The Most Luxurious Glamping Sites in Northern Ireland
Finn Lough Bubble Domes | Image courtesy of Finn Lough
Rural and picturesque, Northern Ireland is full of camping sites. Some of us, however, want to be close to nature without all the trappings that come with traditional camping – no tents to pitch, no blankets to unroll and no bug nets to hang. Here’s Culture Trip’s list of Northern Ireland’s best places to go glamping (a word for fancy camping), from Castle Ward to Cushendun.
Finn Lough is one of the more unusual entries on this list. Tucked away in the Muckross Woods in County Fermanagh, the site consists of several three-bedroom luxury lodges, each of which has easy access to the waterside for fishing. Packed with creature comforts including televisions, high-pressure showers and wood-burning stoves, these lodges would make fantastic full-time houses, let alone weekend getaways. However, Finn Lough also offers the use of Forest Bubble Domes, which feature 180-degree views with their transparent walls, without compromising on comfort.
Castle Ward is an 18th-century building overlooking Strangford Lough, County Down. As well as acting as a National Trust property, open to the public, it has several accommodation options for anyone looking to stay on the grounds. There is a caravan park attached to the property and several woodland camping pods. Insulated against both noise and the cold, they also have a special foil layer under the ceiling to regulate summer temperatures. There is also the Potter’s Cottage, nestled in the working farmyard, which serves as Winterfell in HBO’s Game of Thrones. So if you want a slice of The North in The North, this might be the place for you.
Set in woods just off of the Antrim Coast, Cushendun Caravan Park is a mere five-minute walk from the village of Cushendun. On clear days, the tip of Scotland’s Mull of Kintyre is visible across the North Channel. Cushendun Caravan Park has pitches for tents and caravans, but the focus here is on its cabins. Tucked away in the woodland, each cabin sleeps up to five people, providing comfort, warmth and privacy.
Another National Trust property, Crom Estate is one of Northern Ireland’s most important nature conservation areas. Set on the shores of Upper Lough Erne, County Fermanagh, the estate houses wild deer, pine martens and many species of butterfly. As well as the cottages and the opportunity to stay in Crom Castle itself, the grounds feature glamping pods, each of which fits two adults and up to three children (and two of the pods are also dog-friendly). In the past, the pods were used as pigpens, but now they’re clean and cosy – a far cry from their original purpose – while retaining countryside charm.
A bothy is a traditional form of accommodation, often used by workers on an estate. The bothy on Trannish Island, County Fermanagh, was restored in 2011 and is now open for bookings. It’s a bunkhouse that can accommodate as many as 12 people at a time, with a teepee outside that can be used in the summer months. With two barbecue pits, a composting toilet and a firepit, it’s a little bit closer to traditional camping than the other options on this list, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Courtesy of East Coast Adventure Centre Glamping / Expedia
High in the Mourne Mountains, East Coast Adventure Glamping provides views of Carlingford Lough and the surrounding valley. As well as six glamping pods, each of which sleeps four people, there is one larger communal pod for bigger groups. This is a versatile site, where you can relax and take in the views if that’s your cup of tea; or, for more adventurous guests, East Coast Adventure also owns the National Mountain Bike Centre and a water sports centre at the lough.