Tent Reviews: Lotus Belle
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9.88/10 from 8 reviews
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8 Reviews of the Lotus Belle
By: Peter Buck Rogers Reason: I own(ed) one Made in: 2014 Rating:
It's the 'beauty' of the thing more than anything else. People say 'like a bell tent' or 'like a yurt' but frankly it's more like an Onion Dome on a church in St Petersburg, just beautiful. We saw one at a festival years back and had to have one. And yes, we love it.
The quality is better than any other tent, I'm confident of that. The canvas is really heavy duty, the groundsheet is made of the heavy 'plastic' stuff that makes the curtain sides on 'tautliner' lorry trailers. We are not glampsite owners or anything like that, but our Belle spends six months of the years (the nice months!) up in our garden as our 'gin palace' so it gets the same sort of treatment. Glamp operators usually trade up their tents every three or so years (probably tax efficient, I don't know), but ours is eight years old and will likely do a couple more, and we aren't as 'kind' to it as we could be (I figure if you re-proof it with UV proof stuff each year it will last for decades). But It will get to ten years old and still be a pleasure, I'm sure of that.
It's a tent for long term use in the garden or for someone who has a glamping business, not for backpacking, canoe camping, or car camping (unless you have a big car and strong arms). Fancy Glamp sites love them because bell tents are 'ten a penny' but the Lotus Belle's unique beauty makes them completely change the appearance of a site.
They are easy to put up, surprisingly so, and I do ours on my own in under an hour, but they are heavy and bulky (super thick canvas and groundsheet, solid wood centre pole, metal ribs all round the outside) so they'll take up the bulk of a car. If there's just two of you in a hatchback and you want to make a big impression at a three day festival or something, why not, but they're big & heavy to move, you'll need a couple of good quality sack barrows to move it to where you pitch it. I don't think you can have 'super durable' and 'super lightweight in the same tent', I've got quality backpacking tents that are 'durable' in terms of storm resistance, but I don't think any would last long with six months a year pitching.
But enough of the quality, what about the tent as a thing to use? I've already said it's beautiful, but it's also practical. The bulge out of the high walls mean you can pretty much stand anywhere in the tent, so it is all usable space (and the centre is really high, so you get a 'lofty' / 'airy' feeling. 'Normal' bell tents slope sharply so you lose a lot of floor space, I guess the 'vertical sides' of this one are why people say 'like a yurt'. So it's usably big, big enough that the pole doesn't get in the way, you can put a full size bed behind the pole easily.
It is single skinned, but cotton canvas swells and becomes more waterproof when wet, I can say that at eight years old ours is still surely waterproof. It has a lot of ventilation (roof vents, venting all the way round where the walls join the roof) so it 'airs' well.
There are extras you can buy for them. A satin wall lining (no need, I like canvas) a thermal quilty wall lining (no need for me, I put it away for the winter) and a clip in place bedroom compartment, I bought one and used it a couple of times but don't feel the need, and frankly it spoils the space, you don't want to sub-divide this lovely open space. For glampers having a stove might be a nice feature, but we don't, as ours goes to bed for the winter. The one MUST HAVE add on is a roof cover, whilst canvas is waterproof and long lasting it gets baked by UV and I figure one reason mine has lasted so long is that I have bought the polyester (or similar) roof covers for it, every couple of years since they first came out. I bought the first one just to have a funky coloured roof, but realised that they take all the UV and start to disintegrate after a year, which underlined how much UV damage a tent has to put up with, so I regard these as a good tent protector. We nestle ours in trees in the garden so they catch the bird droppings and leaves and so on as well. The protectors are supposed to last about a season, and if you suffer a late season storm the somewhat brittle (by season's end) cover will rip, but I have routinely gotten a second season out of the cover after stitching or patching any rips (the bag it comes in is a useful supply of matching patching or reinforcement).
I guess you could say we use ours as a 'garden room', but friends sleep in it when they visit (even though we've got spare rooms if people have kids they definitely want to camp in it). Everyone comments on it, and on a sunny evening, sitting in an armchair in a Lotus Belle is the best place to drink a G&T.
Our tent is 'old' so there are newer models, but they haven't changed enormously. Ours has one door at the front, new ones can have front and back doors, ours has PVC windows, that can open, some new ones can have mozzie net windows (good for hot places but the PVC keeps heat in of a British summer evening) etc. Basically the newer ones are the same tent, the same heavy fabric and quality, just with more features. The only new feature I lust after is the 'stargazer' windows you can have in the top of the tent. But honestly, I can sit outside and gaze at the stars, so I'll stick with my model until natural end of life (the tent's or mine, whichever comes first).
Seriously, if you want a really large, top quality, long lasting garden tent or you want to offer glamping of a little higher quality, or perhaps you'll do some long term camping where carting a heavy tent to the pitch isn't such a problem, then I can't think of a better tent. I can think of cheaper, of course, but better? Nope, I can't.
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By: Sweethursday Reason: I own(ed) one Made in: 2016 Rating:
As new campsite owners we want to offer a yurt-like experience for our guests. We bought our first Lotus Belle tent just before Christmas, and with our usual boundless enthusiasm we immediately pitched it in the garden. With two of us it took about an hour to pitch. In future it will be much quicker as we now have the guys tied in place. We furnished inside with a table for ten, a christmas tree, fairy lights, and a wood burning stove, and invited our friends round for dinner. They were delighted to come inside where it was super warm and cozy. We also had a night in the tent, this was in January when the temperature was below freezing all night, with the stove and an electric blanket we were toasty warm.
The tent is really good quality, we are confident it will meet our needs this summer for our guests. So confident that our second tent will be arriving soon!
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By: Janboree Reason: I own(ed) one Made in: 2013 Rating:
Over the last two years, our Lotus Belle has been the first tent I've really felt a great deal of affection for, so much so we call it the 'Disco Tent' due to my sudden, glamping preoccupation with fairy lights. Its construction is very sturdy and heavy duty proving itself twice at the same exposed site, when other tents were being damaged in high winds and torrential rain, by remaining warm, cosy and dry. The deep, paddling pool style ground sheet was also invaluable when we once woke up in the middle of a temporary moat.
On hot days the thick, off-white canvas has also been a relief when it has stayed cooler than any of our previous synthetic tents, being able to roll up the porthole windows to cause air flow helps too. I just love waking up on sunny mornings to stare at the shadows on the roof, it is very calming, but the downside is that during early summer the long daylight hours can make it hard to get to sleep and then wakes me too early - an eye mask has been my solution.
Back when I was first considering a bell-tent in order to make our usual set-up a little more luxurious, the first aspect of the Lotus Belle that appealed to me was head height across the whole diameter of the footprint - unlike the more usual shape. In use this has been great, providing us with an airy, social space into which we can invite our friends on inclement nights. The fairy lights and the tea-light chandelier really make the atmosphere in a space where we can just drink and talk the night away irrespective of the weather outside. We've not experienced any major problems with bug invasions and I do prefer the open interior myself, but I would consider buying the inner tent if we venture up Scotland's West coast again.
So, the downsides…
Weight and packed size are the primary issues: in single bag the tent is a hefty structure to travel with and manhandle. We tackle this by dividing it up into at least three separate bags: the 10 outer steel poles in one, canvas in another, central pole, pegs and groundsheet in the last. This way we can pack the tent around our other camping equipment.
Erecting it is straightforward - probably best done by two people, but not impossible for one. The hardest part, for us at least, is getting the curving steel poles into the wall canvas. This year we plan to get around this by installing the poles at home and folding the canvas into a 'banana bag' which we have just bought from the Lotus Belle website. This should halve the time putting it up at site, but does mean we will have to accommodate the 2 metre long banana into the car space - we will have to see how this pans out.
Anyway I hope my review is helpful to you if you are considering buying one of these tents. As other reviewers have said, they are extremely well made and robust. They are also beautiful in an unusual way: I really do love the comparisons it gets to onion domes, minarets and yurts - a great way to get to know your fellow campers.
Look out for the flashing garlic bulb - it's probably us!
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By: Garyalex Reason: I own(ed) one Made in: 2014 Rating:
What a great tent! We used it for the first time at a little local camp arranged in honour of the 50th birthday of a friend. All are very experienced campers, and know how to throw great parties. The Lotus Belle was an amazing hit and point of interest. Everyone wanted to see inside, and all were very impressed, including several yurt and teepee makers. They loved both the aesthetics and the engineering. One is on the point of buying one. We will optimise the furnishing over the next few outings. Our photos show our first try (real messy camping, not display for glamping customers).
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By: Fairyfest Reason: I own(ed) one Made in: 2014 Rating:
I have just received my lotus belle!
First pitching is not yet done (the tent just arrived in my garden in Norway!), but I wanted to just write a review -as soon as possible- on how amazing the service has been till now.
From the first mail until the delivery today, it has been easy/precise/quick to communicate/deal/buy with LOTUS BELLE UK.
Just a fantastic experience!
I completely recommend them! :)
And will come back with pictures and impression on the tent itself later on. Best wishes.
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By: Hotbananas Reason: I own(ed) one Made in: 2013 Rating:
Wow what a tent! Oh my gosh we were so excited when we ordered our tent, it certainly wasnt cheap so we had pretty high expectations. We weren't disappointed!
It is beautifully made, the canvas is thick and strong, all the parts are superb quality - like the wooden centre pole even has brushed aluminium joints with logos embossed in to them, and the pegs are just about the strongest I have ever come across in my life. They even put in a mallet for you!
Like the other reviews said, it is heavy, but you can split it up in to bags to make it portable and its so worth it when its up. I'd say not a good idea to try and drag across a big festival site on your own with the kids in tow, but you can definitely carry it from the car to a campsite pitch, or put it on a sack truck to pull about, and we can easily fit it in the boot of our car as they claim on the website.
The space inside is AMAZING. You can stand up in all of it, even my husband who is 6ft can stand up nearly all the way to the edges so all the space inside is usable. It's such a beautiful space to wake up in in the mornings, the way the roof swoops up in a curve is really calming.
All in all, we think its actually really good value for what it is, like DarrylC said - you get what you pay for, and this tent is going to last us a lifetime of joy. Thank you Lotus Belle!
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By: DarrylC Reason: I own(ed) one Made in: 2013 Rating:
Lotus Belle 5m Review.
We have been camping for many years and have owned many types of tents from lightweight mountain tents through to 8 berth canvas bungalows. Our newest tent before the Lotus Belle was an Outwell Minnesota 4 with the front extension which we purchased about 3 years ago. The Outwell we were very pleased with but impossible to pitch single-handed. An accident in 2011 meant I could no longer lift my left arm above shoulder height, so pitching the Outwell became a painful experience.
This spring we started looking at tipis. Seemed a good idea but the sloping sides mean that even with a 5m tent a lot of space is lost. The same with bell tents; better height at the sides, but still lose a lot if like me you are 6ft +.
I stumbled across the lotus belles whilst searching the net. The shape was immediately appealing, being an “almost yurt”. The high sides made us think that all the floor space would be usable. We decided on a 5m tent which would mean that the double air-bed could go end-on to the wall and still leave room to walk around the centre pole. The tent was ordered, and arrived by courier in a couple of days. So what do we think of it?
Firstly, it is heavy. Really heavy. About 80 kilos for the 5 metre. Just imagine carrying 3 bags of coal across the field and you will get the idea. And being canvas, it’s bulky. It certainly will not fit in an estate car with a family and all the camping gear. But it will split into several bags which makes it easier to move around and store.
First attempt at pitching was in a friends paddock on a nice sunny day. Following the instructions, it took about 2 hours, but this included tying on all the guy lines. Once up it is very easy to adjust the guys to get it looking very straight. I was impressed by the quality of construction. All the seams were very well stitched and everything fitted together as it should. It appeared to be a very solid tent.
Second pitching was a slightly different experience. The tent was pitched at dusk in driving rain. After trying to put the roof section up first, gave up and pitched it in the normal manner. Went up easily but the groundsheet holds water like a bathtub. Once it was bailed out all the camping gear could be thrown in and sorted in the morning. Despite all the inside of the tent being sodden from the rain, by morning being canvas it had completely dried out.
The space inside the tent is huge. We had a double bed, all the cooking gear, two dogs and chairs with plenty of room to spare. Being able to stand up across the whole tent makes a huge difference.
Third time I put the tent up easily on my own. The easiest way is put up the walls, throw the roof over and loosely peg with three pegs, Velcro roof to walls then put up the pole.
Pros – Very easy to put up, though practice before your first trip. Now takes us about an hour.
Huge space. Very good quality tent. You will be the envy of all on the field.
Dries out quickly. Being canvas and light colour, much cooler in full sun than a plastic palace.
Cons –Heavy and bulky (though can be split to spread the load). And once you have the tent, you will want the coir mat, chandelier, bunting, fairy lights etc for the full hobbit experience. You will have a stream of visitors on the camping field wanting to admire it.
Anything we would do to improve the design? A larger, opening vent in the roof would be good (there are already two small vents). Mesh over the windows would also be good, so they could be open but keep the bugs out.
Would we buy another? It’s pricy, but you pay for what you get. So yes, we certainly would.
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By: Smeagle Reason: I own(ed) one Made in: 2012 Rating:
Great tent, loads of space inside, definitely feels bigger on the inside due to the higher walls and the curvy shape. It does take a little longer to put up than a standard bell tent, but I'm much more confident at putting it up on my own than I am with a standard bell as you can pull the walls out in a funny sort of pop-up way that doesn't require you to have more than one person. Manufacturing quality is superb, and all the parts are really strong. We love it, and it looks funky too.
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Brand new to the market.
All the positive qualities of a yurt but with much more to offer...
More financially viable than yurts or 10 man 'nylon nightmares.'
More standing space than a bell tent with a 'tardis' like interior.
High quality, heavy duty canvas and PVC base.
Sturdy, strong and long lasting.
Easy to store, dry and transport and erect.
Perfect for glampsites, festivals, weddings, stalls, social spaces.
The Lotus Belle has arrived in the UK and is now available to hire or buy. Similar in height to a yurt, The Lotus Belle is unique in providing standing space throughout the whole of the interior, allowing for a much more comfortable camping experience.
The Lotus Belle is easy to store and transport, with just one centre pole and ten lightweight and flexible wall poles which disassemble easily and quickly.Another original feature of The Lotus Belle is the separate wall and roof canvases allowing far more manageability as well as a much quicker drying tent.
The innovative design of The Lotus Belle allows the groundsheet to clip into place on the wall poles creating a ‘dish’ which prevents water and unwanted creepy crawlies from entering the tent. This design also means any section can be unhooked individually. A muddy boot space could be created in this way, or perhaps a space for a fire hearth on a colder night.
The Lotus Belle has two windows, allowing natural light to flow in as well as the circulation of fresh air. Each window has a canvas curtain which can be rolled and zipped up.
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