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Dome Garden
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Reviews (112)
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Reviewed 10 June 2012

Well we’ve just got back early from our long weekend ‘glamping’ at the Dome Garden. As a family of complete novice campers we didn’t bank on the June half term weather being newsworthy gales and torrential rain. That certainly had an effect on our moral on the first night – memories of my partner being outside in the pouring rain and gusty winds for two hours to cook us a bowl of pasta each and make a lukewarm cuppa will stick with me for some time. However, we did get used to lighting and keeping a fire to have a decent shower an hour later, and we did get used to lighting another fire to cook, brew a cuppa and yet another fire to keep warm in the Dome. I’m pleased to say that after all the wood-chopping, and there is a lot to be done, the man of our Dome came home with fingers intact (the Dome Garden’s wood-chopper wasn’t so lucky this weekend apparently).

Highlights: our two children (4 and 7) playing outside (once the rain abated) with the other children; egg collecting from the resident chickens; kids on the zip wires and tree swings; the camaraderie on the pizza night; the children climbing into their hanging beds each night and not falling out; finally managing to get a decent fire going; lovely location backing onto the forest; and of course a loo and shower right next to our Dome.

And the not-so-high-lights: not having anywhere to sit inside the Dome to eat when it was pouring with rain outside; the slight fear and paranioa throughout the first night that one of the forest trees behind us would blow down onto our Dome during the gales; cold storage (yes, I may be a wet-behind the ears camper but I took fresh milk which quickly went off when stored the natural way!); and I have to mention the cost – it was a pretty expensive experience which sadly may be a barrier to us trying it once again...

Activities: we went to Dick Whittington farm park which was a little tired and frayed around the edges but had a very good play area. On our dry day we did a 11-mile family trail bike ride from Cannop – a lovely ride, very popular and with lots of routes depending on your ability.

All in all a lovely experience which was slightly dampened, literally, by the weather and the cost.

  • Stayed: June 2012, travelled with family
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1  Thank Mags121
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Jonny C, Owner at Dome Garden, responded to this reviewResponded 11 September 2012

Hi Mags

I’m delighted you had fun at the Dome Garden and thank you for your review, which has highlighted a couple of really interesting points.

A guest came up to me the other day and said "I'm really good with fires but I don't think you can boil a kettle in less than half an hour using your rocket stoves."

Well, one thing we do like here is a challenge, so we had a little wager. Under the terms of the bet we were allowed five minutes to get a stove up to heat and then five minutes to boil enough water for three cups of tea or, in my case, hot Ribena!

Now, the big idea here at The Dome Garden is that we use slightly different things to achieve everyday tasks. “Not like it is at home” is my watchword. It helps you to remove yourself from whatever it is you came here to escape. It also helps you relax and somehow extends the apparent time and effectiveness of your holiday. It’s all part of what we originally, somewhat jokingly, referred to as “The Dome Garden Magic” but which we all now know really does exist.

None of this stuff is designed to work “right out of the box” as Steve Jobs would have had it. In this modern world everything has to be so intuitive and we’ve all become rather impatient - we just expect it to work with no input from us.

Well, we take the opposite view. We think there is huge value – on many levels – not least in terms of empowerment - in expanding our horizons and perhaps learning to master a few lost skills. The biggest example of that here is mastering the art and appreciating some of the subtleties of basic fire making. But it can need a little help and it does take a little practise.

So, for you guys, as you describe yourselves “a family of complete novice campers”, it will clearly have been unfamiliar. The very best thing to have done (rather than waiting a month to raise it here) would have been to ask for help at the time.

I am very proud of the staff we have assembled at the Dome Garden. Whoever you come across they are enormously approachable, they are really friendly and they’re absolutely dying to help you. So they could have had you up and running in no time – if only you’d asked.

The other thing you mention is the cost. Now that’s an odd one. We look really carefully at our prices all the time and we compare it with the few sites in the country we consider to be comparable. Although remember there are only three places remotely similar to this in the whole world.

So, I’ve just checked what we charge on a per-head basis. This year you could have stayed here for as little as £18.93 per head per night! I think that is low by anyone’s standards. In fact it wouldn’t even cover the cost of the firewood your husband might have used.

If you are who I think you are, then you actually came for three days during the spring half term – one of the very few peak weeks we have each year when we turn away more people than we actually accommodate. The pressure on those dates is so intense that we allow the prices to rise to the heady heights of £39 per head per night. Now, I still think that is amazingly reasonable. Some might even call it cheap!

If you’d stayed in a small cottage or at the humblest B&B within 20 miles from here you’d have probably paid the same - or more…

But anyway, what happened with the bet? Well, I am happy to say that we were all sitting around the nice warm stove, tea and Ribenas in hand, with 12 seconds still left on the clock!

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 April 2012

My daughter had asked for a camping weekend for her 10th birthday, and after looking on the internet, I discovered the wonderful Dome Garden website. The reality of the 'geodome' tent was even more amazing than I had imagined. Despite icy conditions, and unpredictable April showers, we had the most fun I have had for months, from gathering wood for the fires, to wandering around the magical Forest of Dean that starts at the end of the garden. Everything inside the dome is cool and comfy, and the outdoor 'kitchen' has everything you need. The children adored the 'flying' beds, and the huge bonfire was perfect for roasting marshmellows. My daughter's response to the whole weekend was "that was the best birthday treat I could ever have in my whole life; I want to go there every weekend!"

  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled with family
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Thank becky q
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 April 2012 via mobile

Our whole experience has been first class, from the entertaining website through to one of the best short trips we have ever had. The spacious domes are incredible to live in especially with the wood burning stove, large window on the world, and a big skylight to see the stars. Having 3 fires to play with was SO much fun for the boys and I. The weather wasn't particularly kind but we had a great time none the less with so much fun stuff to do locally. The bike trails are incredible, Puzzlewood was a magical meander, and Clearwell Caves was the perfect answer when it tipped it down all day. The pizza night was a real highlight with the chance to socialise and make your own pizza. I love the different characters of the domes and look forward to returning to try one of the others! For me it delivers everything it claims on the website and more - so chuffed to have discovered this gem in the forest :-)

  • Stayed: April 2012
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Thank Japesbland
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 April 2012

If you've read other reviews, you'll already know this is a cool place, but not many have mentioned the cost, so I'm going to start there. Yes, if you treat this as a camping holiday it's a lot of money, but the costs are roughly in line with renting a poky Cornish holiday cottage and trust me, you'll have so much more fun here (unless you want to see the sea - that's a fair way off). It's a proper adventure and kids absolutely love it.
We just thought they've got the concept spot on. The domes are genuinely luxurious, but you need to put a bit of effort in to make the most of it - this mainly means keeping the home fires burning so your dome is warm, you have hot water and heat to cook on. It's primitive living for the softies we all know we've become.
And it's such a joyful place to spend time: part Teletubby land, part festival vibe, just a very chilled place. My wife and I thought about coming here without our kids (aged 8 & 7) for a weekend away, but we're so glad we took them: the sense of wonder on their faces when we first got there was just superb and the sense of discovery that never left them for two days was something that’ll stay with them for years. Foraging for dry fire-lighting twigs in the surrounding woods, getting eggs from the chickens and cooking them immediately, seeing a wild boar 30 feet away, watching the stars through the see-through top of the Dome as the wood-burner crackled gently.
Three days of this beats two weeks on a beach hands down for me. It just gets you away from stuff, but lets you keep that element of luxury. There's loads to do nearby, including a superb mountain bike centre, but you could easily just hole up in the garden with a drink and marvel at the design of the domes before making your own pizzas and lobbing them in the pizza oven.
Sorry, I've rambled on for too long, but before we went I baulked at spending this much to go camping. Now I can't think of anything I'd rather spend my money doing.

  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled with family
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Thank Oliver M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 April 2012

We read all the rave reviews, but our experience wasn't very favourable. Everything seemed disorganised and haphazard, not at all what we'd been led to believe on the website. To be fair, we went the first week it was open after the winter, and it did actually snow one morning, which didn't help. But our dome had huge holes in it, which when I pointed it out, they stuck some tape over it. Unfortunately they missed a bit, and after one night of torrential rain, the roof had leaked all over my daughter's bed, and her duvet was soaking the next morning. We couldn't get the water very hot either - maybe we are just incompetent - but in any case the bathroom was so glacial that we didn't fancy undressing there! Finally, there seemed a shortage of equipment - mugs, chopping knife, scissors - that sort of thing - we'd have brought our own if we'd known. Pity, as we'd really looked forward to it, but had to leave early - the soaking bed was the last straw.

  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled with family
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11  Thank FJ10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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