Home work - Tipis and pods
A festival that is boutique in all the right ways, Hydro Connect offers some truly original bespoke accommodation options, as Emma Newlands discovers
Ideally, all camping experiences would take place in Jellystone Park with Yogi Bear, or on a tropical desert island in a tent made of palm leaves.
Back in the real world, inevitably the unpredictable Scottish climate and an excess of musical revelry mean that festival accommodation can often be a hazardous business involving sleeping on bumpy ground and fumbling around in the dark for tent pegs at 4am.
Hydro Connect, however, offers something a little more upmarket, with various bespoke sleeping options creating a much more civilised alternative, all against the stunning backdrop of the banks of Loch Fyne and Inveraray Castle. As its organisers point out: 'Every tent has a view.'
As tent hire and pitch service firm Tangerine Fields make clear: 'Festivals are about great music, great friends and great times, not faffing around with tent poles.' With this in mind, the company offers roomy two-, four- and six-person tents, or two-, six- and eight-person teepees. The latter aren't guaranteed to be waterproof but come with a ground sheet, matting, rain hat, lanterns, two chairs and a table.
Prices range from £95 for a two- man tent to £1000 for a six-man teepee. All packages include access to 'The Tangerine Field', a separate area in the main campsite, with toilets and hot showers (surely nirvana for any festival-goer?) exclusively for Tangerine Fields customers.
According to Tangerine Fields: 'Once you're in, we let you get on with dancing and drinking, then, come hometime we'll wave goodbye to you before taking down the tent and packing away the beds, leaving you to head home for a proper cup of tea and well-earned early nights.'
The organisation can ensure that groups of friends camp together, and you can sleep even more soundly knowing that the brand new sleeping bags (£17 each) are donated to national homeless charities after the event (although you can keep them if you so desire).
For something altogether sturdier, Podpads are comfy, weatherproof wooden huts at £345 each with either a double or twin beds. As with Tangerine Fields your accommodation allows you to 'escape the hassles of finding camp space, erecting tents, flapping canvas, leaks and, the inevitable take-down and trying to repack into a bag seemingly designed only to ever fit your tent at the point of leaving the factory.'
You have to bring your own bed linen, but the 8 x 6ft huts do include a groundsheet, fitted carpet, interior light, shelving with a mirror and a lock on the front door so you can store your valuables, as well as windows with curtains for privacy. The eco-friendly pods are also solar-powered and come with an optional 12v socket to charge your ipod or mobile.
Hydro Connect bosses sagely predict that 'at the end of each day you can wander back to your tent through the mystical woodland of the estate . . . the next morning the sleepy campsite awakens. You emerge from your tipis and pods, tasting the crisp clean air of the Highlands, as the anticipation of the weekend's atmosphere builds again.'
Tent-only deals: pitched – from £95 for two people to £330 for six
Special packages: pitched – from £145 for two people to £470 for six.
Teepees: from £520 for two people to £1000 for six.