Remember when you were a kid and all you wanted was a cozy aerie from which to lob water balloons at your friends? Or perhaps it was a “girls only” or “boys only” club house nestled into the limbs of a sprawling backyard tree. Whatever the function, a tree house still appeals to our sense of play, privacy, and escape, even as adults. So it’s no wonder that one of the hottest trends in hospitality these days is tree house hotels. Here are a few of our favorites.
Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses, Kaikoura, New Zealand
According to their website, the Hapuku tree houses are perched 30 feet above the ground in the canopy of a native Manuka (tea tree) grove. Built in 2006 by a family of architects and builders, each luxury tree house has spectacular views of Kaikoura’s dramatic mountains and Pacific coastline. Attention to detail at the Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses is over-the-top, with most furniture having been designed and handcrafted by the family and local wood-working friends. According to the website, the custom-designed beds are considered “the most comfortable beds in the South Island.”
The property features on-site dining in a restaurant that focuses on serving the best local ingredients possible, from shellfish harvested in Kaikoura Bay to vegetables raised on the lodge’s private farm.
The Aviary at Wheatleigh, Lenox, Massachussetts
Utterly stunning in execution, this 16th century Florentine-style palazzo in the Berkshire mountains features a restored off-ground aviary which now acts as a sort of getaway suite. With views of the surrounding parklands designed by landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted (famous for designing NYC’s Central Park), The Aviary is a pitch-perfect blend of early American antiques and 21st century luxury.
In Hip Hotels USA (2003), Herbert Ypma writes:
This could well be the best hotel in the United States. The building is a magnificent Italianate mansion, the location is the picturesque Berkshires, one of the prettiest parts of New England, the town is Lenox – famous for its gentility, its classical music scene and its former resident Edith Wharton. The interiors are the most immaculate example of New York-based design and architecture duo Tsao & McKown’s work, the food is easily the best in Massachusetts, if not New England and the service beats any city hotel I know.
Tranquil Resort Plantation Hideaway, Kerala, India
Perched amid the rainforest of a 400-acre coffee and vanilla plantation, the “Tranquilitree” hideaway is a wonder of bungalow living, with a bedroom, bathroom and large veranda. Accommodations are plush, the grounds are well-manicured, and the amenities are extensive. Hosts Victor and Ranjini Dey offer Ayurvedic massage, tours of the plantation estate or nature trails, as well as a gorgeous robin’s egg blue swimming pool.
Several reviews of the Tranquility resort describe it as possessing “the efficiency of a resort combined with the intimacy of a homestay.” Home-cooked meals are served family-style at a communal table in the lodge (reportedly the best food in Kerala), and eco-tourism is encouraged throughout the rainforest setting.