Ciara McDonnell’s pick of the best places to glamp


How to be a happy glamper

There’s no tent to pitch, no sleeping bag to unfurl, no stove to work out. Embrace the luxury side of camping, from Ardmore to Dromquinna, with Ciara McDonnell’s pick of the best places to glamp

How to be a happy glamper

There’s no tent to pitch, no sleeping bag to unfurl, no stove to work out. Embrace the luxury side of camping, from Ardmore to Dromquinna, with Ciara McDonnell’s pick of the best places to glamp

1. Ardmore Glamping Pods

Six years ago, when the recession had taken its toll, Bridget Collins returned to her childhood farm with her husband, Denis. The one time auctioneers had seen the success of open farms countrywide and saw the potential at Ardmore.

Today, the car park is full every weekend as visitors gravitate towards the mini zoo. Hours are spent observing the animals, and there’s a chance to hold bunnies, snakes, even tortoises. But it’s the simple additions that really make Ardmore Open Farm a treasure for kids — a wooden maze, a wide open pitch for practicing football skills. Here is a destination designed by people who know children and just what makes their little minds tick.

A year ago, in the adjoining field Bridget and Denis invested in six glamping pods. Another stroke of genius. Here is a taste of camping — without any of the hardship. (There’s even a toilet in each cabin.) It’s a little timber cocoon, an oasis of calm. Look out the window and there’s a view of the farm, its four legged inhabitants to one side, flashes of red and yellow wild flowers on another, and the sweeping vista of the sea.

The nearby Cliff House Hotel is the perfect companion piece, both havens of relaxation. The kids are secure too, the gate is locked — with swipes for security — with swings and slides and sand boxes to keep them entertained as they mingle with other young guests.

Rainy day? Not to worry, there’s always the mammoth soft play area just inside the farm entrance.

This is the real joy of the Ardmore — this is glamping with full entertainment for the kids, and the promise of time out as a result for the grown ups.

Cooking facilities are in the main lodge, along with a foosball table and TV. The town itself is three kilometres away, meaning a day at the beach is just a few minutes drive. A family holiday of a lifetime, it’s the ultimate destination for young kids. Minimum two night stay during summer peak season, €140 per night.

2 Portsalon Luxury Glamping

Portsalon in Donegal has five ultra gorgeous yurts with king sized beds, lovely cosy interiors and fabulous wood burning stoves. Each one has a sofa bed that can be converted into extra sleeping space that is ideal for families. Just outside your tent is a private deck with outdoor seating, fire pit and barbeque area, all overlooking the ocean and mountains. Portsalon town has a gorgeous blue flag beach and lots of places to stock up on food or grab a bite to eat.

A two night stay in a luxury yurt costs from €190.

3 Pink Apple Orchard

Completely family orientated, Pink Apple Orchard in Leitrim goes out of its way to make a family glamping stay with them memorable. There are tons of activities for the kids, from a giant sandpit to a craft corner stocked with crayons and chalk and paint. Families can borrow from the site’s huge range of board games and enjoy a game over a pizza cooked in the wood-burning stove. Accommodation is whimsical and fabulous — choose from a gypsy caravan, a yurt or a teepee — all are decked out with everything a family could need.

Pink Apple Orchard does family rates, so be sure to enquire. A two night stay in a yurt for a family of four starts from €225.

4. Old Forge

This fabulous site is set in the ground of a Georgian house and farm overlooking the Wicklow hills. The campsite has four yurts, which sleep up to four people in a double bed and two single beds and one log cabin sleeping up to five people in a double bed and three single beds. There are barbecue facilities, bathrooms and a kitchen available, and each yurt comes with an outdoor dining set, ideal for spending an evening checking out the farm’s animal residents.

A two night weekend stay at Old Forge starts at €320 for a yurt and €340 for a log cabin.

5. Killarney Glamping

Catering exclusively for couples, Killarney Glamping is one of Ireland’s only year-round Glampsites. Their glamping suites include beds with electric blankets and fabulous linen, a private bathroom, a gas stove and a private patio. Should you wish to cook, each suite has its own private sheltered kitchen kitted out with a gas hob, barbecue, tea and coffee making facilities and a coolbox. Killarney Glamping is what I imagine camping is like for the very rich and very famous – a camping experience, with zero effort.

Two nights in a Glamping Suite starts from €254, staying midweek.

6. Rock Farm

Proud to offer Gold-Certificate Ecotourism, Rock Farm in Slane offers accommodation in either a yurt or a shepherd hut. The site sits on a beautiful hillside overlooking Slane Castle, and is committed to protecting and enhancing the local environment by harvesting rainwater and processing wastewater to feed into a landscaped wetland. Le Shack is the centrepoint of the site; offering luxury gas powered showers, fancy toilets and great communal kitchen facilities. There are barbecue facilities, a clay oven, and a wood burning hot tub and private river access for those who fancy taking a wild dip. It’s fabulous.

A midweek stay in a yurt for two adults and two children costs from €187.

7. Finn Lough Domes

The Bubble Domes at Finn Lough in Fermanagh, above, are transparent rooms set deep into the forest.
The Bubble Domes at Finn Lough in Fermanagh, above, are transparent rooms set deep into the forest.

A true departure when it comes to glamping, the Bubble Domes at Finn Lough in Fermanagh are transparent rooms set deep into the forest, designed to allow their guest to fully immerse themselves in nature. Of course, this is not wild camping, so each dome includes a bespoke four poster bed, ensuite bathroom, Nespresso machine and fluffy bathrobe.

A midweek night in a bubble dome costs from £265 per couple including breakfast.

8. Ballyvolane Glamping

Determined to provide maximum relaxation, the glamping experience at Ballyvolane House in Cork is a fully-catered, fully serviced glamping experience and all meals, drinks and afternoon tea provided in the main house. On arrival, glampers are given a box, containing essentials like matches, water, local Crinnaughtaun apple juice, and a jar of homemade chocolate cookies, maps of the estate, a torch and headlamps. Choose to sleep in either a bell tent or pig ark wooden structure; all are decked out with raised timber beds and comfy mattresses stuffed with lamb’s wool. A fully heated washhouse is beside the glamping area, and furnished with mirrors; good lighting, clothes-hooks and, crucially, they have hair-dryers.

One night midweek stay in a bell tent costs from €160 for two people, including bed and breakfast.

9. Glendalough Glamping

Set on a 21 acre family run farm, Glendalough Glaming offers a chance to unplug and unwind for a few days.

Their eco friendly pods are made from wood from sustainable forests and furnished simply and to an extremely high standard. There is a laundry facility onsite, as well as excellent kitchen and shower facilities.

This site is aimed at families with children aged 12 and over and each pod sleeps two adults and two children. It is ideally placed for families who love the outdoors – there is direct access from the site to the Wicklow Way long distance walking route.

A midweek stay in a pod costs from €120 for two people sharing.

10. Dromquinna Manor

As one would expect from John Brennan of the Park Hotel Kenmare, Dromquinna Manor offers the last word in glamping luxury.

Not for them, a leaky tent or condensation on the walls.

Expect the highest quality linen, gorgeous furniture and a five star experience.

Each morning, a breakfast hamper is delivered to your tent door, stocked with tea, coffee and juice for the kids along with pastries and yogurt.

Onsite, you’ll find a playground, toilets, showers, kitchen, laundry, games room, reading room and shop – sure what more could you need? A family of four can camp in luxury at Dromquinna from €190 per night.

11 Chleire Haven

Beautiful Cape Clear is the location for Chleire Haven glamping, whose bell tents and yurts offer accommodation for a family of up to six, with beds and bedding provided for four, cooking facilities inside the Yurt, log burning stove, wooden floors and rugs.

All normal camping facilities are available, and phones and devices can be charged at reception. There are two pubs nearby, so you won’t be stuck if you want to eat out. But honestly, you’ll probably want to stay on this gorgeous site, barbecue your dinner and enjoy the fabulous scenery.

A family of four can stay in a yurt for €155 per night during the summer months.

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