Sunday, 01 March 2015
Visit a luxury hotel for a glamping experience
Luxury hotels are jumping on the glamping bandwagon, says Alison Tyler, which means you can get more for a whole lot less
FIVE-STAR SERVICE: Sitting in 20,000 acres of wild dales, woods, farm and heathland, the Swinton Estate is home to the old-school luxury of Swinton Park hotel and spa, where guests can enjoy the grand-yet-homely lounges, spa, fine-dining restaurant and cookery school. But despite all this splendour they are completely cool with kids running riot, offering welcome goody bags, toys, children's falconry and cookery classes.
ONE-STAR STAY: Across the moor, within the estate you'll find Swinton Bivouac, a cluster of log cabins hidden on the edge of the woods, a short walk from the Druid's Temple (a folly built in the 1800s), with incredible views.
Each woodland shack is handcrafted from round-wood timber (cutting the wasteful process of squaring it off), the majority of which is sourced from the estate, so they really have a gingerbread-house charm to them. Inside natural wooden floors, handmade beds and antique rocking chairs and woodburning stoves add to the upcycled, eclectic vibe. As well as a small kitchenette, each shack comes with a flushing toilet and shower, and will sleep up to seven. If you want to get even closer to nature, opt for one of the yurts in the meadow that sleep five – still glamorous, with proper beds, a woodburner, and a gas stove on your verandah, but you'll have to go up to the nearby reception barn for a hot shower and bathroom facilities.
WHAT'S MORE: As a guest at Bivouac you can use all the hotel facilities at Swinton Park – so you could combine a day walking in the dales with a massage in the spa or a stylish meal in the restaurant. Down at The Bivouac, there is a fab all-day café, shop and a children's play area, bikes that you can borrow, and even workshops and events for children and adults to get involved with, ranging from treasure hunts and pizza/quiz nights to visits from a 'miniature farm' of small animals.
FIVE-STAR SERVICE: The Thoresby Estate has been owned by the Pierrepont family for 400 years and it covers several thousand acres of forest, farm and parkland, including the ancient Capability Brown- landscaped Thoresby Park, a Grade
I-listed rose garden and the rather grand Thoresby Hall Hotel in the family's old stately home. Luxuries here include the Sherwood Forest Spa, which has a pool, sauna, hammam, aromatherapy, ice caves, hydrotherapy pool and foot spas – and that's before you even try a treatment.
ONE-STAR STAY: The most recent addition to the estate is the Sherwood Hideaway – a series of wooden lodges dotted through the forest. Guests have access to the park and to Thoresby Courtyard, a clutch of independent shops, boutiques, museums and galleries – and get a discount at the café here. You can also spend adult time at the hotel, perhaps soothing away the stresses of motherhood at the spa. The rustic-chic wooden lodges, that sleep four, are hidden deep in Sherwood Forest but are contemporary and sleek – from gorgeous soft furnishings and state-of-the-art TV, iPod dock and wifi, to the fully-stocked kitchen and private hot tub – yes, with some lodges 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 and around the sprawling estate.
WHAT'S MORE: The forest is a natural playground to explore with little ones, where you can admire the fantastic autumn colours and marvel at the 800-year-old Major Oak, where Robin Hood was rumoured to hide from his enemies – learn more at the Robin Hood exhibition at the Sherwood Forest Visitor Centre.
THE DAMAGE: From £25 per person per night; The Sherwood Hideaway.
FIVE-STAR SERVICE: This hotel offers everything you could want from a relaxing break, including a spa with a swimming pool, steam room, sauna and Decléor treatments, a 400-acre championship golf course, a champagne and cocktail bar with a terrace overlooking the golf course, and a brasserie- style restaurant.
ONE-STAR STAY: Chic camping pods in the hotel grounds overlook the golf course and the South Downs National Park, making them perfect for getting back to nature. Double beds, sofas, flat screen TVs, heating and coffee-making facilities provide most of the creature comforts you could want but with the quirkiness of camping – there's a heated shower and loo block close by.
WHAT'S MORE: Want to shape up? There's a large gym with 100 cardio and resistance machines to give your new regime a kick-start.
THE DAMAGE: From £37.50 per person per night, including breakfast in the hotel; Pitch Up.
FIVE-STAR SERVICE: Named after the standing stones on a Bronze-age burial mound that top the hillside, Lord Stones is a gorgeous campsite. For starters, it sits in a stunning private country estate on the ruggedly beautiful moors, which turn a vibrant orange and purple at this time of year. Then there's the fact that there's a fine-dining restaurant run by top chef Michael Chase, formerly of the Star at Harome, which serves the estate's own Belted Galloway beef, plus a lovely café and an artisan farm shop.
ONE-STAR STAY: There are five new camping pods – stylish timber cabins that sleep four and have a double bed and sofa bed, a bathroom, kitchenette and a woodburning stove; there's even a deck with a barbecue, lanterns and seats. So you can enjoy the best of the camping experience with the comfort of a proper night's sleep and running water. Grab an organic ice cream from the farm shop, kick back outside your pod, soak up the autumnal heather-clad hills and enjoy the sound of silence (baby permitting!).
WHAT'S MORE: Uniquely positioned at the crossroads of the Coast to Coast walking path and the Lyke Walk Way, it's the perfect base for rambling and enjoying the wild scenery.
THE DAMAGE: From £33.50 per person per night. There are bell tents and bothy tents available that are cheaper still.