There was a time when the idea of sleeping among the trees would have conjured images of musty canvas tents and bland meals heated over a gas burner. But today, hotels and resorts are catering for a more discerning breed of traveller, bringing nostalgic fantasies to life and combining the serenity of the forest with the amenities of a five-star bolthole. Welcome to the luxury tree house – your inner child would certainly approve.
Finca Bellavista, Costa Rica
More than just lodgings, Finca Bellavista is an arboreal community nestled in 600 acres of beautiful rainforest overlooking the Golfo Dulce. The homes are built on stilts so as not to impede migrating animals. It's the ideal destination for a truly off-grid getaway – rent a treehouse and experience the surrounding nature from a picturesque vantage point. The base camp offers a number of activities, from zipline tours to movie nights, while fresh produce is available all year round from the community garden. There's a particular focus on sustainability, with the entire site powered by photovoltaic solar systems.
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Treehouse Point, Washington, America
Pete Nelson set up Treehouse Point in 2005, using his 20 years of expertise as a treehouse builder to establish this idyllic, forest retreat. It now houses six buildings, each with its own identity – to view them all, book a guided tour. But to really discover the delights of living in the treetops, nothing can beat an overnight stay. The original treehouse, and still a favourite, is the Temple of the Blue Moon, a name that came to Nelson's mind the moment he first happened upon its site. The Temple's architecture was inspired by the harmonious lines of the Parthenon, but inside, the wood-panelled walls and plush leather furniture suggest pure cosiness.
Treehouse Hotel, Port Lympne, Kent
Imagine waking up in a treetop lodge, stepping on to the balcony and watching herds of giraffe, rhino and zebra pass by – all without having to set foot outside South East England. Port Lympne Reserve may be more Garden of England than African savanna, but the 600-acre wildlife park certainly offers a five-star safari experience. Those wanting to make the most of a wild weekend should check into the award-winning Treehouse Hotel, which joined the park's growing collection of rustic dwellings in 2015. These stylish, self-catering lodges are perched high above the reserve, with views spanning some 30 miles out to the coast. Guests have access to private buggies to explore by day before converging in the colonial-style Clubhouse for drinks and toasted marshmallows around outdoor firepits.
Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, California
Twelve hundred feet above the Pacific Ocean on a stretch of unspoiled clifftop lies the spectacular Post Ranch Inn. This architecturally striking resort is made up of 40 individual guesthouses, including spacious treehouses and redwood lodges fitted with floor-to-ceiling windows. Everything is designed to make guests feel in-tune with nature, rather than just mere observers, and the ranch is renowned for its eco-friendly credentials. But, while the breathtaking views may be a prime draw, Post Ranch Inn is hardly short of creature comforts, coupled with unashamedly luxurious touches that include a spa, three infinity pools and an award-winning restaurant perched precariously over the cliff face.
Set high in the branches of old oak trees, The Woodsman's Treehouse provides lush views through the West Dorset forest. A boardwalk leads to a sizeable structure with high-end features including a sauna, hot tub, open-air tree-shower, copper tub, rotating fireplace (which can face the bed, sofa or kitchen) and a stainless steel slide for a jubilant exit. It's the creation of architect Keith Brownlie and craftsman Guy Mallinson, who built the house – and featured in George Clarke's Amazing Spaces – with sustainability in mind, using local materials when possible. The site also offers adults-only glamping accommodation, as well as woodworking courses, should your stay inspire a yearnings to don a lumberjack shirt and braces.
In typical Scandi style, the accommodation at Sweden's Treehotel puts smart – and gravity-defying – design as a foremost concern. Seven unique treehouses are available, each created by leading Scandinavian architects. There's the Mirror Cube, a 4x4x4 metre box that reflects its woodland surroundings; the UFO, shaped like a retro spaceship hanging in the trees; or the 7th Room, an architectural marvel that houses up to five guests and has a net patio for relaxing among the treetops. Each structure appears to float weightlessly above the ground suspended by the vertiginous pine trees towering above them and all have stunning views of the Lule river valley. Sustainability is also a key concern, and the houses use material and construction techniques that minimise environmental impact.
Along the banks of the mighty Zambezi sits Tongabezi Lodge. The luxury hotel offers a range of sumptuous houses and cottages, but for a particularly memorable experience, book the secluded Tree House. Set against the basalt rocks with the branches of three ebony trees sprouting through the floor, it blends into it surroundings with an open facade and sustainable pine deck. A canopied king-size bed and a claw-footed tub make for a particularly lavish stay. You can unwind in the nearby swimming pool, or take in the river views from your private deck. The lodge is moments from Victoria Falls, and plenty of activities – from game drives to boating trips – are included with your stay.
Kaikoura, New Zealand
New Zealand's stunning South Island provides the setting for Hapuku Lodge + Tree Houses, set on a deer-breeding farm between the Kaikoura mountain range and the Pacific Ocean. The lodge offers luxurious accommodation, including five tree houses nestled nine metres above the ground in the canopy of a grove of native kanuka trees, with large windows providing breathtaking views over the dramatic landscape. There are three one-bedroom houses and two larger structures for families, and each offers luxuries such as a fireplace, balcony and Jacuzzi.
Perhaps you've seen the Northern Lights before, but have you seen them from your own personal hot tub in a tree house? Hotel Iso Syote, just south of the Arctic Circle in Syote National Park, offers cosy rooms and cottages, but the highlight is the two-storey Eagles View Suite that's built around a tree. The walls and roof are made of glass, allowing for uninterrupted views of the Aurora Borealis or, in summer, the midnight sun. A fireplace and private sauna create a cosy space you could easily never leave, but you'll likely want to – outdoor activities abound, from skiing and husky safaris in winter to canoeing and mountain biking in summer.
Blue Mountains, Australia
Six hundred acres of private wilderness surrounds the Wollemi Wilderness Treehouse in Australia's Blue Mountains, just an hour from Sydney. The rustic-chic tree house boasts a spa, kitchenette, queen-size bed, fireplace and floor-to-ceiling windows with views of Bowen's Creek Gorge and the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains rainforest. Bushwalking and stargazing are popular activities, and the canyons and glow-worm caves are yours to explore. A sign on the door of the tree house warns, "Keep out – no grownups"; however, exactly the opposite is true – this adults-only escape has room for just two.
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