A Beginner’s guide to…Glamping

Take the tube to Home Farm in Herts and still be back in London in time for work the next day

So what exactly is it? Like brunch, another great portmanteau word of our times – a cross between camping and, um, glamorous.

And where’s the site in question? It’s billed as the nearest glamping site to London, but don’t let that put you off. Home Farm is about as rural as it gets, so banish all thoughts of pitching up in a grotty car park now.

How do you get there? Hop on the tube or overground to one of two northernmost stations – Stanmore (Jubilee Line) or Elstree & Borehamwood (Thameslink). The latter is nearest to the site (about one and a half miles) and extremely handy if you live in north London; for us, it was a super-swift 18-minute hop from Kentish Town.

Blissful: just a dozen tents. Photo: Stephen Emms

And at the station should I walk or Uber? We would always advise walking, but if you arrive by tube you may prefer to get a cab as it’s three miles. From Elstree my ancient Jack Russell and I enjoyed our half hour ramble to the campsite: after an initially busy road we followed a country footpath, past sprawling hillside cemetery and fields of ponies, and then the remains of historic Elstree village itself. You can also take a detour around the scenic Aldenham Reservoir, with its boatsheds by the water and towering trees, or stop for a pint at waterside boozer The Fishery.

So: the tents. Yes, we’re getting to that. The farm is accessed via a very rustic winding road, leading to the main site. Nine smaller bell tents and three grander yurts all loosely circle a vast 150-year old oak tree. Paths are mown into the field, making it feel magical, the long grass gently swaying in the breeze as you wander.

Spacious: inside a yurt. Photo: PR

What tent should I choose? Both are luxe, of course: proper double beds, posh BBQs and outdoor furniture. Our pricier yurt had a spacious wooden deck with a very decent room inside with sofa and sofabed: it can sleep up to five for the price (which, from £100 a night, makes it pretty reasonable).

And there’s real peace and quiet? Yup, the tents are carefully spaced out to ensure maximum privacy: as we nursed a crepuscular glass of red on the deck, gazing at a distant church spire, the smell of hay in the air, there was barely a sound. You might even find yourself watching a lone magpie dive from one tent pole to another.

Did you sleep well? Not bad, at least for camping anyway. It was snug under the thick duvet, but not too hot; only our older dog needing the loo in the middle of the night woke us up abruptly. Oh, and an hour or so later, the dawn chorus; but that was joyous. By 7am, a flock of birds was having a scrap on the roof, but you can forgive anything stepping out of the tent into a bright sunny morning.

The communal Thursday supper club. Photo: SE

I’m hungry now. Where can I eat? There are a number of options, from the bespoke BBQs to a useful barn with kitchen, fridges and useful crockery and cutlery. If you don’t want to bring your own meat, it can be delivered by Turner & George, an independent butcher based in Clerkenwell (owner Richard H Turner is executive chef of Hawksmoor).

And if I’m feeling lazy? An on-site cafe serves simple food, but it needs to be pre-ordered upfront: we sampled an impressive cooked breakfast served on proper crockery, with vintage cutlery, cute copper pans – and deeply meaty sausages and bacon. Stay on a Thursday night and there’s a weekly supper club under the oak tree, whose thick branches providing admirable cover should it drizzle. The food is all cooked alfresco, with fire pits adding warmth and colour, and everyone sits at a long table, to be sociable (or not) as you wish.

Was the food much cop? It was pleasingly hearty: we enjoyed sharing starters of pitta bread and hummus before warming Thai curry (chicken or vegetarian options) with a whole host of extras, from coriander to bean sprouts and crushed nuts. A highlight was the chewy chocolate brownie for dessert. And for guests it’s only a tenner for three courses; BYO wine makes it even better value, too.

An array of herbs, toppings and spices to add to the curry. Photo: SE

What else is there to do? Try the croquet lawn and ping pong tables, or signposted walks around the lake and woodland. Other activities include yoga, hula hooping lessons, wine tasting and survival and bushcraft sessions (yes, really). Aldenham Country Park is across the way, with more touristy options like Harry Potter World, Go Ape Trent Park and Elstree Aerodrome a bit further afield.

How much is all this? Home Farm is open between April and October, with mid-week availability over the school summer holidays: prices are from £80 per night for a bell tent which sleeps two people, while yurts (which sleep up to five) are from £100.

Oh, and the toilets? Relax, they’re spotless, with very powerful enough showers and lots of cubicles. This is, after all, glamping, right?

This article was written before Covid-19 so social distancing restrictions and procedures are all now in place. THome Farm, ldenham Rd, Elstree, Borehamwood WD6 3AZ. o book or for more info on prices head to Home Farm Glamping here.

Main image: PR

Weekendr stayed as guests of Home Farm. If you would like your business to be considered for our Beginner’s Guide or Stay Here section please email info@londonbelongstome.com

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