If you’re looking for an adventure in the UK that’s a little out of the ordinary, then glamping in the New Forest could be the perfect choice for you.
There’s a lot more to YHA hostels than dorm rooms, and when I was invited to stay at YHA New Forest to try out their Airstream glamping trailer I couldn’t wait to see what the New Forest National Park has to offer.
Why choose YHA New Forest for glamping?
YHA New Forest is just outside Burley in the heart of the New Forest National Park. The hostel is a 15-minute walk from the village, down a quiet lane away from the hustle and bustle. It is a lovely place to get away from it all, yet close enough to all of the things to do in the New Forest that you can get out and about and enjoy the National Park easily.
As well as dorm rooms, YHA New Forest has a variety of glamping accommodation in its spacious garden. For your New Forest glamping experience you can choose from camping pods, eco-friendly Landpods, bell tents, and my personal favourite, a vintage Airstream trailer.
If you’re concerned about the risks of staying away from home, YHA has brought in various new procedures to keep staff and guests safe. Most of the indoor shared facilities are still closed, such as the communal kitchen and shared dorms, although you can book a dorm for private use.
Other measures introduced include social distancing, enhanced cleaning, hand sanitiser stations, contactless payments and protective screens at reception, as well as everyone wearing masks inside the hostel reception (unless exempt).
It’s been a while since I stayed anywhere apart from at home or in my campervan, and I felt a bit nervous when I arrived, but all of the staff took great care of me and put me at ease straight away.
It’s also good to know that All YHA hostels have the “We’re Good to Go” certification, an industry standard for tourism businesses introduced by Visit Britain to show that the hostels are adhering to the relevant Government and public health guidance, have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment, and have the required processes in place.
To give you even more reassurance, YHA’s COVID guarantee means that that should you have to cancel your booking due to UK government restrictions related to COVID (including travel bans or enforced self-isolation) you can choose to move your booking to a different date, a different hostel, or request a full refund, so you can relax knowing that COVID won’t ruin your travel plans here.
The Vintage Airstream
If you’re a fan of retro chic, or just love to try something different, YHA New Forest’s Airstream ticks all the boxes. It’s an authentic vintage Airstream, refurbished and furnished to modern standards, while still maintaining as many of the original features as possible.
The comfy double bed is perfect for a couple or a solo traveller, and you can bring up to two dogs to stay with you so your pooch can enjoy a stylish glamping weekend with you!
All the bedding is provided, including a cosy duvet, and as well as the double bed there is a seating area, wardrobe, chest of drawers and under-bed storage.
You’ll also get a mirror, an electric fan, fan heater, and dehumidifier, well as plenty of plug sockets and USB chargers to keep your phone and other devices fully charged.
As for décor, most of the Airstream is simply done in white with wood finish panel flooring, except for the light-up sign which says “good vibes only” and the original set of dials and switches that were used to measure the pressure, water levels and so on. Little touches like this remind you that this trailer is a piece of history!
Outside, the Airstream’s silver exterior gleams in the sunshine, showing the reflection of the trees and garden. There are two chairs and a table to use for outdoor dining and relaxing, as well as a picnic bench and a fire pit for an evening campfire or barbecue.
I highly recommend having a campfire while you’re here – just don’t forget to bring marshmallows for toasting to complete the glamping experience!
Behind the trailer, you’ll find the toilet “Lav Shack” and the “Shower Shack” exclusively for Airstream guests. You can also use the glamping facilities like outdoor sinks for washing up and extra showers and bathrooms if you need them.
Food and drink while glamping
As well as the shared kitchen (which will hopefully open again soon), YHA New Forest offers some food options that you can buy, including freshly made pizzas in the evening and breakfast baps in the morning to set you up for the day!
For making your own food there are fire pits available for each glamping pod, bell tent, and the Airstream trailer, so you can cook up a barbecue in the evening. You can also bring your own camping stove to cook your meals while glamping, although you will need to bring a cool box to keep food cool or buy fresh food to cook each day.
There are also plenty of places near to YHA New Forest where you can go to eat or buy food to bring back. Next door to the hostel is a fabulous gastropub The White Buck which has a full menu to choose from, and it’s less than 15 minutes walk into the village of Burley which has more shops, cafes and pubs to enjoy such as the Cider Pantry and the Burley Fudge Shop to satisfy any sweet tooth!
Five reasons to go glamping in the New Forest
If you’re not convinced yet, here are some more reasons why the New Forest should be your next glamping getaway:
You can’t talk about the New Forest and not mention the ponies! New Forest ponies wander freely across the National Park, along with other livestock including donkeys, cows and sheep. Although the ponies aren’t wild, don’t be tempted to approach them. Admire them from a distance and don’t feed them, and keep your dog under close control.
Excellent wildlife watching
The New Forest is home to a variety of wild animals, and it is a particularly good place to spot deer. There are 5 types of deer that live in the New Forest and if you don’t spot any wild ones roaming around then a trip to the Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary can almost guarantee that you see some Fallow Deer.
A wide range of activities
If you enjoy an active holiday, then the New Forest has it all. From hiking and walking through woodland to biking the many cycling routes across the National Park, the New Forest is the perfect place to enjoy the outdoors. There is a range of trails to suit all abilities, and as the New Forest is quite flat even beginners can walk or cycle through the forest easily. Bike Hire is available at the main villages in the New Forest, including Forest Leisure Cycling in Burley who can also supply helmets and everything you need for a safe ride.
Horse riding is another popular activity here, and there are several stables offering horse rides and forest hacks. If you prefer to see the New Forest from the water, how about kayaking on the Beaulieu River?
The New Forest stretches to the coast and has several beaches and beach towns to visit. Popular beaches include Lepe and Milford on Sea, and right along the coast, you can see across the Solent to the Isle of Wight (which you could visit on a day trip from the New Forest). Lymington is the main port in the New Forest and has an excellent Saturday market with stalls selling everything from food and plants to bric-a-brac.
History lovers will also enjoy a visit to the New Forest. Since its founding by William the Conqueror, the New Forest has been an important part of British history. You can visit the stone commemorating the death of King Rufus, William the Conqueror’s son, who was killed in a hunting accident (at least it is believed it was an accident!).
The New Forest Heritage Centre in Lyndhurst has exhibits on the history of the New Forest, including the origin of commoners rights which allow free-grazing of stock, through to the Second World War and the modern-day. The Beaulieu Motor Museum is a must for car enthusiasts, and the ticket also allows entry to Palace House (a Victorian country house which is the home of the Estate owners, Lord and Lady Montagu) and the ruins of Beaulieu Abbey.
If that’s not enough, The Maritime Museum in Buckler’s Hard tells the story of this once thriving shipbuilding village, where ships for Nelson’s fleet at Trafalgar were built.
That’s just a taster of what the New Forest has to offer, so I hope I’ve convinced you to give glamping a go in the New Forest!
When you do visit, please don’t forget to follow The New Forest Code at all times. This area is a fragile ecosystem and is carefully managed, so do your bit to protect and preserve it:
- Keep your distance from animals – don’t feed or touch them
- Keep dogs under control – don’t let dogs’ approach or chase any animals
- Stick to permitted cycle tracks
- Take home any litter & dog waste
- Park only in official car parks
- Drive with care
- No fires or barbecues
- No wild camping
- Help wildlife by keeping to the main tracks
Image credit: Claire Sturzaker from Tales of a Backpacker