Special, secluded and surprisingly luxurious, treehouses are no longer just for kids. Here are five wooden creations for grown-ups to lay claim to.
Châteaux dans les Arbes, France: The fairytale one
As if a secluded hideaway in the trees wasn’t enough of a childhood dream come true, at Châteaux dans les Arbes in the Dordogne, the leafy abodes are also miniature castles. Housed around the former moat of a ruined stronghold, the three creations are the handiwork of veteran treehouse-builder Rémi, who modelled them on (and named them after) nearby châteaux. From ‘Monbazillac’, with its steep turrets, to ‘Hautefort’, which has wooden spires, a footbridge and even an inner courtyard, they’re certainly deserving of their ‘château’ monicker.
A stay here is at the more regal end of treehouse experiences. Guests can survey the surrounding countryside in the hot tubs found on each terrace, while the erstwhile moat is now the site of an infinity pool. Other luxury services on offer include massages, gourmet meals prepared by the on-site chef, and hampers, delivered, the way breakfast is, via a Rapunzel-esque rope-and-basket system.
Back at ground level are the classic attractions of the Dordogne, not least its wealth of full-sized châteaux. A distinctive way to travel is by gabare, or traditional wooden barge, down the Dordogne river, taking in white-stone villages, thick woodlands and rolling meadows as you go. The wine region of Bergerac is a good place to sample this area’s famously fine food and drink.
Chole Mjini, Tanzania: The castaway one
Chole Mjini, which means ‘Chole City’, could hardly be a more ironic name for the cluster of seven treehouses cradled by the canopies of baobab trees on Chole, a tropical island-off-an-island east of the Tanzanian coast. Perched amongst vegetation and crumbling ruins – a legacy of the island’s 19th-century heyday as a trading post – the log-framed, thatched huts look like the wildly inventive creations of marooned voyagers, and staying in one feels about as removed from urban life as it’s possible to be. Beyond the reach of electricity, phone signal or even roads (though there is hot water for showers), they’re perfectly placed to appreciate the peace of the island, from the sound of the waves lapping against the nearby shore to panoramic views of the sun setting over the ocean.
Guests dine on the beach or amongst the ruins, with meals – which have a distinct Swahili influence – lit by candelight, while the rooftop bar has a deck for observing the star-speckled sky. Beyond Chole Mjini is Chole village, where boatmakers craft traditional dhows as they have done for centuries, and there are 13th-century ruins to explore on adjacent islands. Chole is part of the largest marine park in east Africa, and snorkelling here takes in some of the finest coral reefs in the Indian Ocean. Guests can also swim with whale sharks, or observe hawksbill and green turtles hatching on the nearby Mafia Island.
Bangkok Treehouse, Thailand: The urban one
The turbocharged city of Bangkok makes an unexpectedly tranquil location for a treehouse – or 12. In the city’s southeast, just beyond the built-up neighbourhoods and busy roads of the centre, is Bang Krachao, a near-island carved by a loop of the Chao Phraya river. Known as the city’s green lung, it’s a place of mangrove, palm and fruit trees, threaded with waterways, semi-rural villages and centuries-old temples hidden in its midst.
Presiding over the river are the dozen mid-air hideaways that comprise the eco-conscious Bangkok Treehouse. Eleven of these are sleek cabins with living rooms and roof terraces, but the most minimalist – and magical – is the ‘View with a Room’. Perched seven metres high, its panoramic views over the river and jungle are untroubled by such traditional architectural trappings as walls or a ceiling. Instead, two bamboo platforms house a large, canopied double bed and an area for lounging and eating.