Urban Glamping with Hazel

I understand camping isn’t for everyone. There are bugs, variable temperatures, sleeping on the ground, no wifi – that’s why they invented Glamping! However, I also understand that glamping is still a little too roughing it/outdoorsy and remote for people – but what if you could ‘glamp’ in a city? Get the feeling of camping but have a vibrant urban landscape at your doorstep?

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I have found the solution – tucked away between brick buildings in the European capital of Brussels – urban glamping. The boutique Vintage Hotel in Brussels not only went vintage in their décor and room design, they took it a step further and brought in a refurbished vintage Airstream camper and parked it on their front terrace. Poof – urban glamping!

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I was pretty excited to try out this unique accommodation and still have the joy of easily getting to the bars, restaurants, and nightlife of Brussels.

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The vintage Airstream was built in 1958, but has been fully updated with queen size bed, funky sitting area, TV, wifi, and shower.

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It even came with a name, Hazel. In a previous life Hazel was a functioning camper that was used to travel the U.S. – oh, the places Hazel had been!

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As I stepped up on the metal step and entered into my camper I sort of felt like Austin Powers was going to be lying on the bed greeting me! The décor was straight out of the 1970’s, colorful and graphic, which made the Airstream fit in seamlessly with the rest of the Vintage Hotel décor.

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You are not just in the middle of a bustling city; you are also in the middle of the courtyard and entryway for the hotel. At first, I was a bit freaked out feeling rather exposed with the Airstream sitting right in the entrance with little tables around it so that people from the wine bar could sit around you, but it also felt very city like. I was in the middle of all of the action, and honestly once you closed your camper door and pulled the shades, you were in your own little camper world anyway.

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And if you start to feel a bit claustrophobic, you can hang out on the terrace or inside at the wine bar at the hotel. The indoor wine bar also doubles as the breakfast area in the morning.

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If you are urban glamping, then it’s all about the city and luckily the Vintage Airstream was located in one of the hippest neighborhoods in Brussels – Saint Gilles. You are surrounded by great restaurants, friteries, coffee shops, bars and shopping, all within a few blocks.

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I enlisted the help of my friends who live in Brussels and we started our evening at the Vintage Hotel wine bar. Then, we went for Tibetan food at Momo’s in the neighborhood.

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As we were strolling to the next bar, we came across a gallery exhibition opening and soon were sipping champagne looking at Jimmy Nelson’s “Before they Pass” photography exhibit that transported us to the far reaches of the globe. See – urban glamping can be quite adventurous!

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I spent the next morning walking around the neighborhood taking in the cobblestone streets, Art Nouveau architecture that Brussels is famous for, and of course had to stop at the well-known neighborhood Friterie de la Barriere. I took my large cone of frites and mayonnaise and sat at an outdoor café and ordered a Lambic beer. Sure, this wasn’t hiking in the woods and cooking over a campfire – but urban glamping was a fun way to get the rustic with the modern. Sometimes you just need a little urban glamping pampering.

Sherry Ott

Sherry Ott is a long term traveler, blogger, and photographer with one goal in mind – to make you wish you were somewhere else.  She seeks out epic adventures to intriguing places and writes about her around the world adventures on Ottsworld.com. You can also follow her live travels on Instagram and Twitter.

How Do You Go Beach Glamping? I’ll Take Mine with a Thatched Roof

I’m a sucker for thatched roofs. What summertime concert experience beats hanging out at a Parrothead’s thatched roof trailer bar while tailgating at a Jimmy Buffett concert? And there’s nothing more adventurous than a thatched roof villa in the middle of the jungle. The best place to enjoy a thatched roof villa, cabina, cabana, casita or palapa is on beach, accompanied a book or beverage of your choice. Here is a worldwide sampling of some fantastic thatched-roof-glamping-beach-book-and-beverage locations to consider for your next experiential journey.

Asia

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When a resort refers to itself as a “beach camp,” you instantly know you’ve found a place that understands beach glamping. Beach Camp Yala in Sri Lanka emphasizes a “passion for two things – wildlife camping and hospitality,” which is glamping, simply stated. A stay at Yala combines a great beach vacation with the option of a guided safari to view elephants, sloth bears, and the largest leopard population on the island.

Central America

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All of the luxury villas at El Secreto in Ambergris Caye, Belize have thatched roofs, and the name of the game is snorkeling and diving- with the Belize Barrier Reef right on the doorstep. El Secreto, or “the secret,” may be named for the fact that it has a “privileged and secluded location on North Ambergris Caye,” a prized aspect of glamping done right.

South America

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If kite surfing is your game, or you just want to try it, the thatched roof cabanas of Pueblo Barrancas in Uruguay are the answer. The luxury glamping dwellings are nestled into the hillside in plain view of the beach, and yurts are offered as well.

Europe

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You’d be right to guess Spain as a European country with thatched roof huts near the beach. At Casas Karen, they are referred to as “chozas de paja,” or “straw huts.“ Glamping.com previously highlighted a report from The Guardian that named Casas Karen number 7 on the Top Ten Luxury Campsites in the world. It’s said to be on “one of the last wild coasts in Southern Spain.”

Africa

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As I stated before, placing the word “beach” in the name of the resort saves a whole lot of trouble, and another prime location has embraced this wisdom. Dugong Beach Lodge in Mozambique has 12 luxuriously appointed, air-conditioned (thatched roof!) chalets inside the Vilanculos Coastal Wildlife Sanctuary, all of which are exquisitely ensconced on a beautiful beach.

Oceania

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Located on a former cocoanut plantation on a fabulous beach on the Island of Fiji are 25 thatched roof “bures” and a luxury villa all exquisitely appointed by the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort. It’s Fiji- need I say more? If so, check out Jen Bianco’s entertaining blog entry here.

The definition of glamping can vary widely. If glamping is your goal but you’re not sure, then adopt this simple rule of thumb- when in doubt, thatched roof=glamping. Now go hit the sand!

Glamping in Europe’s top 10 luxury campsites

The Guardian home

From Polynesian-style daybeds in super-luxe yurts to a therapeutic escape in a tipi, here are Europe’s best ‘glamping‘ experiences

1 Eco Retreats, Powys

Eco Retreats, Wales

Located on a 1,300-acre organic farm in the Dyfi Forest, at the end of a four-mile track, this venture aims to help campers “reconnect with the rhythms of the environment”. Accommodation is made up of five tipis (each sleeping up to five) and one yurt (sleeping up to six), set among meadows and mature oak woods. All are furnished with sheepskin rugs, double beds, wood-burning stove or chiminea, and have their own outside toilet and spring-water shower. Guests are offered a complimentary healing session, evening meditation session and tickets for the nearby Centre for Alternative Technology.

Book it Two nights in a tipi start from £305/£315 for the yurt, including organic welcome hamper (01654 781 375; ecoretreats.co.uk).

2 Eco Luxury Yurt Suite, Lanzarote

Eco Luxury Yurt, Lanzarote

This yurt is part of a collection of nine eco properties located on the family-run Finca de Arrieta estate, 30km from the capital, Arrecife. It sleeps up to five and is beautifully decorated with rich fabrics, wood flooring and antique Mongolian hardwood furniture, such as the super king-size bed. It also has its own marble-floor bathroom, outdoor kitchen and garden with a Polynesian-style daybed – perfect for a sundowner. Soak up some rays on the small sandy beach just 200m away, walk to the nearby fishing village of Arrieta, then head back to the finca for a dip in the communal solar-heated swimming and plunge pools.

Book it From €840 per week (00 34 928 826 720; lanzaroteretreats.com).

Get there Easyjet (easyjet.com) flies from London Gatwick and Liverpool to Arrecife from £39 return.

3 Canna Camping Holidays, Inner Hebrides

Canna Camping, Scotland

Campers looking for the ultimate away-from-it-all retreat can bed down in a bell tent on the Isle of Canna, the furthest of the Small Isles from the Scottish mainland, which has just 19 inhabitants. The tent comes with a wood-burning stove and solar lighting, and sleeps up to four in one double and two single futons (an extra mattress can be provided). There’s a toilet and shower a short walk away (take 50p coins). The island is renowned for its bird life, including sea eagles and puffins, and you can also expect to see dolphins, basking sharks, minke whales, and occasionally orcas.

Book it Three nights from £90 per tent (01687 460 166; cannafolk.co.uk).

Get there Caledonian MacBrayne operates ferries from Mallaig to Canna; for timetables and fares visit calmac.co.uk.

4 Mongolian Yurts, Vaud, Switzerland

Mongolian yurts, Vaud, Switzerland

These seven yurts bag the title for the best location – 2,045m-high, among edelweiss-filled meadows on the summit of the Rochers-de-Naye. Reachable via a scenic cog railway from Montreux, which takes less than an hour, the fully insulated yurts (complete with electric heating for those snowy winter nights) are open year round and decked out in authentic furnishings with beds sleeping up to eight. Watch the sun set over Lake Geneva, then warm your cockles with a Mongolian fondue in the cliff-face restaurant Plein Roc.

Book it Yurts cost CHF270 (£166) per night. The return train trip, fondue and breakfast costs an additional CHF70 (£43) per adult, CHF60 (£37) per child (00 41 840 245 245; goldenpass.ch).

Get there British Airways (ba.com) flies from London Heathrow and Gatwick to Geneva from £97.

5 Eco-Lodge Brejeira, Algarve, Portugal

Eco-Lodge Brejeira, Algarve, Portugal

Situated in the heart of the Algarve, near the town of Silves, this retreat is as unique as it is eco-friendly. Choose between a beautifully furnished Mongolian yurt, which has a raised veranda to watch the sunset, an old-fashioned Dutch gypsy caravan, or a converted German fire truck. Each sleeps two and has its own shower and compost toilet (to help feed the vegetable garden); the latter two also have kitchen areas. Or head to the communal straw-bale building, where breakfast and a three-course dinner are served on request. Spend your days exploring the nearby beaches, or set off on the new Via Algarviana hiking and mountain biking track, which passes right under Brejeira.

Book it Yurt from €30 per night/caravan from €35 (available from 1 September); fire truck from €15 (00 35 191 937 6502; eco-lodgebrejeira.com).

Get there Ryanair (ryanair.com) flies from 10 UK airports to Faro from £50 return.

6 Teapot Lane Luxury Camp, County Leitrim, Ireland

Teapot Lane Luxury Camp, Ireland

One of Ireland’s first luxury yurt camps has just opened its doors in an unspoilt corner of northwest Ireland. Located in five acres of woodland, the three handcrafted yurts – sleeping between two and five – feature king-size beds, rugs and pot-bellied stoves. Two restored country cottages provide self-catering and bathroom facilities, and there are also compost toilets, campfire and BBQ areas, plus hammocks and swings in the woodlands. The camp also offers holistic aromatherapy, massage and reflexology treatments. This is a prime spot for surfers – Bundoran is a short drive away.

Book it Three nights from €180, including organic vegetable basket; treatments start from €40 (00 35 387 934 0341; teapotlaneluxurycamp.com).

7 Casas Karen, Los Caños de Meca, Cadiz, Spain

Casa Karen, Cadiz, Spain

This is not so much a campsite as a complete tiny rustic village tucked away in a garden of umbrella pines and sand dunes and all just a few minutes’ walk from the nearest beach. It’s made up of 11 cottages and chozas – which are traditional thatched Spanish beach huts made of straw and bamboo. Our favourite is Choza Grande, which sleeps two and has a kitchen, lounge and dining area downstairs with sofas and rugs, and a bed on a raised wooden platform. Waste is composted and water is drawn from the campsite’s own well. Massage, yoga and meditation can be arranged, and there is everything from canoeing to dolphin watching nearby.
Book it From €75 per night/€405 per week (0034 956 437 067; casaskaren.com).

Get there Ryanair (ryanair.com) flies from London Stansted to Jerez from £50.

8 Écovallée Yurt Camping, Dordogne, France

Ecovallee yurt camping, Dordogne, France

Opening this weekend, this family-run camp is set in 12 acres of land just 300m from the bastide town of Lalinde. It’s perfect for families, with a handcrafted chestnut and canvas yurt sleeping four and a 12ft “play yurt” filled with toys and games. Outside you’ll find a canvas-covered kitchen/dining area, a compost toilet and woodland play area as well as foraging pigs, free-range chickens (wake up to fresh eggs every morning) and Pepito, the owners’ horse. Stock up on provisions at the weekly market at Beaumont; visit the Château des Milandes; or sign up for one of the on-site activities – there’s therapeutic massage and reiki for the parents, and bread-making and face-painting for the kids.

Book it From €350 per week (00 33 553 57 94 41; ecovallee.com).

Get there Flybe (flybe.com) flies from six UK airports to Bergerac from £112.

9 Jolly Days, Yorkshire

Jolly Days campsite, Yorkshire

How do you fancy swapping your airbed for a four-poster? Jolly Days, which opened last summer, is the latest UK venture to jump on the glamping bandwagon. It’s made up of seven bell tents and seven tented lodges, set in 200 acres of private woodland on the edge of the Yorkshire Wolds. While the tented lodges, each sleeping up to six, boast four-poster beds, chandeliers, sofas around a woodburner and toilets, the bell tents are more basic, with coir matting and futon sofabeds, each sleeping four. There are communal showers, as well as a communal fire pit, cooking hut and clay oven. Hire bikes to explore the trails in nearby Dalby Forest or head to York, just over 10 miles away.

Book it Four nights in a bell tent from £235/£350 for a lodge (01759 371 776; jollydaysluxurycamping.co.uk).

10 Camping Les Moulins, Noirmoutier Island, France

Camping Les Moulins, Vendée, France

France has its fair share of campsites, but none has quite the same ooh-la-la factor as this one, located off the Vendée coast. Following a revamp last year, it features a range of canvas lodges (sleeping two to eight) and tipis (sleeping four) – think proper beds, kitchens, dining areas, even en suite bathrooms in some – set among five hectares of pine trees and dunes along a beach. Don your walking shoes to explore nearby villages, hop on the Noirmoutier petit train (it stops directly outside the campsite) to the centre of town or just kick back in the heated indoor or outdoor pool, sauna, Jacuzzi and spa.

Book it Lodges and tipis from €95 per night/€230 per week (00 33 251 3951 38; camping-les-moulins.com).

Get there Noirmoutier island is accessible from the mainland by a bridge from Fromentine or at low tide by a causeway. Easyjet (easyjet.com) flies from London Gatwick to Nantes from £45 return. Or take the ferry from Weymouth or Poole to St Malo from £250 return for a car and two adults (condorferries.co.uk).

GLAMPING.COM, the industry authority on all things glamping for the discerning experiential traveler, is a highly curated collection of glamping properties around the globe. GLAMPING.COM believes in extraordinary travel – destinations that offer unique, once-in-a-lifetime experiences. With over 800 glamping sites on six continents, the company’s mission is to empower people to try this form of experiential travel with hand-selected, personally vetted properties. Find inspiration on www.glamping.com and Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @glampingdotcom.