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Back to Nature – top ten treehouse getaways

The appeal of a treehouse deep in the woods is rooted in childhood playfulness, but modern cabin retreats are underpinned by luxury, adding to a sense of private sanctuary. Jo Davey follows the trail to forest and mountainside hideaways at one with their surrounds


With 15,000 hectares of wild woodland outside its door, Green O offers true, pine-enveloped privacy. So much so that it isn’t easy to find, its chic wooden houses blending into western Montana’s Blackfoot River Valley from above and below. The property has 12 accommodations, including a Tree Haus hovering 8m up in the forest canopy and each ‘haus’ has huge windows designed to immerse you in the densely timbered hillside. And nature here is omnipresent, the vistas framed by changing foliage and the distant rise of lilac mountains. To the north lies the Swan Mountain Range and the 400,000ha Bob Marshall Wilderness, while the south holds the Garnet Mountain Range, where elk herds roam and raptors patrol the skies. This land is rooted in Native Americanhistory; for centuries, Blackfeet, Flathead and Nez Perce tribes travelled and lived in the area. It was then used by miners, loggers and trappers, before being made into a hodgepodge of homesteads, fields and forest. Green O was first developed into a ranch by the eponymous Paul Greenough, who would sign his livestock with an ‘O’. Now the surrounding ranch is used for cattle and bison, as well as luxury accommodation.

While it’s perfect for those seeking serenity and luxury, it isn’t all about appreciating the forest quiet. There are plentiful activities like hiking, biking, horse riding, shooting, fly-fishing and rafting, as well as petrol-powered adventure on ATVs. Once the day is done, head to the intimate Social Haus for an extraordinary multi-course tasting menu, with flavours from the forest and nearby farms.

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Travel Details

Doubles from £2,016 (3-night minimum).


Floating in Vancouver Island’s coastal rainforest, encircled by soaring fir trees, Free Spirit Spheres are designed largely for a tranquil night’s sleep. The three wooden, two-person pods, some 3-4m off the ground in lush foliage on a 2ha property near Qualicum Bay, are suspended by wires, allowing them to sway gently with human movement. There’s a handy composting toilet at the base, but each accommodation has its own private threepiece bathroom in the bathhouse, approximately 50m away. A five-window set-up brings light and views of maple and cedar groves from all angles for a feeling of immersion in the forest.

Glamping guests can stay close to nature by day too: Horne Lake and Baynes Sound are perfect for kayaking, canoeing, caving and paddle boarding, while swimmers can head to nearby beaches. The rocky rivers that plunge down to the Salish Sea were once enveloped by forests, since lopped down by logging colonisers, but efforts to restore them are yielding results, and the growing forests are visited by local fauna. Waters are filled with spawning salmon; you can try your hand at fly-fishing, or look for larger catch on sea fishing charters. On dry land, the picturesque areas of Rosewall Creek, Comox Valley and Mount Washington are covered in hiking trails, flanked by giant trees.

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Travel Details

Doubles from £286.


For an entirely remote stay, even the journey to your accommodation can become an adventure. On the banks of Clayoquot Sound on Vancouver Island, off-the-grid Clayoquot Wilderness Lodge is accessible only by seaplane or boat, offering luxury on a 240ha frontier in the milder months of May to September only. Built in the style of turn-of-the-century prospectors, the lodge features 25 stunningly fitted and kitted-out canvas tents with views from both the foot of the bed and the decks. Visitors can choose from glittering blue waterfront views or the vibrant green of trees, ferns and moss in the forest. With so much wildlife wandering the sound, guests may spot some of the 300 species that call Clayoquot home. The waters are home to orcas, grey and humpback whales, as well as porpoises and California sea lions, while black bears, cougars, minks and grey wolves roam the forests. Tours can be organised for horse riding, mountain biking, rock climbing, west coast fishing, archery and the bone-chilling but beautiful glacial plunge into the Bedwell River.

At the Clayoquot Cookhouse, menus use foraged forest plants and sound seafood. Tuck into sustainable, local wild ingredients such as scallops, crabs, mushrooms, cabbages and berries each night, accompanied by fine wines.

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Travel Details

Doubles from £1,798 (3-night minimum), including meals and drinks.


Just shy of the Italian border, the Vipava Valley unfolds, a Slovenian landscape of vineyards and fields, dense forest and rushing rivers. Overlooking the valley, hidden in a 100-year-old pine forest, is Theodosius Forest Village, a getaway of contemporary, cosy wood cabins. Perfectly positioned among the rocky terrain and rising trees, the family-run accommodation aims to respect the environment that makes them so special. Theodosius’s five awardwinning cabins feature locally made furniture, floor-to-ceiling windows and decks for sinking straight into nature – and some come with a sauna and outdoor hot tub too. There’s a communal terrace overlooking the vineyard where you can stroll before dinner, extensive trails around the Vipava river and Nanos Plateau, plus paragliding, caving, fishing and climbing.

As the forest lies at the edge of Vrhpolje village, guests have the option of staying put for local fare at restaurant Theodosius or heading into the village to eat and drink. And, being wine territory, with a climate and soil that favours rebula and malvazija, you’ll have the chance to meet winemakers from the surrounding vineyards to try their crisp and fruity pours. Just a six-minute drive away (or a 25-minute walk) is Gostilna Pri Lojzetu, a Michelinstarred marvel of fine local ingredients served in a romantic, 17th-century setting.

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Travel Details

Doubles from £175.


Snuggling up with the breathtaking Swiss Alps spread out at the foot of your bed is all part of the Whitepod experience. Since 2004, it’s been combining high-end hospitality and conservation among the peaks near the French border, its geodesic domes designed with ecology in mind. Energy and water use are controlled, waste is recycled and staff live locally so they can commute on foot. With transport limited across the accommodation, guests need to be willing to walk too. Luckily, that’s what a trip to Switzerland’s summer scenery is all about. Here, you can go paragliding or biking, wander among silent trees or take a guided hike – choose from edu-trails around farmlands, cooking walks, botanical treks and husky hikes, and the adventurous can take a day hike to the 2,058m Dent de la Valerette. Sustainability also shows in the cuisine, with ingredients for two restaurants purchased or foraged locally. After, it’s time to stargaze on your deck, made more brilliant thanks to limited night lighting.

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Travel Details

Doubles from £350.


Loch Broom looms bright and blue below Ecotone’s bespoke cabins, while the great coastal woodland towers behind. Situated near Ullapool in Scotland’s north-west Highlands, these two simple but stylish self-catering cabins are focused on regenerative tourism. Custom built from Ecotone’s own timber business and focused on natural materials inside and out, their green credentials can be traced from architectural concept through construction to completion. Not only are they built to minimise negative impacts on the environment and surrounds, using 100 per cent renewable energy, but some of Ecotone’s income goes into developing and maintaining projects in the local community and protecting its home, Leckmelm Wood. There’s a one- and a two-bedroomed cabin, both equipped with everything needed for relaxing and cooking, as well as places to store outdoor gear, wash muddy clothes and even dirtier bikes. Open-plan living rooms and floor-to-ceiling windows ensure interiors are bathed in light.

The quaint village of Ullapool is a short drive away, so you can explore local cafés, restaurants, shops and bars. Should you be brave enough to face the bracing cold of the loch, it’s a brilliant spot for wild swimming, especially after a long day of hiking and cycling through the glorious north-west Highlands.

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Travel Details

Doubles from £650 for 4 nights.


The elegant, clean-cut lines of its diamond design shoot up alongside the silver birch trees Kaseke is named after – none were felled during the sustainable resort’s construction. The awardwinning building is made of thermally modified, eco-friendly ash, integrating the house into the woodland. Inside, there’s a king-size bed, bathroom and fireplace, with windows that bring the forest up close plus the standout feature: a rooftop terrace. Nature Villa Kaseke dwells beside the 500-year-old Maidla Manor complex, where guests can try SOO restaurant’s five-course dinner.

Surrounded by untouched nature in Rapla County, south of Tallinn, the region’s bogs play a beloved part in Estonian folklore and although bogs may not sound picturesque, they form some of the most stunning and serene scenery in the country, attracting unique flora and fauna. Take a guided hike, go canoeing or try breathing therapy among blissful landscapes.

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Travel Details

Doubles from £270 including breakfast.


From above, you’d never notice Bosvilla. The slick eco house’s roof is carpeted with grass, blending it into the forest floor. The immersive feeling continues inside, where interiors of pale pine and large picture windows keep you well connected to the outside. Embedded in Belgium’s Kempen woodland east of Antwerp, Bosvilla’s owners Steven and Kathy bought the land with the idea of restoring the neglected, flagging forest to its former glory. Started in mid-2018, the house project went through extensive research and design, while outside forest restoration began. Over 1,000 native plantings have been dug into the rich soil, while invasive species like rhododendrons and bird cherries have been removed. The result is that indigenous plants, insects and small animals have started to return.

The house, whose name translates as black swan, emulates the graceful bird with ebony outer walls that elegantly curve and complement its private forest. Planted at the end of a gravelled drive, Bosvilla feels beautifully secluded but doesn’t scrimp on luxury. There’s a projector room, forest swing, hot tub, sauna, barbecue, wood stove and three terraces. For the duration of your stay, its 5,000sq m forest is entirely your own, allowing you to wake with the sunrise and head straight out, coffee in hand. Paths and clearings zigzag through gentle undergrowth, which can be navigated by foot or bicycles, available from Bosvilla. Within walking distance you’ll find a neighbourhood with restaurants, the summertime Bar Basil, an ice cream parlour and swimming pond, as well as a handy supermarket for self-catering.

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Travel Details

Sleeps 4-6, from £628 for a weekend.


Speared through with a great living tree, this family-run hotel stands on Hardengerfjorden’s western shore, just above the small town of Odda. While Woodnest quite literally keeps nature at its centre, the small treehouse oozes luxury, with contemporary black alder wood interiors, underfloor heating and views across the pine-flanked Hardangerfjord. Designed to look like a pine cone from below, Woodnest was envisioned as a lofty retreat for couples and families looking to reconnect with nature and there are few better locations for that than Odda, sitting between two huge national parks, Hardangervidda and Folgefonna, and surrounded by plentiful waterfalls and great valley walls.

Folgefonna is home to a glacier of the same name, which spills over the peaks, and can be reached by a short but occasionally challenging hike. For those wanting a real adventure, take a day(or two) to hike the ever-popular Trolltunga trail, leading to a jutting escarpment over unbeatable panoramic fjord views.

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Travel Details

Doubles from £320.


The verdant Parc Naturel Régional Oise spreads up and out from the urban sprawl of Paris towards beautiful Raray, where Coucoo Grands Chênes’ gorgeously-designed nests hang 7-13m above the ground, surrounded by the branches of century-old oak trees. Just a 45-minute drive from the capital, the cabins feel as far-flung from the hustle as you can get.

The 20 treehouses are accessed by spiral staircases and ladders, lifting you into eco-friendly luxury. Each cabin offers a unique stay, ranging from family treehouses to romantic wooden cocoons. Designed to flow with the fauna, they are made of rot-resistant larch and Douglas fir, and the supporting oaks are regularly monitored by experts to maintain their health. Better yet, the nests can be adapted to the tree’s growth. Ecological products, natural water purification, biodegradable and recyclable materials, water and electricity reduction are all part of your stay. On spa cabin terraces, you can soothe and soak in hot Nordic baths, listening to the rustle of leaves and birdsong, and Coucoo creates well thought out meals throughout the day, showing off the best of local produce. Some 25-minutes away, there’s the Michelin-starred Le Verbois, serving Asian-inspired dishes in an old hunting lodge.

A huge range of activities is available for adults and children: walking and cycling trails across deer-filled forests, tennis courts, horse riding and the nearby Raray golf course. Occupied since Neolithic times, the 67,000ha park is rich with history and heritage, with churches, museums and the magnificent Château de Raray.


Travel Details

Doubles from £172.

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