I absolutely love the ‘idea’ of camping; stripped back, simple living, away from it all, digital detox, local pub for dinner, bacon on the bbq for breakfast… how lovely does that sound…but the reality, 2 small kids and a self confessed pampered princess under a polyester roof… not gonna happen! However ‘Glamping’, now ‘Glamping’ is something that I’ve been keen to try since the term came about. A more sophisticated style of sleeping al fresco – a home from home, luxury camp set up in the ‘great outdoors’, with all the mod-cons, (e.g. you can take your straighteners, put the kettle on and charge your phone), well I’m converted!
A massive fan of a National Trust day out, whenever I flick through my Handbook on a Thursday evening, wondering what property or garden we’ll explore at the weekend, I often look to Sussex and see so many on my list I want to tick off. Beautiful countryside, a short drive from the coast… It’s been somewhere I’ve wanted to visit and stay for ages. So when I stumbled across Graywood Canvas Cottages one evening while ‘googling – Sussex’, I couldn’t believe my luck – “Look at, Camping!”. We booked that same evening for the first Bank Holiday in May, a complete whim and trust me there are no regrets. Let me tell you a little about our stay.
A detailed email from Stephanie, our host, arrived a few days before confirming that our yurt ‘Willow’ would be open for our ETA as well as some helpful suggests on local places to visit with the kids. She also told us our hot tub would be turned on, and the temperature “just right”. Yes you read that correctly, this yurt came with our own private hot tub, less than 15 steps from the front door.
On Friday evening, after school Louis, Henry and I jumped in the car and headed down to Sussex, for the 90 minute drive from Surrey, where Ant was to meet us there from work. As we opened the door a welcome basket was awaiting us on the dining table, overflowing with treats including cake, biscuits, chocolate biscuits, tea, coffee, crisps, crumpets and we found fresh milk in the fridge. On the side was a plethora of information on the Yurt, Welcome Information and local attractions and what’s on guides.
A basket of Friday night treats and Saturday breakfast was waiting for us on our arrival
We arrived at tea time, so the first thing we did was put the oven on for the kids, pizza and quickly unpacked the food we’d brought for the weekend! In the fully fitted kitchen is everything you need for a home from home cooked meal – fridge/freezer induction hob (with pans provided) and extractor, fan oven, microwave and dishwasher. Stephanie had thought of everything, all utensils, cutlery, plenty of cups, plates and mugs, serving bowls and plates and lots of chopping boards – there was even an egg timer! So much storage and counter top space to prepare food – puts my kitchen at home to shame!
After tea, we decided to let Louis stay up a bit later than usual and try out the hot tub, which is directly opposite the yurt on the decking area. As Louis is 4.5 years old he was allowed in (under adult supervision), but for Henry is a little too young, so Ant showered him down in the toasty bathroom, which has underfloor heating and put him to bed.
There are two bedrooms in the Yurt, a double downstairs and an annexe upstairs overlooking the living area which sleeps 3/4 and a cot. You could comfortably fit the cot in the bedroom too. Stephanie kindly offered us a high chair and travel cot to use at no extra hire charge. One of the best things about the yurt is the window at the very top of the Yurt. On a clear night you can relax in the living room or fall asleep looking out to the starry sky, and when you’re ready to turn in you can attach a cover (to stop the sun coming in too early!). There is no bath in the Yurt, but Henry was quite happy sitting in the warm shower splashing about.
Back to the hot tub, this one at the Yurt is permanently set to 38 degrees and simply state of the art. As we pulled back the lid the clear water was gently bubbling away and steaming against the cool evening air. Stepping in, it smelt delicious, so soft on our skin and as the jets hit my tired back, LED lights pouring through the streams of water, I was in heaven! Peace for all of 2 mins, and then Louis got in! If only every Friday night was as good as this!
As I put Louis to bed, Ant popped the pre prepared Lasagne in the oven and we both enjoyed a few mins peace and quite back in the tub with a glass of fizz, laying back admiring the views of the sun setting over the countryside… bliss!!
Back dry in the living room, which boasts the fluffiest of carpets, homely scatter cushions and table lamps, we popped on the electric heaters, LED electric fire, which gives the illusion of a real fire and cosied up with dinner and a bit of TV before turning in. The perfect night.
On Saturday we decided to blow out the cobwebs from a busy week and head to Eastbourne, a 40 minute drive away for a look around the shops and traditional fish and chip lunch. We had a lovely day exploring the town and driving via Birling Cap to see the scenic views and turquoise sea. On the way back to the Yurt we dropped in at Arlington Bluebell Farm & Trail (open until the 19th May), to enjoy a country walk, see the farm animals and to capture our boys amongst the beautiful bells. Got it!
During our stay in Sussex we decided to visit Bodiam, a medieval National Trust Castle, which the boys loved exploring. We enjoyed driving through the local villages, stopping on the way home at a playground and even found a pub with a large beer garden and play frame. On the way home to Surrey we called in at Pooh Corner, somewhere we’ve wanted to take the boys for ages. Playing pooh sticks in the Hundred Acre Wood has been on my list for a family day for a very long time.
For more information on local attractions near the Yurt click here
A bit more about our Yurt – the owners have thought of everything to make your stay comfortable and the height of luxury. Separate hot tub towels to the fluffy white bathroom ones. Hypnos beds, Egyptian cotton sheets, Dyson hoover in the cupboard to spruce up the place mid stay, Jamie Oliver outdoor dining set with integrated BBQ/Wood Burner and Jamie Oliver BBQ appliance set, parasol and sun loungers with padded cushions. On our last night we made use of all of the above. If you’re staying for a week or fancy packing light, there’s a Hotpoint washing machine and dryer in the kitchen. In the Bedroom a fan is provided for hotter months and also a hairdryer – so no need to pack your own.
A couple of bits we wished we’d packed (and we’re being picky here)… matches, logs for the burner and coal for BBQ (we picked them up all from local garage), it’s understandable they don’t want to store flammables in the Yurt. A dressing gown, for getting in and out of the tub, preloaded games/films on iPad for kids… although we did have CBeebies on the TV, our iPad boy could have done with his digital babysitter once in a while. The TV signal is limited, so if there are a couple of films or a box set you’ve wanted to make a dent in, bring along on disc format or preloaded on your pad, as there is a DVD player. Stephanie left a few for us in the Yurt along with board games and books. There is no WIFI and phone signal intermittent (I assume at present), so if you’re just wanting the ability to make a phone call, you’ll be fine. If you’re wanting full access to emails/social media…well take this as your digital detox!
Our 5* Glamping stay at Graywood Canvas Cottages cost us £400 for 3 nights over the May Bank Holiday and we’re already booking again for next year. There are 3 identical yurts on the site, perfect for group stays and are open from March – October. We stayed in ‘Willow’ and on inspection we think our Hot Tub was the best location from the house. We could still hear the kids and see the front door from sitting outside or in the tub while the kids were in bed. You could too with the others, but in terms of proximity, if you’ve got babies, ask for ‘Willow’.
As a special offer for a limited time only, I’ve managed to secure you 10% off a stay with Graywood, quote COLDCOFFEESTYLE on booking and paying deposit. During the week there is a minimum of 4 nights booking and at weekends, 3 nights. Check out is at 10am, so even if you wanted to stay just Friday and Saturday night, having the extra day gives you the flexibility of leaving after dinner and final dip in the tub. To make a booking and for more information click here.
A wonderful stay, a super host and a holiday we’ll remember for a lifetime, we can’t wait to go back!