When occupying a sturdy building you are in a world between the walls, protected from the weather and the influence of nature. In contrast, if the only thing that separates you from nature is some cloth, nature is closer at hand. Lately, the rise of “glamping” allows people who want to experience the outdoors without roughing it to do so in rustic luxury.

On sites like Glamping-hub there are camps, tepees, yurts and alternative structures all over the world for rent. Varying in amenities from the very minimal to the well appointed, these rental camps offer the experience of sleeping nearly outside, with an emphasis on doing so in style.

Plastic bubble tent, Atrap Reves Bubble Hotel, France

What I think of as modern camping brings to mind brightly colored nylon gear and freeze-dried food, but the idea of lavish camping was promoted in popular culture through the idea of safari. I immediately think of the lavish clothes and tents in movies like “Out of Africa”, “Mogambo” and the Bedouin style of Valentino movies.

Magambo, with Grace Kelly, Ava Gardner and Clark Gable

Safari tent inspired by Out of Africa

A great tent from Son of the Sheik

Tent design by legendary designer William Cameron Menzies

A modern take on the Bedouin Camp

Sometimes when it’s not practical to create a truly outside space, people create rooms that evoke the feeling of a tent inside. An architect and stage designer, Karl Friedrich Schinkel created the famous tent room for the Nuess Pavilion in Schloss Charlottenburg, Berlin. 

Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Zeltzimmer, Schloss Charlottenhof

Another notable tent room was Empress Josephine’s room for Le Château de Malmaison near Paris. Napoleon’s campaigns abroad stylistically borrowed from the Roman Empire, and led to the popularity of tent rooms and “campaign” decor in general.  

“Glamping” blurs the line between camping and more permanent dwellings. The more elaborate they are, the more outfitting them requires a way to move the gear. The history of creating movable structures dates back to the beginning of humanity, and were often fashioned out of resources that were on hand where the structure was needed.

Mammoth bone hut

Early tents would have been made of animal skins and bones, and the earliest known tents were found in Moldova dating from 40,000 B.C. One of several practical shape for tents, the modern materials may have changed, but you can see the influence of the first tents on design to this day.

Another popular style used for modern glamping is the Tipi, or Tepee, based on the native american tipi’s of the american west.

Lakota Tipi

Blackfoot Indian tipi

El Cosmico, Marfa, TX

Tents were a practical way to house traveling armies on campaigns, and have been long associated with the military.

From Book of the Knight Zifar

WW I tent city in front of the pyramids of Giza, Egypt, Mena Camp

Roman army frieze showing details of the Roman tent

Classic Ottoman Army tents

Yurts are another structure with a long history. A traditional house in Mongolia and Tibet, they are now particularly popular in remote places where they are easy to construct and heat.

Mongolian ger or yurt


Traditional layout of the Ger

Ski in yurts in Yellowstone

Modern yurt house

There are many famous tent based resorts all over the world, but one that is known for its rustic luxury is Calyoquot Wilderness resort in Canada. Their marketing phrase is “experience luxury gone wild”, and they create an experience exactly in line with the desires of people who seek this kind of travel.

Calyoquot Wilderness resort, Canada

Camping or “glamping”, there is something special about freeing yourself from the comforts of buildings to sleep outside. Over the summer, many people will head somewhere to sleep under the stars, letting the wind blow through the fabric of the tent walls–just as people always have.