Could this really be the most perfect family staycation?
Confession: I have always HATED the idea of camping. To me, anything that brings me LESS comfort than I already have in my day-to-day life does not scream "HOLIDAY" to me. Holidays are meant to be about the best things in life, no? And ants, soggy picnics and scratchy sleeping bags are just not on that list in my opinion.
I never did the festival thing in my pre-children life for fear of the camping that comes with it. My backpacking adventures through South East Asia in my student days consisted of a lot of work and saving beforehand, so that I could stay in (semi-decent) hotels rather than huts and hovels once there. What can I say? This girl likes her luxuries. Or, as I call them: Basic human rights.
But then comes family life and suddenly all bets are off. Not only because even your most basic human rights change once you are living with children (remember what it feels like to shower without an audience, anyone? Or eat a full meal while it's still hot?), but also because words like "compromise" and "fun for the kids" are hurled at you when talk of holidays comes up.
Alpha Male (the partner) has long harbored a rose-tinted dream of bringing his family camping. He used to visit a local camping superstore as a child and would (in his own words) dream of a day when he could walk in and buy the biggest, baddest, McGyver-like tent they had, and set off into the wilderness. As he never really got around to live this dream, it now (unfortunately for me) resurfaces with increasing frequency. He "wants our children to enjoy the simple pleasures camping would bring", he says. "And who wants to endure a 4-hour flight with Luca anyway?" (Luca is two and as wild as only two-year old boys can be, so I can't actually disagree with him on that one.) Sigh.
But there is a silver lining. In the years since AM's camping store visits and outback dreams, something truly wonderful has happened. Glamping is (according to the Internet) the "perfect compromise between the intimacy of camping and the world of luxury travel." Ah Google. You had me at "luxury travel".
So there you go: For everyone who wants to go back to nature (Alpha Males rejoice), enjoy the fun of the outdoors experience (hello kids), but not lose the comforts of civilisation (I hear you, mamas!), glamping it is.
And to save you some Google time, here are 10 of Ireland's best Glamping experiences:
1. Rock Farm Slane, Co Meath
Between April and November you can enjoy luxury camping at Hare's Leap Boutique Camping on Rock Farm Slane. Chose between 5 yurts and 2 shepherds huts. Perfect for fun-filled family breaks or even a couple of nights away with the girls.
2. Galway Glamping, Co Galway
Check in at Galway Glamping and you not only get to enjoy a break in gorgeous surroundings, but you will also find a ton of activities right on your tent step (see what I did there?). Perfect to keep the kids entertained and make sure they fall into their beds at night - in time for you and hubby to enjoy a glass of wine together under the starry sky.
3. Kinsale Glamping, Co Cork
The scenery at Kinsale Glamping alone is enough to make you want to pack your bags and head to Cork for this little gem of a place. But should you require more than a nice view, rest assure that there is plenty of activities to keep you all entertained from sunrise to sunset too.
4. Teapot Lane, Co Leitrim
In Tawley (near Mullaghmore) you can check into charming Teapot Lane, and chose between a restored cottage or a luxury yurt as your abode during your stay. There are plenty of things to do to keep you busy, like horse riding, surfing and even yoga and meditation (should you manage to sneak away from the family for a bit of me-time!).
5. Mount Druid Glamping, Co Westmeath
You'll find boutique camping at its best at Mount Druid Glamping. All the beauty of nature and the wild outdoors - combined with a stay in a luxury sherpard's hut. What's not to like? This place even has its very own lake and a sweet boat house to boost.
6. Hidden Valley Holiday Park, Co Wicklow
Adventure by day and a luxury by night - no wonder so many Irish families are headed to Kerry and Killarney Glamping this summer. Situated only a 15 minute stroll from the town centre of bustling Killarney, you'll have fun, food and countless activities on your doorstep. Check out the stunning Bell Tent, and tuck the kids into their comfy camp beds at night, complete with sleeping bags, pillows, blankets and hot water bottles.
8. Wildflower Glamping, Co Cavan
Head for Cavan if you are looking for relaxed family fun this summer. Situated only four miles from Cavan town and in beautiful scenic surroundings, Wildflower Glamping has a little something for every family member. Stay in a yurt or luxury tent, eat your meals at one of the huge communal picnic areas and just watch the world go by.
9. Emerald Glamping, Co Offaly
Emerald Glamping is perfect if you are looking for an active break away with the family this summer. Activities include kayaking, bicycle hire, walks, hiking, fishing and horse riding. The luxury yurts will keep you comfy at night, and the play area is sure to entertain the kiddos while you (here's hoping!) catch some rays and a sneaky glass of rosé.
10. Dromquinna Manor, Co Kerry
Nestled on a 38-acre site, at the edge of the sea, Dromquinna Manor is Ireland’s most exclusive and luxurious camp site. Stay in style at the huge safari style tents (chose between 7 double and 5 family tents), decked out with double beds, goose down quilts and pillows and 4 inch goose down toppers and bedside tables. When you wake in the morning you can enjoy a continental breakfast with warm croissants, fresh fruit, juices and coffee are delivered to your veranda each morning. Now, there's some camping I can be on-board with!
And one abroad:
Le Camp, Varen, France
If you can't embrace glamping on this secluded site in south-west France, with its leafy surroundings, 5-star facilities and totally relaxed atmosphere, then where can you?
The treats here are, as you'll soon discover, are many and varied.
From the fluffy towels (John Lewis, if you are wondering) in each of the tents and yurts, to the large hand-made double beds, feather pillows, and clever in-room composting toilets (saving you a bleary late-night stroll to the toilet block), this is camping with the rough edges smoothed off.
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