GLAMPING REVIEW: The Original Hut Company, Bodiam, East Sussex, UK
The British summertime is the perfect time to get back to nature. But for those wary of camping (or if it’s just too impractical – we had a four-month-old baby in tow so needed something more significant than a tent), The Original Hut company is a perfect solution. We booked via Host Unusual; a company which lists unusual accommodation across the UK – from tree houses to lighthouses and boats to buses.
Based in Bodiam, East Sussex, this sustainable glamping site in the secluded woodland overlooks Bodiam Castle. It’s a short drive from Hastings, Rye, Camber Sands and Dungeness along the coast. With 200 acres of countryside around you and no mains electricity, it’s the perfect opportunity to breathe in the fresh air and switch off from the stresses of daily life.
The main campsite has a selection of Shepherd’s huts; each of which sleep between four and five people. To use a fairly apt cliche, the huts are small but perfectly formed. The interior has been carefully designed for the optimum use of space – at night, the dining table folds away Transformer-style to become a double bed and the corner sofa flips to become a double bunk.
Bedding and linen is provided as is a four-burner gas hob, sink with running water, crockery and cutlery, cooking equipment, tumblers, glasses, mugs, outdoor dining furniture and a fire pit. Toilet and shower facilities – with hot and cold running water – are available in another communal hut just a short walk away. Your hut will also be stocked with a few tea bags, coffee, sugar, tea towels and washing up liquid.
Sustainability & style
The Original Hut Company’s owners, Nick and Anna, designed the eco-friendly accommodation specifically to work in harmony with the environment and protect the local woodland.
Based on the idea of a traditional Shepherd’s hut and hand-built by Nick on site, the huts have been carefully designed to have as little negative impact on the environment as possible. They are made from reclaimed, recycled and locally sourced materials wherever possible: an old corn bin for the roof, recycled chassis from touring caravans for the huts themselves and sustainable wood from the farm for the work tops, seat covers and firewood.
Much of this sustainable timber was sourced from trees that fell in the huge storm of 1987. There is no mains electricity supply in the huts (perfect for a digital detox!) with low-voltage lighting powered by a solar panel on the roof and cool boxes are provided instead of a fridge.
Before the Original Hut Company was created, this particular area of woodland had been neglected for over 20 years. So, the company has secured grant aid to replant wildflowers and hedges. Nick and Anna have brought the woodland back into a managed scheme and seen a huge increase in the diversity of the ecosystem as a result.
Bluebells and foxgloves – which hadn’t been seen in this patch of woodland for years – have begun flowering again, insect life is increasing and, slowly but surely, more birds, mammals and reptiles are beginning to be seen in the area.
As part of its sustainable ethos, The Original Hut Company works hard to ensure the accommodation has a positive impact on the neighbouring community and businesses. As well as stocking local products and promoting nearby activities and events to guests, Anna and Nick also offer a hamper service in partnership with a small, neighbouring farm shop. Local tradesmen, craftsmen and businessmen are used in all aspects of the business – from tree surgery to web design and photography.
The Hub is a shop, cafe and meeting place with pretty much everything you should need during your stay. It is also a celebration of all things local; showcasing local food and drink products as well as arts, crafts and activities unique to the area. The hub is open to everyone: including those staying at the Original Hut Company as well as the local community and guests to the village. It’s also a great way of supporting small businesses in the area, such as the producers of the local honey or locally produced wine that are stocked in the shop for picnics or to take away as souvenirs.
East Sussex is bursting with things to do when you go glamping here. When we asked Anna for recommendations of something to do, not only was she happy to oblige but could have kept us busy all morning just running through suggestions!
Right on your doorstep, you can visit the 14th-century National Trust property Bodiam Castle, take a wander to the village pub or even hop on a steam train and ride the Kent & East Sussex Railway; a splendid rural light railway, which runs through the unspoiled countryside from Bodiam to Tenterden. If you don’t fancy boarding the train, you could even just wait at the railway crossing to wave at the passengers as the train passes by – a popular tourist pastime.
For active travellers, The Original Hut Company now offers Electric Bike complete with helmets. You could also try your hand at kayaking, paddle boarding, archery, horse riding, rowing, foraging or bushcraft. Keen walkers should visit the beautiful Bewl Water or explore Brede High Woods and take in its diverse wildlife. More unusual activities, including falconry experiences and a one-day bakery course, are also on offer nearby.
On a sunny day, a visit to the five miles of golden sandy beach at Camber Sands is a must and the quaint towns of Rye, Battle and Hastings are filled with charm – all just a short drive away. There really is something for everyone so have a chat to owners Anna or Nick to see what they recommend for you.
What to bring
Guests are recommended to bring their own towels, torches, lighter, car phone charger and Wellington boots. Oh – and a packet of marshmallows for roasting around the campfire, of course.
Things to note
The Huts cost from £84 per night and sleep 4-5 people per unit. There is a one night minimum stay and pets are not permitted. Check in for this glamping site is from 4pm and check-out by 10am – this can be flexible but be sure to let Nick and Anna know your arrival time so they can be on hand to meet you and give you the tour. When booking, they will send you a map and directions which are worth bringing with you – the farm’s postcode covers a large area so SatNav might not send you to the right entrance.
When to visit
Whenever you feel like glamping! Although, be warned, the glamping huts do tend to be fully booked during the weekends, particularly during school holidays, so booking in advance is advisable.