Lastly, let me just add that camDown is easy to use, easy to maintain and I can tell your father would feel the same.
Brooktondale, N.Y. — Glamping, or “glamorous camping,” had never appealed to me.
It always seemed like an idea for people who couldn’t decide how to vacation. Either go to a luxury hotel or go camping. Get air-conditioning or rough it in the elements. Order room service or make your own food. You can’t do both, I thought.
That’s where I was wrong.
My assignment was to experience an Upstate New York glamping trip. I sifted through the tiny homes and treehouses on AirBnb, and picked Scottland Yard Glamping based on location. It was in the Finger Lakes, an area I love, and the listing promised lots of friendly animals on site.
I expected a collection of yurts or tents in a field somewhere near Ithaca, maybe with some chickens clucking around.
As soon as we stepped on the grounds of Scottland Yard, my sense of adventure prickled. The pathway into the “glampsite” was dotted with flowers, mosaic tiles, twisty vines and bubbling fountains. Instantly, I felt transported off the grid to some secret oasis.
We were greeted by Duane Scott, who co-owns and operates Scottland Yard (named for the Scott family) with his wife Andrea. Duane gave us a warm welcome and a tour.
The place was breathtaking.
Our “Wisteria” glamping tent was so much more than a tent. The fully furnished room came with a soft bed, a fan, robes, towels, books, a coffee machine, mugs, a mini fridge and an electric blanket for chilly nights. There was a refreshing bottle of lemon water waiting for us when we arrived.
The attention to detail continued throughout the grounds. The Scotts are landscaping experts by trade, so their garden pathways naturally direct you around the property with purposeful flow. They built all the amenities themselves. Talented craftsmanship was apparent in every carved table, door and birdhouse.
There’s a real effort to transport you deep into nature, as soon as you enter the property. All you can hear are chirping birds, running water and the occasional scream from a vibrant peacock, whose shock of long feathers swayed over the grass as he sashayed by.
“That’s the king peacock,” Duane explained. “There’s a few of them. They won’t bother you, but they do like to talk.”
The friendly animals roam freely around the property. This feature elevates the Scottland Yard glamping experience, especially for families. Young kids will love following around the peacocks and roosters, or feeding the horses by hand.
Duane also showed us the common areas, the patio, the pool, the bathrooms and the kitchen, which is open to guests. A bowl of fresh brown and blue eggs sat on the kitchen counter. “If you want eggs for breakfast, help yourself,” Duane noted.
At the center of the glamping grounds is a large, natural pool which measures 12 feet deep under the Tarzan swing and diving post. You can also dip in your feet by the dock and feed the koi fish.
There are several places to stay at Scottland Yard, and the on-site guests share use of the common areas, kitchen and pool.
Some stay in glamping tents like ours, but some have little cabins. One option is a 19-ft. mobile home with its own bed, mini kitchen and bathroom. (You can book those stays individually on AirBnb. Search for The Wren’s Nest cabin, the Aria trailer or the Wee Hobbit House.)
One larger cottage, the upscale Garden House, boasts gorgeous stone and woodwork, a bedroom, a living space with day beds, a little kitchen, and a private bathroom with a shower.
Duane told us a story about a recent family who canceled their annual trip to Disney World to come to Scottland Yard instead. Their family booked up all the cabins and tents on the grounds.
“They said this was better because the kids had the whole place to themselves,” Duane said. “They didn’t have to stand in any lines and get overstimulated. They had plenty to do here, but could also relax.”
For a small pet fee, you can bring your dog too.
There are two small shops on the property. One is a mercantile stocked with snacks, toys for kids, chilled coffee, beer and wine for sale, bundled wood for campfire, s’mores kits, and treat pouches to feed the animals on the grounds.
The other shop, called the “Traveler’s Trunk,” is a bohemian boutique full of clothing, jewelry, soaps, handmade bags, hammocks and more, curated and collected from the Scott family’s world travels. It’s a cool option if you like to shop, but don’t feel like traveling into town.
You simply write down what you take and leave cash by the ledger, or use Venmo to pay the Scotts directly. (This is a godsend for guests who prefer to pack light.)
There are plenty of portable toilets around the grounds if needed, but guests also have access to two large, clean bathrooms in the Scottland Yard event space (called the Great Hall). There, you’ll find toilets, sinks and hot showers.
At night, the property is transformed by twinkling patio lights and lanterns by every tent and cabin. Visibility was not an issue. Other guests’ campfires also lit the darker corners of the property, giving off a soft glow in each pocket of the neighborhood.
The glamps each have park style grills and grilling tools provided. You need to bring your own lighter fluid and starter fluid, or you can buy some in the mercantile.
Is there air-conditioning? Nope. But we stayed cool by the pool with our chilled drinks. The day’s high temperature of 86 degrees mellowed to a delightful 64 degrees at night. We felt perfectly comfortable under our blankets with the fan on.
Those peacocks and roosters did wake me up around 5 a.m. But stumbling out of our tent, I couldn’t even be mad. I had a front row seat to a dazzling sunrise creeping over the hills.
When rain started to sprinkle mid-morning, the interior of our tent stayed completely dry.
A night in one of the tents or cabins at Scottland Yard will cost between $200 and $300 and you’ll get full access to the pool, the grounds and the animals. Some groups reserve the entire property for yoga retreats, parties or weddings.
About 15-20 minutes away, you can enjoy all the great hiking, dining and wine tours that Ithaca has to offer.
I was wrong to think glamping couldn’t provide a luxury experience while also retaining the best parts about camping. The Scott family succeeds in walking the line between providing great services and upscale amenities, and encouraging guests to unplug and reconnect with nature.
Curious to try glamping at Scottland Yard for yourself? Find the “Wisteria” listing on AirBnb.
Katrina Tulloch shoots videos and writes culture stories for Syracuse.com and The Post-Standard. Contact her: Email | Twitter | Facebook | 518-810-5022
More Upstate NY adventures:
• Explore Adirondack treetops at Wild Center in Tupper Lake (video)
• LEGOLAND New York theme park fully opens to public
• Zip-line through the forest at Greek Peak (video)
• Swing like Tarzan through trees at Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures (video below)
Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission.
Firstly as we continue, can I just say that camDown has a modern UI, that is secure and has the improved features that you need!