It’s great to be working with Portobello Tents this season, with their amazing customer service and attention to detail. We caught up with founder Laura Audley recently to find out more about their high end Glamping Offering:
Tell us how you started Portobello Tents, what was the moment where you decided this is what you wanted to do?
I had studied Agriculture then Interior Design before doing a couple of ski seasons. I was then working in London and needed to get out! I think I thought I’d set up a static camp but after a few conversations realised travelling to festivals and events supplying beautiful tents to sleep in would be far more fun and sociable for someone who’d just hit the 3-0. Portobello was born!
What do you think makes an excellent glamping experience?
Two things in my opinion… the first is a great welcome – our team love meeting and greeting the guests and having a good chin-wag, carrying bags and generally smiling.
The second is that a guest expects to arrive to a smartly pitched tent sitting in a neat row in boutique camping, but, it’s when the door is opened and they step inside and the beds are there with fluffy white towels (folded so you can’t see the edges) on gently brushed blankets (hanging in equal proportions either side of the memory foam mattress) on perfectly made beds of crisp white linen that they gasp – that’s very cool!
Guests often comment on our Lotus Belle tents “wow, it’s bigger than my bedroom at home!”.
What would you say sets Portobello Tents apart from other providers?
We only supply hardwood beds with 6” memory foam mattresses – we do not have metal-framed beds or airbeds. Our beds are made by a friend’s father in Scotland and our mattresses by a lovely man who supplies the YMCA and prisons too. The mattresses have washable and breathable covers so are hugely hygienic… (although ours aren’t stab proof!).
We have made a crew pledge to not buy or use any single use plastic water bottles and were a sponsor of RAW Foundation’s expedition in South America – we are constantly trying to improve our environmental credentials and educate our guests too. We now have plastic free toiletry hampers and everything is sourced from small UK companies like us!
What has been your proudest moment so far?
When we finish a build, stand back and all the tents are perfectly in line and ‘dressed’… I’m a big fan of measuring! The last lorry loaded of the season is great but perhaps that’s more relief than proud?!
It’s pretty special when guests write to thank Portobello for their stay mentioning members of the crew by name. And on that note, the crew… I do not know how I have surrounded myself with so many fantastically hardworking, fun, and silly people – I’ve been told I’m ‘a bit of a wet wipe’ when talking about them (of course we don’t use wet wipes though)!
What has been your most challenging moment so far?
Most of my first summer! I was counting stock and then forklift loading the lorries at the warehouse then driving to beat the lorries to unload the other end, putting up tents, making beds… I’m tired thinking about it but we had great reviews from all our jobs and it was the perfect foundation.
How do you see Portobello Tents developing over the next 5 years?
With my background in Interior Design, I love our most luxurious tent options (we offer Bronze, Silver and Gold in our Bell Tents and a VIP in our Lotus Belles). It’s important for me to be able to walk into every tent and know it’s perfect as we’re offering that level of product so I’m not looking to have huge numbers of tents but do what we do really well and get our most luxurious tents enjoyed – think chandeliers, dressing gowns and slippers, magazines, branded torch to take home… to me this is Luxury Camping!
Portobello tents are providing accommodation at numerous festivals and events this summer.
Great Dorset Steam Fair – Bed Ferret Great Dorset Steam Fair
Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials – Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials
Portobello Tents – Portobello Tents.com
Burghley Boutique –Burghley Boutique.com
Learn more about Portobello tents – Provider Directory
Exterior photo taken @ Lost Village
Twin Interior photo taken @Festival No6