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News & Advice

Being Modern: Glamping

It is increasingly common in the modern world to merge two words to create a new one, a portmanteau. This trend is not without its uses – after all, who has time these days to say "digital literati", "romantic comedy" or even "chill" and "relax"' when the resulting conversational coalitions are so much, ahem, snappier? But might this trend also be an indicator of two activities forced into unhappy disharmony?

Take glamping. A mash-up of "glamorous"' and "camping", the word found fame in 2007 as a term for describing both the growing desire of middle-class parents to relive childhood memories while judiciously editing out the rubbish bits – lack of sleep, cold, rain, tinned soup, leaky tents, noisy neighbours and all-round general discomfort – and the Glastonbury sleeping arrangements of A-list celebs such as Sienna Miller and Kate Moss, who were probably (and perfectly understandably) unwilling to risk snapping their twiglety bones by lying on bumpy ground.

Hot on the heels of the new word, a slew of "'glamping" sites arose. Here, you could typically expect luxury waterproof tents, tepees and yurts with power points, beds, heaters, duvets and, crucially, prices to deter regular campers – thus ensuring commune with nature and the stars (possibly even the celebrity kind) in a community devoid of zip-off-trouser-clad twitchers eating curled-up ham sandwiches.

Retailers as disparate as Blacks, Marks & Spencer, Argos and Cath Kidston quickly launched glamping ranges and accessories. But when it came down to it, it turned out most people actually didn't want to glamp after all, because if you take away the lack of sleep and leaky tents etc and replace them with privacy, personal entertainment, wine coolers, canapés, nosy neighbours, soft furnishings, a manicured garden and all-round general comfort, what you end up with isn't glamorous camping at all, it's suburbia. And who wants to holiday in suburbia? That really is a mash-up too far.