Gone 'glamping'

Camping with hair tongs and designer kit is fast becoming a national pastime - especially in these hard times, pitches Annie Deakin

As the Met forecasts high temperatures - and the pound remains weak and budgets low - more and more campers are pitching up tents around the UK.

No longer just for boy scouts, nature geeks and Swampy-type ramblers, camping is attracting the kind of person who normally holidays with bronzing oil in the Costa del Sol. They don’t camp as we know it. They go 'glamping' - that's glamorous camping which means sleeping under canvas without compromising on life’s little luxuries. It's out with the leaking tents, sodden sleeping bags, tins of spam and baked beans; bring in the cashmere socks, double duvets, hair straighteners, blow-up chesterfield sofas and Mongolian-style yurts.

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The global recession is creating pandemonium in the travel industry as millions of people forgo the luxuries of air travel, rental cars and hotels. Meanwhile, the camping world is jumping for joy. Worries about fuel prices, carbon footprint and job losses combined with a fear of pandemic disease have led to the Camping and Caravaning Club are forecasting one of their busiest summers on record.

Sienna Miller and Kate Moss, leaders of festival chic in their Panama hats and couture wellies, are at the epicentre of the 'glamping' trend.

"There is this obsession with celebrity culture over here, and I think that’s why the whole ‘glamping’ thing has taken off," says Jonathan Night, author of Cool Camping, "Staying in a posh tent in Glastonbury once a year doesn't mean you're an avid camper but what's good about that is that people go, 'Oh right, Kate Moss goes camping, so if she can do it, then I can try it too.' A new three-part BBC1 series Britain’s Busiest Summer will investigate how the recession is prompting millions of Brits to stay at home this summer.

British designer Cath Kidston has camped up this year's summer collection with feminine and floral windbreaks, hammocks, stripy camping chairs, polka dot wellies and a box rose print tipi. Kidston, a diehard camper says, "I strongly recommend bringing an eye mask and earplugs so you don’t get woken at the crack of dawn."

Instead of plain water bottles, sun drenched campers hydrate with pretty aluminium flasks decorated with vintage prints from BlissHome. There is a particularly pretty cherry blossom decorative blue flask available from Dotcomgiftshop. A few years ago, Ted Baker brought out his own line of wacky tents featuring flying ducks on a rose wallpaper and a stag’s head set against a Seventies retro bamboo print.

The 'glamping' cognoscenti abstain from Egyptian cotton bed linen and sleep easy in jewel-coloured silk sleeping bag liners from the website www.silksleepingbag.co.uk.

"Purple silk liners were a big hit when I launched in 1999; now there isn’t one dominant colour so long as it’s bright," says founder Annabel Kilner. "I'm enjoying a bumper year because people are downgrading the types of places they stay in. More people are trying hostels, B&Bs and camping but still want useful bit of luxury like my silk liners."

Interior designer Danielle Proud, dubbed the sexy blonde Nigella Lawson of homemaking, shares wise words on how to convert a sweaty tent into a 'glamping' boudoir. Her shopping list includes sheepskins from John Lewis (opt for lavender-coloured), a Zara Home bedspread, jewel coloured plastic glasses from Habitat and tea-light chandeliers. And instead of nostalgic bat and ball, 'glamping' requires a sophisticated sort of campfire game; think giant dominoes, in chic navy and cream leather, by royal carpenter David Linley. A little on the pricy side at £2,789 but by forgoing the exotic holidays, there’s more cash in the bank to spare... at least that’s how the 'glampers' think.

Annie Deakin is Editor of mydeco.com