Fancy visiting the super trendy West Wight? Enter Glamping the Wight Way. These beautifully-appointed safari tents are some of the dreamiest little gems the Island has to offer.
The perfect mixture of understated luxe while also surrounding yourself with nature, glamping has fast become the new way to spend your leisure time. And the Isle of Wight is certainly prime glamping territory with gorgeous beaches, amazing countryside and lots of quirky little spots to discover on your travels.
Glamping The Wight Way, located just by the kitschy little town of Freshwater, is not only amusingly named but a really accurate representation of how the Island just gets it right.
Now in its third season, with two brand new tents for this year, the site has four tents across its two meadows, all overlooking the rolling countryside and the Western Yar river.
It’s total peaceful seclusion without being too far from the beaten track (there’s a bus stop just 400 metres from the site if you’re on foot).
The site is owned by Sarah and Alf Hamilton, originally mainlanders, who escaped to the Island nine years ago and haven’t looked back since. Sarah and Alf met us on arrival to hand us the keys and it felt as if we were being welcomed by old friends. Every little detail imaginable had been thought of and if we had any problems we could give them a call. The site itself is super secure as well with a passcoded gate and the tents all have secure locks on the doors.
When we arrived I was in absolute awe of the Safari Tents. Strikingly-beautiful and utterly huge. There were often times I was absolutely certain that we were in a cabin rather than a tent until I caught sight of the zip flaps towards the back of the structure. The location is very quiet and while the other tents were all occupied, we didn’t see another soul during our visit (though I did get divebombed by an owl at one point, true story!)
The interior of the tents are all hand-carved by an Island craftsman, with 90% of the wood coming from the Island itself. Even the beds and locks on the bathrooms (yep, there’s two!) are carved and you can really tell the care and attention that has gone into the little details.
Each tent has a raised wooden deck (with an amazing swing that fit our entire family of four on it), a large living area with super comfy leather sofa (that doubles up as an additional bed), canteen-style dining table and open-plan kitchen.
Both bathrooms had flushing toilets (hoorah!), sinks and the larger bathroom holds a gorgeous roll-top bath, complete with a wooden wine holder (ok, it’s a bath caddy but its meant for wine, right?) The hot water is powered by a log burner (and you’re provided with firelighters and wood for your stay) which was super simple to use and clear instructions are left as well.
Through the main bedroom and the bathroom you can exit through the back-flap (oooh errr!) into a little decked outside area with an outdoor shower which, during the sweaty July day we visited, was total bliss.
The three bedrooms are all equally impressive with two double rooms with king-sized beds (these can be detached to make twins) and one with adult-sized bunk-beds.
The beds were insanely comfortable, with oodles of extra blankets, pillows, throws etc to keep you warm in the cooler months. I can hand on heart say that it was one of the best night’s sleep I’ve had in years. A mixture of fresh air and a comfortable bed (and maybe half a bottle of bubbles…)
While we visited as a family of four, the tents can hold up eight guests very comfortably, with plenty of space for everybody to relax.
SCOFF & QUAFF
The kitchen comes fully stocked with a gas hob, wood-burning stove, sink, every utensil imaginable, some basic cooking essentials, as well as tea, coffee and hot chocolate. There’s also a gas-powered fridge with an icebox with fresh milk from a local dairy and a nice bottle of complimentary pink fizz.
If you fancy making like a cowboy and cooking under the stars, there are some handy books on campfire cooking too. And, while there’s not a shop immediately within the vicinity, there are lots of farm shops dotted across the Island, fit to bursting with excellent produce from across the Wight as well as a large Co-Op nearby and a small Sainsbury’s in nearby Freshwater.
Alternatively, if you don’t feel like cooking, The Red Lion is a 5-minute stroll down the road and serves up excellent traditional pub food (and a rather stonking Sunday lunch as well).
Absolutely! I took my 4-year-old and 2-year-old and they LOVED it. There was plenty of outdoor space for them to run themselves senseless, the two wood burners have fireguards so no curious fingers will get burned and although the steps up to the deck are quite steep, there’s a handy wooden rail that can be attached to stop them wandering around in the night. The bathrooms also came with loo seats and steps for littlies and you can request a cot/highchair etc when you book as well.
For the older kids, there are lots of board games and even a rounders set to play with so you can prise them off their phones. However, if the call of the iPhone and SnapChat is too strong for the teens there are USB solar chargers (tucked away, thankfully) and there’s an excellent mobile signal as well. It’s easy to do a digital-detox here, but pick your battles and all that.
OUT & ABOUT
Despite being all leafy and rural, there’s plenty to do nearby for old and young. Just a five-minute drive away is Tapnell Farm, perfect for those with small children (and The Cow Co. restaurant is particularly excellent and very family-friendly). There’s also some outdoor pursuits here like clay pigeon shooting and mountain boarding.
For a spot of culture, The Dimbola Museum and Galleries is worth a visit, with excellent retrospectives (there was a David Bowie one when we visited) or the Farringford Estate, once home to Lord Tennyson, has grand gardens and lots of historic interest.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: A big family weekend away with all generations, or a trip away with good friends. There’s lots of space, plenty of privacy and a great chance to escape the real world. Also if you’ve ever been curious about glamping but concerned about how much nature you’ll have to endure this is the perfect balance between outdoors and not having to give up too many luxuries.
Not for: Those with limited mobility. While you can bring your car up to a layby to unpack and then take it to the carpark, you’ll still need to navigate up a slight hill and the steps to the tents are quite steep as well. Word of warning if you’re a vegan, there’s sheepskin throws and an antler chandelier in the tents.
The Damage: Not too expensive, but not cheap either. Prices vary depending on the time of year (the site is open from the end of March to end of October). For a 2 night stay on a weekend, not during the school holidays, you’ll be spending around £575. For 7 nights, during peak season, it’s around £1,450. However, when you factor in the size of your group, discounted ferry travel (15% off Red Funnel and Wightlink) and take into consideration the cost of other accommodation on the Island at this time of year, it works out extremely reasonable and well worth the spend. It’s also worth noting that each booking also needs a £200 refundable deposit when booking.
Glamping The Wight Way, off, Copse Ln, Freshwater PO40 9DE. Tel: 07585 956141