Your Guide to Glamping

We’ve got your ultimate guide to glamorous camping whether you’re trying it at home or taking the show on the road.

Photo By: MONICA BENNETT ©2013

Photo By: Eric Hernandez ©2012 Eric Hernandez/LOOK Photography

Luxury Behind Tent Walls

Even though the term "glamping" scores a goose egg on Scrabble, the concept has been around since the 1900s when the aristocracy headed out on safari. Today, five-star resorts like the Four Seasons and the Paws Up Resort in Montana boast tents with real beds outfitted with fine linens, en suite bathrooms, personal chefs and even butlers. 

Not Camping, It's Glamping

The luxury tents at Colorado's Dunton Hot Springs make camping look easy. You can be one with nature by simply bringing the outside in and repurposing rustic items. To achieve this space, we consulted interior designer Paul Hecht who owns an Airstream and a vintage Scotty. He advised morphing tree trunks into side tables by sanding and smoothing off the rough edges.

"With the help of simple lighting kits, just about anything can be turned into a chic chandelier," he says. "I also love adding vintage finds like antique rugs usually found in more formal settings; placed in a primitive cabin, they evolve the space into a rustic, yet glamorous abode." This brass bed was found at a junk shop for $50. But don't skimp on quality sheets; being comfortable when you sleep is important to feeling glamorous.

Make Yourself at Home

"Camping is fun but glamping is better," says Kim Hanna who has been doling out glamping advice for years via her lifestyle site Camping for Foodies. Hanna reminds us not to forget why we came outside in the first place and recommends framing the landscape, not blocking it out.

Add mood lighting to your outdoor environment like these paper lanterns with mini LED lights, or try Mason jars with glass beads for a beautiful after-dark glow.

What won’t Hanna leave home without? "That’s easy," she says. "No drink station is complete without a muddler and cocktail shaker."

Or if you’re a beer lover, why not try Pat's Backcountry Beer. Mix one tiny gel packet with fizzy water and you’ve got a tasty brew sans glass or cans.

Everything and the Kitchen Sink

"Glamping is to experience the splendor of the great outdoors with the comforts of home," says celebrity chef Virginia Willis. "Whether in a tent, a camper or treehouse, I see no reason not to have a proper kitchen. Part of a great getaway or vacation is being able to cook."

Willis’s must-haves include a cast-iron skillet, a good chef’s knife, a metal spoon and a wine opener. For cooking, it's also important to have a good all-purpose oil, like canola.

"Sea salt and a peppermill are the minimum requirements for seasoning, but if you have the ability to pack a few more essentials, you will be thankful," advises Willis. "Fresh garlic and lemons can really make flavors pop." 

Stay Classy

Both Willis and Hanna agree that toting real plates and glassware are worth their weight in granola.

"Paper plates and plastic utensils are not environmentally friendly and certainly not very glam," says Willis. "I suggest packing the real deal or biodegradable plates made from fallen palm leaves."

To achieve a spread like this, take along the outdoor cooking app from or take Sunset’s online outdoor cooking class. We’re also pretty jazzed about Cuisinart’s Alfrescamore outdoor pizza oven. 

Mood Lighting

Candlelight is an essential element to a successful glamp. Choose soy, vegetable oil-based or beeswax candles and pack a portable fire extinguisher. We love solar powered LED lanterns like the Loopee O’sun Nomad Lamp available online as well as LED votives available at most craft stores. For a truly dramatic effect, try sheets of Fuloon light curtains.

Treehouse Hotel

Peter Bahouth, an environmental activist, loved his childhood treehouse so much that he built three in his Atlanta backyard. The houses are constructed of repurposed materials such as windows from a monastery and salvaged wood. Interiors are decorated with thrift-store finds, scores from dumpster dives and family hand-me downs. The whole affair took Bahouth and a friend about six weeks, and the result is storybook magic. Check out Bathouth’s handiwork by checking in via Air B n B

A Yurt in The Woods

The difference between glamping and camping can be where you rest your head. A lot of folks have an aversion to sleeping on the ground and tent makers as well as upscale resorts are taking note. Achieving this glamp on your own is as simple as buying a good canvas tent and pitching it on a raised surface. Companies like Reliable Tent will help you design the perfect solution.

Adding accouterments like a picnic table and fireside seating can be accomplished by a few mornings hitting garage sales or late night prowling on Craigslist. An old oil drum salvaged from the local junkyard becomes a fire pit. Treat outdoor items with protectant, but don’t stress about items that will inevitably be exposed to the elements.

Not Your Grandparent's KOA

We all remember when organized campsites grossed out the Griswalds and even Aunt Edna. Those days are quickly becoming a thing of the past as independently owned campsites such as KOA get glam. Many sites now have redecorated cabins with spacious decks, heated pools, hot showers, firewood, and Wi-Fi. Many have chairs, fire pits and other accessories; you just show up and be glamorous.

Try bringing eco-friendly Enviro-Logs for any glamping adventure; they’re made from 100% recycled materials and burn cleaner than regular logs. Don’t pollute and don’t cook over chemically treated wood.

Consider the Lilies

A simple way to create drama and romance at your glamp site is to tie strings of fresh flowers together. Hang from branches using biodegradable string (about $4 a ball); complement with light fixtures made from old baskets. And when hanging anything in the forest, please consider the trees. Hammering nails into them can damage or kill the oldest redwood. We recommend Cinch to Hang tree hangers for not only stringing décor but they’re also great for keeping items off the ground.

It's The Little Touches

Sharyl Whorton, a lifetime camper/converted glamper sums up the glamping concept with some fine advice.

"When it comes to the things I bring along, I just remember that I am creating memories for my family and friends. So, I don’t skimp," said Whorton. "Some day my kids will use my iron skillet and hopefully remember the times we used it together." That said, don’t forget your family best friend.

You've Got the Power

With today’s high-tech devices, there’s no reason for you to fall off the grid. Here are a few devices to keep you wired in the woods.

The Incase Portable Power 5400 fits in the palm of your hand and packs enough power to charge your phone twice.

The My Charge Hub 9000 has the power to charge three devices at once and extend the life of your device an additional 40 hours.

The Jackery Leaf is made specifically for the iPhone 5 and 5s, it provides power and adds up to 110 hours to the battery.