Staying in a treehouse cabin is one way to get closer to nature. But you don't have to be a tree hugger to enjoy the latest eco-friendly arboreal accommodations in the UK.
Choose a luxury hotel suite or a cosy "Middle Earth" pad that would make a Hobbit happy. There are dreamy luxury cabins built around stands of sycamores and swinging hammocks perched high in the branches of giant oaks. These are some of the best we've seen.
East Sussex Aeries
Fair Oak Farm in Mayfield, near Tunbridge Wells, East Sussex, has two splendid treehouses for couples. Built of sustainable timber and fully insulated, the treehouses are surrounded by mature native trees in the Weald's area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The accommodation, reachable by stairs or ramp and surrounded by a private deck with valley views, features all the equipment and luxury you'd expect in a 4-star vacation rental including digital TV and DVD, wireless broadband, and a fully equipped kitchen. To keep things green, the owners have planted more than 500 trees on their land and their wildlife habitat protection plan includes rare owl enticement nests and other bird boxes. Seasonal prices (in 2016) ranged from £430 to £520 a week, with two-night mid-week breaks and three-night weekend breaks available. Visit their website for more detail and some stunning pictures.
A Somerset Stunner
The Treehouse, near Taunton in Somerset, is a knockout. Its timber and cedar shake exterior surrounds a spacious interior decorated in pale natural tones. It has a simple, but modern kitchen, comfy underfloor heating, a wood burning stove and a private hot tub on one of its three decks.
A spiral staircase leads to a romantic upstairs bedroom. The house can be arranged for either a couple or a family of five. The owners of the Treehouse are keen to stress their eco-friendly features which include:
- energy from renewable sources and wood for the woodburning stove supplied from local, seasoned and sustainable sources.
- free taxi service to the train station for guests who bring their own bikes
- hampers supplied from local farm shops
- recycling - guests are supplied with compostable recycling bags
- encouragement of biodiversity, allowing local summer grasses and hedgerows to flourish
- planting of a native hardwood tree for every booking.
Prices for The Treehouse are variable, depending on the time of year and the number of days booked. But be prepared to plan well in advance as The Treehouse is already booked through most of 2016 and into 2017. Prices in 2017 range from about £635 to £1800. It's available through Lavender Hill Holidays. Visit their website to check it out and watch a video.
Fit for Bilbo Baggins
Up in Scotland, at Fernie Castle in Fife, The Treehouse Suite is magical and a real original. Set in a glade, about 500 yards from the 14th century castle, it has a cedar clad tower, arched, stained glass double doors and handmade woodland furniture - including a bed of rough hewn elm - that really is worthy of a fairytale - a very romantic fairytale.
Twinkly lights lead to the entrance and the fridge is stocked with champagne and chocolates. A staircase, inside what looks like a hollow tree, leads to a rolltop bath surrounded by a painted backdrop of frolicking woodland fairies. Depending upon the days of the week, it will set you back between £445 and £495 a night for two (in 2016) but that includes champagne, chocolates, a fruit basket, soft drinks, biscuits, continental breakfast, and 4-course dinner in the castle. A really splendid place for a wedding night. Visit their website for more.
The Tree Hugging Option
At the other end of the spectrum from the luxury treehouses above, is tree camping, where you actually spend the night swinging from the trees. The Mighty Oak Tree Climbing Company in Cornwall offers lessons in recreational tree climbing and tree camping in "tree boats", specially designed 4-cornered hammocks in which you spend the night harnessed and tied for safety.
The tree camping experiences run from 3 p.m. to 11 a.m. and include a campers dinner by the tree and breakfast in the trees. Apparently, it's all very comfortable if you go in for that sort of thing.
More Treehouse Accommodations
- Castle Cottage Treehouse in Sussex. A rustic, thatched treehouse built into a large sweet chestnut tree. The tree penetrates the house, built for two, £165 a night bed and breakfast for two in 2016
- The Treehouse at Harptree Court - Adults only in this luxury treehouse near Bath. £260 per night for two in 2016.
- Golden Oak Treehouse Cabins, from Forest Holidays, combine large family cabins linked to romantically decorated, luxury treehouses for Mom and Dad. Accessed by bridge from the main cabin's terrace, the treehouse has its own ensuite bathroom and is just right for two. The Golden Oak Treehouses are available in at Keldy, Sherwood Forest, Deerpark in Cornwall and the Forest of Dean.
- Chewton Glen Treehouse Suites. The award winning, 5-star Chewton Glen in Hampshire, has added several luxury treehouses, hidden away on its grounds. The houses have floor to ceiling glass for panoramic views of the New Forest. Impeccable eco credentials are promised by this famous country house hotel.