-          Glamp & ski to hit the mainstream – a few glamping resorts have already popped up in skiing destinations; from The Swiss Alps to Alaska, and we predict that popularity will continue to pick up. Who really wants to be ferried about on minibuses and spend time queueing at cable car stations before hitting the slopes? ‘Glamp & ski’ resorts will allow guests to wake up and be within touching distance of the piste, also presenting a more rural, unfiltered ski holiday experience. 

 - More glamping in wine country- it was only a matter of time before they got in on the act! Anyone who has been on a vineyard tour can tell you about the beautiful countryside in which wine is made (providing they can remember!), and now wine tours have become wine holidays. True to form as a glamping leader, the US West Coast has led the way with this trend, and now we expect vineyards in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand to follow.

Glamping by Vineyard 

-          Glamping meets bleisure – are two new-fangled travel terms in the space of a sentence too much to handle? We’re hoping not, because there is a chance that bleisure – which refers to travellers combining business with leisure – could soon become no stranger to glamping. With wifi provision, glamping sites could start to attract remote workers who want to benefit from a fresh location, or company employees who need to work a little while on a break.

Glamping Bleisure

-          Ornate teepees – you might think that teepees are at the lower end of the luxury scale when it comes to glamping. But in fact, we have started to notice an increasing number of sites globally offering exquisitely fitted and furnished large tents, including the kind of seating arrangements which wouldn’t seem out of place in the imperial Ottoman accommodation mentioned earlier in this article. Think cow hide foot stools, king sized beds and hearth fire places.

Teepees Glamping

That’s our story of glamping; what it is, where it came from, and where it is going. To experience glamping at its finest, consider booking at Love2Stay, nestled in the beautiful Shropshire countryside near the Welsh border. You will find a resort of stylish luxury lodges with accompanying hot tubs, featuring an on-site cinema, spa, restaurant and pizzeria.

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