I have found a high-end glamping site in the heart of the Chilterns overlooking England’s green and pleasant land!!
But check your satnav before heading off to find The Chilterns View, as it is in the middle of nowhere. Well, to be more accurate, it is on 150 square acres of open land and rolling hills, which is in the middle of nowhere. Simply perfect really.
It was a Thursday. I had driven across half of Britain, from Norwich, in the Citroen Aircross, which I had proffered from Citroen Dealers Duff Morgan of Norwich and I was making good time. The weather seemed to be holding off after the icy onslaught of the Beast from The East, which had pretty much brought most of England to a shuddering standstill. I was looking forward to a night spent chilling out and relaxing.
The main issue was that my girlfriend was not present. I have the luxurious lifestyle of a travel blogger, while she is a mechanical engineer for one of the biggest energy companies in the world and she had a conference to go to. This was an issue only because The Chilterns View, if anything, is deeply, deeply romantic.
The Chilterns View is a couple of minutes outside of Ewelme, a village of old stone and brick buildings, a cute shop and water canals that is only a short drive from Oxford and Wallingford. It offers the perfect sort of peaceful introduction to the real joy of the glamping triumph that is The Chilterns View.
“I love this place,” Rachel Wallis, owner, host and visionary said when she was showing me to my lodge, “It’s so different to what people expect.”
It is. When you think of glamping, you might think of belle tents with cushions on the floor and perhaps a chimney, but what you get here is a luxurious lodge with a full bed, a fire, one of the most intensely refreshing showers ever conceived by man and a veranda view opening up over fields as far as the eye can see.
The land really does appear to be endless and Rachel kindly treated to me to a special 4×4 tour around the property. As it turns out, some of the land is farmed by her brother Bernie. It wasn’t the time of year for anything to be growing, so much of it looked like endless fields of short green grass (which could have been wheat for all I know. I don’t write for an agricultural magazine do I?).
There are a number of lodges on the property aimed at romantic couples. And this is by design.
“You don’t want to come here by yourself,” Rachel said, as I arrived all on my tod, “It’s so romantic and peaceful and quiet. You also don’t want to stay for just one night because it really draws you in.”
So, I had to make the most of my one night alone.
My lodge was Chaucer Lodge, the furthest along the trail and it had everything necessary to make it perfect for a couple. A king-sized bed with fresh linen, a kitchenette around the corner, a heated ensuite shower and a log burner, which was roaring by the time I arrived. Outside, the veranda opened up onto rolling hills that made me think of The Sound of Music and thanks to the berry hedges I had total seclusion from everyone else. This was useful, when I dipped into the hot tub, which was, in keeping with the romantic motif, heart-shaped.
All the lodges are specifically south facing, to get the most out of the sunshine and they all come with BBQs, fire burners and hot tubs. It is also a glamping site for adults only, no children and no pets. One of the lodges, the Safari Lodge, is something out of a Rudyard Kipling novel. Seriously, I fell in love with this the second I saw it. A khaki tent with an interior of hanging tent flaps, roped-up side yarns, a deep stand-alone Victorian tub and a huge bed.
“This is my latest lodge,” Rachel explained, “I wanted to try something different and it’s been really popular. People love the idea of luxury and the wild coming together.”
I had to agree and she had to drag me out.
WHAT TO DO?
Well, if you’re there with a loved one or your family, this is the perfect place to reconnect. The Wi-Fi is excellent, but you’d probably be too busy walking along the trails to get the stunning views, or visiting the historic sites in Elweme to take advantage of it. You’d more than likely spend a lot of time in the heart-shaped hot tubs, enjoying the complete privacy that the lodges afford you as well and you would definitely be amazed by the number of red kites that fly around the land. In Norwich we get pigeons, but in The Chilterns View, you get red kites.
The red kites were actually almost hunted to extinction but thanks to the foresight of conservationists, their population has exploded in the area and resulted in an odd lack of pigeons.
Pheasants and partridges are bred on the land and Rachel is very proud of the animals that live here. So perhaps if you were so inclined, you and your partner could enjoy a bit of ornithology, but as my partner was busy schmoozing with the technical big bodies of a billion pound company, I decided to spend my evening doing what every South African naturally does whenever they get the chance; I made a fire, got some steaks, bought some beer and I cooked.
It was a perfect night. All of the lodge water is collected in an underwater collection point and filtered through a bio filter of reeds and grasses on its way to a 2-meter deep pond, which has been turned into a wonderful bbq-ing spot. There is a log cabin/shack near it and a fire pit, surrounded by railway sleepers to provide a fantastic late night fire-lit evening.
Incidentally, I would recommend going to the butchers in Ewelme. I’ve never had such a thick and juicy sirloin steak at such a reasonable price.
Oh, and The Shepherds Hut which is the local pub is a 5 minute drive or a 20 minute stroll from the lodges. It’s very busy with an attentive and hospitable landlord named Gary who ensures that the candles are lit and the fire is roaring for his guests. He also offers a fantastic range of gins and local beers.
“Thursday night is steak night and they do a Sunday lunch too,” Rachel points out, “But you’ll need to book ahead to get a table.”
UNIQUE SELLING POINTS
Some of the other guests made their way down to the fire pit in the evening and I got chatting to Rachel about what her about the area and she indicated that amount of space available was part of this luxury glamping destination.
“There is a lot of space that could be used,” she said, “But our guests value their privacy. My regular guests come here because they like the seclusion, not to mention the fact that you can stay here for days and not have to talk to anyone, if you don’t want to. Or you could go to The Cabin which can be hired for larger groups where you can enjoy a beer and meet some people. You have the option. But what works here is that it’s a boutique holiday destination. It is something special.”