Katy Holland: Carry on glamping, or snap up a bargain at a British hotel

Are we there yet? Posh camping is great value and good fun for the kids
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The Independent Travel

Anyone who has been glamping, aka posh camping, will know it's great value, good fun for kids, and offers adults enough pampering to feel less cross about sleeping under damp canvas in a field.

But this craze could be partly to blame for the demise of the good old British provincial hotel. According to recent figures from analysts PriceWaterhouseCoopers, UK hotels have been closing at an alarming rate. PWC says 2009 saw a 12 per cent increase in bookings at campsites and holiday parks while hotel bookings suffered severely.

So what does all this mean for families in 2010? Well, UK hotels are doing enticing deals, particularly independent family hotels which have been among the worst hit. The 13th-century BridgeHouse Hotel in West Dorset (01308 862200; bridge-house.co.uk) has a kids-stay-free policy that includes school holidays and even lays on complimentary wellies, buckets and spades. Eastbourne's Big Sleep Hotel (01323 722676; thebigsleephotel.com) is also offering five nights for the price of three during July and August.

But glamping continues apace with more cool ideas such as the palatial safari tent at Woodland Yurting, West Sussex, with double beds, private compost loos and fireplace (goglamping.net). There are new wooden camping pods on offer at family sites at Eskdale in the Lake District and Bellingham in the Northumberland National Park (0845 130 7633; campingand caravanningclub.co.uk). And, competing with the traditional spa hotel, Featherdown Farm (01420 80804; featherdownfarm.co.uk) is even launching Field Spas with eco-friendly saunas and hot tubs at its sites in Hereford and Cornwall.

Even campsites are investing. Haven Holidays (haven.com) has just spent £40m on its British parks, including free football coaching and new accommodation. See, the recession isn't all doom and gloom.

k.holland@independent.co.uk

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