I’ll be honest; since my twins arrived, in a hurricane of chaos and poop, I’ve not been brave enough to go on holiday. Sure, I’ve chanced an overnight stay in a Travelodge where I squashed all 4 children, myself and Dave into one family room. But we can’t call that a holiday; because it wasn’t fun and I felt like I’d failed at all the parenting things. But, during May half-term, we loaded the children into the car and armed ourselves with the most potent of parenting weapons (snacks and screens) and headed to Glynn Barton Holiday Cottages to road test their brand-new glamping tents.
It’s always nerve wracking trying something/somewhere new with my own gang of Mini Travellers because I’m constantly trying to; circumvent a potential meltdown, negate a safety hazard or lower my blood pressure due to the stresses a new environment or experience brings. But this time, rather than wrestle with the corporate conglomerates, endless apps, booking forms and checklists, I placed my family’s safety and enjoyment into the hands of Pippa. Just Pippa; a mum of two young children, many wonderful animals, owner of Glynn Barton’s 8 holiday cottages and 4 glamping tents and general superwoman. Pippa understands the stresses and strains of negotiating small children on holiday and has created a magical holiday experience that is both deeply detailed and thoughtful, but marvellously simplistic in its style.
Prior to arrival, I received an email with how to download the Glynn Barton guestbook as an app. This was very helpful and answered most questions I had. It’s also available offline in case of Cornish internet Pixies. Wifi is provided at Glynn Barton and is now available across the glamping site too. You can book hour slots in the swimming pool using the app which was easy to do but I couldn’t see a way to cancel. If you’d prefer to play it by ear, communal swimming is available 16:00-19:00 each day with a maximum of 15 people allowed. The pool was spotlessly clean, well maintained and all designed around family life; swimming toys/floats available, changing area, non slip flooring, toilets etc and an outdoor hot tub as some of the cottages don’t have their own.
We however, did have our own hot tub. We stayed in “Beech”; a new glamping tent with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms (1 with bath, 1 with shower), large open plan living area with dining table and fully equipped kitchen. The large decking area at the front provided another dining table, 3 sun loungers and a hot tub. It is beautiful. Stylish, comfortable, cozy. Unlike many places I’ve been, the hot tub is fully emptied in-between guests; this alone, makes me incredibly happy. We also saw Pippa maintaining the hot tubs during our stay. In the new glamps, “Beech” and “Hazel”, the hot tub is set into the deck so is easy for small children to fall into if unsupervised but there is a solid, hydraulicly operated cover on it which safely clips down to prevent this.
Beech’s heating is provided by a huge log burning stove in the main living area. The weather hovered consistently around 20 degrees during our stay so the tent was warm and we had no need to light the stove. Keeping a stove lit over long periods is quite a skill and if you visit in the winter, it would be prudent to remember that although Beech has the luxuries of, and certainly feels like, a Swiss chalet, it is a tent so warm clothes will definitely be needed. Hot water bottles, an abundance of blankets and sachets of Cornish hot chocolate are a lovely touch.
The bathrooms each have a large towel rail which is very hot and heats the rooms well; as the twins are only 2, I did turn the towel rails off at times but they were excellent for drying large amounts of towels. The water pressure was excellent, unlimited hot water and a bath large enough for me to fit 3 Mini Travellers in after a mucky day. The bathrooms were equipped with helpful touches such as; a stool to sit on when bathing the kids, toothbrush holders, 2 towels per person, non-slip mats etc and cleaning products should they be needed.
There is a “no shoe” rule for inside the glamp; as a staunch shoe remover, I loved this concept. If I go again I’d pack slippers as I do totally agree with shoes off indoors, especially as the children can take part in many animal activities on the site.
Eating. My children are always eating. Aldi, Morrisons and Asda are a quick 10-minute drive away so we stocked up the (massive!) fridge freezer and tested a few of Glynn Barton’s cooking options. I had also forgotten my pyjamas and shoes so was glad to see a supermarket! It’s important to know that my children were dressed like royalty: I was barefoot. A delightful parenting metaphor. A BBQ and tools are provided for each tent; if you stay in the cottages, there is a BBQ area on the lawn.
One night we had a lovely BBQ in front of our tent whilst the children played. A huge range of crockery and utensils are provided. Next to the children’s play area there is the absolute treat of a traditional, brick-built pizza oven to use. It takes 45 minutes to get to temperature, but this isn’t an issue as the children can play whilst the adults tend to the oven (and the wine). We also used the well-equipped kitchen within our glamp which was very much a home from home.
There is a shop on site selling local produce; this is operated on an honesty system where you’re trusted to take what you need and pay by cash or bank transfer at the end of your stay. My favourite moments were eating breakfast on the decking area looking over the stunning valley scenery; as I sat with a cup of tea when the kids had gone to bed, all I could here was bird song, the rustling of trees and the charming conversations of the Glynn Barton animals.
My children were entertained constantly on site; there are just the most amount of activities that are well maintained, clean, safe and fun! My 2 year old toddlers loved the ride on tractor yard, the sand pit, the toddler play area, chatting to the animals and feeding them each morning at 09:30. It Is free for children to feed the animals each morning; private animal experiences can be booked for children aged 8+. My 4 year old loved the adventure playground, the soft-play (yes, there really is a soft play on the site!), the outdoor games, the play room and the cute, bamboo lined “jungle” path to the swimming pool.
My 11 year old is the tricky one; the age difference makes it difficult for us to find activities/holidays that suit everyone. However, he adored the ping pong tables, archery barn, adventure play area, football pitch, tennis court and generally the safety and freedom to be independent from us whilst on the site. He’s also the captain of our regional chess team…. So finding the outdoor chess set was a master stroke! There is just so many thoughtful touches, curated by James and Pippa, parents who understand what children need.
We did leave the site for a couple of day trips, the site is well placed that means many great days out are within 30-40 minute drive; however, I could happily have stayed on site for the whole 4 days. I think what makes Glynn Barton different from larger place is the safety you feel. The swimming pool is always locked, each cottage/glamp is given a key; however, all other activities remain unlocked. Had my twins slept badly, I felt buoyed in the knowledge I could take them for a 3am soft play session if needed! At night, we felt so safe. The window covers darken the room substantially to allow little ones to sleep, the bedding was soft, comfortable and lots of blankets meant everyone could snuggle however they pleased.
Glynn Barton is the kind of place you make forever, core memories. Memories that stay with children for life; memories that remain, long after the tangible stuff is gone. I’m filing our new memories next to the dulcet, repetitive choruses of the “Bradley Bear” theme song from my caravan holidays as a child. Luckily, my own children wont have to suffer through Bradley’s singing; hopefully they’ll just remember the balmy evenings we spent as a family, the safety and freedom they had to explore, the animals they cared for, the Cornish hot chocolates, the hours of play, the bubbles of the hot tub and the warmth of being welcomed into a place that’s designed to offer the safety of home, but sprinkled and entwined with the magic of a proper holiday. My children are already asking when they can return.
Karen Beddow founded Mini Travellers in 2014 while doing what she loves most...going on holiday!
Mini Travellers is for parents looking for holiday ideas, destination reviews, days out and things to do with the kids. We also have family travel tips, activity ideas and all other things family holiday related. Take a look at some of our latest reviews for holidays and day trips in the UK.