Certainly Wood’s lovely logs and kindling can be found at many of the best glamping places the length and breadth of the country. One such place being Penhein, a rather wonderful glampsite near Chepstow in Monmouthshire. Run by Helen and James Hearn, the couple now live the good life after upping sticks and leaving London behind to manage Helen’s family farm. We had a chat with Helen to find out what glamping is all about.
So, what is glamping?
We often get asked why we opted for glamping over camping. Perhaps it’s helpful to clarify the difference between the two and explain it’s not simply clever marketing terminology.
Camping for pleasure has been around in the UK for over 100 years (the first edition of The Camper’s Handbook was written in 1908 by Thomas Hiram Holding, widely recognised as the founding father of camping and creator of the first-ever camping club). Whether it was a play tent in the garden as a child, pitching up at a muddy festival site in our twenties or trooping off to the coast with a young family in tow, most people have been camping at some point in their lives. And many people vow never to go again after their damp and cramped experiences, especially in this country.
Glamping is an altogether more modern phenomenon. The word itself is a portmanteau created from the words ‘glamorous’ and ‘camping’. Its definition, according to Google, is “a form of camping involving accommodation and facilities more luxurious than those associated with traditional camping.” So far, so good, but what does that mean in practice?
What’s glamping at Penhein like?
At Penhein, we have a cluster of beautiful Persian tents called alachighs, that have been custom-built for us. Each one sleeps a family of six or a group of five adults in splendid luxury.
They’re all beautifully decorated, if I say so myself, and come complete with proper beds and comfy bedding. They also are kitted out with wood-burning stoves, have high-domed ceilings and a skylight providing a window on the stars.
At the heart of our experience is giving people the space that camping doesn’t, to enjoy eating, sleeping and relaxing in complete comfort. What’s more, everyone had their own en-suite loo attached to their tent meaning no midnight dashes across the campsite to an unwelcoming toilet block!
Each alachigh has a kitchen and dining area complete with china, cutlery and all the mod cons. We even make sure there are fresh flowers on the table to greet our guests on arrival.
We’ve also created a shared, communal tent filled with toys, games and beanbags and we’re rather proud of our luxurious shared shower block with underfloor heating, monsoon showers and even a roll-top bath. It’s the attention to detail that counts.
But glamping also means so much more than just providing accommodation and facilities. For us, it’s about making sure people feel at home in the great outdoors and allowing them the chance to enjoy their adventures in the countryside by day and returning to their welcoming, well-equipped campsite by night. It’s about taking camping to another level entirely.
So, what are the key ingredients for glamping?
Location is key – we’re nestled in the Monmouthshire hills in rural south Wales.
Our glampsite is tucked away in a small woodland area on 300 acres of farm and parkland, which we truly believe to be one-of-a-kind. Not only does Penhein offer panoramic views of the stunning countryside surrounding our farm, with views extending as far as the Severn Bridge and beyond on a clear day, it is also incredibly peaceful and secluded (the nearest main road is miles away). Guests have a spacious area to call their own in the woods and freedom to roam our fields, picnic in wildflower meadows and wander along our nature trails.
Attention to detail, as I mentioned before, is another import glamping factor.
We provide everything you’d expect from a campsite and a whole lot more. We’ve turned camping terminology on its head - a ‘pitch’ at Penhein is, in fact, a secluded spot in the woods complete with a palatial alachigh tent. Likewise, our fabulous shower block is so much more than just ‘somewhere to wash’.
With direct access to acres of countryside, it’s easy to ‘escape from the daily grind’ and we’re a world away from the grind of daily life most people are used to.
Glamping vs Camping in a nutshell:
|Damp nylon tent||Warm alachigh tent|
|Thin roll-out camping mat, complete with all the lumps and bumps of the field||Raised beds on legs with proper, sprung mattresses|
|Slippery sleeping bag||Crisp bed linen and cosy blankets|
|Late night trips to the loo with wellies and a torch||En suite flushing loo through a door in the side of your tent|
|Slow, simple suppers cooked on a rattling gas burner||
Delicious barbecue or warming stove-top stew
|Head torch||Tealight chandelier|
|Flannel bath in the nearest icy stream||Hot monsoon shower or a long soak in a roll-top bath|
|Noisy neighbours right next door||Private patch in a peaceful wood and the distant hoot of an owl|
|Competing for a spot on the busy beach next to the campsite||Freedom to roam endless wildflower meadows and peaceful picnics by the stream|
So, there you have it - when it comes to glamping versus camping, glamping wins hands down, with Penhein Glamping topping the lot! We’re sure you’ll agree it’s a no-brainer.