Reviewed by Zoe Holland
YHA is now the official onsite accommodation provider for the Eden Project, one of Cornwall’s most famous and recognisable attractions. YHA Eden Project is a unique place to stay and it’s perfectly in tune with its sustainable, eco-friendly surroundings! My family and I were fortunate enough to stay in one of the new Bell Tents situated in the camping ground behind the main YHA site. Our party consisted of my husband and I, plus our 4 children aged between 11 months and 11 years. Our stay took place on a Sunday at the start of August in the school holidays, one of the venue’s busiest periods.
We travelled down from North Devon on the A30. This is a good road, although traffic can get heavy during the Summer months. As we approached St Austell we took a narrow B road. Despite being a minor road the Eden Project and then the YHA were clearly sign posted as we approached.
The main site consists of a large car park with accommodation along the back side. Most of the accommodation available are sustainably used old shipping containers, converted into cutting edge sleeping pods. To the right side of the car park is a large marquee. This is the main reception area and communal dining area. There is also a coffee shop / bar.
We arrived at half past 3, not knowing that check in and reception were not open until 4pm. I spoke to a cleaner who informed me we could use the toilets, lounge area and kitchen facilities but that we couldn’t check in until the reception was open in half an hour.
The lounge area inside the marquee is comfortable and practical. There’s plenty of information about the Eden Project and local days out, and there’s a distinct ‘Eco’ theme to the place. We waited here, whilst taking turns for toilet breaks until reception opened at 4pm.
Once reception was open we were welcomed by a number of helpful YHA staff. The young lady who spoke to me was incredibly efficient, helpful and friendly. We were given all the information we needed about where to park, how to find our Bell Tent and local places to eat. We set off to find our home for the night.
We were able to park at the entrance to our field. We had to carry our luggage a short distance to our tent. It’s never easy dragging a suitcase across a field but the distance was more than manageable, even with 4 kids in tow.
The tents are set on a wooden terrace which really improves the living space. The terrace includes a picnic bench for dining and wooden balustrade ensuring safety and relaxation for all. The interior of the bell tent is spacious and simple. In the centre is a double futon, made up with sheets, pillows and duvet. 3 further single futons again made up with crisp clean sheets and single duvets filled the rest of the tent. We brought our own cot bed for our 11 month old son, but even with this addition the tent felt spacious and roomy. The only other kit provided was a large chest for storage and 2 bean bags. There is a large light hanging from the middle of the tent which provided substantial light.
We were lucky enough to have a clear, dry evening and the views from our tents veranda were absolutely breath taking. We enjoyed coastal views down to Fowey and beyond, one of the things I will remember most about our stay here. Another plus point was that despite being peak holiday season the camping area was relatively quiet. There are 6 bell tents in total with a handful of independent campers in addition to these. The vibe on the campsite was friendly and relaxed. Our children played football with others. Passers-by smiled and said hello. There was certainly no late night rowdiness or excessive noise.
At the lower end of the field, towards the main YHA site there is a row of toilets and showers. These were incredibly clean and were above the standard of what I would expect to come across in a typical campsite. I observed the toilets being cleaned and checked on at least 2 occasions in just the evening we spent on our terrace. The showers were hot, efficient and easy to use. Just what you want.
We decided, having driven 2 hours already that day, to order a takeaway delivery to have on our terrace rather than drive to a local pub. I visited reception to ask them for local takeaway numbers and again the staff were more than helpful. I had an issue trying to pay for my order and ended up spending 10 minutes on the phone. During this time a member of staff walked my 11 month old around the marquee, entertaining him and keeping him happy. This was hugely appreciated by me and the kind of service that really makes a place stand out above others.
Our food arrived without further hiccups, and with bellies full we snuggled down for the night. Despite starting off cold the tent seemed to warm up with our body heat and we all slept heavily and well.
We woke up to grey skies and rain. Suddenly I was reminded how tricky camping can be with kids in the rain!! The marquee opened at 8am where we enjoyed warm coffee and pastries we’d brought with us. The atmosphere was lively and busy. It seemed everyone on site was up early to try to beat the queues at the Eden Project. The kitchen facilities are fairly basic; microwave, kettle and communal fridge. There is also the option to buy a breakfast deal including hot drinks, pastries and fruit juice.
By 9am we’d packed up and headed down to the Eden Project. The glamping experience was a truly positive one, and as glamping goes an affordable one. We managed quite well with our 11 month old on this trip but I think that this stay is ideal for school age and up. Our older children absolutely loved the camping and the friends they made. Just make sure you book sunshine!!
Camping with YHA Eden Project starts from £12.99, private rooms from £29 and family rooms from 34.99. For more information or to make a booking visit www.yha.org.uk/yha-eden-project.
YHA Eden Project, Bodelva, Cornwall, PL24 2SG | 0800 0191 700