Glamping is a portmanteau of glamorous and camping and describes a style of camping with amenities and, in some cases, resort-style services not usually associated with “traditional” camping. Glamping has become particularly popular with 21st-century tourists seeking the luxuries of hotel accommodation alongside “the escapism and adventure recreation of camping”.
Glamping at the music festival Zwarte Cross in the NetherlandsThe word “glamping” first appeared in the United Kingdom in 2005and was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2016. The word is new, but the concept that “glamping” connotes, that of luxurious tent-living, is not. In the 16th century, the Scottish Earl of Atholl prepared a lavish experience in the Highlands for the visiting King James V and his mother. Here, the Duke pitched lavish tents and filled them with all the provisions of his own home palace.
Probably the most extravagant example of palatial tent-living in history was the Field of the Cloth of Gold, a diplomatic summit in northern France in 1520 between Henry VIII of England and Francis I of France. Some 2,800 tents and marquees were erected, and fountains ran with red wine.
At around the same time, the Ottomans had ostentatious, palatial tents transported from one military mission to the next. Entire teams of artisans travelled with the army to erect and maintain these imperial tents. As described by Professor Nurhan Atasoy,
The exquisite ornamentation both inside and out of the tents used by the Ottoman sultans made them imposing dwellings fit for a ruler. On ceremonial occasions tents served to create a splendid theatrical setting, as we see vividly portrayed in miniature paintings depicting banquets, audiences and celebrations which took place in the imperial tent complex over the centuries. The imperial tents were richly decorated as if they were pavilions, and often had designs resembling tiled panels, usually in floral patterns, either in appliés work using cloth of different colours, or embroidered in various stitches using silk and metal thread.
Some 400 years later, in the 1920s, an African safari became “the thing to do” among wealthy British and Americans. But wealthy travellers, even those in search of adventure, were not willing to sacrifice comfort or luxury.
From electric generators, to folding baths, and cases of champagne, travelers were afforded every domestic luxury while on adventure.
Glamping is its modern equivalent, combining both yesterday’s amenities and today’s technology. Also called boutique camping, luxury camping, posh camping, or comfy camping, today’s glamping features such structures as yurts, tipis, pods, bell tents, vintage caravans, vintage trailers, safari tents, tent cabins, and tree houses. Glampsites range in price from as little as £50 per night to thousands of pounds per night, depending on amenities, which can include fresh bed linens, en suite washrooms, food service, and private verandas.