2020 brought with it a significant number of challenges, seen across a number of sectors – with hospitality and travel being among those industries that were hit particularly hard. The restrictions on these areas have been significant, and experts warn that while the vaccine roll-out and plans for moving out of lockdowns are underway, a complete recovery of these industries could take up to four years – particularly if we’re talking about reaching pre-pandemic levels.
One thing that has come out of this, though, is the rise in people turning to the great British shores for their break from reality, instead of flocking to the nearest airport by default. Towards the end of the first lockdown, UK travel bookings experienced a significant boom. And this surge in staycations is likely to remain a more permanent fixture than many had initially imagined, particularly as overseas travel continues to remain unpredictable.
Manny from The Wandering Mother agreed, saying: “Since the first lockdown we have focused on travelling within the UK. It’s something we’ve always done, but definitely not as often. We are also a big fan of glamping and there’s so many wonderful places to visit in the UK. This year, we’ll be glamping near Wales.”
Once again, people are longing to escape the boredom of lockdowns and get out of their homes which, for many, have become multi-functional places to live, work, and learn over the past year and a bit. No wonder the walls are starting to feel like they’re closing in a little!
Whether your coming from Richmond or Runcorn, Greenwich is a major tourism town that sees thousands of people paving its streets every year. This year has seen a rise in tourism again and with lockdown officially behind us all, the streets of Greenwich are starting to fill up.
I originally published this post in August 2020 but have revised it again to keep it current with this year’s events. Spending a day trip visiting Greenwich during the summer holidays can be easy, cheap and very enjoyable for the whole family. Train companies usually offer GroupSave discounts when travelling during summer holidays if you’re coming from outside of London.
If you’d seen my post a couple weeks ago, I was so happy to announce that I was able to book us for a short two-night staycation. Last week, we stayed at the Kits Coty Glamping site in Aylesford, Kent. I booked this family trip for us during the summer holidays and it was the only set of dates that were free to book in Gretel House at the time of searching.
How to travel to the Kits Coty Glamping site
The glamping site is in Aylesford which is near to Maidstone in Kent. It’s about a 50 minute train ride from Greenwich however we decided to get a minicab to take us which was about 30-40mins journey in the car. Train tickets are about £15-20 per adult (book in advance for cheaper return tickets or two single tickets) then you’d need to either get a bus or minicab from the Maidstone station to the glamping site. On the way there we did get stuck in a bit of slow-moving traffic as it was approaching rush hour when we left. Check-in at Kits Coty is after 3pm which was perfect because it meant that the kids didn’t have to miss school on arrival day.
If you have your own car and want to drive to the site you can do, Gretel House has its own car park area and the other accommodation have a shared car park area. For driving directions, make sure you read the details in the Kits Coty guestbook which you can bookmark on your phone.
Arrival day at Kits Coty
Once we arrived, we were greeted by the super-friendly Ami who owns the site with her husband Mark. She told us that we were lucky enough to have the site all to ourselves as it was a school weekday so no-one else was booked to stay at any of the other accommodations. Yay! I was super thrilled as it’s usually rare to have a site like this all to ourselves but it did make everything a little easier for us and the kids, especially considering all things COVID. Ami showed us around and to our accommodation which we fell in love with seeing immediately. It looked even more beautiful and magical in person. Little Man said to Ami “Wow! It’s even better than in the pictures!” and boy was he right. 🙂
Kits Coty – Gretel House
Inside Gretel House
Whimsical bunk beds for the kids
Gretel House is a wooden cabin (I believe it’s cedarwood) and is ideal for small families with two adults and two children. It could probably fit a cot-bed or crib in the house too but do check with the owners if this is allowed. The charming sized bed for me and Daddy P looked so romantic with the flower wall behind the bed. The whimsical wooden built-in bunk beds for the kids were as cute as ever. The beds were super comfy and so warm we never got cold at all. There’s also a radiator in the room but we hardly needed to turn it on.
Gretel benefits from having its own eco toilets (a urinal and a sit down toilet) but it’s only for those emergency wees. It did come in handy for us as the kids needed to wee (what felt like) almost every hour or two.
We unpacked our small suitcase and bags as fast as we could before exploring the grounds. The glamping site has a magical fairytale theme – we spotted the White Rabbit’s hole (Alice in Wonderland) as well as the Cheshire Cat.
What and where to eat during your stay…
If you’ve brought your own food or are able to drive to the nearby supermarkets, you can keep all of your perishable foods in the communal fridge and freezer. We only brought dry cupboard foods with us so we kept that in our cabin and ordered takeaway for the two nights. The first night we ordered the local Chinese takeaway which was tasty and affordable. The second and last night, we ordered Dominos which arrived fast and tasted good like usual. If you have a car you may be able to drive out to eat out but as we don’t drive we were bound to the glamping grounds.
If you plan to make all your own meals, there are gas cooking rings available by the kitchen for you to take back to your accommodation and use. If you didn’t book any meals before you can still do so on site but be aware that Ami and/or Mark require 24hrs notice to prepare your booked breakfast/evening meals.
Things to do at Kits Coty Glamping:
make a fire and toast marshmallows
have a little barbeque or picnic in your own garden
book a stone-oven pizza making experience
go on one of the nature walks around the estate to see the animals, the woods, the Kits Coty stones, and Kits Coty House
tie a ribbon onto the Wishing Tree and make a wish (bring your own ribbon!)
We thoroughly enjoyed our nature walks in the woods. It was so relaxing and therapeutic – like the perfect escape away from all the hustle and bustle of city life, away from the stresses of COVID and lockdown, and it was the family time we were craving for to strengthen our family bond.
Our Best Bits at Kits Coty…
My favourite part of our staycation were the nature walks and toasting marshmallows in the fire pit. Luckily, Daddy P knew exactly how to build a campfire so we didn’t have to figure it out. The wood logs are provided for by the site but you’ll need to bring your own firelights or buy them from Kits Coty which only cost 50p so it was not a massive investment. Our fire was burning for a couple hours and the crackling of the fire burning was a lovely soothing sound. The warmth of the fire kept us nice and toasty.
The kids loved the whole experience but said they really enjoyed relaxing in the hammocks and sleeping in their Gretel bunk beds. They also enjoyed the nature walks and seeing Daddy P climb up a tree in the woods! LOL
So do I recommend Kits Coty for first-time glampers?
100% I do! We had the best family experience glamping and I am so thrilled that we got to do it at Kits Coty. Years ago, I’d taken the kids camping at a family festival however after that experience, I’ve realised that I love glamping soooooooooo much more. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed being with nature and the outdoors but I also love my creature comforts just as much. I need a warm bed, hot showers and flushable toilets no matter where I go haha! I just can’t do with being fully immersed in nature just yet – especially when I can’t stand creepy crawlies so if you’re squeamish or not a fan of bugs, crawlies and anything else that has several legs or eyes, you might not be a massive fan of glamping. Our Gretel cabin wasn’t 100% bug free but that’s to be expected when you’re outdoors. We had a couple spiders in the cabin but quite a few daddy long legs flying about at night which scared the children. I reassured the kids that they don’t bite and eventually, they were able to get over it and had a good night’s sleep.
We will definitely be coming back to glamp again at Kits Coty next summer if we don’t go abroad. The site was amazing and I have no doubt that during the holiday season, this place will be fully booked. I was super chuffed that we had the site all to ourselves because if there were other families around, some things may have been very different ie. we might’ve had to queue to use the kitchen, toilet or shower, we would’ve been trying to manage bathroom timings so we don’t take too long in the communal areas and other things.
We’re looking forward to our next family travel adventures!
The kids will be going back to school on Monday and I’m not sure how to feel about it. Part of me is thrilled that they are going back, seeing their friends and finally get back to learning but there is another part of me that is anxious about how it’ll work in terms of social distancing, whether there will be another lockdown and just general hygiene safety measures.
As much as I’d like to think that the kids’ learning will pick up and resume like they’d never left but I’d be dreaming. Personally I think that the whole of September will most likely be at a slower rate as schools ensure all children are at the same level of learning before the ‘real learning’ can commence again.
With that said, I’ve made a conscious decision to book a little two nights trip away at Kits Coty Glamping for our family of four. We’re due to check-in on Tuesday afternoon so the kids will be going to school in the morning and we’ll head down to the site by late afternoon in time for dinner. We’re checking out Thursday morning so my plan is to either leave early enough to make it back for school (Aylesford, Kent is a 40mins drive from our home) OR we’ll check-out before 10am and spend the rest of the day visiting museums for educational visits and other learning activities.
Who are Kits Coty Glamping?
Ran by Mark and Ami, Kits Coty Glamping is a serene family-run glamping site in Aylesford, Kent. They couple encourage other couples and families to get away from the hustle and bustle of busy, everyday lives and relax in their peaceful accommodation and surroundings.
Embracing the noise of nature is promoted (no amplified or live music, no shouting and screaming, loud talking etc) which is wonderful but our family is naturally a little on the loud side so I’m not sure how it’ll pan out but keep your fingers crossed for us and for the other families staying at the other houses nearby. Hopefully the kids will be able to exert some self-control!
Where we will be staying…
The Gretel House
This charming, little rustic cabin will be our home for two nights in a couple of weeks. The cosy cabin can house up to two adults and two children which is perfect for us.
The Gretel house has been fabulously kitted out by Kits Coty and the kids are super excited to sleep in the cosy little bunk beds which are nestled into the wooden walls. Take a tour of the cabin on the company’s website.
Gretel is our enchanted woodland themed cabin perfect for families with small children and couples alike.
– KITS COTY GLAMPING
The Gretel cabin is the smallest out of all the accommodations offered here. The largest accommodation houses up to six people and there are shared bathroom facilities (with hot running water) onsite. There are also shared toilets however on the Kits Coty website, it states that the Gretel cabin has its own toilet, I hope this is correct as that’ll really help if Little Miss needs the loo at night time.
I’ll write a little review on our staycation once we get back and let you know all about it… whether we were quiet enough or not! :-S From first impressions, we are really looking forward to it as it looks fab. Let’s hope it’s not as cold as when we went camping a few years back…