Five over-the-top treehouse hotels

Special, secluded and surprisingly luxurious, these five wooden creations prove that treehouses are no longer just for kids.

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.

A fair bit of time up here is likely to be spent ogling the views: colourful dawns, sunsets flaming over a fringe of palms as boats drift by below, nights illuminated by the soft glow of fireflies – all accompanied by the singsong and chatter of cicadas and birds.

There are plenty of ways to take in Bang Krachao’s unique surroundings, such as swimming in the hotel’s natural pool or borrowing one of the bikes available for guests’ use and cycling the maze of paths that criss-cross the jungle and waterways. A floating market, botanical gardens and Buddhist temples are all a short ride away.

And, should you wish to escape the peace for an hour or two, the historic sights, lively streetlife and exuberant nightlife of Bangkok proper are just across the river.

Free Spirit Spheres, Canada: The modern one
The Free Spirit Spheres are suspended in the canopy by a spider’s web of stretchy ropes, hanging like giant Christmas tree decorations in the temperate rainforest of Vancouver Island. The smooth, wooden pods are designed to co-exist with their surroundings, and have minimum impact on the trees and wildlife. Creature comforts, including bathrooms and a sauna, are back on solid ground, while beyond the forest are the wineries and artisan eateries of the Cowichan Valley. Further afield are wilder thrills like the skiing of Mount Washington and whale-watching off the island’s coast.

Bagthorpe Hall, England: The stately one
The average treehouse may be a loveably DIY affair cobbled together from nails and bits of wood, but the humble hideaway has long appealed to luxurious tastes. Roman Emperor Caligula held lavish feasts in a plane tree, while the Medici family decked out treechambers with marble fountains. The treehouse at Bagthorpe Hall in Norfolk takes its cue from this venerable tradition. Located within a shady copse of oaks in the grounds of a country house, it’s a spacious mini-house with a king-sized four-poster bed and large copper bath, as well as a wide veranda with views over the surrounding parkland. Modern technology is conspicuously absent, with no TV, radio or wi-fi to puncture guests’ sense of seclusion. Around it there are 50 acres of nature to roam while a short drive away are the royal estate of Sandringham and the silky dunes, basking seals and picturesque harbour towns of the north Norfolk coast.

The article 'Five over-the-top treehouse hotels' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet Traveller.