4 of the World's Most Magical Treehouse Hotels
From staring mesmerized at the sun-dappled, leafy boughs arched overheard, to peering giddily at the world far below—few childhood experiences are as magical as playing in a treehouse. Even if you’ve never set foot in one of these idyllic hiding spots, consider ditching the stuffy hotel room and venturing on a limb for your next trip. Not only does living amid the branches make for a whimsical getaway,research shows that it could boost your health, too.
Today, we journey around the world to visit some of the world's most magical treehouse hotels. These arboreal abodes are upgrades from the nailed-together scrap wood most of us are familiar with. But whether you seek quiet solitude or a chance to let your inner child run amok, you’ll likely find it, even in the most modern of these lofty dwellings.
Hidden in the Costa Rican rainforest, the Tree House Lodge (pictured above) merges luxury and sustainability into a tree hugger’s paradise. Sitting beside the pristine Punta Uva beach, the lodge features three bungalow-style dwellings, as well as the two-level Tree House, built around a twisting, hundred-year-old sangrillo tree. Visitors will find a bedroom and kitchen on the Tree House’s first floor, while a walk across a wooden, palm-thatched suspension bridge will lead them to the upper-level master bedroom, an ideal spot for watching howler monkeys. Bungalows accommodate up to five people, while the Tree House sleeps up to six.
An array of activities awaits visitors to this jungle jewel. Fitness lovers can limber up in yoga, Pilates, or belly dancing classes. Adventure-seekers can get their fix zip lining through the jungle canopy or white water rafting on the Pacuare River. At Puerto Viejo, seasoned surfers can brave Salsa Brava—Angry Salsa—a wave that breaks over a coral reef, with a steep drop. Cahuita National Park offers scenic hikes in a protected area with stunning biodiversity, including 35 species of coral. Local guides lead tours through the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge, sharing their knowledge about natural medicines.
The treetop lodge's efforts to lessen its environmental impact and integrate with its natural surroundings have earned it a Certification for Sustainable Tourism. The treehouses, made entirely of fallen trees, use solar heating and electricity, and tour proceeds help fund efforts to preserve the endangered green iguana.
A four-day trip package ranges from $1,575 for two guests to $2,670 for six. A weeklong stay costs between $2,476 for two people and $4,628 for six. Both packages include private airport transportation, as well as tours of the rainforest canopy and Jaguar Animal Rescue Center.
Photo by Tree House Lodge
Perched atop gnarled, sprawling tamarind trees overlooking the South China Sea, the Sanya Nanshan Treehouse Resort offers weary travelers a scenic, meditative retreat. Guests can admire the sea from afar, or swim its warm waters by sliding down sand dunes that dip toward the beach below. The resort also sits near a 5,000-acre Buddhist park filled with temples, pagodas and botanical gardens.The operators of Sanya Nanshan Treehouse Resort caution that their accommodations are “not for the fussy.” But they’re ideal for eco-friendly vacationers who prefer fresh air to air-conditioning. Built from all-natural materials, the houses are also designed so as not to harm the surrounding environment.
Accessible only by suspension bridge, the Big Beach in the Sky treehouse hosts six people, while the Hawaiian Hale Hotel Treehouse can host up to 20. An added bonus: as affordable as they are dreamy, these treehouses rent for about $100 a night.
Photo by Shi Huai Xun
Tucked beneath Mount Rainier, amid the branches of a two-century-old western red cedar, Cedar Creek Treehouse offers both peaceful seclusion and invigorating outdoor activity. A staircase winds 50 feet to the treehouse, where guests will find a kitchen nook, bathroom, and sleeping loft. Eco-conscious travelers can delight in the solar panels, which power low-voltage electric lights. Owner Bill Compher delivers the water supply to the rooms himself.
Those seeking a more subdued stay can bird watch or stargaze from the glass-paneled observation area on the fourth floor of the stairwell. In the summer, they can spend the long days huckleberry picking or fishing in the creek, cooling off with a swim, and cooking freshly caught trout over a campfire.Adventurous types will find no shortage of activities. A ten-minute drive will take guests to the Nisqually River entrance to Mount Rainier National Park, and an hour drive south will lead them to Mount St. Helens. Visitors can also hike to the High Rock Lookout, or hop on a mountain bike for an 18-mile ride to the picturesque rural community of Packwood. Cross-country skiing opportunities abound several months of the year.
Guests can also skip traveling altogether and take a complementary tour that features a toe-tingling trek up the “Stairway to Heaven,” an 82-foot spiral staircase. A rainbow-colored suspension bridge then leads visitors to the Treehouse Observatory, where they can peer through a spotting scope at mountain goats grazing on Mount Wow.
Rooms cost $300 per night for two, adults only. A maximum of two additional guests are allowed, $100 each.
Photo by Nat Hansen
Travelers seeking a more avant-garde, though no less eco-friendly, experience can stay in the newest treehouse of the batch. Nestled in the tiny village of Harads in northern Sweden, Treehotel’s houses feature signature light, airy Scandinavian designs, but with startling twists. You'll find houses taking a variety of surreal forms, from a mirror-paneled cube to a shiny spaceship to a giant bird’s nest.
Beyond aesthetics, the hotels’ design also emphasizes sustainability. Each house comes supplied with hydroelectric power and LED lighting. Bathrooms have water-efficient sinks, as well as electrically powered, odorless toilets that incinerate or freeze waste. (One room’s toilet actually contributes to heating during wintertime.) Showers and a sauna are located in separate units. Houses don’t have sewage systems, and hotel staff use eco-friendly cleaning products.Treehotel offers sweeping views of the coniferous Lule River Valley, where guests can delight in the Northern Lights dancing across the winter sky. A short stroll away, Harads offers eateries, a shop, and a guesthouse. Outdoor enthusiasts can indulge in a variety of activities, from hiking, biking and horseback riding to fishing, kayaking, and dog sledding.
The arboreal villa will open its sixth treehouse this week, with plans to open 24 rooms in total. Houses can sleep two to four people and rent at about $500 for one adult, $670 for two adults, and $65 for children over two years old. Kids under age two lodge for free.
Photo by Peter Lundstrom
Melissa Pandika is an editorial intern at Sierra and a graduate journalism student at Stanford University. Her interests include environmental health and justice, urban environmental issues, and conservation biology. She has a soft spot for cetaceans.