In a broad sense, glamping has simply come to represent an experience with nature that doesn’t mean sacrificing comfort. But to find out whether your outing qualifies, you can ask yourself some specific questions. Is there a chandelier hanging in your tent? You’re probably glamping. Do you have a butler who brings s’mores containing single-origin chocolate to your glass-ceiling geodesic dome? Definitely glamping. Have you woken up in a panic because everything around you is mysteriously damp, you seem to have an aggressively friendly bug in your sleeping bag, and there’s an alarming howling that, oh my god, is it getting closer? Probably regular old camping.
And who wants that?
Glamping now encompasses a range of options, from supreme luxury to rustic charm. Some purveyors offer down-filled duvets, on-site organic farms, plunge pools, crystal stemware and guided stargazing or wildlife-spotting excursions. Accommodation categories include pods, ice hotels, barns, farmhouses, cabins, wilderness lodges, Airstreams and more. As a testament to how strong the trend is, the first Global Glamping Summit was held in Colorado this month.
It’s a trend that is especially popular with families, says John Romfo, chief operating officer of Glamping.com. “Kids love to sing and roast marshmallows and the parents love that they’re having a glass of wine with a butler to prepare everything.” It also suits millennials who are perennially in search of more immersive, experiential, atypical and highly documentable travel. “What’s cooler than a picture of you soaking in your wood-fired cedar hot tub high in a treehouse?” he asks.
Even conventional hotels are getting into the glamping action, developing one-of-a-kind outdoor accommodation experiences that help them stand out, says Ruben Martinez, co-founder of GlampingHub.com. The Four Seasons Beverly Wiltshire, for example, offers “A night with the stars” in a pristine rooftop tent decked out with a queen-size bed, antique furniture and fur rugs.
Ready to pack up the champagne and try glamping for yourself? Here is a small sampling of options.
In New York, the new Collective Governors Island promises luxury tents, culinary classes, wellness sessions and morning yoga in a park-like, car-free environment just a short ferry ride from Manhattan. Rates start at US$150 a night.
In Maine, Sandy Pines Camping offers new 430-square-feet “glamp tents” with air conditioning and fire pits, as well as smaller tents with twin beds for the kids. Each tent comes with a theme, such as “Nautical Nights” or “Boho Luxury Nest,” and the campground has a saltwater pool and hosts lobster dinners. Rates start at US$174 per night. Kennebunkport, Me.
The adults-only Ridgeback Lodge in New Brunswick offers fully equipped “stargazer domes” that include a queen-size bed, sitting area and private deck – with the option to add a wood-fired hot tub perfect for soaking in the middle of the forest. Rates start at $175 a night. Kingston, N.B.
Borealis Basecamp promises an aurora-viewing dome in the middle of an off-the-grid Alaskan Boreal forest. Visitors can lie in bed under the covers and watch through a glass roof as the Northern Lights leap across the sky. A separate large yurt is used for communal dining and passing the time with board games. Rates start at US$389 per night. Fairbanks; available for booking at booking.com or borealisbasecamp.net
An idyllic hideaway on Vancouver Island founded by the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ people, Wya Point offers camping grounds, a lodge and oceanfront yurts. In-between whale watching and surfing lessons, guests can retire to well-appointed accommodations complete with wraparound cedar decks and spectacular views. Rates start at $115 a night. Ucluelet, B.C.
In southern Utah, Escalante offers a series of large but cozy yurts (some loft-style), some of which include full kitchens, flat-screen televisions and spacious bathrooms. Nestled in 20 acres of private property, the yurts offer an excellent springboard to explore the desert, with hiking and horseback riding just beyond the front door. Rates start at US$245 a night. Escalante, Utah.
In the Eastern Townships of Quebec, just an hour from Montreal, Entre Cimes et Racimes added a “hobbit hut” to its roster of 11 eco-lodges. “Le Hobbit,” inspired by the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, has a green roof, wood-burning stove and access to whimsical activities like mushroom foraging and maze solving. Rates start at $150 a night. Bolton-Est, Que.
If you believe the best thing about nature is Old World grape production, then Les Bulles de Bordeaux might be the perfect fit. Near the vineyards of Saint Emilion, and between pine and oak forests, these mostly clear eco-pods offer en-suite Jacuzzis and a distinctively French-country style. Rates start at €195 ($304) a night. Sallebœuf.
A new offering in the heart of Ontario’s Upper Migratory Bird Sanctuary, the Robin’s Roost Treehouse is a singular opportunity to commune with winged creatures. In addition to a large deck with space for al fresco dining, this rustic tree house can sleep six people and includes a private beach, canoe, outdoor shower, birding book and binoculars. Rates start at $301 a night. Morrisburg, Ont.
If you’re less into birding and more into sun salutations and small-batch mezcal, try the stylish but minimalist tree houses at Acre Baja in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico. Treehouses are constructed with tree branches and decorated with local artisan goods, and the surrounding property includes a pool, organic gardens and a menagerie of animals (including a donkey named “Burrito.”) Rates start at US$275 a night.