When was the last time you climbed a creaky ladder and found peace amongst the treetops? If the answer is decades ago, then now could be the perfect time to round up the kids and start planning a tree house getaway. Retreating to a secret den up in the branches is a childhood rite of passage and a yearning that never leaves us. It offers an escape from everyday life and a connection to nature, softening the walls between the wilderness and ourselves.
If you’re tempted to live the high life for a night or two, here’s our pick of Europe’s most spectacular tree house stays, from a spaceship in the woods to a castle in the sky.
Treehotel, Harads, Sweden
Best for: sparking imaginations
If you go down to the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise. Located in the wilds of Swedish Lappland, 45 minutes from the Arctic Circle and an hour’s drive from Luleå airport, lives the Treehotel. The cluster of seven fantastically themed tree houses includes a giant bird’s nest, a mirrored cube that blends seamlessly with the pine forest surroundings, and perhaps the most spectacular of all, the UFO.
Like a scene from E.T., an electric ladder slowly descends from a hatch, silently beckoning you up into the spaceship. Inside, you’ll find snug beds covered in starry sky textiles, a micro bathroom with eco-toilet, and a compact dining area. Wires connected to nearby trees suspend the sci-fi shack mid-flight, so you’ll be gently swayed to sleep by the breeze.
Local activities include visiting Sámi herders, year-round fishing in the local Lule River, dog sledding, catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights, or simply relaxing in the onsite sauna which also hangs from the trees. Outdoorsy, creative and just a little bit bonkers, a stay at the Treehotel is the stuff of lifelong memories.
The UFO at Treehotel sleeps five people and costs £360 per night for 2 people, £65 for an extra guest, then £38 for each additional child. Price includes buffet breakfast.
Living-Room Treehouse Experience, Wales, UK
Best for: rewilding
There’s something magical about staying at the Living-Room Treehouse Experience, situated at the foot of Snowdonia, surrounded by ancient fairy tale woodland and mythical mountains.
Venture up the spiral staircase, trip-trap over the rickety rope bridge and your beautifully crafted treetop hideaway awaits. Floating 40ft above the ground, the dens are supported by the trees so wave slightly in the wind, which only adds to the excitement.
Inside the decor is rustic-Scandi, with a wood burning stove, cozy Welsh blankets and portholes taking in the dramatic landscape. The great outdoors provides the setting for plenty of Swallows and Amazons adventures, with babbling streams to splash in, mossy woods to explore and a wooden platform for stargazing as night falls. The six tree houses are off-grid, so candles and twinkling fairy lights illuminate the atmospheric evenings.
Cabins at Living-Room Treehouse Experience can accommodate a family of five, costing £399 for a 2-night stay.
Lovtag Treetop Hotel, North Jutland, Denmark
Best for: design lovers
Proof that a tree house sleepover doesn’t have to mean skimping on comfort, these three stylish cabins in North Jutland, Denmark, were designed by the hip young architect Sigurd Larsen, in the Nordic minimalist style.
Inside you’ll find floor-to-ceiling windows to soak up the woodland views, a mini-kitchen, heating, electricity and an en suite toilet. As pleasing as the hygge interiors are, it’s the majestic tree that takes center stage here – growing right through the middle of the cabin and up through the ceiling, where you can re-join it whilst sipping coffee on the roof terrace.
There are plenty of outdoor pursuits in the surrounding North Jutland area, from fishing for trout in Mariager Fjord, hiking the scenic trails or exploring the local village’s cobbled streets and distinctively crooked houses. But perhaps the best thing to do at Lovtag is simply to put your feet up, watch the sunlight creeping through the leaves and embrace the wilderness as a family – as co-owner Nanna Balsby says “nothing happens here, so everything can happen”.
Lovtag Treetop Hotel is a 45 minute drive from Aalborg airport. Each cabin sleeps four and costs from £240 per night including a locally sourced breakfast.
Châteaux dans les Arbres, Dordogne, France
Best for: history buffs
Looking for a way to bring history to life for children? A stay at the Dordogne’s Castles in the Trees should do the trick, sleeping in a wooden replica of the neighboring medieval castles.
The two tree houses sleep either four or six people, the larger of which has a fully equipped kitchen and a separate cabin bedroom that’s ideal for teenagers wanting more privacy. On-site there’s all the amenities one might expect from a French holiday park, with an outdoor pool, playground, onsite restaurant and complimentary bikes for exploring the local area, where you’ll find a wealth of history on the doorstep.
Biron Castle is particularly lovely and just a short drive away, the Vézère Valley is worth a day trip for archaeological museums, caves and Unesco world heritage sites, or brush up on the difference between stalactites and stalagmites at the Proumeyssac Caves.
Osea Leisure Park, Essex, England
Best for: a bargain
This Essex tree house is a great choice for a cost-effective, back to nature escape. The modest cabin hovers 10ft above the ground, with a balcony offering a squirrel’s eye view of the peaceful natural estuarine landscape. There’s plenty of outside space for the kids to run wild, plus a field kitchen with a barrel BBQ ready to fire up. Note that the toilet and shower block are a short walk from the tree house.
The tree house is part of a family-run campsite, situated next to the Blackwater Estuary. While away the days with coastal walks, sailing and boating adventures, or roll up your trousers for a spot of crabbing on nearby Mersea Island, against a backdrop of rainbow beach huts.
Osea Leisure Park is 90 minutes from London. The tree house sleeps four and costs from £45 per night.
TreeTop Fiddan, Vest-Agder, Norway
Best for: an adventure
Journey to Vest-Agder in the backwoods of Southern Norway and you’ll be rewarded with not one, but two incredible tree house stays.
The Wilderness Tower is a four-storey lookout with views across its own private lake. The soaring tree house comfortably sleeps a family of six and includes a woodwork studio for whittling up timber take-homes. This off-grid cabin is all about getting back to nature, with days spent fishing for dinner in a dinky rowboat, foraging for berries or visiting the owner’s organic farm. Be sure to rise early and tiptoe out onto the deck, for a glimpse of moose and deer grazing at sunrise.
Situated in the middle of a neighboring lake, The Island Cabin has all the elements of Tove Jansson’s whimsical novel The Summer Book. Accessed via a floating bridge, this idyllic tree house sits on its own private castaway island. Sleeping up to five people, there’s also a hammock for Moomin Papa-style afternoon naps.
The Oakey Koakey Treehouse, East Sussex, England
Best for: country comforts
This hideout in the sky is just an hour’s drive from London, yet feels a million miles away from the bustle of the city. Set in its own patch of private woodland filled with deer, badgers and birdsong, the Oakey Koakey Treehouse invites you to ditch the screens and connect with nature.
Inside you’ll find all the luxuries of a modern apartment, with underfloor heating, electricity, and a fully furnished bathroom and kitchen. The children’s forest-themed bedroom is a real crowd-pleaser and kids will love climbing the tree trunk ladder up into their bunk beds. There’s also a BBQ and fire pit for alfresco dining and evenings spent melting marshmallows under a blanket of stars.
Take a country walk to Ticehurst village for a classic pub lunch, stopping off at the quirky phone box library for some holiday reading material. Nearby Bewl Water Reservoir is also worth a visit, with a floating inflatable obstacle course for adrenaline junkies aged 8+, family pedal boats, and wild swimming sessions for the hardy.
The Oakey Koakey Treehouse sleeps a family of four from £188 per night.
Mill Farm, Wiltshire, England
Best for: a dose of farm life
This rural retreat is the perfect spot for combining a tree house sleepover with a farm stay. Situated on the grounds of a lively working farm, the tree house is at the luxe end of forest living, with a four-poster bed, rainfall shower and access to an outdoor hot tub. On the doorstep, there are rolling fields filled with sheep and a little stream that’s home to a rowdy family of ducks. The 150-acre farm is also organic, so there are no nasties in the air.
Days on the farm take on their own gentle rhythm, starting with the morning egg collection from the chicken coop. There are plenty of ways for families to get involved with the animals, from mucking out and grooming the donkeys to a meet-and-greet with the outrageously cute pygmy goats. Be sure to pack wellies, as visits to the cowshed can get mucky!
For an extra fee there are archery lessons, clay pigeon shooting and rides for under-10s on the farm's affable donkey. A short drive away you’ll also find Avebury Stone Circle, a low-key alternative to Stonehenge where you can walk amongst the Neolithic monuments.
The Mill Farm tree house sleeps six and costs from £750 for a 2-night stay.