I like to spend time under canvas. Yes, even in the British monsoon summer. Yet with a baby and toddler in tow there have been times when, frankly, putting up a tent is a hassle. Other camping mums know the painful scenario only too well: snarling husband cursing the tent poles and howling, hungry children By the time you’ve found the tent pegs and the spaghetti hoops (always take tins with ring pulls because you can never find a can opener when you need one) your camping neighbours are casting death stares from the Cath Kidston deckchairs of their quiet, highly organised camp.
So when I was asked to try yurt camping I jumped at the chance. I’m no glamper (I can’t even stand the word), but why turn down ready-made canvas lodgings decked out with proper beds, a log burner and a kettle? Most yurts are kitted out with gas lanterns and a bottle opener at the very least, others come with duvets, electricity and cafetieres. And while there’s no need to go completely overboard with luxury provisions – otherwise you might as well check into a hotel – a well-equipped yurt makes packing for a family a cinch.
So I have to admit to the camping fraternity that, as a mum of two, my inaugural glamping experience won me over. The yurt was spacious, comfy, beautifully located and thoughtfully equipped with everything you could possibly need (including a cream tea and a bottle of wine). I still had to do several trips to the van for camping cots, toys, nappies and the ridiculous amount of paraphernalia camping with kids entails, but that’s just parenting wherever you go.
Most importantly I still got the satisfaction that comes with getting away from it all and getting back to nature: gazing at the stars through the skylight, sipping wine by the campfire and waking up to witness the sun rising over rolling countryside. I won’t give up on camping proper, but I can see why parents are happy to fork out for a hotel-priced, pre-pitched tent. Just do whatever it takes to put the pleasure back into family camping and make holidays under canvas less of an endurance test. Glamping might be a silly word but it’s still going to beat the Travelodge experience and encourage your children to grow up with a love of bedding down in the great outdoors.
Location – there is little point in glamping if the view is of static caravans and the soundtrack is passing traffic.
Layout – is there space for your little ones to be asleep while you cook dinner, drink wine and enjoy the laidback camping lifestyle? Some yurts come with a separate kitchen area and most have a campfire area (not always much good in the rain). The best yurt I have stayed in had a separate wood-fired bath tent just footsteps from the main yurt (guaranteed to bring some romance into camping trips with young children!).
Facilities – if you’re glamping with kids make sure you’ve got a toilet nearby and decent facilities for showering, bathing and washing. You’re paying hotel rates for the experience so make sure you get to scrub up and enjoy a few luxuries.
Onsite fun – the novelty of the yurt will wear out quickly for toddlers, so make sure there are enough distractions onsite to stop them bouncing off the canvas walls. Farm animals, toy tractors, board games and marshmallows are all brilliant additions to ensure you get a teeny amount of feet-up time before being forced to find the closest soft-play area.
Three family-friendly sites I’d recommend in the Southwest are:
Cuckoo Down Yurts, Devon: www.luxurydevonyurts.co.uk
Devon Yurt: www.devonyurt.co.uk
Cornwall Yurts: www.cornishyurts.co.uk