Ditch Disney and come here this summer!

I didn’t want to go camping.

I didn’t have the best childhood experiences and even ‘glamping’ has always seemed pointless to me (if it’s that comfy, why not just go the whole way and book a hotel?)

I arranged a long weekend at Devon’s Crealy Meadows site for Paul and I and our brood of five – partly because it’s right next door to the theme park itself; partly because the tents do look pretty amazing. And partly because I’d been hearing some really good feedback from friends and colleagues (Trip Advisor is awash with good reviews too).

With the above in mind I’m not quite sure what my expectations were as we headed down on a Friday – but I can say that as we left on a Sunday we all had the hugest grins and I can say it was a fantastic experience. We’re even going to rebook, #shocker.

The first thing that struck me was the staff. These guys couldn’t have been more friendly and helpful if they tried. I figured that maybe they were all just in a good mood because it was a Friday. But in fact across the entire weekend literally every member of staff was in terrific spirits (where do they get these people from?!) and just really wonderfully helpful to us all. This in itself creates the right kind of atmosphere.

Second, our tent. Take a look. The kids were beside themselves with the Safari theme.

Mine and Paul’s partition was at the back; adjacent was a ‘room’ with (proper) bunks; and then there was a hidden ‘den’, raised up off the floor. Cue a 25 minute argument re who should sleep where (Paul loves a den... ;-) - and a lot of excitement on what (or who) could be hidden underneath.

Third, despite this being authentic camping – it’s a tent! We’re actually outside! There’s no bloody heating (yes it was cold at night) – BREAKING NEWS: We had proper beds!

And a Belfast sink in our ‘proper’ kitchenette!

And a proper table inside!

Fourth (and this was possibly both my biggest surprise and favourite part) – the (communal) bathroom. It was immaculate – at all times, totally clean and immaculate (note that there were two bathrooms: male / female). On entering the (spacious and wow, totally warm) building there was a row of loos and a row of hand sinks...around the corner were the showers. All of it – immaculate and clean. I’d forgotten (until we arrived) that we actually wouldn’t have our own loo and bathroom and on hearing the word ‘communal’ I must admit I panicked. But these were above and beyond any expectation.

I was also hugely impressed with the outside space. We didn’t feel hemmed in by our neighbours (by the way if you don’t fancy the safari experience, you can go medieval – how cool are these?) and it was a really nice, family-orientated atmosphere.

Just outside our tent was an al fresco dining area – replete with fire pit (our welcome pack included marshmallows to toast – and a thoughtful array of veggie food for me – they do check). And there are a couple of play areas on site too meaning our kids got to make friends and occupy themselves while we unpacked and cooked dinner (not that the distant call of the theme park was ever far from our kids' minds I must admit).

A couple of tips on the note of food: the kitchen stove does take a while to heat up – bear that in mind. But if you don’t want to cook tea, order a take-out pizza from the Crealy park on-site restaurant.

In short then, it turns out that glamping is pretty amazing! But I think you’d be hard pushed to find better than here for families. Its clean, its well-kitted out, the staff are amazing, and the site is a two minute walk from an amazing theme park (yes I know there are many UK sites with farms - but seeing a cow being milked just doesn't cut it any more for my 12 year old - particularly as compared with rollar coasters, splash zones and indoor play parks with mega slides). Plus Crealy really do think of everything - with a petting zoo, Meer Kat Manor and pony rides too.

And of course here you’re in the beautiful south west, a short drive from some of the best coastlines in Britain.

In fact however on departure we nipped into nearby Exeter for the annual food festival and had the most wonderful afternoon trying the best local produce and watching various chefs in action. Brilliant.

Of all the perhaps more exotic trips we’ve had with the kids, they summed it up in the car on the way home as “the best holiday ever!” – and it was only a weekend away. I think that says it all.

To book call 01395 234 888 or head online to Crealy Meadows