Make the most of spring’s arrival with a new season lodge, Shepherd’s hut or quirky cabin – it’s camping, but weather-proofed for fresh evenings.
Swinton Bivouac, Yorkshire
Sitting in 20,000 acres, Swinton Bivouac is a cluster of handcrafted, gingerbread house-cute log cabins hidden on the edge of the woods, with incredible views.
Inside natural wooden floors, hand-made beds, antique rocking chairs and wood-burning stoves add to the up-cycled, eclectic vibe. As well as a small kitchenette, each shack comes with a flushing toilet and shower, and will sleep seven.
There is a fab café, shop, and play area, and Bivouac guests can use the facilities at nearby Swinton Park – so you can combine a day walking in the dales with a massage in the spa or a posh meal.
Seven-night stays from £100 per person. 01765 535020, www.thebivouac.co.uk
Ges the Horsebox, Surrey
Down a quiet country lane, in the middle of an idyllic woodland meadow, it’s hard to believe that Ges, a lovingly-restored and converted 1970s horse truck, is not much more than an hour’s drive from central London. Inside there’s a king-size cabin bed, a sofa bed and a bright retro interior. And if you need the bathroom, the neighbouring pony trailer, Baby Ges, houses a hot shower and compost loo. A basket and blankets are provided so that you can pack a picnic and explore the bluebell woods.
From £135 per night (sleeps four), www.canopyandstars.co.uk/ges 0117 204 7830
The Sherwood Hideaway at Thoresby, Nottinghamshire
These rustic-chic wooden lodges, that sleep four, are hidden deep in Sherwood Forest but are contemporary and sleekly designed – from Mulberry and Designer’s Guild soft furnishings, to the state-of-the-art TV, iPod dock and wifi, to the fully-stocked kitchen, to the private hot tub. Yes, you get your own forest-view hot tub. David, the on-site concierge back at the reception lodge, can arrange bikes and advise on cycling and walking trails in the forest – which looks stunning at this time of year as the trees burst into life and bluebells abound.
From £25 per person per night. 01623 824594, www.sherwoodhideaway.com
The Boat Shed at Ardanaiseig, Argyll
On the shores of the appropriately-named Loch Awe, the Ardanaiseig Hotel’s new Boat Shed combines contemporary architecture with splendid isolation – the glass-walled front looks on to the islands in the middle of Loch Awe and the snow-capped Ben Cruachan beyond. In spring the lake mist clears to offer truly spectacular views of the woods and mountains, reflected in the water. The one-bedroom bolthole, perched on the water’s edge is modern, romantic, and has all of the hotel’s five-star trappings on tap, too.
From £330 per night. 01866 988450, www.ardanaiseig.com
Bluebells Nest at The Dandelion Hideaway, Leiccestershire
Nestled on the edge of the National Forest in Leicestershire, The Dandelion Hideaway has six canvas cottages dotted around the 250-acre farm and its woodland, arable and grassland. This may be “glamping” but you get all the creature comforts you could hope for, including proper beds, en-suite bathrooms with roll-top baths, a living area with a sofa, and a farmhouse kitchen complete with a dining table and a wood-burning stove.
If you want isolation then opt for Bluebells Nest, a treehouse that sits by the wood and is perfect for two. Pre-order one of Sharon’s farmhouse suppers that will be bubbling on the stove when you arrive.
Canvas cottages sleep up to six, from £700 a week, www.coolrentalguide.com.
The Shepherd’s Hut Retreat, Somerset
Circling a lake and nestled among trees turning golden brown, you’ll find four secluded, romantic shepherd’s huts, each with a private deck and fire pit. Inside, they’re surprisingly spacious, fitting in a double bed, fully-equipped kitchen and a bathroom – they even have electric heating and are insulated against spring nights.
From £90 a night (sleeps two). 07813 393164, www.theshepherdshutretreat.co.uk
Badger Gypsy Caravan, Mid Wales
What could be more nostalgic than a stay in a traditional bow-top gypsy wagon? It even comes with its own kitchen and bathroom, housed in the next-door shepherd’s hut. What’s more, it sits on a 200-acre, organic farm in the Upper Wye Valley, surrounded by walking trails, cycle routes, the river Wye and Cambrian mountains, making it the ultimate, escape-it-all, back-to-nature break.
£265 for two nights (sleeps two) – book for October and they are currently offering a 20 per cent discount. www.underthethatch.co.uk
Lord Stones, North York Moors
Named after the Bronze-sage standing stones that top the hillside, Lord Stones is a gorgeous, glamorous campsite like no other. For starters, it sits in a stunning private country estate on the ruggedly-beautiful North York Moors. Then there’s the fact that there’s a fine-dining restaurant run by top chef Michael Chase, formerly of the Michelin-starred Star at Harome, which serves the estate’s own Belted Galloway beef on the menu, plus a lovely café and an artisan farm shop on site.
There are five, new bespoke “glamping pods”, which are stylish timber cabins that sleep four and come fully equipped with a double bed and a sofa bed, a bathroom, kitchenette and a wood-burning stove. There’s even an outdoor deck with a BBQ, lanterns and seats so that you can enjoy the best of the camping experience with the comfort of a proper night’s sleep and running water.
Glamping pods from £33.50 per person per night. 01642 778482, www.lordstones.com
High Cross Camping Coach, Dorset
If you can’t afford the Orient Express, try out the next best thing – this antique London Brighton & South Coast Railway carriage gleams as if it has just rolled out of the station for the first time. Climb aboard, and into another era – the rich mahogany panelling takes you back in time to the glory days of rail travel. All the original fittings remain – authentic luggage racks, rounded windows, leather straps and brasswork – although the carriage has been converted to house a fully-equipped kitchen and bathroom, while the long bench seat in the main saloon transforms into a double bed and an antique French stove keeps it cosy on chilly nights. The accompanying “living van” houses two single beds (great for kids or extra guests).
From £85 per night (sleeps four), www.canopyandstars.co.uk/campingcoach
Apple Tree Yurts, East Sussex
This newly-opened ash, chestnut, cotton and canvas yurt, sitting in a beautiful apple orchard, is furnished in rustic style – think soft sheepskins, a handmade double bed and wood-burner for warmth. The outside barbeque and fire pit make for a fabulous night under the stars – baked apples, anyone?
From £117.50 a night (sleeps five), www.pitchup.com
This article first appeared in Metro on 27 April 2015
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