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Taking to the treetops is no longer a childhood dream. In recent years, luxury hotels have sprouted in trees all over the world – and there’s not a rusty nail or soggy plank in sight. Instead, you’ll find surprisingly suave interiors, with wood-burning stoves, bubbling hot tubs and sky-high private pools.
Here are some of the world’s best luxury treehouses – from Balinese-style villas poised among the palms to a sculptural stay overlooking the Okavango Delta.
At Bisate, you wake snuggled under emerald blankets, the scent of last night’s log fire lingering in the air. You pad across the wooden floor, throw open the doors to your private bamboo terrace and breathe in wraparound views of Mount Bisoke, home to the mountain gorillas you’ve traveled to Rwanda to see.
The lodge comprises six treehouses and a main building, all positioned on the sloping edge of an ancient volcano. Each house is filled with Rwandan-designed details – such as custom-made armchairs and birdcage lights – and feels completely private, although you could mingle with other guests in the restaurant or bottle-stuffed wine cellar.
However, the view is by far definitely the best part: if this valley is a theater, Bisate Lodge is the royal box.
It goes without saying that sleeping in a tree gives you a bird’s eye view of the world – but it’s only at Tree Hotel that you’ll wake eye-to-eye with hundreds of starlings. The hotel is known for its futuristic treehouses; expect to stay in a mirrored cube, UFO, dragonfly or hyper-realistic bird’s nest.
Our favorite is Biosphere, a huge glass cube with 350 birdhouses attached to it; you’ll quite literally rule the roost. Facilities in the house are limited to a bed, eco-shower, toilet and sauna, but there is a homely hotel restaurant serving locally sourced Swedish dishes.
The New Forest is home to deer, wild ponies, otters and four woodland dwellings at Chewton Glen. Of the four, the made-for-two Treehouse Hideaway Suite is best for couples with its wood-burning stove and hot tub on the terrace. The Yews is better for larger groups, with space for up to 12 and the option to have a private chef prepare all your meals.
Whichever you pick, you’ll receive a daily breakfast hamper through a discreet hatch in your kitchen – but there’s also a pair of hotel restaurants if you don’t want to cook. You could spend your time in the award-winning spa, having afternoon tea or rambling through the forest which is just a scamper away.
Treehouses go tropical at Nayara Bocas del Toro, a private island in Panama. Its Balinese-style huts are peppered amongst the palm trees and are the handiwork of interior designer Elora Hardy (known for her work throughout Bali). Aesthetically, the vibe is very much Bali meets Panama: woven headboards, dark wood interiors and hand-hammered copper tubs on the balcony.
It’s so pretty that you won’t want to leave, and you don’t have to with 24/7 in-room dining and a private terrace overlooking the mangroves. Make an exception for a private exploration of the surrounding archipelago where the sparkling seas are filled with dolphins.
There are four types of accommodations at Keemala, each inspired by one of the fictitious clans that were supposedly shipwrecked here centuries ago. The treehouses – called Tree Pool Villas – are inspired by the We-Ha (Sky) clan, who were fascinated by the stars and elevated their homes to be closer to the sky.
In practice, this looks like a series of two-level villas strung like lanterns along the trees. Once you’ve walked to your room along the suspended wooden walkways, the only decision you need to make is from where you want to soak up the views: the cocoon-shaped beds, an armchair suspended from the ceiling or your sea-facing private pool.
Despite being just off California’s famous Pacific Highway 1, this Big Sur property feels exceptionally private. No doubt it’s due to its 60 hectares of fauna-filled grounds, which are home to rare plants and endangered butterflies and frogs.
Its treehouses are designed to blend with the ancient redwoods they’re hoisted among; you truly feel as though you’ve clambered inside a tree. Each triangular structure cleverly maximizes space, with bonus additions of wood-burning stoves and cleverly positioned skylights for bedtime star gazing.
Rising 10 meters above the Okovanga Delta, this sculptural treehouse is nothing short of remarkable. Its dendroid design is inspired by a painting of an old Baobab tree by South African artist Jacobus Hendrik Pierneef, and has been designed to rust over time to blend with the cocoa-colored landscape.
There’s a spiral staircase curling through the three-storey trunk to the bedroom, but the best sleeping space is on its open-air rooftop. Here, you can sleep directly under the stars, only to be woken again by the roar of lions in the delta below.
The view from Hapuku Lodge’s pair of treehouses is like something out of a travel documentary. On one side, Kanuka-dotted farmland rolls away to the Pacific Ocean; on the other, the serrated edges of the Kaikoura mountains slice the skyline in two.
With scenery like this, slowing down to take stock of your environment is a prerequisite. While lolling in the window-facing free-standing bath is the peak of relaxation, sitting on the terrace at sunset is also hard to beat.