18 Treehouses That Are Nicer Than Your House
Living luxuriously among the leaves has never been so accessible
Rustic treehouses have always been great playrooms for the kids, but the old scrap-lumber-platform construction just won't do for adults. When it comes to grown-up getaways, it has to be luxe. Running water, fairytale views, and Swiss Family Robinson architecture are practically required. To show you what we mean, This Old House has assembled 18 outdoor escapes that prove that when your home among the limbs is this fancy, climbing up a tree doesn't have to mean roughing it.
No need to worry about yard work when a grove of Douglas firs hugs your home. Kick back 15 feet above the forest floor and admire the storybook Washington state view instead. Of course, some compromises are necessary, like using an incinerating toilet to accommodate the lack of running water. But a stroll through this light-filled wood cottage will almost make you forget its missing amenities.
Alnwick, United Kingdom
A run-of-the-mill treehouse simply won't do when you possess an English title. The Duchess of Northumberland commissioned this wonky structure, which opened in 2004, as a place for all the kids out there who "aren't allowed to climb trees." One of the world's largest treehouses, the elevated structure houses educational facilities, rope bridges, lots of walkways, and even a restaurant, and is made from sustainable resources. The design's whimsical angles and patchwork of materials is reminiscent of the world of Harry Potter—apropos, as the duchess's home, Alnwick Castle, was used as the location for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the first two films.
Los Angeles, California
Situated 12 feet off the ground, this minute backyard abode is only 170 square feet but packs in ample shelf space, warm wood tones, countless mahogany windows and a half bath. The getaway, designed by Rockefeller Partners Architects in 2009, serves as the homeowner's art retreat.
The only thing that could make having a treehouse even better is getting to build it with your dad, like TOH reader Matt Pavel did here. This multi-level treehouse makes climbing up into the outdoor hangout feel a little like an Indiana Jones movie, without the life-threatening boulders.
Alien landing pod? Entrance to a secret lab? Fashion-show catwalk set? Nope—just a oblong treehouse made from Tatajuba wood and topped with zinc, straight from the imaginations at German treehouse design company Baumraum.
Village of Hardas, Sweden
Disappearing into your getaway is easy with the disguised windows and retractable staircase of this bird's nest-inspired treehouse, designed by architect Bertil Harstrom. The space, part of accommodations known as Treehotel, can be booked for 3,300 Swedish Kronar (about $590) a night.
The idea for this UFO treehouse, another getaway in the Treehotel family, was born during the Bird's Nest design process. While the nest was designed to fit in with its environment, this otherworldly orb was built to look, well, alien. Spend a night roaming the two floors within the structure's sustainable composite walls for just 3,300 Swedish Kronar.
Qualicum Beach, BC, Canada
Find yourself three sturdy trees, and shell out $45,000 (for fiberglass or $150,000 for wood) if you'd like to call one of these Free Spirit Spheres your own treehouse. (Worth noting: The pricier wood version is equipped with plumbing and heating.) Or, book one for a night or two at a Treesort starting at $145 (Canadian) a night.
Everyone has his or her calling. Landscape architect and self-taught carpenter Horace Burgess's came from on high. He began this elaborate structure after "receiving a revelation from God." The 100-foot-tall, ten-story treehouse—complete with a third-story sanctuary/basketball court—won the Guinness World Record for largest treehouse in 2012.
Revelstoke, BC, Canada
The Enchanted Forest, a family attraction built in an old growth British Columbia forest, features fairytale characters, a dragon-guarded castle, and this three-tier treehouse rising 50 feet into the air. That would give even the most good-natured princess a little space from her visiting in-laws!
Letham, United Kingdom
The treehouse on the grounds of Fernie Castle won't ever let you forget it's, well, on the grounds of a castle. Ever. For one, it sports a castle-worthy turret and arched front door. But if that's not enough, indoor murals depicting the castle in the distance serve as reminders. Bookable for an overnight upon request, the treehouse comes with amenities such as a fridge stocked with champagne and chocolates. It's tough living like royalty.
Near Auckland, New Zealand
If you plan on booking this slatted event venue hugging a Redwood tree 10 meters above ground, go ahead and invite 29 of your closest friends—you'll all fit, as long as the weather holds. Plus, with ample mood lighting, it's perfect for the dinner party of all dinner parties, even the most merry of revelers can find his or her way along the suspended walkway.
Komoro City, Nagano Prefecture, Japan
Happily coexist with 78 of your close, personal, fine-feathered friends in this Nendo-designed tree-top abode at Japan's Ando Momofuku Center. Peepholes along a wall separating man from birds encourage nest spying, an attempt to uphold the center's goal of promoting access to nature.
Pedra Salgadas, Portugal
The Tree Snake Houses got their name from their long ramps, not because they're poised to reach out and bite you. In fact, just the opposite: The prefab structures, assembled offsite with local, natural materials, are decidedly low on environmental impact. The structures' creators, Luis and Tiago Rebelo de Andrade, are working on adapting their design to other environments, such as river banks, mountains, and urban centers.
Whistler, BC, Canada
What makes a treehouse even more fun? If it's off the grid. The HemLoft has been kept mostly a secret by its creator out of fear it will be destroyed by the Canadian government. The structure's ribs were built offsite and attached around the base deck. However, the owner encountered several obstacles during building, including having to sneak supplies into the forest, a late-night run-in with a bear, and a sloped forest floor that sent his tools sliding away. But it appears that he's continued to evade the authorities and the treehouse still stands on its undisclosed location among the hemlocks.
Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
Few things look more "one with nature" than a pinecone treehouse. Blending the structure into their clients' densely wooded backyard was top priority for 02 Treehouse, whose designers transformed one of their prefab geodesic models with custom steel awnings for the pinecone effect.
"European hostel" and "interesting design" are two phrases that don't usually get uttered in the same sentence. But these Kadir Treehouse Hostels break free of the bureaucratic-office-building stereotype with Western-themed log-cabin construction and wagon-wheel decorations.
Chino City, Nagano Prefecture, Japan
Like a lot of homeowners we know, tea masters typically rein over the building of their teahouses with intense passion. Architect Terunobu Fujimori built himself a treehouse he called Takasugi-an, which translates from Japanese to "a tea house [built] too high." Ternunobu's treehouse is more exclusive than most nightclubs: Access is gained via two movable ladders propped against a supporting tree.