Checking in and checking out: Drover’s Rest Glamping, Hay on Wye

Posted on 7th May 2019. In , , ,

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“You have reached your destination,” the sat nav announces proudly. My mum and I look at each other. On either side of the car, hedge walls rise up thick and tall, hiding the lambs we can hear, one of which we nearly flattened a minute ago as it sprung into our path from a hole in the fence.

In front of us, the lane ribbons upwards. Behind us, the lane tumbles downwards. If we meet another car now, we’re screwed. I edge the car onwards for 500 yards, grumbling ‘sodding sat nav’ under my breath, and arrive at two possible options: turn left up towards Meardy Farm, or right down ‘No through road’. Something triggers in my brain and I remember the directions emailed to me earlier in the month. “It’s the ‘No Through Road’ that we want,” I declare smugly, with two invisible fingers up at the sat nav.

We’re heading to Drover’s Rest Glamping, a glamping venture run by South African couple Kesri and Paul on their Herefordshire farm, tucked away at the foothills of the Black Mountains, right on the border of Wales – and a hop, skip and 3-mile jump away from the world-famous book and festival town, Hay on Wye.

Problem is, our family has never been glamping before. We’re not regular campers, either – so, although we’re very excited, we’re a little out of our comfort zones and I, for one, am slightly alarmed by the remoteness of our location. Is there 3G? Is there Wi-Fi? What if I can’t post to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter? What will two teenage girls do if they can’t watch YouTube?

Aaaaaahhhhhhh, KILL ME NOW! These thoughts, I’m ashamed to admit, pre-occupy me as we pull in to Drover’s Rest, gravel crunching underneath our tyres and chickens scattering before us.


Drover’s Rest Glamping | A Review

The Safari Tents

Our first glimpse of Drover’s Rest glampsite is a large, gently reclining 10-acre field to the left of a beautiful 16th-century farmhouse (which, I later learn, was the stopping point for shepherds as they ‘drove’ their sheep through Wales to the London markets). And dotted along the edge of the field, giant poles holding them in place, are five luxury safari tents, perfectly distanced from one another to provide privacy for residents, yet also perfectly placed to be neighbourly, should you need to borrow firelighters. Which we did on night 2.

The five biscuit-coloured bungalows immediately heighten our already giddy spirits when we catch a proper site of them. They are less tents and more canvas castles; each one looks as at home amongst the green, green grass as it would do on a dry, dust-baked savannah of Kenya. (The benefit of the former being an absence of man-eating beasts and mosquitos, of course.)

Kesri, the owner, greets us warmly and shows us to our tent – sweetly named Shaggy Sheep – telling us to leave our bags for Paul who’ll drive them over to us once we’re settled. As we walk across the vast bumpy field together, she explains how much trouble they’ve had bringing their glamping vision to fruition. It’s taken four years and tens of thousands of pounds but finally they have their dream glamping site – and guests seem to love it!


For more staycation inspiration, see our guide to glamping in The Forest of Dean, the best shepherd’s huts in Cornwall, the best lodges with hot tubs, glamping in the Lake District with a hot tub, and the best glamping in the UK.


Drover’s Rest Glamping | A Review

Inside

Getting closer to the tents, our smiles widen. They’re even more handsome when you’re up next to them – think Tom Hardy in a safari suit: charming, dapper and oozing bad-ass adventure. Best of all, I see the tell-tale black chimney of a log-burner pointing up through the tent’s forest-green roof; a warming sight indeed because I hate being cold.

We step onto the wooden deck that lies flat in front of each tent, like a giant lion-skin rug. The deck is furnished with a brand-new light grey rattan sofa and glass-topped table – R&R, G&T, boom – as well as a two-ringed gas hob, set upon a simple wooden counter. Whilst I romance about the al fresco English breakfasts to come, my mum’s eyes light up at the sight of the spanking new kettle on the hob. She’s Irish – tea-making is her ting. And she has the kettle boiling before you can say ‘double-dose of original sin’.

The Kitchen: Inside, a fully-equipped kitchen takes up the right-hand side of the tent, with everything you need for an epic glamping weekend or week-long break: a working fridge, toaster, pots, plates, glasses, cutlery, bottle-opener, cafetiere, herbs and spices, salt and pepper, teabags, coffee, olive oil and camping cookbook.

There’s also a filled welcome basket with fresh bread, eggs, a quality bottle of vino, hand-cut crisps and 6 moon-sized chocolate chip cookies. Next to the kitchen, is a dining table that comfortably seats six, topped with freshly-picked meadow flowers.

The Lounge: Adjacent to the dining table, is the lounge area. It is canvas chic and hotel hip, furnished with a large comfy sofa (which doubles as a bed), a la mode rug, a scattering of sheepskin rugs to soften up the hardwood floors (which are insulated), and a newly-fitted log burner. Beside the burner, sits a complimentary basket of logs and kindling (extra is available, the personalised welcome note explains).


The Bedrooms: Beyond the lounge area are two good-sized double bedrooms, which cause us all to gush with compliments when we see them, separated by a canvas wall. The beds are immaculately made up: in our room (I’m sharing with my mum, to be sure, to be sure) are two wrought-iron single beds, laid with newly-pressed Egyptian cotton sheets, feather pillows and duvets, and festooned with chequered Welsh-wool blankets and cushions – spun at a local mill and designs cherry-picked by Kesri, to add a touch of authentic charm.

Cleverly, there’s an upturned crate between the beds acting as a bedside cabinet, with an angle poise on top, and two electrical sockets by the bedroom entrance. Charging mobile and ipads is not going to be a problem because the whole tent has electricity; although the mobile signal, I notice with decreasing alarm, is still zilch (but there is WiFi). In the girls’ room, a marshmallow-soft double is plumped comfy for sleep. It’s cosy, comfortable and private, and the girls are grinning at one another in a way only teenagers can. Yep, the room’s sealed the deal.

The Bathroom: All our boxes have been fully ticked; but there’s one that’s still unchecked – the loo situation. Mercifully, I can’t see a spade to dig our own latrine, and when Kesri informs us we have a private toilet and shower, I nearly back-flip with joy. It turns out, all five luxury safari tents have their own luxury bathrooms in a converted, fully-heated, no-expense-spared stable block, just 1 minute’s walk across the field. So we head over for a peek (and a pee) and it’s an instant wow.

The bathroom would make local hotels green with envy; it aches with cool, modern white style, is crumpet-warm, and fluffed with just-bought towels. The shower is silver-glazed new, and the titanic square shower head promises a veritable monsoon experience. There’s also a hairdryer (whoop) and a communal washing-up area for your pots and pans and laundry, which is equally as well equipped and thought-through as the tents it serves.


Drover’s Rest Glamping | A Review

The Food

Within 30 minutes of arriving at Drover’s Rest, we’ve downscaled our need to connect to various social media platforms, and up-scaled our passion for camping glamorously. And the glamour continues that evening as we light the log-burner, pour the wine and tuck in to the delicious pizzas that Kesri kindly cooked for us, unprompted, when she heard we didn’t bring shopping. Of course, good food is an essential part of the glamping culture, which is why Kesri and Paul offer various VIP foodie options for their Welsh-safari residents, including food nights, Sunday lunch and vintage teas.

Breakfast comes hot and home-made from the farmhouse kitchen. Ours is served al fresco with a warm spoonful of sunshine and a nearby woodpecker providing a the soundtrack. The breakfast tray itself is loaded with goodies: fresh orange juice, locally-grown fruit, buttery bacon rolls, yogurt and granola, and warm, flaky pastries.

If you prefer, you can make your own breakfast using eggs you’ve collected on the farm, which you’re free to do. Should you still itch to be master of your own dinner, there’s a BBQ outside your tent for you to use along with a heavy-duty fire pot for stirring up a quality Welsh Cawl, or whatever else you fancy.


Drover’s Rest Glamping | A Review

The Verdict

As a self-confessed social media addict, I should be happy that Drover’s Farm comes with all the modern comforts we all love. But, to be honest, switching off in this remote part of Herefordshire is the best thing to do. Instead of connecting to Wi-Fi, try feeding the lambs on the farm. Instead of 4G to power apps, there are free views to power the soul. Instead of switching on ipads, play charades before bed and ready books on the deck.

On top of that Drover’s Rest glamping comes with new friends to make. Whether it’s Shadow the farm dog, the chickens, Kayla and Jaden – Paul and Kesri’s beautiful children, or the other guests hanging out and having fun, you’ll feel like a natural part of the farm family. And you’ll go home with a sense of togetherness’and reconnection that only glamping can bring.


Drover’s Rest Glamping | A Review

Essentials

  • Open from March until the end of October
  • Each tent sleeps 4 people and up to 2 well-behaved dogs
  • From £417 – £477 for a 3 night weekend break
  • Drovers Rest is around 40 minutes from Hereford, and a 10 minute drive from Hay-on-Wye, it’s also easy access to the Brecon Beacons
  • Guests have access to a communal barn, The Hayloft, which has free WiFi, Sky TV, a games console, books, games and a farm shop with a small café/bar for cake and cocktails
  • Other accommodation onsite includes: Drover’s Cottage, The Shepherd’s Shack, and The Cart House

Drover’s Rest Glamping | A Review

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Claire Robinson Founder of Weekend Candy
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