The best hidden-gem glamping sites – with TV star owners,…
LOOKING for a glamping site to gather together those you love the most?
We’ve tested four of England’s best for that very purpose.
They all have plenty of old-fashioned fun on their doorsteps to keep everyone interested, and could make meeting friends or family halfway a whole lot lovelier.
So it’s time to take your pick, talk dates and start preparing those marshmallows (and fizz!) to toast…
THE VINTAGE ONE
Brook Meadow, Leicestershire
The Lowdown: Pretty cabinets of antique crockery, a slipper bath with brass overhead rain shower and jungle-inspired furnishings make the Marabou safari tent on this traditional campsite a beaut.
Details such as Smeg appliances, a four-poster bed and a big, squidgy sofa will raise a smile – as will the super-cute kids’ tent beds, which mean two families can share.
Fluffy hot-water bottles, velvet quilts and a wood burner keep things cosy, then unzip the canvas for lake views and a double swing.
Later, pick a hay bale for kids’ “moovie” night in the Cowshed and catch foodie pop-ups by local talent La Fête Fleurie, who whip up Mexican street-food suppers with excellent margaritas, plus divine cakes with your morning cuppa.
There’s a wood-fired-pizza-oven horsebox that visits, too.
Explore: For the littlest, there’s piglet racing, pony grooming and a fantastic nature-themed indoor play at West Lodge Farm Park, from £4 for over-twos (Westlodgeruralcentre.co.uk).
Or for old-school fun, hit the quaint rides at the 102-year-old Wicksteed Park, from £3 a ride (Wicksteedpark.org).
Find glorious gardens and flamingos at Coton Manor, adult entry £10 and kids £3.50 (Cotonmanor.co.uk), or get lost in three miles of maize at Wistow Maze, a 20-minute drive away – tickets cost £9.95 per adult, £7.95 per child (Wistow.com).
There are also adrenalin sports – think racing buggies, hovercraft and clay-pigeon shooting – a stone’s throw from the site, from £25 per hour (Avalancheadventure.co.uk).
Refuel: Book ahead for the Tollemache Arms, 15 minutes’ drive away, for excellent gastro-pub grub – try the bang bang cauliflower, £7.50, with a rhubarb and ginger G&T made with Warner’s Gin, which is distilled down the road (Thetolly.co.uk).
Stock up on Scotch eggs and piri piri chicken kebabs for your firepit at Farndon Fields Farm Shop in nearby Market Harborough (Farndonfields.co.uk).
Foodies should also hit Ascough’s Bistro for flavour-packed dishes, such as smoked chicken terrine with gooseberry and elderflower chutney, or hake with cod scampi, sherry and smoked butter sauce.
Two courses cost from £20 (Ascoughsbistro.co.uk).
FYI: Differing budgets? Mates can pitch up with their own kit from £24 per night.
Book It: Marabou safari lodge, sleeping eight people, costs from £235 per night (Brookmeadow.co.uk).
THE TV ONE
Cotswold Farm Park, Gloucestershire
The Lowdown: Old Spot is one of six wooden lodges on Countryfile’s Adam Henson’s farm.
Kids will love the huge bunks, as well as the welcome pack of crisps and hot chocolate, while there’s coffee on hand for you, plus a hot tub to unwind in while watching the sheep wandering in the Windrush Valley fields.
There’s the same blissful view from the hand-carved king-size bed, too.
Explore: Farm entry is included, so you can meet the resident pigs, goats, donkeys and chicks as many times as you like during your stay.
Plus, pet guinea pigs and rabbits, before hitting the enormous bouncy pillows and play areas.
Afterwards, take the 1.5-mile Wildlife Walk trail, part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and spot the dry river valley and a 3,000-year-old Iron Age round barrow.
Before you go home, explore The Dragonfly Maze in nearby Bourton-on-the-Water, £15 for a family of four (Thedragonflymaze.com), before picking up a bottle of Hedgerow Gin at the Cotswolds Distillery shop (Cotswoldsdistillery.com).
Refuel: The on-site Ox Shed puts on themed nights, including pizzas every Saturday.
Order the Henson’s Hero with ‘nduja sausage and black olives, £17, paired with Adam’s Rare Breed Pale Ale, £3.50.
Come morning, collect pastries and sourdough from the farm shop.
Half an hour away is The Crown Inn at Church Enstone – a picture-perfect country pub.
Bag a table in the plant-filled garden room for delights like samphire pakora, £5, followed by Tuscan haricot bean stew with creamed corn and soured squash, £20, and a mini roast beef lunch on Sundays, £11, for kids (Crowninnenstone.co.uk).
At farm shop/eatery The Cotswold Outpost near Burford, the goat’s cheese salad, £13.95, and slice of Vicky sponge makes for a delicious light lunch (Thecotswoldoutpost.co.uk).
FYI: The lodges are pretty compact, so you’ll want to enjoy the outdoor decking as much as possible.
Book it: Safari tents, sleeping eight people, cost from £100 per night. Lodges, for up to six people, cost from £200 a night* (Cotswoldfarmpark.co.uk).
THE OFF-GRID ONE
Hidden England Escapes, Worcestershire
The Lowdown: Overlooking the super-pretty Teme Valley and with just two pads sharing a huge field of long grass with winding paths, this place is a hidden gem.
And the best bit? Stargazing from your wood-fired hot tub, which owner Iain will kindly stoke ready for your arrival.
Safari tent Hakuna Matata is homely, with a rustic African theme, solar lighting and a power shower – it’s perfect for a family of four, while the Scandi-chic Huggeley Hall next door sleeps six. Both are dog-friendly.
Explore: Pack a picnic and head to the stunning ruins, woodlands and gardens of super-close Witley Court – the play area is a lovely one, too.
Entry costs from £8.60 (English-heritage.org.uk). Local fave, Little Owl Farm Park, will delight the kids with its array of animals, giant sandpit, go-karts and barrel rides.
Tickets cost from £10.50 (Littleowlfarmpark.co.uk). To see lions and feed giraffes from your car, head to West Midland Safari Park, complete with its small theme park for extra thrills.
Entry costs from £22 (Wmsp.co.uk).
If you have a train fan with you, hop on a vintage steam engine from Bewdley, £15.50 return (Svr.co.uk), picking up a Kinder Bueno ice-cream creation from Mrs Chill’s parlour on the way back.
Refuel: Follow the River Teme to The Den at Mill Farm, a 10-minute stroll away, for treats such as pear and stilton quiche and coffee and walnut cake.
While there, browse cute cards at Mrs Best Paper Co, and pick up pretty underwear from Lottie’s Eco (Millfarmretail.co.uk).
Or tuck into a mighty lamb chop with peas, broad beans and mint sauce, £24.95, in the glorious countryside setting of The Hadley Bowling Green – you’ll even catch a game if you’re lucky (Butcombe.com/the-hadley-bowling-green-worcestershire).
Meanwhile, seven minutes from your field, The Baiting House is a date-night gem – be sure to order the cheese soufflé with beer and onion jam, £9, if it’s on the menu (Baitinghouse.co.uk).
FYI: Being off-grid, there’s an icebox in place of a fridge, plus the eco loo can get a little whiffy.
Book it: Hakuna Matata, sleeping four people, costs from £130 a night, (Hiddenenglandescapes.com). Plan your trip at Visitworcestershire.org.
THE LUXE ONE
The Farmstead, Suffolk
The Lowdown: If you’re looking for an achingly stylish year-round haven, this is it!
There are eight lodges in a wildflower meadow – particularly gorgeous in the summer – and all come with an espresso machine, Rangemaster oven, Smart TV, Roberts radio and alfresco bath.
Velvet sofas, vintage lampshades, rainfall showers and a wood burner complete the look, while a hamper of wine and artisan nibbles awaits.
Dogs are welcome and if you pick a two-bed lodge, you’re even treated to a copper roll-top bath in the master.
Explore: The market town of Framlingham is under 10 minutes’ drive away, where you can stroll along the castle’s curtain wall.
Tickets cost from £12.50 (English-heritage.org.uk).
Stop by cute kids’ shop Ottie And The Bea, which has a fab cookbook stash for grown-ups, (Ottieandthebea.com), then find eclectic homeware at Narwhal Interiors and chic fashion at Collated (Collatedonline.com).
Half an hour away is the colourful seaside town of Aldeburgh, where you can tour Fisher’s Gin Distillery, from £35 (Fishersgin.com).
Or for some animal antics, hit Jimmy’s Farm & Wildlife Park.
For a special treat, pick your fave critter to play zoo keeper with – experiences cost from £55 – and give cuties like the tapirs a tummy tickle (Jimmysfarm.com)!
Refuel: Happily, you’re in a real foodie hotspot. A 20-minute stroll away from The Farmstead is the Easton White Horse pub with its cracking beer garden.
Tuck into mains such as Goan chicken curry, £15 (Eastonwhitehorse.co.uk).
In Framlingham, hunt out crayfish quiche and chutney-filled sausage rolls at hidden gem Leo’s Deli (Leosdeli.co.uk), then find sweet-tooth heaven with cookie cups, £2.95 each, at The Cake Bench.
Finally, upgrade your Sunday roast game and feast on chateaubriand with béarnaise sauce, chicory salad and chorizo and ’nduja mac and cheese, £59 for two people, at Bromeswell’s award-winning The Unruly Pig (Theunrulypig.co.uk).
FYI: The one-bed lodges are semi-detached and each property is not quite as secluded as you may imagine.
Book It: Stays for two at The Farmstead cost from £501 for three nights (Farmsteadlodges.co.uk).
A cute game for instant fun anywhere
Mini Mushroom Bowling, £14.25, Kikkerland
Keep your teeth (and the planet) happy on your travels
Bamboo toothbrush, £3.99, travel case , £9.99, both Fromearthtoearth.com
Emergency assistance for those who can’t survive off-grid
Nokia T10 Kids Edition, £149, Nokia.com
Use code CFPHOLIDAYS to get three nights for the price of two on 2023 stays at Cotswold Farm Park. T&Cs apply.