THE Penhein Estate sits atop a hill in the Monmouthshire countryside, with jaw-dropping views of the Severn estuary.

Livestock roam in the fields around this tranquil, 450-acre farm, and at its heart, nestled inside a small woodland, you'll find a rather unusual sight – half a dozen large Persian tents.

This is Penhein Glamping, an award-winning luxury campsite where guests are whisked away from their busy lives and spend a night under canvas in serene surroundings.

The site's Alachigh tents are more commonly found in the desert, but their use at Penhein is symbolic of the personal touch and meticulous attention to detail upon which owners James and Helen Hearn pride themselves.

When the Hearns set up their campsite in 2014, Mr Hearn looked to his Iranian heritage for inspiration. But instead of simply copying one of the traditional designs and having it built in the UK, Mr Hearn's mother embarked on a trip to northern Iran, meeting the Shahsevan tribe and having one of their Alachigh tents custom-built in Iran and transported back to Monmouthshire.

This was the perfect way for the campsite to "meld the heritage" of Mr Hearn and his wife, Mr Hearn said.

"Quality is what we offer," he said. "A lot of our site is bespoke – the beds, the kitchen units, the shower block.

"We offer comfort, style, and luxury in the woodland, with lots of attention to detail.

"And we pride ourselves on customer service from the first enquiry until after they've left."

Glamping – "glamorous camping" – holidays have been growing in popularity in recent years. Though the principles of camping remain, glampers enjoy a more refined experience – there's no getting squashed into a tiny tent, lying on top of lumpy grass, or contending with countless insects crawling into your sleeping bag.

Instead, at Penhein, you're offered all the luxuries of a top-quality hotel, with the added bonus of waking up to birdsong and fresh country air.

"We've tried to create a home from home experience, taking all things you need in a normal self-catering cottage," Mrs Hearn said.

"The beds are made up, there are towels, the kitchens are fully-equipped.

"The idea is meant to be that you're pretty much set up, except food and clothes.

"We keep the best bits of camping, and get rid of the not-so-great bits.

"It's magical sleeping under canvas, when you can hear owls hooting. But no one likes it when the tent leaks, or when you have to traipse across a field to go to the loo."

Upon arrival at the campsite, guests are welcomed by Mr Hearn, shown around the tents, presented with a welcome hamper of locally-made food and drinks, and then shown – if they don't know – how to start a fire.

But as elegant as the tents feel, this is still essentially an outdoors holiday. There is no electricity in the tents (except for the communal tent), and there is no wifi – perfect for those people seeking a so-called 'digital detox'.

The campsite is situated on the estate which has been in Mrs Hearn's family for generations, and guests are free to explore much of the land, from dense woodland to open meadows and a bluebell trail.

There is an adventure playground for children, a small football pitch, and three tree swings – exploring and den-building is very much encouraged.

"For a lot of children that come from the cities, there's a lot of space – they have the freedom to just run and play," Mr Hearn said.

But guests can also enjoy a whole range of pre-booked activities, including foraging, willow-weaving, campfire cookery, and clay-pigeon shooting.

For the more adventurous, there are bushcraft courses, in which an ex-Army instructor shows guests how to build a shelter, light a fire using traditional methods, and then cook on an open flame.

A junior bushcraft course is also available.

But guests are equally welcome to enjoy a pedicure or a massage, proving Penhein Glamping isn't your average camping holiday.

"We try to make it an all-encompassing experience," Mrs Hearn said.

The site has two full-time staff and brings in third-party employees from the local area to run its many activities.

But much of the work to prepare the site was, and still is, done by Mr and Mrs Hearn.

It's a long way from their previous life living and working in London.

The couple moved back to Monmouthshire in 2011, knowing they would need to diversify the family farm if it were to succeed.

"The prices of livestock weren't sustainable, so we knew we had to come up with an idea," Mr Hearn said.

Luckily, the couple's best man suggested going into camping, saying it was no more difficult than putting up a few tents.

But the Hearns soon found out the reality was a lot tougher – Mr Hearn spent 18 months clearing, by hand, a three-acre patch of woodland which would eventually become the campsite.

Penhein Glamping opened in June 2014, and since then the Hearns found their reputation for quality service has paid dividends, with many happy customers returning time and time again.

And their work has also impressed critics at the highest level. The Hearns have been shortlisted for a South Wales Business Award, and earlier this year Penhein Glamping was named the Glamping Site of the Year for 2019 by the AA.

"It was amazing to win. We were speechless where we were told," Mrs Hearn said. "But we don't do this for the awards. We do it because we enjoy it, and we want people to enjoy what we've got here.

"We have some amazing guests and some fabulous feedback.

"The biggest testament is that people come back."