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Glamping is a portmanteau of "glamorous" and "camping", and describes a style of camping with amenities and, in some cases, resort-style services not usually associated with "traditional" camping. Glamping has become particularly popular with 21st-century tourists seeking the luxuries of hotel accommodation alongside "the escapism and adventure recreation of camping".
The word "glamping" first appeared in the United Kingdom in 2005 and was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2016. The word is new, but the concept that "glamping" connotes, that of luxurious tent-living (or living in other camping accommodations), is not. In the 16th century, the Scottish Earl of Atholl prepared a lavish experience in the Highlands for the visiting King James V and his mother. Here, the Duke pitched lavish tents and filled them with all the provisions of his own home palace.
Probably the most extravagant example of palatial tent-living in history was the Field of the Cloth of Gold, a diplomatic summit in 1520, between Henry VIII of England and Francis I of France in northern France. Some 2,800 tents and marquees were erected, and fountains ran with red wine.
At around the same time, the Ottomans had ostentatious, palatial tents transported from one military mission to the next. Entire teams of artisans travelled with the army to erect and maintain these imperial tents. As described by Professor Nurhan Atasoy,
The exquisite ornamentation both inside and out of the tents used by the Ottoman sultans made them imposing dwellings fit for a ruler. On ceremonial occasions tents served to create a splendid theatrical setting, as we see vividly portrayed in miniature paintings depicting banquets, audiences and celebrations which took place in the imperial tent complex over the centuries. The imperial tents were richly decorated as if they were pavilions, and often had designs resembling tiled panels, usually in floral patterns, either in appliés work using cloth of different colours, or embroidered in various stitches using silk and metal thread.
Some 400 years later, in the 1920s, an African safari became "the thing to do" among wealthy Americans and British. But wealthy travelers, even those in search of adventure, were not willing to sacrifice comfort or luxury. From electric generators, to folding baths, and cases of champagne, travelers were afforded every domestic luxury while on adventure.
Glamping is the modern equivalent, combining both yesterday's amenities and today's technology. Also called "boutique camping", "comfy camping", "luxury camping", or "posh camping", today's glamping features such structures as bell tents, pods, safari tents, tent cabins, tree houses, tipis, vintage caravans, vintage trailers, and yurts. Glampsites range in price from as little as £50 per night to thousands of pounds per night, depending on amenities, which can include fresh bed linens, en suite washrooms, food service, and private verandas.
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Modern glamping sites generally fall into five distinct categories:
- Dedicated glamping sites
- "B & B" style offerings, where the proprietor leases one or two units on their property to provide additional income
- Diversified campsites, family owned sites which also provide glamping
- Franchises, where the proprietor owns and buys into one of the existing brands
- Large corporate holiday parks that also provide glamping
As it has grown, the market for glamping in the United Kingdom has become increasingly competitive. In 2016, the The Automobile Association (AA) established a formal ratings standard for glamping sites across the UK. Sites are now generally expected to provide a certain level of comfort for their guests, including electricity (which can be provided both on- and off-grid), shower and flushing toilet facilities, 24/7 warden service, and other hospitality-industry staples in order to receive a good rating.
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- Criddle, Cristina (2016-07-06). "Glamping, power couple and tl;dr among words added to Oxford English Dictionary". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2017-09-14.
- Lindsey, Robert. Sixteenth Century Glamping, The Atholl Hunt (PDF).
- Edward Hall's Chronicle
- Atasoy, Professor Nurhan. "The Ottoman Tents". turkishculture.org. Turkish Cultural Foundation.
- Bull, Bartle (1992). Safari: A Chronicle of Adventure.
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