If you haven’t tried this luxe take on camping, you’re missing out on a lot of fun. Here’s our guide to making the most out of your glamping experience.
All of you who love holidaying outdoors, please raise your hands. Almost everyone, right? Now, how many of you know how to pitch a tent, dig a cesspit, build a campfire, and cook on it? Very few, I’m sure. And even if all that is done for you, spending the night on the ground in a sleeping bag, sharing a public bath and loo, and eating basic meals isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. For those who are used to luxury homes and hotels, camping seems more of drudge and DIY rather than truly communing with nature. That’s where glamping comes to the rescue.
The name says it all. It’s the glam version of camping. The type of trip you can wear your Nicobar linen palazzos to. Where you can lounge with a glass of wine pondering the meaning of life, the universe, and everything as you gaze out over the most magnificent view. Where you can go on safari or a trek with quality naturalists and guides and the perfect packed picnic. Where cricketsong lulls you to sleep in your comfortable bed with 400 thread count Egyptian cotton.
Some of the first such glamping spaces, not surprisingly, came up in Rajasthan, a land where the royals arranged for richly appointed tents when they were on the hunt. Modern-day safaris are perhaps even better served. Like at the Oberoi Vanyavilas in Ranthambhore, which features triple-canopied,air-conditioned tents boasting a four-poster bed, luxe linens, and lavish en-suite facilities that include a full-size bathtub. Chaise lounges, spa treatments, languid meals by the lake, champagne sundowners, the works.
Or Sujan Sher Bagh’s dozen hand-stitched cotton tents with 1920s style safari-luxe décor, hand-crafted campaign furniture in rosewood and teak, and bespoke Halcyon Days accessories, which was one of the first members of Relais & Châteaux in India. Tigers make themselves visible throughout the place, be it in motif or successful safari stories told around the campfire.
And then there’s Aman-i-Khas, with10 very private luxury tents, each with its own butler, that take glamping to a whole other level. Bespoke dining experiences, a spectacular location that has its own lake and a spa-tent with services calculated to make you feel khas (special)!
Other parts of India have cottoned on to the trend since and there are glamping options galore. The Ultimate Travelling Camp (TUTC) has two glamping sites in Ladakh (the Chamba Camps at Thiksey and Dixit) and Kohima Camp in Nagaland, which is a popular choice for those attending the 10-day Hornbill Festival.
Staying here, you not only relax in individually designed luxury suite tents with en suite bathrooms, crisp linen and the services of your very own butler, get to savour the local rice beer and delicious recipes of the Naga Tribes, but also get a VIP pass to the Hornbill Festival, an annual melange of cultural displays from all 16 tribes of Nagaland, showcasing their rich heritage through performances, crafts, sports like archery and wrestling, food fairs, games, and religious ceremonies.
It’s not only about exotic experiences. Glamping can be about adventure as well. Like the military-themed D.A.T.A by Della Adventure and Resorts in Lonavala, which has been offering a luxury stay along with adventure activities since 2017. Natalia Jimmy Mistry, who heads Marketing at Della Resorts, says, “We have a wide range of amenities including the pool, spa, salon, a poolside Gurkha Lounge, a fine dine restaurant, a Presidential Suite and 26 luxury glamping tents. All training at D.A.T.A. is authentic, in that Della seeks the expertise of Special Forces veterans and experienced Army instructors, headed by ex-military officials.” When asked about the profile of travellers that opt for glamping, she responds, “For glamping, we broadly see people from across social groups like families, friends, couples, and corporate professionals, who like to enjoy the luxury of time and facilities amidst the jungle coupled with some adventure in military-style experiences. These are travellers who don’t mind spending extra for enjoying different experiences.”
GlampEco Manali goes a step further, with geodesic tents with bay windows offering panoramic views of the Hamta Valley. Off the beaten path though only 12 kms from Manali, they offer the luxury of road access right till their eco site, room heaters, en suite bathroom, a super comfortable mattress, the warmest blankets/duvets, high-speed WiFi access, electric kettles, etc.
When you’re done lounging on their comfortable beds, you can indulge in curated day hikes, bouldering, mountain biking, skiing, and snowboarding sessions, along with exploring some short trails, streams and nearby villages on your own. They promise gourmet meals that are also rooted in the region’s Himachali cuisine. For example, you can start your day with a nutritious oats chilla served with local chukh chutney, lingri (fiddlehead fern) pickle and masala chai. GlampEco is even promoting their domes and traditional mud huts as a ‘work from mountains’ option, so you can indulge in long-stay glamping if it takes your fancy.
Glamping creates magical moments. Be it stargazing together, or luxuriating in the midst of nowhere, it brings couples and families closer. Divya Malpe, who works in a finance team for a biotechnology company in Bengaluru, spent a weekend in the luxury tents at Kaav Safari Lodge in Kabini, Karnataka, with her husband earlier this year. She says, “We went to Kaav just to experience staying in a tent amidst the wild. It was a beautifully designed tent with an awesome bathtub inside. That and the tiny guests in the room were the best part of my holiday! The post-dinner tiny safari hunting for all kinds of spiders was also a very different experience. My respect for spiders has gone up since then.” She loved the food there too. “I even met the chef and got a couple of recipes and tried them at home later,” she recalls her memorable glamping experience.
5 top tips when you’re going glamping
- Call and make sure the tent you’re booking has all the luxury amenities that you want. Some places claim to be glamping resorts but that’s still an aspiration, not reality.
- You don’t need to stuff all your stuff into a backpack when you go glamping. The tents are spacious and give you ample space to unpack and stash your suitcases.
- Packing a torch and an umbrella might be practical. But a good glamp will arrange to have these in your tent anyway.
- Double check that the glamping resort allows full access to your vehicle or can arrange a proper pick up for you, so that you don’t have to drag your LV luggage that last mile.
- Remember that glamping is still camping, although glamorous. So, respect the environment and the locals. Don’t play that loud music or chuck things into the shrubbery.