When my friend Dave invited us to a camping weekend for his 40th birthday I immediately went to bagsy the campervan we share with four friends. But, shock horror, someone had got there before us, so I decided it was the perfect opportunity to book a bell tent, as I’d wanted to stay in one for ages. A quick search on the web revealed Loveabell, a Sussex-based company, run by the lovely Claire, that hires out beautiful tents for holidays, weekends, parties and events. We and our friends Clive and Michelle, opted for 4m tents with ‘The Works’ (airbeds, rugs, tables, a tealight chandelier, lanterns, fairy lights, camping chairs, blankets, a gas stove, kettle, pans, utensils, cutlery and crockery) as a treat and, boy, was it worth it.
When we arrived at the site (a private field at Pleasant Rise Camping Park, Alfriston, Sussex – highly recommended) our tents were in situ and looked fabulous from the outside with their colourful bunting. The anticipation of the unzip didn’t disappoint – they were gorgeous inside and Alfie immediately adored his single blow-up bed, with its bright redÂ cushions and blanket – check out A with his friend Mia, above. We were impressed with the service – our airbed had a slow puncture, but a text to Claire got an immediate response and within the hour we were the recipients of a fully inflated double-height mattress (super-comfy). We also felt completely equipped and the tent was a fantastic space to hang out in – Alfie (a major nature lover) wanted to stay in and play, rather than visit the curious sheep.
I think Loveabell’s service is great for kids. Being able to just turn up without having to pitch a tent is a massive bonus when you have excited, impatient children wanting to explore their surroundings after being cooped up in the car. I personally liked the finishing touches and details – the chandelier looked exquisite at night and the duvets were super-snuggly.Â Claire can set up her tents pretty much anywhere in the South East, even in your back garden, and I think they’d be wonderful for a child’s party, particularly if the weather is looking inclement – Loveabell offers pirate or fairy cake themes.
Despite being a die-hard campervanner (and I do still love my van for many different reasons – fridge to chill prosecco being one) I must confess to being a bell tent convert. I enjoyed the space, height and airiness and it was fabulous to be able to roll the sides up in the morning and avoid that muggy overheating that usually happens under canvas.Â The other big bonus is being able to just leave at the end of your break, waving at your poor friends who are struggling to squash their sleeping bags back into their bags!Â It didn’t rain properly while we were camping, but when there was light drizzle, everyone headed to the bell tents to sit and chat. In fact, I would say that was the only downside – that we were inundated with visitors because all our friends (especially the children) loved them so much! Price start fromÂ Â£80 for one night for a 4m tent (sleeps 2 to 4 adults), including delivery, erection and dismantling – a small price to pay for an utterly stress-free camping with kids experience.
All photographsÂ Â© Mike Cooter at Make Light Work and Lucy Davies