There is something magical about being in a tree. Maybe it’s the vantage point or some primitive need for security. Perhaps it’s about getting close to nature, or it’s just pure novelty. Whatever it is, treehouse hotels are a phenomenon that get your vacation off the ground.
These nests in the sky can now be found everywhere, from Sweden to South Africa. And they come in many different configurations from roughly-constructed shelters to full-scale houses on stilts—all united through the humble yet magestic tree. Each takes its cues from its surroundings. Whether the views offer lush jungles or scenic coastlines, there is no better way to feel immersed in a swathe of stunning scenery.
For those of us willing to mount the precarious ladders and rope bridges required to immerse ourselves in treetop slumber, it’s well worth the adventure. Here are a few of our favorite spots to take to the trees.
TONGABEZI, Victoria Falls, Zambia
Located at Victoria Falls, the Tongabezi treehouse is all about being immersed in nature. It’s akin to going on safari from within your hotel room. Branches of an immense ebony tree rise though the house, which is entirely open to the riverfront. “Our treehouse has an amazing view across the Zambezi river—there are hippos wallowing directly underneath your bedroom and giant kingfishers fly through the room,” explains Benjamin Parker, the resort’s owner. “The appeal is that you’re in great comfort, but with the added excitement of being in the elements.”
Despite this open nature, there is no skimping on luxury. The Tongabezi treehouse boasts an artful interior, with a canopied bed framed by tree branches, a clawfoot tub overlooking the river, and a private deck from which to watch the river. Guests are escorted to their accommodations by a personal valet and can choose to spend their evenings dining at one of the resort’s scenic restaurants or relaxing by the seaside pool.
TREEHOTEL, Harads, Sweden
The Treehotel in Sweden offers a creative take on the treehouse experience, with seven distinctive treehouse structures designed by the lauded Snøhetta architecture firm. Each treehouse is whimsically named to reflect its appearance. “The Mirrorcube” is a giant box of mirrors, which entirely camouflages into the surroundings; “The UFO” seems to hover in the woods, and “The 7th Room” sits ten meters up in the forest, its underside lined with a life-sized photograph of the sky, so that it appears there is nothing below.
Visitors can enjoy fine dining that matches the rugged nature of this northern hotel, with meals created by refined Nordic chef Sebastian Gröndal capturing the country’s seasons on a plate. The hotel offers plenty of adventure activities in the Swedish wilderness, and a relaxing steam sauna to recover in afterwards.
Lake Manyara National Park
LAKE MANYARA NATIONAL PARK, Tanzania
Safari-lovers will love the experience at and Beyond Lake Manyara Tree Lodge in Tanzania’s Lake Manyara National Park. Private verandas, open-air showers, freestanding soaking tubs, and panoramic views of the wilderness below are what you’ll find in these ten treehouse suites. It’s the perfect marriage of living luxuriously and being immersed in nature’s splendor.
Guests can spend the day on a Tanzanian safari in search of wildlife and unwind with an open-air gourmet dinner and evening dip in the lodge pool. The nearby soda lake is a real-life fantasy filled with pink flamingos, and almost 600 bird species await to be spotted.
The park is renowned for its wildlife guests who sometimes get up close and personal, visiting right within the lodge.
TREEBONES, Big Sur, California
Nestled along the jaw-droppingly beautiful Big Sur coastline, Treebones is a kind of upmarket camping resort. Their treehouses, the Nest and the Twig Hut, are striking shelters made of swirling, intertwined branches.
These remarkable creations are works of art. “A local artist developed an amazing way of ‘sculpting’ the branches, creating these human-sized nests,” explains Corinne Handy, who owns Treebones with her husband John. “We loved how it felt to perch up high—it’s very much like an animal home!”
The nests are completely exposed to the elements, but this doesn’t seem to put anyone off. The less ruggedly-inclined can stay at one of the property’s luxurious yurts, take a morning yoga class, or go for a relaxing massage.
TRANQUIL RESORT, Kerala, India
Nestled in the forest of the lush southern Kerala at Wayanad, the Tranquil Resort is built on a coffee plantation and offers gorgeous views over the undulating jungle hills. The original Tranquil treehouse is built in the arms of an imposing Gulmohar tree, while the second is big enough to host an entire family.
These treehouses offer stunning views over the lush landscape while keeping guests nestled in comfort. The houses are enclosed in glass and are insect-proof, so guests can rest easy while watching the myriad jungle birdlife and monkeys play outside their window.
Coffee plantation tours or luxuriating in an authentic Ayurveda treatment are just some of the highlights of staying here.