Close Icon

A glamping success story…

Here in the South West, the popularity of glamping accommodation continues to soar. Our annual customer survey has revealed that 33% of Brits plan to ‘go back to basics’ with their trips in the coming year – including choosing glamping – to save money. So, for owners that have unused land or are considering expanding their portfolio, now is a wonderful time to start their project.

There are a wealth of glamping accommodation options worth considering, ranging from bell or safari tents to lodges and pods; one of the most well-loved are shepherd’s huts, as they provide everything a couple, solo traveller, or very small family might need in a compact, warm and dry space! Whilst you might imagine self-catering breaks would be most popular with families, notably a massive 40% of our bookings are from couples, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that shepherd’s huts (which normally accommodate just two) book exceptionally well.

If you are looking for a little inspiration, here we meet the owners of four beautifully appointed shepherd’s huts and one annex, who have been letting with Helpful Holidays since 2015.


Introducing Little Silver Owl, Little Silver Leaf, Little Silver Fox and Little Silver Pheasant

Following the purchase of their property ‘Little Silver House’ near Umberleigh in North Devon, Lisa and Peter began letting the annex adjoining their home, known as ‘Little Silver Nugget’ as a holiday cottage, with great success. The one bedroom bolthole has enjoyed incredible bookings every season to date – in 2023 it had a massive 41 bookings, and for 2024 it has already achieved 22 bookings (as of April 2024). It was even awarded the coveted ‘Sykes Gem Award’ in 2023!

With Little Silver Nugget gaining such popularity, Lisa and Peter decided that this peaceful retreat in the Taw Valley could provide a haven for more people, so they began exploring their options. To make use of their overgrown and redundant orchard, they set about clearing the space, and decided to expand their collection by introducing four shepherd’s huts.


Location

As with any project like this, ensuring you have correct planning permission is vital. For more information, read our farm diversification blog, or consult with rural professionals such as Greenslade Taylor Hunt for bespoke advice.

Peter and Lisa identified the orchard as being the perfect place for their venture… but first they were faced with the mammoth task of clearing the brambles and vegetation. They enlisted the help of some pigs borrowed from neighbours to clear the site! Once the weeds and foliage were gone, it soon became apparent just how wonderful the views were of the valley and river below, and just what a private, picturesque spot this was.


The design process

Each of the huts has been perfectly designed for romance and comfort. Built by a local business, Ashfords Shepherds Huts, each are positioned and designed slightly differently, but all are marginally bigger than standard, enabling them to fit in everything needed for a comfortable stay and more besides. Features include a king-size bed, private bathroom, seating, kitchen essentials, a log burner and plenty of storage space throughout.

Of course, most fundamentally, all of the huts have been positioned to give guests the best views and an abundance of privacy. Each hut has a large window at the bottom of the bed so guests can sit and enjoy their morning drink whilst admiring the view!

Lisa said: “My favourite feature in the hut has to be the big window at the bottom of the bed. No matter the season, you are able to snuggle up and look at the view with a cuppa!”

Additionally, each hut comes with its own outdoor space, complete with a seating area, a chiminea and a spacious hot tub. The space around the hut is designed for the guests to feel undisturbed so they can enjoy their romantic getaway.

Little Silver Leaf, Little Silver Owl and Little Silver Fox were the first three huts to be installed, arriving in 2019. Each hut was delivered one at a time. The first to be delivered and put into place took a whopping 10 hours, making sure everything was secure and positioned at the right angle. Shortly after, the two other huts were up and running as well. In 2023, these huts achieved 52 bookings, 48 bookings and 36 bookings respectively!

2021 saw the addition of Little Silver Pheasant – a slightly differently styled hut, this property has a separate sleeping area, but just like the other three, it provides luxury five star accommodation with a hot tub and boundless privacy. It achieved 45 bookings in 2023.


Making the properties ‘stand out from the crowd’

Lisa and Peter spent a lot of time discussing the huts, picking out the perfect decor, arranging the layout and ensuring the huts were made from the best quality materials possible. Each is uniquely styled, and all offer a real ‘retreat to the wilderness’ feel.

Given the remote location of the huts, guests are met by Peter on arrival, where they then park their cars (electric car charging available!) and become acquainted with their personal golf buggy, dedicated to them for accessing their property for the duration of their stay! Quirky and unique features such as this certainly add an element of fun for guests.

Visitors arriving for a week also receive a hamper that is filled with goodies including jam made from fruit in the orchard, cookies, freshly baked scones or bread, eggs from the Little Silver resident chickens, homemade apple juice, crisps, wine, milk, butter, tea and sugar. Providing a hamper on arrival not only creates a fabulous first impression – it can lead to high overall guest satisfaction and subsequently more repeat bookings.

A welcome pack supplied at the Little Silver Shepherd's Huts

A Little Silver welcome hamper

Other ways Peter and Lisa have sought to enhance guest experience is by suppling logs for the log burning stove, a smart TV, underfloor heating and even a Sonos 1 smart speaker with Alexa personal assistant. This speaker has been specially modified for guests to ask property-related questions including “Where do I put my recycling?” and “Where is the best pub in the area?” Guests can even request songs to be played.

Should a booking come in for a special occasion, for instance a milestone birthday, anniversary or honeymoon, Lisa and Peter are always pleased to hear about it, and are happy to help accommodate any extra requirements upon request. They’ve even been known to put out a selection of cheeses, banners, balloons and flowers!

“We like to think that our property is special and it’s nice to know that people are choosing to spend those special moments here.”

A word of advice…

We asked Lisa and Peter if they have any top tips for other owners thinking of letting.

“We believe we get such outstanding reviews because of the amount of care and attention to detail we give to each guest. You can never do enough due diligence and can never think far enough ahead. You should be as prepared as possible, using the boy Scout approach. That being said, it doesn’t matter how much you have planned, you will always find you have forgotten something. If things do go wrong, the most important thing to remember is how you handle the situation. If you have done your best, guests will appreciate that.”

If you are interested in learning more about farm diversification, why not read our complete guide here:
For those still deciding whether to start a glamping business, read our blog ‘Is a Glamping Business a Good Investment?