It’s not that hard to guess that the term ‘glamping‘ was born by merging the words ‘glam’ and ‘camping’.
Imagining what it’s really like might take more effort, especially if you’ve never ventured outside of classic travel accommodation — the typical well-lit, air-conditioned room in a luxe resort or old faithful family-run B&B that many of us are loath to leave behind.
If you’re keen to discover a whole new way of spending your holidays that is way more fun than any hotel stay, then dipping a toe into the sea of the unknown is definitely worth it. And what’s so cool about it? It comes without any loss of the comfort you’re accustomed to!
A cluster of dreamy tree houses, canvas lodges, vintage Airstreams, log cabins, gypsy wagons, caravans and shepherd’s huts, pods, yurts and teepees, campers and vans of all sorts, packed with all the facilities a picky traveller may demand — all of these make up modern day camping, aka glamping.
You might have heard of luxury Bedouin tents in the middle of the great sands of Arabic Emirates with dinners lavish enough to please a sultan, served around a campfire under the stars, with transport performed by well-groomed camels. Or you may have done a 3-night trip in a posh houseboat cruising the delta of Mekong River in Vietnam or the scenic backwaters of Kerala, being served exotic meals and icy cocktails by staff in crisp uniform. Or stayed in the very middle of the natural reserve somewhere in the heart of Africa, anxiously listening to unknown wild (and probably starving) animals roaring in the night, feeling not quite brave enough to enjoy that outdoor jacuzzi.
That’s how the idea of glamping took off years ago. Now it’s well-spread around the world; unusual yet elegant and comfortable accommodations can be found in Italy, South France, England, Canada, California, New Zealand, Jamaica — just check www.glamping.com for a boost of inspiration and wanderlust. Now it’s time for Bali to join the hype — here comes the new Sandat Glamping set in the middle of serene rice fields in the outskirts of Ubud.
Just imagine a pretty boutique hotel room decorated with the finest textiles and interior details, all in sophisticated shades of light grey and cream, with a white-washed wooden floor, flirty round bed below a gravity-defying veil of mosquito net, ensuite bathroom with a sink made of precious petrified wood and fluffy soft towels.
The only thing that’s missing is…walls. Well, there are some, technically — but made from extra-strong tent material with mesh ‘windows’ instead of bricks, concrete and glass. It gives you a whole different feeling straight away — the set up might be posh, but it’s still a tent in the heart of a tropical jungle after all!
Hear me roar
When I was growing up and trekking through the forests, with nights spent in a sleeping bag under the sky full of stars and mosquitoes the most popular romantic activity, we did not even dare to dream of tents equipped with plunge pools and private butlers on stand-by.
The modern day camping could please Paris Hilton, as it’s basically a 5-star hotel with a (very cool) twist. A hotel good enough for an eco-warrior, as this sort of accommodation is normally as green as a cucumber, with a non-invasive building concept, grey water-recycling, organic produce supply and reduced energy consumption.
It’s easy to assure you that at Sandat you will spend 99% of your time just staying in. There is no TV, but it’s not an issue: staring in wonder at the woods full of discreet life, then having a nap against the soundtrack of whispering palm trees, followed by a naked dip, is entertainment enough. And if for some reason you are not fond of the tent idea, you can always stay in one of 3 lumbung huts — traditional Indo houses with alang-alang roofs and balconies overlooking the lush green surroundings.
That 1% of time that you’ll spend out of your private area won’t be disappointing: the ‘living room’ of the resort, a spectacular construction of massive bamboo poles, no walls in sight, is tastefully decorated with mirrors, carpets and quirky objects by the Italian owner. The breakfast is served here, too: a free flow of organic wholesome treats. Yes, you can have a handful of cookies for brekkie — if they are a ‘guilt-free’ type coming from Bali Buda.
And if you decide to go out — despite the paralysing serenity of the glamping site — it will take you just a 10-minute scenic drive through the rice paddies to reach the very centre of Ubud.
Stroll along Jalan Hanuman and sneak into every tiny shop searching for treasures, get high off the finest caffeine at Seniman boutique roastery, join all the enlightened folks for lunch at Alchemy, have a healing session at Taksu (click here for more tips on Ubud) and escape back to your private sanctuary. Shake all your clothes off and enjoy your tent life like nobody’s watching. Because they don’t.
How to make sure glamping is your thing?
- Are you a control-freak? If so, you might find it uncomfortable to spend a night in something less fortified than a proper hotel room with automatic door lock, security cameras and massive walls.
- Do you really love nature? We’re not just talking cute kittens and dolphin-watching from a good distance , but mosquitos and other annoying insects (flying ants, for instance) can be quite a problem at certain times of the year. Will you be happy to contend with a bat that has become desperately stuck in your mosquito net? A fat spotty frog in your romantic open-air bathroom? A monkey snatching your underwear you were drying on the balcony? If reading this terrifies you, rethink the glamping idea.
- Are you a sensitive sleeper? Nights in the forest/by the river/in the mountains can be unexpectedly loud when you are not hiding in an air-conditioned room. Cicadas, frogs and other night creatures can give you a sleepless night. Add on those unknown beasts whistling and snorting in the dark.
- Does your perfect holiday have to involve a fashion marathon? Because don’t let that ‘glam’ prefix fool you, there will not be many occasions to sport edgy outfits while glamping. You will only need comfy basic clothes and shoes. Speaking of Bali in particular, pack your favourite breezy cotton caftans, linen slacks, flats and light sneakers for those sunset walks through the rice fields. Some cosy throws might be useful too, as some nights and rainy mornings are chilly. And leave your heels and make-up bag at home. You came for another reason.