Though you may hear the phrase "tree house" and imagine that childhood playhouse that your parents helped you build, tree houses have come a long way since you put a few planks into the oak in your backyard and declared no boys were allowed — in fact, in recent years, tree house hotels and cabins have become popular among high-end travelers. Which means that you don't have to compromise on luxury (or hot water) just to fulfill your Swiss Family Robinson fantasies.
There are plenty of private high-end tree houses in the world — hey, wouldn't you build yourself a massive one if you had all the money you could handle? — but this list focuses on ones that you can rent out and stay in on your own, without having to go through the trouble of befriending a random billionaire or the Duchess of Whatever in order to get in. And many tree house hotels are passion projects, often developed by environmental activists, artists, or hoteliers with a vision for environmentally seamless places to stay. So you can totally consider your holiday in one of these worldwide dream spots as an investment in a green future. Right? Or just spend your time bird-watching and pretending you're Tarzan. Either one.
This list features nine awesome tree houses that you can stay in, located everywhere from the US to Asia, so it doesn't matter where you're from or where you're going; you can still get yourself a lovely nest above the forest floor. Ready to get a different point of view?
1. Treehouse Point, Washington, USA
Treehouse Point, a glorious assembly of cabins in the trees, is a noted wedding venue in Washington — but it's also a B&B with quite the stylistic twist. The spot offers yoga classes, Wi-Fi, and massages, and guests stay in suspended tree houses with names like The Nest and Temple Of The Moon. You can't just rock up without a reservation, though — it's such a popular destination for weddings that if you try to get a last-second room, you'll probably find yourself stuck on the ground and sulking.
Note: according to the site's lodging rules, "due to the romantic nature of our establishment, as well as safety concerns, we do not allow overnight guests under 13 years old, nor any pets, including dogs." So make sure to tell your dogs, "Sorry we can't take you, this place is just too romantic for you," before you leave for your stay.
2. Treehouse Cottages, Eureka Springs, Arkansas, USA
The Treehouse Cottages were a passion project, crafted by hand by the two owners in and around the forest of Eureka Springs. The tree houses are notable for more than just sitting in a picturesque location — they contain stupendous woodwork, from seriously amazing four-poster beds to antique chairs. (Also, some of them have jacuzzis. High five.)
3. Free Spirit Spheres, Vancouver Island, Canada
Famous for their wildly Instagram-worthy looks, the Free Spirit Spheres in the rainforest of Vancouver Island regularly turn up on travel magazine lists — and with good reason. They're inspired by naval rigging and construction, and three of them are available for overnight rental (though only for guests aged 16 and over). You get to your sphere via intricately arranged rope stairs, and presto, you're suspended for the night.
4. The Treehotel, Lapland, Sweden
Lapland's The Treehotel is probably the most famous tree hotel in the world. Which is even more impressive when you realize the hotel has only six places for guests to stay — but when they're this ridiculously awesome, quality definitely counts of quantity. The cabins have names like The UFO and The Mirror Cube, which are pretty descriptive, and they don't skimp on the height: the highest cabin floats nearly 20 feet off the ground. The hotel also hosts a bunch of activities (including dining on the ice in the Swedish winter) if you ever get tired of your space-age suspended dreams, but get real — who would?
5. Tradhushotell, Islanna, Sweden
The Swedish seem to have a flair for hotels in the air. But the Tradhushotell is a completely different vibe to the country's other tree house hotel offerings. It gives visitors a full-on rustic rural Swedish experience, complete with gables and homemade bread for breakfast. The owners proudly note that they've even painted the walls using natural materials like linseed oil and eggs from neighbours' hens. It's basically farm life, just fifteen feet up in the air. Which is, obviously, the best place to enjoy it.
6. Tretopphytter, Norway
Thinking about spending winter in a tree house may, at first, sounds about as appealing as eating boiled tripe — but after you see this tree house, you'll be eating your words. The Tretopphytter, located in forested Norway, is a series of tree houses designed for all-weather living in isolated wilderness, including one cabin with an all-glass roof for star-spotting outside of normal light pollution. But don't think that the fact that they're winterized keeps them from being serious about height: lodge in one of these and you'll be staying a whopping 25 feet off the snowy ground.
7. The Gibbon Experience, Bokeo, Laos
The Gibbon Experience is extraordinary in essentially every way: more than just a cool tree house, these lodgings allow visitors to learn about local ecology, take part in conservation efforts, and work to help with the preservation of local cultures in an increasingly threatened part of the world.
So how does it work? The Gibbon Experience was designed to allow people to wake up with gibbons — tiny, tree-dwelling apes — in their natural environment: the very top layer of the rainforest. But visitors to the Gibbon Experience do more than score face time with these elusive and endangered apes — the project also helps fund and bring awareness to the gibbons' precarious situation. It's also been an employment booster for people from the area, with 120 locals making their living from the site. Tourism as eco-preservation — it really doesn't get any better.
8. The Canopy Treehouses, Cairns, Australia
Tree houses don't fit in anywhere better than they do in Australia, where the canopies are filled with birds so unusual, you probably couldn't conjure them out of a drunken dream. (Full disclosure: I'm Australian, and our birds still amaze me.) The Canopy Treehouses in Cairns, located in the rainforest area of Australia, are designed to help visitors take full advantage of that fact. These riverfront creations are made from rainforest timbers and run using sustainable energy — and, of course, their huge glass windows and high ceilings take advantage of the environment's heat and light, to make them even more ecologically friendly.
9. Tsala Treetop Lodge, Plettenberg Bay, South Africa
When it comes to experiencing amenities while also taking in an aerial view of the forest, nothing currently beats South Africa's Tsala Treetop Lodge for sheer luxury. You even get a choice of treehouse size: you can rent a suite or have a whole villa to yourself, complete with an infinity pool. It's regarded as one of the most decadent examples of the genre out there, though, so if you're looking to travel through all the tree house hotels of the world, don't start with this one — or you might spoil yourself for the simpler joys of other experiences...
Images: Treehouse Point, Treehouse Cottages, Free Spirit Spheres, Treehotel, Tradhushotell, Tretopphytter, The Gibbon Experience, The Canopy Treehouses, Tsala Treetop Lodge