Searching for unique camping or glamping experiences? Look no further …
Does camping conjure up thoughts of leaky tents, cold ground sheets and dampened spirits, not to mention washing with wet wipes? Then, think again and rest assured I wouldn’t recommend anything that basic! From tepees and camping pods, to cosy cabins and chic safari tents, here are some truly unique ways to enjoy the great outdoors and have some epic fun without the epic trek this summer.
The Garden of Re-imagination, Glengariff, Co Cork
This lush retreat is where forager and upcycler, Kloë Wood Lyndorff, and her partner, RHS-trained horticulturalist, Adam Carveth, (AKA Two Green Shoots), have created a haven at the foot of the Beara peninsula. What’s remarkable about this garden is that every flower and shrub the duo has planted over the last six years has an edible function. This summer, there are a number of “Edible Experiences” including a new Guided Foraging Trail and Fireside Lunch Feast, an Afternoon Tea Tour, and an immersive Garden Tour. Guests can also stay in the nearby Botanical B&B which looks out towards Bantry Bay, with four botanically-themed rooms to choose from – Fern, Willow, Lichen and Silver Birch. Guests have their own private entrance, a dining room, living room with tea making facilities, fridge and microwave, a wood burning stove with wood supplied, and use of the surrounding garden for the duration of their stay. Alternatively, there is a private glamping experience. The bell tent, which sits in a forest clearing at the end of a private track, is furnished with a king-size bed, indoor and outdoor seating, feather cushions, wool blankets, and cosy coir flooring. Guests have their own private bathroom with a walk-in shower, an outside fire pit with wood, a welcome hamper of homemade treats, and a freshly prepared feast each morning of their stay; www.twogreenshoots.com
Mount Briscoe, Co Offaly
Mount Briscoe offers a trio of appealing accommodation options. Guests can stay in the main Georgian hunting lodge which dates to the 1700s – think comfy bedrooms with exposed beams and stonework, antiques and lovely local pottery. Alternatively, there is a rustic Shepherd’s Hut, which is situated in the orchard, close to the house.
For a glamping experience, there’s a bell tent which can accommodate up to three people. It’s fully furnished and cosy, with indoor and outdoor seating, solar lights and bathroom facilities a short walk across the lawn. A glamping stay includes the option of a massage or some forest bathing. As a tech-free experience, (there is no WiFi), this is the place to disconnect completely. Yoga is also available on Saturday mornings from 11am in the walled garden;www.mountbriscoe.ie
Common Knowledge, The Burren, Co Clare,
This non-profit social enterprise, which offers interesting courses on building, making, mending and growing, has recently launched of a range of Lodge and Courtyard accommodation options. Co-founder Fionn Kidney explains, “As part of our wider mission of building a sustainable social enterprise, we are excited to be launching our Courtyard and Lodge accommodation alongside two event spaces that can cater for groups of up to 100 people. Whether just staying a night, taking a course, running an event or even enjoying a private group workshop, we’re inviting guests to take the opportunity to connect with nature, themselves, and others in a place anchored in a truly sustainable ethos.” Some of the courses which run throughout the summer include DIY & Repair at Home, a five-day course on building, and learning the ancient skill of dry-stone walling. To check for availability and find out more visit; www.ourcommonknowledge.org
Cabü By The Lakes, Co Cavan
For the curious, design-led, conscious traveller looking for quiet escapism, Cabü By The Lakes is a 100-acre hideaway. The setting – deep within the woods of Killykeen Forest Park on the lakes of Lough Oughter – could not be more peaceful and is the ideal place to focus the mind with some forest bathing. As for accommodation, Cabü’s beautifully-crafted open plan cabins feature Loaf furnishings, smart TVs, al-fresco dining and warming wood-burners. Options range from intimate one-bed Log Cabins to three-bedroom Boat Houses and guests can self-cater or they can take advantage of the fully licensed Cabin Club – an all-day dining concept, with indoor and outdoor seating, roaring fires, games, music and a cocktail bar all located at the heart of the property. For guests looking to book a fishing lesson, rent a paddle board, canoe, kayak or hire a bike, Cabü Corner is a one-stop-shop for facilities, while also offering groceries, gifts and more; www.holidays.cabu.co.uk.
The Cosy Cabins at Dunbrody House, Co Wexford
Offering guests a back-to-nature retreat, these cosy cabins are set in the woods near the Dunbrody herb garden – the only sounds you’ll hear are birdsong and cattle lowing. Overlooking the valley down to Arthurstown Harbour, cabins are decorated New England-style with one double room and two singles, a lovely open space to sit and relax and a terrace from where you can watch the sunset through the trees. A considerable bonus is they’re close to the main hotel where you can dine in the restaurant, enjoy a cocktail before dining at the seafood bar, or more casual pub. Although the cabins are not self-catering, breakfast is offered as an additional extra in the Harvest Room Restauran; www.dunbrodyhouse.com.
Larchfield Estate, Co Down
“Myrtle” as she is called, is a 1952 Saurer Swiss Army truck cleverly adapted and crafted to present a romantic getaway escape for two, complete with a wood burning stove, under bed heating, sauna and fire pit. Located at Larchfield, a 600-acre family run country estate in Co Down, minutes from the N1/A1, the estate is ideally located and close to the villages of Hillsborough and Saintfield with royal palaces, National Trust properties and antique shops galore to explore; www.larchfieldestate.co.uk.
Woodland Huts at Virginia Park Lodge, Co Cavan
Situated on the edge of Deerpark forest at chef Richard Corrigan’s luxury Virginia Park Lodge, these bespoke Shepherd’s huts are glamping at its best. Located beside the lake, guests wake up to views of the beautiful Lough Ramor. Inside is spacious and flooded with light with impressive features such as a Neff hob, power showers and wood burning stove. There’s also plenty of wardrobe and storage space; www.virginiaparklodge.com.
Tepee Valley Campsite, Markethill, Co Armagh
A tepee for two, or a “festy tent” for four, small yurts, log cabins, a shepherd’s hut and even a geodesic dome are just some of the options at Tepee Valley in Co Armagh, which enjoy views of the Cusher River and Slieve Gullion in the distance. Each option is carefully decorated with historical elements complementing the era in which they originated, such as the vintage china in the gypsy caravan and roll top bath in Abram’s House; www.tepeevalleycampsite.co.uk.
Center Parcs Longford Forest, Co Longford
Center Parcs offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy a change of scenery and acres of woodland. As well as the forest setting – home to deer, red squirrels and pine martens – there is a range of indoor and outdoor activities on offer, as well as a number of restaurants and takeaway services. Each family has their own lodge, with self-catering facilities; www.centerparcs.ie.
Pebble Pods, Strangford, Co Down
Nestled on private, tranquil shores of Strangford Lough, Pebble Pods is an adults-only luxury pod camping experience. There are three luxurious and cosy eco-friendly glamping pods – Trasnagh, Braddock and Drummond – which accommodate two people with amenities such as kitchenette, private hot-tub, thermal sauna, firepit and barbecue area as well as free Wifi. Not to mention complimentary bicycles and kayaking to explore Strangford Lough. The pods are ideally situated to visit pretty neighbouring villages, including Killinchy and Greyabbey, not to mention the superb National Trust properties of Castle Ward and Mount Stewart; www.pebblepods.com.
The Hideaway at Dromquinna Manor, Co Kerry
Guaranteed to please even the most camping-averse, The Hideaway is tucked away in a secluded part of the Dromquinna estate overlooking the idyllic Kenmare Bay. In fact it is not camping at all but a luxurious en-suite bedroom in its own private grounds. Decorated with an eclectic mix of antiques and native (Adirondack) furniture the style is laid back natural elegance. Soak in the beauty of Kenmare Bay as you sit on your veranda with the sound of lapping waters below. The only intrusion is the slow fly-by of resident herons. The Hideaway tent is fully stocked with books, board games, playing cards and magazines. A stay includes breakfast delivered to the Hideaway? each morning while guests can also avail of the onsite barbecue area or the Boathouse Bistro on the estate; www.dromquinnamanor.com.
Ballyvolane House, Co Cork
Arguably Ballyvolane House set the standard for luxury glamping in Ireland when they introduced their luxurious self-catering bell tents and glamping ark which sleeps two people in a double bed. Fluffy towels, Wi-Fi, homemade cookies, proper duvets, good lighting and enough room to stand upright in are just some of the thoughtful details. Guests have full use of a large communal kitchen and beautiful dining terrace, though there are plenty of neighbouring restaurants to enjoy too. Onsite there is a tennis court, badminton area, a 7-aside soccer pitch, croquet lawn and lakes for canoeing and swimming. For the more sedate, the gardens of Ballyvolane are glorious and can be appreciated from sun loungers and deckchairs. Nearby, the beautiful Blackwater valley, with its many gardens and historic sites are well worth visiting, while the pristine sandy beaches on the East Cork and West Waterford coastline, and villages of Ballycotton, Kinsale and Ardmore are close by for day trips too; www.ballyvolanehouse.ie.
Mountain Sky Glamping, Dungiven, Co Derry
A luxury safari tent on a picturesque farm, with fabulous views overlooking the Sperrin Mountains outside Derry sounds idyllic and is further enhanced by the fact that most of the creature comforts you find at home can be found in the tents. A fully equipped kitchen, comfy beds and sofa, wood burning stove, and campfires outside your tent allow you to stargaze in the evening, toasting marshmallows over the open fire. Prices start from £99 per night (sleeping up to six people) with minimum three-night stay in July/August. Quote “Tourism NI” on the website form if booking before the end of July and receive a complimentary bottle of wine on arrival; www.mountainskyglamping.com.
Duck Pond Suites, Marlfield House, Co Wexford
Overlooking the pond, in a lush, wooded setting the Duck Pond Suites are eco-friendly luxe cabins with patio doors onto private terraces, featuring large bathrooms with a free-standing bath, walk-in shower, double sinks and separate loo. Of course, the bonus is guests have access to all that Marlfield House has to offer – from lunch in the airy Conservatory, Afternoon Tea in The Drawing Room and casual dining at The Duck Terrace Restaurant, Cafe and Bar. It’s also the perfect base from which to tour all the sunny southeast has to offer, such as the medieval city of Kilkenny and the monastic settlement at Glendalough; www.marlfieldhouse.com.