We’re just back from a sunshine-filled glamping weekend on the Isle of Wight, off the south coast of the UK. Park Resorts invited us to try out one of the new Safari tents at their Nodes Point campsite, on the north of the island near Ryde, just a short stroll away from St Helen’s Beach and Priory Bay.
Safari tents are increasingly popular, with a lot of different kinds springing up on campsites across Europe. My full review of Nodes Point is here, but I felt the tent itself warranted a separate post.
Most tents these days are spacious, but our Safari tent was big enough to house a double bedroom and a twin, both with dinky bedside cabinets (complete with fully functional lamps, to save groping around for torches in the middle of the night).
The bedrooms were separated by a canvas wall, which could have been rolled up if we all wanted to sleep in the same ‘room’. Our children don’t get to share a bedroom at home, so for them it was an adventure to be together – and we were sleeping just a few inches away, to make sure they didn’t monkey around too much.
The Nodes Point tents sleep six, with two people on the sofa – if it had been full, we may have felt a bit squished (and midnight dashes to the toilet block would have been trickier if the sofa bed had been extended). But, for the four of us, the size was more than enough.
Our tent had a wooden frame, which – combined with the old-school smell of the canvas – gave it a real outdoorsy feel. Stepping inside was a little like being transported back in time to a different era; these tents are modelled on ones that would have been found on the African plains, and they are very different from the traditional canvas tents I used to sleep in with the Girl Guides. The high ceilings and memory foam matteresses meant that sleeping in our Nodes Point tent was a much more glamorous experience. On the second night, I couldn’t wait to climb into our deliciously comfortable bed (I suspect the sea air also had something to do with it).
The windows had three layers – a canvas flap to roll down at night, a mosquito net (which allowed breezes to flow through the tent) and a plastic sheet, which could be rolled up or down, and which let the sunshine stream in but stopped the heat escaping. We camped during a heatwave, but the evenings were still cool, so it was good to retreat to a space that was warmer than outdoors (and we were glad of the shelter when we woke up to drizzle on the final day).
The kitchen was illuminated by downlighters, which meant we could see better than if we’d been struggling to cook outdoors with a primus stove and a couple of torches.
The best feature of the Safari tent was the outdoor decking area, where we ate our breakfast and dinner each day. Having our own kitchen, and this private dining space, meant that cooking and eating weren’t a chore, as they can be on camping trips. And (once the kiddies had finally gone to sleep), it gave D and me a place to sit and enjoy a glass of wine, while the sun went down.
Park Resorts had furnished their Safari tents with some nice little features, which made the accommodation feel more sophisticated than standard campsite fodder.
However, when considering whether to opt for a Safari tent holiday, you might want to ask the following questions.
- Some Safari tents have toilet facilities, but most don’t. If not, where is the toilet and shower block in relation to your tent? Would you prefer to be close, or further away from the loos? And are they likely to be clean enough to match your glamorous Safari tent experience?
- Is your Safari tent secluded, or set in a cluster of other tents? Which would you prefer?
- The verandah is a bonus feature, but it could be chilly if it’s in the shade. Does yours get the sunshine, and at what time of day? Would you prefer a sunny breakfast, or evening meal?
- Remember: despite the glamour, it’s still a tent. Ours didn’t have heating, which was fine as it was such a hot weekend, but on a British Safari tent glamping holiday, you’re always up against the unreliability of the UK weather.
Disclosure: we were invited to spend a long weekend in a new Nodes Point Safari tent for the purpose of this review. All views are my own.
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