Back in 2017, Archie and Emma Dennis were both working in the property business in London but yearned for something different. For Archie, the family farm just outside Stamford was exerting a strong pull. Emma, meanwhile, had entrepreneurial stirrings.
Two years later, they have just launched – sorry, ‘hatched’ – ‘The Nest’, a brilliantly conceived twist on glamping just a few hours from London, but in other respects a world apart. In their own words: African Safari Lodge meets Swiss Chalet meets English Countryside.
'Pinkfoot' and 'Cuckoo'
Inspired by the luxury camps in Kenya where Emma’s family have a home, they set aside the most beautiful area of their Lincolnshire farm overlooking a lake, and have created a haven for anyone who wants the beauty and serenity of the countryside without giving up an ounce of creature comfort.
The two lodges, ‘Pinkfoot’ and ‘Cuckoo’, each sleep up to 6 guests, and are positioned far enough apart to provide privacy for two families, but close enough for a single group. Each has a king-size bed, a twin room and a two-person cabin bed. Outside is a large deck with comfy seating, perfect for an alfresco breakfast, evening cocktail, or late-night Scrabble marathon.
“Most glamping tents are narrow and deep with the beds and baths at the back,” says Emma. “We wanted stunning views from every room so ours have wide fronts and open sides. If you roll up the canvas, you can watch birds sweeping in over the lake while having breakfast, lazing on the sofa or even lying in the bath at sunset.”
Not a bad view ...
Hopefully our photos make clear how much thought and effort Emma and Archie have put into their venture. Just look at the kitchen and bathroom! What may not be obvious are the White Company linen, the ultrasoft pillows, the piping hot water, the cupboard full of board games, the fully-stocked kitchen, the rugs and throws to keep you warm, and the fact that as well as a wood-burning stove you have an electric hob. They could so easily have stinted on some of these things, but they didn’t.
“We were new to the business, so we thought ‘What would we want if we went glamping?’ and took it from there,” says Emma.
It so works. And that’s without even mentioning the farm tours which Archie gives in his old Land Rover or the fishing lessons to guests with young families. Or that you can bring your dog for a small supplement.
What about food? The lowpoint of old-style camping was always the inedible slop cooked on gas primers and forked down in the weary knowledge that the only alternative was Kendall Mint Cake. The Nest is a complete reboot. Guests can pre-order from a menu of tasty homemade classics (Shepherds Pie, Thai Green Curry, Pasta Bolognese, Mediterranean Stew), and your choices will be in the fridge when you arrive. You can also have bacon, eggs, bread, milk, sausages - all fresh and local - delivered each morning so that you can make your own breakfast.
Beyond the Nest, there’s plenty to do. Stamford is an attractive market town, Burghley, one of the grandest Elizabethan houses is 20 minutes away, Belvoir Castle a bit further. Peterborough Cathedral is 10 miles away, Rutland Water is 20, and there are lots of gastro pubs within striking distance. Whether your appetite is cultural or gastronomic, you’re spoilt for choice.
What does this little slice of paradise cost? £645 for 4 nights. Compared to 3 double rooms in a boutique hotel for 4 nights, that’s a bargain.
But the real point isn’t the money. The real point is that you get all the pleasures of a cosy hotel in a vastly more stimulating setting. It’s a way of staying in your comfort zone but also getting out of it. Nourishment for the body but also for the soul.
In the Nest, Archie and Emma have created something special. Our advice: get cracking!
Emma and Archie's Nest is taking bookings now for Spring 2020.