February 20, 2012 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
Garden camping is a cool new concept in which homeowners rent their private gardens to campers. From urban gardens to country estates, tourists in search of affordable garden accommodations and gardeners offering them, are connected through a one-of-its-kind social network-based community, Camp in My Garden. Think Airbnb (which rents out spare rooms), with the possibility you’ll be sharing your campsite with resident chickens or ducks.
Most of campingatmygarden.com’s gardens, which can be rented for up to 28 days, are located in England, with some scattered across Ireland, Scotland, and parts of continental Europe. There a two in the US, two in Canada, and I spotted a few in other parts of the globe, including one in Thailand and even Africa. The site allows search by location but also by local events, such flower shows and art, literary, and sporting events–including the 2012 Olympics, which will cause London hotel rates to skyrocket, giving rise to the garden camping concept.
New Trend or Just Good Idea?
In its Global Trends Report, London-based World Travel Market (WTM) reported “UK: Rent-a-garden” as one of the eight key findings, defining the trend as “Householders renting out their gardens providing affordable accommodation for the 2012 Olympics.”
From Simple Camping to “Glamping”
Accommodation styles on the site vary from very basic camping to “glamping” –glamorous or luxury camping that includes more amenitites. Prospective guests can filter campsites by available facilities such as Wi-Fi, parking, pub proximity, and whether tents or mattresses are provided.
My London Urban Garden Search
In my search for London, I stumbled across Thewattspad’s Place, a beautiful contemporary urban garden ten minutes from Wimbledon offering not just room for up to four campers, but breakfast and use of the owner’s deck, grill, and indoor bathroom.
Camper Concierge Services
But that’s not all, Thewattspad’s Place listing comes with optional services not generally found outside of posh hotels. The homeowners will act as camper concierges, sharing that there are great pubs within walking distance and that not far are “some of the best Indian restaurants in London which we can book for you.” These folks appear beyond generous, adding that they will supply transportation as well: “Depending on timing we are happy to offer you a lift in our car to Wimbledon which is a 10 minute drive on a good traffic day.”
No worries if you arrive sans gear. For a small additional fee, these particular homeowners will supply tents and “very comfy blow up mattresses.” And location, location, location–the campsite is a seven minute stroll to the nearest tube station.
Pitching a Tent Near Other Attractions
Then there are nearby attractions that might lure a particular traveler to a certain listing. Brookside’s Place, above, another London area garden, not only boasts a two minute walk to Ashtead Station with direct trains delivering you within an hour to London, but it is close to The Royal Horticultural Society’s Garden at Wisley. However, The one item in this garden’s description that really caught my attention was that it is near Bocketts Farm Park, a working farm that hosts piglet racing. Makes garden camping seem almost like an aventure sport.