10 Things I learned glamping at Camp Bestival

Well we survived.  We are out the other side of our glamping experience at Camp Bestival.  I thought I should share the 10 things I learned glamping there.

Ten Tips for Glamping

Two nights and three days in a tent.  In a field.  With a queue for the loos and a queue for the showers.   We did it.  And even managed to do breakfast both mornings on a tiny one ring gas stove, and live to tell the tale.   So I thought I would share with you my tips for surviving but first of all I wanted to say a big thank you to Hotel Bell Tent for, well being there really.  If we hadn’t been able to book with them I am not sure I would have been brave enough to do a Festival without access to loos.  And plug sockets.   You will recall our 10 hour round trip to hire a camper van for Reading Festival (ten miles up the road) a few years ago for those very reasons.

We arrived at Camp Bestival mid afternoon on Friday having followed signs for the last ten miles (clear instructions that say not to follow sat navs as there are road closures).   And then wander down the hill to get our passes and wrist band for the “Boutique” camp site.   There are a number of tent companies in this area, some with tipis, some with cloud houses, even some Airstream caravans, but we decided to book with Hotel Bell Tent as they sounded fabulous.  They even have a “Reception Tent” and bell hops in purple t-shirts to help you carry your stuff from the car park and show you to your tent.

Hotel Bell Tent Reception

They also have a Pamper Tent and a lounge area.  Both have plug sockets which proved vital for those of addicted to our phones.   And for children awake at 5.30am who snuck off and watched things on ipads.   I would also like to take my hat off to the family who brought an electric kettle to boil that first cuppa of the day rather than waiting for their stove to do the job.  Genius.

Hotel Bell Tent Pamper Tent

Hotel Bell Tent Lounge

The tents themselves are huge.   They quite comfortably accommodate a family of four, though we had one to ourselves as the teens didn’t come with us.    This is ours at the end of our stay so please excuse the dirty floor, it was immaculate when we arrived.   How on earth they keep the outsides clean after using them at Festivals is beyond me.


But what did I learn whilst spending time in this tent?

  • Take a duvet to put on top of the air bed, so that you sleep on that, either in your sleeping bag or under your second duvet.   When the air temperature drops at night it means the air temperature in your air bed will also fall and it can mean you get cold, quickly.  Putting a duvet on top of the air bed will give you an extra layer of insulation and keep you warm.   (I can claim no credit for this, it is Mr B’s idea)
  • Take a blindfold.   Everyone talks about taking ear plugs (and in fact Hotel Bell Tent had a supply of them in Reception) but when the sun rises at 6am you might not want to be awake then.    It will also stop you seeing torches being shone into your tent as drunken revellers try and find their own tent at 2am
  • Take flip flops with you for the showers.   No matter how “posh” they are they WILL have bits of grass, mud and the soap suds from the occupant three showers before swilling around in the bottom of the shower tray.   Or worse.  I cannot tell you the conversations I had with one family (who shall remain nameless) about people peeing in showers.
  • Also take your wash bag stuff in a bag you can hang on the hooks in the shower, and if possible is waterproof.   The shelves get very wet and quite grimy so unless you want all that on the bottom of your bag, far better to hang it up
  • Hand sanitiser is a must.   It had run out at the compost loos on site in the Festival arena, and was in limited supply in the posh loos too.
  • Test your equipment before you go.   We took a camping stove.  In fact we took three.  One was a small solid fuel type thing that I had seen because I read that no naked flame stoves were allowed and this sounded perfect.  It needed four fuel blocks to boil a kettle.  So I bought 96.   And he first four set fire to the grass and did little else.    We also had some small propane canisters that we took along.  One with the cooking stove bit attached to the top of it.  But it was so tall it was unstable and we couldn’t use it.   En route Mr B had bought a small stove that attaches to propane cansisters.   But not with the attachments we had.    So we had a cool bag full of food and no way to cook it.   Thank heavens for the camping shop on site where I snapped up a camping stove kit for £18 which was superb.   But probably only £8 if we had tested everything before hand and bought it in Argos rather than on site.
  • Don’t stop en route to buy a second box of wine.   One is enough for two nights.   Your dreams of sitting outside the tent in the evening drinking a cool glass of Chardonnay will be shattered.   As you will be when you have spent all day on your feet in the sun.   Fuelled by Pimms and Strawberry Martinis.   When you eventually get back to your tent you will collapse into bed.   And then have to lug two wine boxes back up the hill to your car at the end of the weekend.
  • Take a book.   You WILL be awake early as you hear other people around you and you might not want to get out of bed at 6am.  Or if you do and decide to brave the showers and loos, and come back to your tent with coffee to nurse our hangovers will you will then sit on a folding chair and realise it is 7am and you can’t read your Kindle as the battery is dead and you don’t want to drain the precious battery life from your phone.
  • If you are lucky enough to have access to charging sockets, as we were, take a double adaptor.   That way your families four phones won’t take all the sockets.   You can double up and not feel quite so guilty.
  • Possibly the most important tip:  Take something to identify your tent as yours in the dark!  Believe me, they will all look the same when appear back there after a day out, and you will, undoubtedly try and get into somebody else’s unless you have a distinctive array of bunting hanging up.   I thought I was being really clever when I hung a glow stick on our front door.  Smug even.  And then when we got back at 1am on Saturday morning I realised I hadn’t activated it so it wasn’t glowing.

A further freebie tip would be to think about food before you go.  Relying on food stalls can be expensive, and taking tins can be a bit dull.   With some forethought and planning it is really easy to make delicious food even when camping.   Over on the Minimalist Meals blog there is a whole page of suggestions for things to make in one pot whilst camping

So there you have it.

Enjoy it!  Embrace the fact that your clothes will be crumpled.  Your hair won’t look as good as you would like it to be.  That you don’t need to do your usual full make up routine.   Remember that nobody cares.   They are all there for the same reason:  the Festival!   And if I can do it, believe me, anyone can.

PS we paid for our Hotel Bell Tent weekend.  This isn’t a review of them, we just loved the experience so much that decided to chat about them whilst sharing my tips for a happy camper.

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  • We loved our hotel bell tent stay, was lovely to see you there. We took one charger and just took it in turns to use it but was annoying at times seeing people charging iPads/kindles and two phones while others waited to use the sockets. Good to know about the solid fuel stoves as we considered buying one. Hope you will be back next year. We certainly hope to be x

  • Great tips. Would love to stay in a Hotel Bell Tent, but think they are quite a bit out of our price range. We bottled it with the showers and drove the 25 minutes trip home to have one. It felt AMAZING.

  • We are very tempted to pay for posh camping next year, just so much less hassle and we are totes lazy campers! Like My Two Mums, we are only up the road and we too nipped home – cheats!! X

  • Test all your equipment before you go?
    Steady on!! This is a family channel!

    Very posh, though – fancy having potted plants outside your entrance. Was that extra?

  • Ah, the loveliness of Boutique Camping! We were in a Blue Bell Tent this year and it was our first time in Boutique. In previous Camp Bestivals we stayed in Camping Plus and in a campervan… this year was by far the best experience!
    Was great to see you for the bloggers meet up and pose in our moustaches! Hope to see you there next year!!

  • Wow that looks fab. I have never camped with the kids as hubby refuses, but this looks like something I might be able to persuade him with. x

  • Glad you enjoyed your glamping experience. We have a bell tent of our own which I make very comfy so we kind of self glamp lol. No plug sockets and bell hops though, which sounds v,cool indeed.

  • Such great tips! I’ve loved reading all the Camp Bestival posts and seeing it all over Twitter at the weekend. Great tips, I’d love to go one day x

  • Great tips! Out of interest – DO those blow up mattresses stay inflated? Thinking about Bell Tents for extra accommodation for bigger families, or bigger group bookings at the yurts – and the blow up beds look a good option – but not if they are half flat by morning!?

    • They certainly do! They were pretty sturdy (there are clearly cheaper versions available) and we had no problems at all (and I am not a small person 🙂 )

  • Love the glow stick. My daughter was given one in summer a few years ago and I put it somewhere safe to use it during winter. Two bonfire nights have gone and I haven’t been able to find it. Maybe I’ll find it this year and maybe it will still work.

    Many years ago (before children) I bought my husband some glow keyrings for him to use on guy ropes when he went ice climbing. I have one on my keys now so I can find them in my handbag and they are still glowing. Maybe you should look for something similar next year, although they are smaller than a glow stick.

  • Now THAT’S how to go camping! Sounds like much more my thing! Glad you had a good time, sorry we missed you x

  • Fab article – thank you for that. I’ve booked a Yurk for our first ever family Camping and Camp Bestival , I’ve literally brought everything you recommend but can you describe in more detail the stove you brought onsite – I’m confused about the no naked flame rule too.
    Really appreciate it x

    • You will have the most amazing time! The stove was one that uses Calor Gas (they even sell the little bottles of gas). Basically the no naked flame is that you can’t have a fire, or a barbecue with coals as the flames can spread to the ground and cause a fire on the grass that could have devastating results. But if you cook on calor gas then you will be fine

  • Thanks for this review, for some reason it’s near impossible to find any reviews/pics of the things I want to know about!. Mainly the shower situation, I’m really dreading the idea of a dirty shower cubicle. Can u remember if there was enough room in the cubicles to take your clothes /towels in without them getting wet? Or is it literally just a shower cubicle and you have to walk back to the tent dripping wet? Xx

    • To me the showers and loos are THE most important thing about a festival!!

      I can’t comment on the general camping as we were in boutique but there was enough space to take your clothes and hang them on a hook (I took a plastic bag to put them in as you wont be able to hang multiple things). The floor though is still going to be damp on that bit so you wont want to put anhything down and if you are putting on socks you will have to do some serious balancing on one foot!

      • Thanks 🙂 Im in hotel bell tent at Silverstone this year and its really difficult to find reviews / pics / info on the things us ladies want to know about, your review is the only one I found with any real info in it!! Im planning to take plenty of pics when I go too. Looks like we have power points in our tent for charging phones which is a bonus, but I’ll probably have to dry / straighten my hair at the pamper stations as I don’t want to blow the fuse 🙂