First off, let me be clear: I love nature. I have a fabulous enchanted wood image from as my desktop wallpaper, and I’m even wearing butterfly earrings.
Some teeny things bug me about nature however… such as bugs. Well, them and the lack of roof and central heating and sturdy flooring, and possibility of sunburn/rain/wind chill (all in one day – this is Ireland after all).
I have friends who really love nature. Who enthuse about ‘sleeping under the stars’, ‘going into the wild’, ‘being one with the environment’. Now and again, I have to go on holiday with these friends. Usually, this means an increasingly heated conversation over tent poles versus spa pools, camp fires versus library bars, and star gazing versus star rating.
Glamping: the holy alliance of glamour, camping and pampering, has saved the [holi]day. These ingenious eco-dwellings offer the surround sound of nature with the luxury standard. It’s the newest and most exciting unusual accommodation option in Ireland.
There’s a glamp site for your every mood.
Got the kids? Go Native [American] with a tipi. Wanting to retreat to a comfy bed with a dash of star-gazing? Yurt alert. Want to experience nature by saving it? You’ll want a reclaimed gypsy caravan or eco-fantastic geodesic dome.
Ireland has them all, and all over too.
Which one will inspire your screensaver or summer holiday?
The Cape is Clear
To get lost in nature properly, you have to bid civilization farewell.
Taking the ferry trip from the rugged coast out to , Ireland’s southernmost inhabited island, will do the trick literally and metaphorically. The island is 3 by 1 miles wide, and it counts as a neighbour that bastion of lonely isolation; the and lighthouse.
So far, so ‘hello tranquility’. The next natural step, according to Chléire Haven, is the womb-like cocoon of one of their tipis or yurts.
Yurts are magical structures; originally from Mongolia, they’re portable, bent wood-framed dwellings with a circular wall made from lattice and covered in thick felt. Inside you’ll find a log stove, real beds, large scatter cushions and beanbags, for lying on while star-gazing through the circle in the centre of the roof. Guitar and dog-eared copy of War and Peace optional.
You’ll have to poke your nose out eventually, for the edge-of-the-word cliff-teetering, wind-swept views – the closest to the Lord of the Rings set you’ll get in this hemisphere.
Tea parties in Leitrim
I don’t know about you, but I’m going to walk up anywhere that calls itself Teapot Lane.
Lucky, then, that at the end of this lane are button-cute yurts; hand-crafted with king-size beds, wood-burning stoves, rugs and lanterns. Now that’s what I call a tent.
Oh yes, the nature part: five acres of woodland in the shadow of epic mountain. There’s a fairy fort in the garden, an organic farm on the doorstep, and sandy beaches a walk away.
They even do holistic treatments, including Swedish massage and reflexology.
Boutique-calling in Westmeath
Importing them from Mongolia means these guys are serious about yurts. Roomy but cosy, lantern-lit but eco-friendly. A special mention goes to the Shepherds Huts and their fine china granny-chic.
You bet they have the surroundings to back up their nature claim; there’s a walled garden, lake and boat house, even a crannog to smother you in mother-naturely love. It’s open year round, and has no aversion to a little festival now and again.
The sounds of Green Village Music and Arts Festival last year will shake the huts on September 29th, but before that Ireland’s only dedicated yoga festival, Flourish Fest, will be stretching its supple legs around the site for a weekend of yoga, meditation, wellness and therapies.
Striking Kerry Gold
“Welcome to something completely different” smugly oozes the website. You’d be smug too, boasting tents specially designed by safari tent experts in India that put the rolling r in luxury.
Dromquinna Manor in is the newest glamp on the block. Think of them as a hotel room with a soft roof (double skin roofs in fact, so you won’t even hear the rain). Each tent has a private veranda and deck, but you don’t actually have to get out of bed to take in the bay views.
For the stunning nature pitch, just look up ‘Kerry; Ring of’ in the dictionary. Or better yet, a Google Image search.
Tipi or not Teepee
Yes, it’s fun as an adult to reclaim camping by dressing up tents as hotel rooms and yurts as cosy cabins. But sooner or later, we’re going to have to give camping, and glamping, back to the grubby hands of youth.
Views are offered in the form of farming countryside, down to the and across to in the distance.
Storytelling around the campfire at night is essential.
Ireland’s weird and wonderful places to stay don’t stop there. From lighthouses to towers and castles, the Landmark Trust does brilliant unusual accommodation in Ireland.