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

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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.

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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.

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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!

Cool Campsites: Winter Camping in the Swiss Alps

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I always find that Friday mornings are great ones for a spot of daydreaming. It’s that nearness to the liberation that comes with a weekend I guess. Today mine comes in the form of the ultra-slick Whitepods in Switzerland. Originally launched as an eco-camp that could be entirely dismantled come spring and only open during the winter months. Now there are 15 pods and they’re kept up all year round. It’s easy to see why. Enjoy people …. and book here if daydreaming doesn’t cut it.

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Thrifty Thursday: World Cup Camping in Rio

Now I don’t mean to shock anyone, and do make sure you’re holding onto something when you read this, but on a recent poll of male friends, when asked to choose which of the year’s international sporting events they would choose to attend, they all chose the 2014 World Cup in Rio. (Also on offer was the Rowing World Cup in France; the European Athletics Championships in Germany or the Netherlands Grand Prix…) Shocking I know, right? I was stunned. And they call us wives high maintenance.

Fine then. Well, for those of you who are blessed with husbands desperately counting their airline points and making the three year old wash the neighbours’ cars, the good news is, they can stop. We’ve found the solution and they’ll still have some Reals left over for a few pints of Skol too.

It’s called camping my friends.

3290440_orig A couple of British Brazil-based property developers have well, developed, a World Cup campsite in rather glorious farmland in Recreio. That’s in the Western Zone of Rio. Set above the Recreio dos Bandeirantes surf beach, to the locals, it’s one of the safest districts in Rio. To camp here it’s only £35 a night, and that includes tent hire. Not bad, not bad at all. Even I’d consider ditching the Queen’s Club Tennis tourny this year at that price. Without the football though…

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Between games there’s the walking trails of Barra Woods, Casa do Pontal art museum or a guided expedition to spot broad-snouted caimans and red-footed tortoises. And the campsite sits right next to the Pedra Branca State Park, the largest urban forest in the world, so there’s that too. Or just kick back by the pool and enjoy the food stands, bar and big screens.

Gates open June 8. Click here for booking and more info.

Cool Campsites: Glamping for Glampers in South Korea

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There must be something going on down there in South Korea when it comes to camping. First it’s Barocook‘s super duper camping gear and then along comes this stunning Glamping for Glampers site in remote Yang-Pyeong designed by up-and-coming South Korean design studio ArchiWorkshop. It’s designer camping at its best.

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There are circular Stacking Doughnut units and long and expandable Modular Flow units – both have been built with wooden flooring and steel frames which are covered with a strong double layered membrane which is UV, water and fire resistant and, according to Archiworkshop, is ideal for a wide variety of different climates.

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I do have a soft spot for campsites like these. I get that not everyone likes roughing it, and if you don’t, it can mean that you miss out on the more wild experiences on offer out there. And some days I would happily trade my trusty Outwell for one of these. I mean, they even have wall art by young Korean artists, sofa beds and their own loos. Tell me you wouldn’t be tempted ….

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The beautiful photography is by June Young Lim.