Stay in a Luxurious Shepherd’s Hut by the Sea
More like a hotel from home than a home from home, Hut-next-the-Sea is all you could want for a luxurious spot of glamping - right down to the kitchen sink
Glamping is now a well-established bi-word for Glamorous Camping (see what ‘they’ did there?) but what you actually get in terms of home comforts can vary massively. While a string of bunting is all very nice, if you still have to head into a field to take a dump then glamorous is hardly the word (er, sorry mum!).
So when you’re invited to stay in a shepherd’s hut so large it has a shower that works better than yours at home, glamping really does come into its own – with a capital G. The cleverly named Hut-next-the-Sea has been residing on Blue Skies campsite just outside Wells-next-the-Sea since Easter, and proudly stands on an elevation overlooking the site.
Smartly decked out in navy and cream, the tin-lid traditional hut has been lovingly made into a home, with the space around it given as much attention as the inside. Owner Zoe Dunford has created a little garden sectioned off with panels of pleached elaeagnus (all you need to know is that it’s expensive and regularly used in stately homes); bench seating; a BBQ, a string of colourful, solar-powered lights; flowers in pots; and a metal watering can (please water the plants if it’s particularly warm). Several wooden steps leading up to the hut provide a great stoop for sunrise- or sunset-watching.
Underneath the hut are blue and white stripy deckchairs to help yourself to, and outside the perimeter a space for one car (word of warning: don’t try reversing out in the morning unless you’re good at navigating tree stumps – do a four- (or was it five?) point turn and save your tyres.
The inside is more like a chic farmhouse than a hut, with wood floors, its own kitchen, running water, separate shower room with power shower and flushable loo, wood burning stove and king-size bed.
I loved the kitchen area with its wood worktop, cream tongue-and-groove cupboards and porcelain sink with gleaming mixer taps. Can’t find what you need? Keep looking… Owner Zoe has thought of everything, from bottle openers to gas stoves and pans to washing up liquid. There’s a decent-sized fridge (with freeze-box) too, which Zoe pre-stocks with fresh milk, fizzy water, a jug of homemade elderflower cordial and two glasses filled with strawberries, mint and cucumber (cocktail anyone?). On the table, Zoe leaves two mini bottles of Prosecco and a packet of locally-made ginger biscuits.
I’m in awe of the vintage plates, but can’t help but wonder how easy they are to replace should my five-year-old decide to chuck one on the floor. There’s a beautiful red whistling kettle on the stove (which is pre-made up; just add fire), a retro-style radio tuned to Radio 2 on a shelf above the table (good girl), battery-operated fairy-lights and plenty of ubiquitous bunting. It’s spacious enough for a table and two chairs, too.
In the bathroom is a power shower with a glass-screen door and a back made out of sheets of corregated metal (which pleases me no end – industrial chic at its best), as well as a proper sink with running hot and cold water. Under the sink is a quaint wooden box filled with posh hand wash, shampoo and body wash from Bayliss & Harding (I’ve stayed in five-star hotels that don’t have such luxurious amenities).
After a hot and sticky drive, I pour myself a refreshing drink of elderflower cordial and fizzy water (I’ll add the Prosecco later) and start to unpack. Under the bed are baskets for t-shirts and hangers for dressers, which can be hung on a row of hooks near the front stable door; lift the lid at the end of the bed and you’ll find a cubby hole containing a multi-device charger, a hair dryer and a pair of straighteners (glamping indeed).
The devil is in the detail, too with so many design ideas to admire (and steal!).
With child sleeping in the oversized bed, I rustle up cheese and biscuits, open the Prosecco and head outside to sit on a deck chair and watch the sky change from blue to pink to a blazing orange – the sound of bird song filling the air.
The next morning, I wonder how easy it will be to get my daughter to school in Norwich on time without her morning dose of Peppa Pig or slice of toast and jam. I fire up the gas stove to boil water (mamma needs coffee) and hand her a banana hoping it will do (it does – children will eat fruit first thing in the morning? Who knew?). One turn of the key on the cute flip flop key ring and we’re off – earlier than anticipated and with a beautiful blue sky for the journey in.
During the day, Zoe is in touch regularly: did we find everything (we did), should she swing by later for some wine (yes please!), did the hot water work etc? It’s like having your own personal butler. She even gets my daughter a helium balloon with the number ‘5’ on it as I’d mentioning on email that it was her birthday (I’ve got close friends that didn’t get her anything!). I have a job persuading her not to take it to school!
“When school finishes,” she says as we drive off into the sunshine, “can we go to the beach and then come back to the hut to sleep?” I nod looking forward to an afternoon making sandcastles followed by a BBQ and another night in Hut-next-the Sea.
“I like it here,” she says to no-one in particular. So do I, I think to myself… so do I.