THE STORY BEHIND PORTOBELLO TENTS
Portobello Tents is a family run business that has its roots in a shared love of nature, adventure, fun and style. Together, the team has created a company that offers a wonderfully comprehensive camping experience – fresh country air combined with the indulgence of down duvets, high thread counts and ambient interiors.
Laura Audley, a founder, has the ideal credentials to run such a project. Attending the Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester, she learnt an appreciation of the environment, sustainability and spending time outdoors, intermingled with the occasional lecture on agriculture and farm business management. An idyllic summer working at a restaurant in Cornwall, eating leftovers of lobster and steak and spending days in the sun, made her realise that if at all possible she would follow a vocation that involved creativity and freedom, and avoided the tedium of an office job.
Following college, she spent two seasons on the snowy slopes of Chamonix and Courchevel, perfecting her slalom manoeuvres – and of course her chalet hosting and cooking skills. Gently pushed by her father to consider skiing as a hobby rather than a career, she decided to pursue her love of design, and did a one-year course at the KLC School of Design in Chelsea Harbour, London (despite a previously somewhat rocky relationship with school…).
There, she learnt a lot about the industry and realised that this was the profession for her. After a stint in rural Oxfordshire working for a lovely lady who taught her yet more about interiors, she knew she’d have to move to the Big Smoke if she was going to go any further. Happily, she found a job with a fantastic design company in Belgravia, where she was allowed to develop her creative process and pursue her own building and design projects both in the UK and abroad.
Nevertheless, her heart lay in the Hertfordshire countryside – where lived her dog and her horse – and she wanted to find a way to move back permanently. Thinking vaguely of setting up a permanent campsite in the garden of a country cottage, she decided to ring her brother Charles and get some advice – particularly as the cottage didn’t exist nor did she have any experience in events or camping.
Charles, together with two friends – Lachie Gordon and Robbie Parry, own Bassline Productions, a company that offers complete technical production service, as well as being the founders and organisers of Noisily Festival of Music and Arts. They have an enormous amount of event equipment, as well as lots of experience in producing parties and festivals. They gave Laura a few numbers to call and discuss her ideas, and six months later, with a bit of advice from her father, Max, Portobello Tents went live.
Bassline Productions have been fortunate enough to design and install equipment and build bespoke stages and lighting shows at festivals across the UK and beyond, including Secret Garden Party, Gottwood, Found, Love Supreme, No.6, Boomtown, Glade, build an entire large scale sound camp at Burning Man each August, and of course, Noisily! So yes, they know a thing or two about events! Which makes them an ideal sister company for Portobello Tents.
Its logo, the triangle with a line across the top, is a glyph meaning ‘explore’, reflecting one of the most fundamental parts of their ethos. Exploring new ideas, new locations; exploring all the different facets of luxury and good service; Portobello Tents’ journey is one taken not just by them, but also by everyone who is involved with them. Whether it’s at a wedding surrounded by friends or family, or exuberant, transformative festival weekends, or even a really exciting children’s party, Portobello Tents strive to be the perfect ending to your day, wherever you are, and the perfect beginning to the one that follows.
Having lived in a family home that had endless hordes of people coming through it, Laura and Charles are experts in the realm of hospitality and good fun. From ‘fake Christmas’ in November (and why not?) to their renowned ‘field parties’, friends are ceaselessly passing through, lured also by the promise of an ever well-stocked fridge (thanks to their mother). They know everything you’re going to need in order to be comfortable, and as such, you can be sure that you’ll want for nothing when making them your accommodation choice.
Their vision for Portobello Tents is to make it the ‘go-to’ boutique camping option both at home and away; to be the very best in their field (sometimes literally!). Not just in terms of their product, but also in their service and customer care. To offer personal, loyal relationships with both clients and the people they work with. When you step into your room, they want you to feel like you’ve entered a cross between a smart hotel and your own home – the luxury and excitement of being away, combined with the comfort of familiarity – something that can only be achieved with a lot of thought and appreciation of peoples’ needs. In their words: “We really care, we love what we do, and we do what we love.”