Growing up all I ever wanted was a treehouse. I tried making my own but with the strength and abilities of a six year-old girl I never got very far. Imagine a plank of wood sandwiched between two tree trunks and you won't be far off my greatest architectural achievement.
At the top of their game, treehouses offer a level of fantasy and intrigue well above that of your average abode. From pirate ships to fairy castles you would be forgiven for thinking that this is a child only pastime, but we think we can change your outlook with some of the coolest tree-based haunts on the market. Just make sure you don’t look down.
Ministers Treehouse by Horace Burgess
If size is your thing, how about the world's largest ever treehouse? Built over a course of 14 years by Horace Burgess in Crossville, Tennessee, this ten storey, 10,000 square foot monstrosity began its life after Burgess received a message from god. The good lord told him that if he started building one he would never run out of materials. It seems he took this to heart, creating a wooden structure that reaches 97 feet into the sky and has taken over 258,000 nails to create. Featuring a basketball court on the third floor as well as a special penthouse suite and choir loft this now tourist attraction can satisfy the wildest of childhood dreams. Just imagine hide and seek in it.
The Bird's Nest at The Treehotel, Sweden
The UFO at The Treehotel, Sweden
Next we jet over to Sweden and The Treehotel. Consisting of five individual treehouse rooms this is a costly yet rare experience. Ranging from the Bird’s Nest, a mass of camouflaged twigs with retracting staircase, to the UFO (no explanation needed), each house offers spectacular views of the surrounding area whilst cocooning you in a luxury, one-of-a-kind pod. If this isn’t enough they can organise activities too, from kayaking to building your very own igloo, but if it was me I would spend my time impersonating an alien, complete with antenna, ghostly green skin and glow in the dark fingers.
The Crazy House by Dang Viet Nga
For those with a desire to live within rather than on top of a tree The Crazy House in Vietnam should suit. Built by the ex-president's daughter Dang Viet Nga, this otherworldly creation acts as a hotel. Made to look as though it has sprung up from the ground The Crazy House exudes elements of Alice in Wonderland mixed with Charlotte’s Web and offers its customers a maze-like experience. With strangely themed rooms, such as the Ant and Eagle room, it looks like something out of Disneyland on acid.
Chip 'n' Dale's treehouse in Toon Town, Disneyland
With Disneyland in mind we look to the less authentic yet fantastical Chip 'n' Dale treehouse of Toon Town. Appealing to the inner child within us all you can just imagine exploring those plastic caverns whilst eating an oversized ball of floss and wearing your coveted Mickey Mouse ears. The lack of male strippers is a downside, but we can always imagine.
Up next is an altogether more terrifying experience. How about spending the night hanging from a tree, several metres in the air, secured only by a hefty rope? Originally the practice of rock climbers, who would suspend themselves whilst on multiple day hikes, Waldseilgarten mountain resort in Germany has turned it into a tourist attraction. Access to and from these tents is only possible by rope though so if you need the loo in the middle of the night you either need to hold it in or have the agility of a baby monkey.
Exterior of The Redwoods Tree House restaurant
Interior of The Redwoods Tree House restaurant
The good old Yellow Pages commissioned this next one, situated in New Zealand and known as The Redwoods Tree House restaurant. It was originally created as part of a marketing scheme for the directory, whereby all the materials and labour had to be sourced via its listings. Now a restaurant open to the public, the huge chrysalis/onion construction stands ten meters high and at night shines out like a giant firefly between the trees.
A bubble room from the Bubble Hotel
Not strictly a treehouse, but the bubbles at the Bubble Hotel, France, offer a nature-integrated experience from the ground that is as good as if you were suspended in the air. Designed by Pierre Stephane Dumas, this hotel offers its guests the opportunity to sleep in a giant, blow-up bubble situated in a private picturesque location in one of its three rural areas. The bubbles vary in their style, from the glamour bubble designed for couples to the Zen bubble that is completely open to its surroundings. Whether they can withstand bear attacks is yet to be seen, but the view is fantastic.
A Free Spirit Sphere
The final stop on our list are the Free Spirit Spheres, a set of giant balls suspended from trees in the West Coast rainforest of Vancouver Island. Providing shelter and warmth from the outside chill they gently rock you to sleep as they sway in the evening breeze. These small abodes may surprise you with what they can fit inside as well, including double beds, sofas and refrigerators. Not bad for what looks like a giant pumpkin.
What would be your hanging paradise of choice?