Upgraded Pillow Tent, Silverstone 2017
BOOKING A ROOM vs SLEEPING IN A TENT
Silverstone is pretty isolated from the majority of hotels and B&Bs. There are a handful nearby, but they’re pretty much booked up by the local experts long before the event. We knew that we’d want to stay near the track rather than doing public transportation several days in a row. Traffic to and from the circuit is notoriously slow and frustrating.
Plus, we knew that there were after-race festivities to enjoy all around the track and we didn’t want to miss any of the action.
Plan A was to stay at one of the trackside sleeping pods or containers (Snoozebox) that had been available the previous year. The pricing was pretty reasonable and there were showers and phone chargers available.
Plan B was to stay in one of the rented tents that were available at the official Silverstone Campsite, Woodlands. These were more expensive than the pods, but offered late night entertainment, as well. These were available to book in advance, even during the winter months.
We were hoping to take advantage of the sleeping pods or container hotels because we could lock our possessions up while we were away. For some reason they never became available- and the company kind of left everyone hanging until June,only two months prior to the event. (They did the same thing for the F1 folks, but they only had one month to re-arrange their plans.)
Backup Plan was just to make sure we had some place, anywhere to stay. Since we couldn’t book Option A yet, we reserved a room in Milton Keynes that had free cancellations and didn’t require a deposit. We did this in October of the prior year, at the same time we purchased race tickets, but ultimately ended up cancelling our hotel reservation.
In June (two months before the race), we ended up booking camping - at the official racetrack campsite. It takes two steps. First we had to call the racetrack, tell them we'd already bought race tickets and needed to add camping passes. This is how we gained entry to the campsite. Then, we booked a rental tent and air mattress through the campsite itself, with their vendor Pillow. This price included sleeping bags. Combined- this camping experience was a luxury-type expense and cost us around $600 USD for three nights, although we could have stayed more days.
Woodlands Lively VS Family Camping
We were placed in the family campground with our hired tent. It’s about a 10-minute walk from the main entertainment area, but it's located in a smaller, more family-focused spot. There are food and beverage tents and a mini- stage where they show children’s movies and feature a family silent disco (which is about the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.) The children gather together and play while their parents sit at picnic tables and enjoy each other’s company.
Ten PM quiet time meant a restful night of sleep, with everyone really showing regard for each other. You could hear the bands off in the distance, but it wasn’t loud enough to disturb us.
I’ll bet that staying in the lively area gives you more opportunities to meet and party with your neighbors. If we’re more organized next time, we will definitely consider bringing our own gear and giving the lively area a go. Even if we did appreciate that uninterrupted sleep.
ALTERNATIVE SLEEPING ARRANGEMENT #1:
If you’re ambitious, there is a sporting-goods store that’s only a 15 minute walk from Milton Keynes train station. You could purchase a tent, sleeping bags and air mattress, but it looked like it would only save us around $100, and we didn’t quite have the time to pull it off.
ALTERNATIVE SLEEPING ARRANGEMENT #2:
We heard from some other attendees that one of the companies that provides racing packages also facilitates a full weekend that includes hotel accommodations, travel to and from the track, and some meals, in addition to the race tickets.
We booked pre-pitched tents from Pillow at Woodlands. They offer a different, less expensive option at another campground, as well. We chose this campground because it’s booked directly through Silverstone and we felt that our chances of success would be best. Pillow was overall accommodating, despite some mix-ups. We were able to book in June, before the event in August, but bookings were available long before then.
They quite reasonably assumed that my cellphone would work for communication. However, I put my phone permanently on airplane mode and turned it off, because I didn’t realize I was able to text. They attempted to contact me and schedule a time to greet us, but I wasn’t aware. I believed there would be a marked Pillow camping area, with staff, and there was not. The staff is over at the other campground and the tents are unmarked (and upgraded from the one we had booked, so we had a very hard time finding it.)
Upon arrival, one of the mattresses was deflated and a sleeping bag appeared to have already been used, having a hole in the bottom of it. We contacted the staff and they came out and switched our mattress the next day, locking the tent behind them. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the supplies to replace our sleeping bags and they ultimately refunded that part of our purchase.
I would certainly use their services again, but I’d get an earlier start and keep my cell phone handy.
We felt a little vulnerable not having a car to lock our valuables up in. We brought special padlocks for our tent, just to help us feel more secure. We also kept our passports and itinerary on us the entire time. Fortunately, we had no issues.
However, our nearest neighbors returned from race day only to find all of their flags had been removed from their tent.
The following morning we met a woman whose tent had been ransacked during the race. Her van keys were taken and she was left stranded at the campsite.