Tree houses are pure nostalgia, evoking childhood memories of climbing up rope ladders and slumbering in sleeping bags. In recent years a number of tree-house hotels have sprung up, combining a youthful yearning for adventure with a grown-up desire for comfort. They merge small spaces with immense views and manage to include all the amenities of a luxury hotel suite in the middle of nature.
Working within environmental limitations, designers are forced to find new and innovative ways to offer top-notch accommodations above ground. Small rooms give way to wraparound decks with panoramic views (and sometimes a pool). Floor-to-ceiling windows bring natural light into rooms crafted of wood; staircases and bridges take the place of rope ladders. The lack of space for a kitchen leads to particularly ingenious solutions, like picnic baskets hauled upward by pulley systems.
From triangular dwellings of weathered wood at Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, California, to minimal-impact tents hanging in the Welsh forest at Red Kite Tree Tent in Powys, Wales, creativity manifests itself in singular designs. While some edifices, like the twig-covered Bird’s Nest at Treehotel in Harads, Sweden, blend in with the natural surroundings, others like Monbazillac, a turreted château in the Dordogne in France, stand out unexpectedly against a forested backdrop. All, however, share one distinct characteristic: the ability to rise above the ordinary.