“We have had a few engagements. It’s very romantic up there and I suppose people get carried away.”

It’s difficult to imagine that old-fashioned campers ever enjoyed themselves so much it led to marriage proposals.

These days, however, there are all sorts of options for people who want to head to the great outdoors but still enjoy a bit of luxury.

The quote above came from Julia Williams, who set up Barefoot Yurts with her husband Johnny.

Up to six adults can stay in the couple’s two large yurts – portable marquee-like structures originating from Mongolia – which are tucked away in a secluded spot on their land ten minutes’ drive from Rye, near Hastings.

One is kitted out as a sleeping quarter, complete with double bed, while the other serves as a living room, including dining table and sofa, but can also be converted into a bedroom.

The yurts have proved popular with families, couples of all ages and honeymooners – as well as a few people who have ended up planning their honeymoon following their stay.

Mrs Williams agreed that she was taking advantage of the recent “glamping” phenomenon.

She said: “People are wanting to stay in England these days. The weather is still lovely and with the recession people can’t afford to go abroad as much as they used to.”

Despite opening barely a year ago, Barefoot Yurts is already considering expanding.

However, Mrs Williams said: “We pay a lot of attention to detail when people come to stay such as providing fresh flowers, fruit and vegetables from our garden.

If we cater for any more people we might lose this.”

The rise of the “staycation”

can be put down to a number of reasons. Most people are having to tighten their belts in the current economic climate while the strength of the euro against the pound is also a big deterrent to going abroad.

But for Clare Ayland, of VW Camper Van company Vanilla Splits, in Chichester, there is also a growing desire for people to relive the past.

The firm’s fleet are all original vehicles and have been restored by company founder David Patten, whose day job is mechanic.

The oldest, affectionately knownas Dougal, dates from 1961, while the newest, called Bart, was built in 1981.

They are all fully kitted out with the latest portable cooking equipment and other mod cons include DVD players and iPod connections.

Ms Ayland said: “Much of their appeal is the nostalgia factor. All things retro are really in vogue at the moment and there are a lot of successful business people looking to enjoy a little bit of relaxation.”

Ms Ayland said the average customers were middle management professionals aged between 30 to 45.

The rise in home-grown tourism is one of the few bright spots of the current downturn.

It has certainly been a boon for Anna and Nick Eastwood, who set up The Original Hut Company after finding themselves struggling to make ends meet.

Mr Eastwood’s marquee company lost 80% of turnover in the recession while his wife, who was on maternity leave from her job as a nursery teacher, was made redundant when she became pregnant again.

They had previously used all their savings to buy a holiday cottage and it was the success of this investment that gave them the idea to go into tourism. Mrs Eastwood said: “It was the only thing making any money and was operating at more than 90% capacity. Tourism seemed to be the only growth industry in the UK.”

Luckily Mr Eastwood’s father John owned a farm in a picturesque area close to Bodiam Castle, near Robertsbridge.

Mrs Eastwood designed the huts, which are based around the chassis of an old caravan, and her husband built them using recycled and reclaimed material.

This is the first full summer they have been open and Mrs Eastwood said they have proved popular, particularly with people from the surrounding areas.

She said: “We almost can’t build enough of the huts.

People seem to be doing three or four short breaks a year now rather than spend all their money in one go.

“They also seem to like investigating areas close to home. Most of our customers come from the London, Brighton or Worthing areas.”

With their four walls and fresh linen, critics might argue that the huts are not really camping at all.

Mrs Eastwood bristles at this suggestion. She said: “I think with what we do the word camping is quite important.

“There is no power and you’re in the middle of a field. It’s nothing like those caravan parks where people arrive, plug in their generators and sit and watch television all day.

“You can’t use your hair straighteners here.”

For more details about “glamping” in Sussex, visit www.goglamping.net.