Travel: Off-Grid Glamping in Andalusia

cloud house 4Looking for a completely off-grid family holiday? Cloud House Farm offers you total privacy in an off-the-beaten-track location – ideal for completely un-winding and being with your family for some great adventures.

Cloud House Farm is located deep in the hills of the Andalusian Rio Genal Valley, Spain, set against the spectacular backdrop of the Sierra Bermeja Mountain range. It is one hour from the city of Ronda and near to the typical Andalusian village of Genalguacil. This pretty white-washed village plays host to an art festival in August and, as such, attracts a strong community of artistic talent.

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Justine Armstrong and Dan Cooper moved from the UK to start their family at Cloud House, taking over the abandoned and overgrown farm with a dream of living the good life without sacrificing on comforts. The entire property is powered by solar panels while wood from the forest provides fuel for the stoves and ranges for cooking and heating. Fresh drinking water is gravity fed from the farm’s natural spring while storage tanks and rainwater harvesters help sustain the gardens throughout the summer. Wastewater is processed through a twin chamber septic tank and filtered through a gravel soak away.

Accommodation is provided in Mongolian yurts nestled in a mountain forest of cork oak, olive and chestnut trees, as well as orange and lemon groves. Each yurt is stocked with games and books for the whole family to enjoy and features its own private loo, just a short walk outside. There is also a shower with hot water that is then recycled for use in the gardens. You will cook on a wood stove (although a solar-powered oven is also available) and eat al fresco on your own secluded terrace with stunning views of the mountains and forest around you. Cloud House also provides an iPod dock and broadband Wi-Fi is available near the farmhouse. Each yurt is ideal for a family of four.

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This is an ideal place for kids to run free, climb trees, swing on the rope swings and take a dip in one of several natural river pools, which are a short walk from the yurts. There are also public swimming pools and restaurants, bars and shops in the local villages. There is a wealth of plant and animal life to discover as well as local hikes and day excursions to see nearby sites. The nearest beach is just over an hour’s drive away.

An ideal summer holiday for the whole family, with lots of activities, lots to see and do and learn.

Cloud House Farm accepts guests from May to October with a 4 night minimum booking. Prices range from £65-75 per night for a double yurt. Children 2 and under are welcomed free of charge while children through 12 are charged at an additional £10 per night and teenagers are £20 per night.

Visit Feather Down Farms for their 10th Anniversary this Year

6Y9C2883Glamping has become all the rage and no wonder; it takes all the aggro out of camping so that you can enjoy the best bits! Camping trips are the ultimate family holiday. Kids love nothing better than roaming free and getting dirty. Throw in loads of BBQs and some roasted marshmallows and they’re in heaven. Your kids will always remember the nights they spent tucked up in their sleeping bags and all the things that were amazing or went terribly wrong will become the stuff of legends.

If you are new to camping, then the idea of buying all the gear, carting it out to some muddy field and then having to assemble it and make use of it can be very daunting. At the same time, the most seasoned campers and gearheads can also use a break. Why not save yourself a dark, wet walk to the loos this year and try out some luxury camping.011

Let me set the scene for you…It’s been six months since you last had a day off work. You’ve been jammed in the car for three hours and the sat nav took you off course – twice. The kids are hungry and are starting to get a bit ‘punchy’.

You finally arrive at your destination. The kids pile out and can immediately run wild. They dash off to meet the piglets while you unload the car. As you enter your rustic safari tent you hear the sound of a crackling fire and smell a stew bubbling away on the wood stove. Candles are lit and the beds are made with deep feather duvets*. There is nothing left to do but crack open a bottle of wine and begin to enjoy your holiday.hottub_ShadyMoor_006A

Welcome to Feather Down Farms.

Feather Down Farm Days provides sustainable family holidays on farms across the UK and Europe. They began as a project for the Dutch National Trust to provide high quality accommodation on farms and in doing so, have provided a much needed additional source of income to farmers, thus securing the future of their farms. FDFD offers families a unique low-impact farm stay experience. Your family can see what daily life on a farm entails while providing work for the farmers, and bringing tourism to the local economies of the nearest villages.

The tents have no electricity. The lighting comes from candles and you’ll cook and warm yourselves over a wood stove. Some facilities boast outdoor hot tubs, which are also warmed with wood fuels. Each farm provides a shower block and a farm shop, which operates on an honesty basis. There is no Wi-Fi and no televisions. Bliss. Oh – and each tent has its own toilet.6Y9C2964

You can spend all day at your farm, or explore the area. You can prepare each meal in your tent, or each out all day. The adventure is entirely yours to plan in the safe knowledge that when you return, your tent will still be standing and you’ll have a dry place to sleep.

The tents are the same across the FDFD farms, so you’ll always know what to expect. They are compact and functional. They feature a double bedroom, a twin bunk room and the coveted cupboard room, which can fit two children. There is a kitchen area, with a sink, woodstove and the dishes and cookware you’ll need. There is also a separate toilet room and a dining table. You’ll find a cool box in which to store your food and drink. Ice can be purchased at the honestly shop to keep this cool. There is enough open space in the cabin for a small dance party and seating outside so that you can take in the unspoilt scenery around you. It is important to note that most of the farms are remote and so you can’t just nip out for fresh croissants and lattes in the morning.Hillside-9.jpg.p

What to pack? Wellies. Extra socks. Tough clothes. Rain gear. At least one entire spare outfit. A designated pair of indoor (dry) shoes/slippers. You get the picture. Our kids were up haystacks, in the pigpen, ‘wading’ in creeks, chasing dogs, milking cows, handling kittens, and more. You’ll need towels and dishwashing equipment. Also, if you’re not going to buy the first night meal, then take one that is already assembled and just needs heating. Check in time is generally not until 4, so you have to be ready to feed the hungry masses.

Book early to avoid disappointment as they do fill up quickly, especially during school holidays. To celebrate their 10th anniversary this year, Feather Down Farm Days are offering a free ‘welcome hanger’ to anyone who books before January 31st. Enter the code ‘earlybird14’ to the booking in order to take advantage of this offer.

Anyone booking 6 or more tents on one farm in 2014 will receive a free ‘group feast’, which will vary per farm.

*Most farms offer a bed making service and pre-made first night’s meal at an additional charge. We recommend you opt for this extra.