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Plenty of childhood daydreams were filled with the prospect of building secret dens in the tops of the trees, hidden from the view of adults. What usually transcribed was scraped knees and makeshift teepees precariously propped up against tree trunks that would fall down as soon as someone uttered the words “big, bad wolf”. Giving you the chance to live out nostalgic fantasies without sabotaging your neighbour’s fence are these luxury tree houses squirrelled away in forests around the world.
Situated in the South Pacific coastal region of Costa Rica between a bird migration corridor and the Talamanca Mountains is one of the most sustainable communities in the world. After husband-and-wife duo Matt and Erica Hogan saved the 62-acre site from being sold as a timber harvest site, they began to build a neighbourhood of whimsical tree houses connected by zip lines and Indiana-Jones-style suspension bridges. Forty tree houses now sit in the upper layer of the jungle canopy among exotic flora and fauna; the Taj Mahal of tree houses is the 90ft El Castillo Mastate. A web of hanging bridges connect the living quarters, bedrooms lead out onto wrap-around balconies and an outdoor shower benefits from a live soundtrack of chattering toucans. While it does contain all the expected creature comforts, Finca Bellavista is better suited to outdoorsy types who aren’t going to mind coming face-to-face with creepy crawlies as opposed to the concierge.
Taking treetop lairs to the next level are seven uniquely designed hideaways ranging from futuristic UFOs to haphazard, gigantic birds nest and camouflaged mirror cubes. On a sharp hillside, the charred timber cabin mysteriously named the seventh room juts out from the forest and overlooks the Lule River Valley. One of the Treehotel’s most luxurious options, scramble up bridges, stairs and landings to reach the seventh room, which erodes the boundaries between the outdoors and in by cleverly concealing itself among its surroundings. Snuggle beneath a reindeer blanket on the outdoor patio for a front-row seat to mother nature’s elusive Northern Lights show. Despite it’s off-grid location, there’s no need to fend for yourself as the main restaurant in the quaint village of Harads (home to just 600 residents, not including the reindeer) serves up a nightly menu of wild-game and hand-picked berries plucked from the forest floor. Expect lingonberry sauce smothered over succulent meats with cloudberry cheesecake for dessert. Wash it down with a throat-numbing shot of homemade birch vodka – it’s quite the (eye-watering) winter warmer.
Many will claim that there are no footprint-free islands left in South East Asia, as they’ve all succumbed to the demand for neon paint and shrooms. But that’s not actually true. Hidden in plain sight between overcrowded Phuket and Krabi is a sanctuary of untouched, lush tropical jungle framed by bleached sandy beaches and swaying palms. Just an hour speedboat from the crowds will see you deposited on the virgin beach backed by just 25 sprawling tree houses; the rest of the island is dedicated to preserving the national parkland. Cascading into the jungle is your own private plunge pool, two-person rattan swing and expansive daybed, while upstairs you’ll find a dreamy four-poster offering that looks out over miles and miles of coconut groves. Set your watches to island time as you flop from spa to sand to sundowners.
Ditch the binoculars because it’s time to get up close and personal in Lion Sands River Lodge bush bedroom, built in the same tree that once sheltered a terrified explorer from a pack of preying lions. Whisk yourself away to the split-level timber platform high up in the baobab trees for sundowners and a tapas picnic, finished off with a bottle of the finest South African plonk. Camping out in the wilderness doesn’t mean it’s back to basics, as a soft as a cloud four-poster bed, private under the stars dining and breakfast delivered to your door await. Lull yourself to sleep with the sounds of hippos honking, lions roaring and hyenas cackling beneath an ink-black sky before rising at dawn to the echoes of elephant yawns and the wilderness beginning to wake. You might not get the best night sleep, but for your very own Attenborough adventure it’s worth it.
As the leaves start to match all the best colours from a box of Celebrations chocolates, there are few better places to seek refuge than in an ancient Dorset woodland. Put your phone on airplane mode and cross the suspended-rope bridge to your leafy sanctuary. The Woodman’s Treehouse was built using local materials around the forest to prevent any unnecessary construction damage, but the final result is more James Bond than Bear Grylls. Rustic surroundings with carved wooden chairs and revolving wood burner are paired with heated towel rails and lights you can control from your bed. A freestanding copper bath tub sits beside a cut-out window overlooking the treetops while outside a little bit of magic is mixed with a whole lot of mischief. On the first-floor deck you’ll find a wood-fire pizza oven and outdoor rain shower, then ascend the winding iron staircase to reveal an open-air hot tub and private sauna. Once limbs are fully loosened from the bubbles and bubbly, throw caution to the wind and launch yourself down the mega slide into a pile of faux fur blankets.
A 30-minute drive from Seattle brings you to an enchanting forest ripped straight from the pages of a storybook. On arrival you’ll be given a hand-drawn treasure map to help you seek out your treetop temple; a task made harder by the identical imposing moss-covered trunks and towering, uniform cedar trees that conceal the suspended cabins. Treehouse Point is a grown-up rendition of the treehouses you longed to sleep in as children; bedrooms are buried in the eaves of the trees and accessible only by wooden ladder or spiral staircases that snake around the trunks. Hunker down in your cabin beside a roaring fire or follow the Rushing River to seek out the communal fire pit where guests gather around roasting s’mores and swapping travellers’ tales. Nature is the star attraction here and you’re encouraged to use the calming surrounds to retox by spending mornings forest bathing (a population meditation technique that focuses on being in nature) and evenings practising yoga in the autumnal sun.
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