Cool Campsites: Glisten Camping – contemporary camping at it’s best


There’s a niggling thought buzzing in the back of my mind this afternoon. I’m wondering what the difference is between ‘glamping’ and ‘contemporary camping’? I feel like there is one, but I just can’t get to the bottom of it…. Today I interviewed Simon Thomason from Glisten Camping and he was very clear that the approach he’s taking with Glisten is very much in the ‘contemporary’ camp (pun intended!). Take a look at what he’s planning for 2014 and you’ll see what he means.

Glisten owns six camping domes, of the kind you may have seen before. The difference with the Glisten domes though, is the very carefully thought-out interior. Once an interior designer of bars, restaurants and hotels himself (which shows), Simon placed great importance on the look and feel of his domes. This approach was also the only way he had a chance of convincing his wife to try camping. “We love the great outdoors, but my wife really likes her comforts and, with little kids, she appreciates her sleep,” says Simon. “We started to feel weird staying in motor homes in the middle of beautiful forests.”

And so Glisten Camping was born. Think king-size beds, wardrobes, a sofa bed, Fatboy bean bags and ridiculously brilliant hanging kids’ beds (made especially by a sail maker and which, after discovering older kids wanted to sleep in them too, now measure a generous 2m x 85cm).

“We tweaked the standard domes,” says Simon. “Our point of difference is what we’ve done with the insides.” He’s talking about the bespoke screens he designed and commissioned himself. These section off bedrooms and a living area, so that even though camping is about togetherness, you can steal away for a little privacy too. There’s a plan here.102_rt009_rt051_rt

Glisten installs their domes at the beginning of each camping season at various sites, de-stalling them when the weather turns. This is the first year of operation, so they’re starting with a soft launch season with one very carefully chosen campsite in southern France, Col d’Ibardin. Selected as much for its atmosphere as for it’s amenities, the campsite is just outside the town of Urrugne, north of the Spanish border and inland from the seaside town of Saint-Jean-de-Luz. Campers will have the option of hanging around the swimming pools (for kids and adults) and utilising the kids clubs or heading out for a day trip to the beach. Next year Glisten plans to roll out to more French and Spanish campsites.


Each dome shares its raised, decked base with a covered, fully kitted-out, fresh air kitchen and dining area. Oh, and each has it’s own two-person Fatboy hammock too (they originally started with the hanging chair, but friends who road-tested the Glisten camp in Cornwall earlier this year voted for the hammocks, so hammocks it is!). Simon has carefully chosen the locations: not too far from essential facilities, but not too close either.


The first six Glisten domes are being installed in the coming weeks, and there is some availability over Easter. Check prices and book here and enjoy a contemporary camping experience like no other. Oh, and if you think you know the difference between ‘glamping’ and ‘contemporary camping’, let me know would you!

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