If you’ve never camped in a tent, you might wonder what all the fuss is about when it comes to camping pods springing up at various campsites. Pods are the latest in the glamping craze – a static construction on site, which a family can stay in and access all the facilities the site has to offer.
We tried the pods at Billing Aquadrome out for 2 nights. It had the delicious scent of fresh wood and looked like the inside of a sauna! It was nestled in amongst trees beside a small river frequented by swans and other wildlife. I don’t think I ever would have appreciated the concept of what is essentially an upturned boat with headroom (see pic) had I not had the comparison of last summer’s tenting expedition.
The pros of staying in the pod at Billing in a nutshell:
- No need to erect a tent or find a flat piece of grass to put it on.
- It’s lockable
- Comes with a heater which was perfectly adequate at our coldest temp of 5 degrees during the night
- Dry!!! … and draughtproof even during gale force winds and howling gale during which some of the branches were ripped off the trees. We were still snug inside!
- Electric and light provided
- Lino floor that is warm and soft enough under our camping mattresses for a comfortable night.
- The small outside porch was just big enough to fit the pram, although I put it in the car overnight to keep it dry from the driving rain.
- We could park our car right alongside the pod for the whole time we were there – no need to leave it in another carpark.
- The decking outside was great for the kids to sit on in the morning to have breakfast and watch the world go by.
The pods do have some drawbacks:
- The cost. At £40 a night it is more expensive than staying in a tent. However you don’t have to bring all your camping equipment with you, and food is available on site, so in our case we saved petrol by not towing a trailer with tent and the camping extras.
- No toilet, no beds, no tables and chairs… Remember though this is a tent equivalent, not the travelodge! I came prepared with a bucket and a potty, bedding and mattresses. The only thing I really missed were some hooks to hang up our sopping wet coats. Anyone who has been camping knows just how valuable hooks and hangers are, and I reckon having somewhere to hang stuff would make a big difference to the whole podding experience.
All in all, I think I might be converted to a pod life. It was so much easier to go away camping with the kids, without having to set a tent up, endure the hideous gales and pack a wet tent away.
The kids loved it! I think for them it was akin to making a den in the garden, or in our local woods, but with all the enchantment of getting to sleep in it overnight too.
What we thought of whole site at Billing Aquadrome
The site is HUGE and we only explored a tiny corner of it, mainly due to the horrendous weather we had.
Getting around was not particularly pram or children friendly. There were no footpaths which led directly to the main venue and I found myself either dragging the pram over shingle /muddy grass or telling the kids to stop at the side of the road every now and then to allow cars to pass.
The Venue, the hub of the site, was a great base for us to hang out, with restaurant,bar, swimming pool and soft play.
The food was ok, nothing to write home about. Though the pizza, which only came with 3 topping options- 2 spicy and 1 plain cheesy and we went for the cheesy one- was excellent.
The swimming complex was the perfect size for us. I could see from one side to the other and keep an eye on everyone while enjoying a swim or relax in the bubbles. There is a large pool, a jacuzzi pool and a baby pool.
The slides kept my 3 and 6 year olds entertained for hours- there was one big slide and 4 toddler slides.
We struggled with the swimming pool showers which lasted for only two seconds before someone strong enough (i.e. me!) had to press them again to restart the flow. Pretty much impossible to wash them with babe in my arms and two more littlies to wash!
The kids loved the soft play and spent hours in there on both days. Again, it was logistics that made it a struggle as it was up a flight of stairs with a broken lift. Staff were very amenable and helped me up with the pram when I needed to have it with me, but then it was a hot place to sit and play, being at the top of the building, and could have done with having toilets closer so that the kids could go on their own without us all having to decamp downstairs and back up again!
I did however count 16 lollipops in my pram bag at the end of one day, ‘prizes’ for winning various games. Please, please lovely Billing staff, could you find a sugar free alternative, or perhaps just stop handing out sweets at all? The kids were having a ball and needed no further incentive to enjoy themselves!
Have you stayed in a camping pod? What did you think?
Guest post by Jennie
Disclosure: we were invited By Billing Aquadrome to stay 2 nights and write a review. All opinions are our own.