This week I did something that felt possibly a bit batshit crazy and stayed, on my own, in a treehouse in the woods. I know. The person who gets spooked in her own garden.
It is testament to just how desperately I needed to remove myself from all noise and distraction (impending deadline that I still can’t talk about) that I ventured out into the wilds alone, risking potential Blair Witch Project-style scenarios and with only a small pair of nail scissors and a laptop charging cable (makeshift garrote) for protection. As someone who barricades their hotel door from the inside, even when there’s a reception desk two floors down and a twenty-four hour concierge, I can’t quite believe that I willingly took myself off to the wilderness.
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But look; I’ve made all of this sound a bit creepy. Clear your minds of the Blair Witch stuff, it was just a bit of drama for the intro, for this treehouse, one of the Skylark Treehouses at KIP hideaways, was just one of the most phenomenally relaxing, beautifully secluded places that I’ve ever stayed. Anywhere.
If you crave solitude, if you long for the sound of birdsong and the rustling of the trees, forget the hotel break: two nights here, with the outdoor bath and the on-deck fire pit and the secret walkway that weaves through the woods…two nights here and it’s as though you’ve had some kind of mind and soul reset. Three nights and you forget that there’s anything else out there, in the world. You know when you just have absolutely nothing to do? And there’s nothing you can do? So you just become sort of inert, as though you’re running on standby mode rather than actually switched on?
That’s how Skylark made me feel. And bear in mind, please, that it made me feel like this despite the fact I was knocking out four thousand words a day on my laptop, mainlining herbal tea and only occasionally getting up to have a shake and a stretch. In actual fact it was the perfect place to plough through my wordcount for the deadline-I-can’t-mention-yet because it was just so completely, beautifully silent.
And though half of the treehouse was totally open-air, including an amazing – very photogenic – outdoor kitchen and the aforementioned bathtub and deck, the bedroom and shower room were fully enclosed in a hyper-insulated, hermetically-sealed pod. Huge windows everywhere, massive comfy bed, but a proper safe little (fully lockable) hotel-style room with a kitchenette (tea, coffee, oven) and big walk-in shower as well as one of the best-placed bits of bathroom glazing I’ve seen, high up on the wall so that it framed the trees outside but retained total privacy.
On the privacy thing: there are other treehouses (six houses altogether) but they are pretty far apart. On arrival, my heart did sink when I heard the faint, dulcet tones of someone else’s children (because who wants to hear other people’s children when they’re trying to relax?) but when I leaned right out to try and spot them and perhaps scare them off with an evil glare the treehouse they were in, my nearest neighbour, was really quite far away. In fact you can tell how far away each one is because the parking spaces on the lane, two for each house, are well spaced-out.
Here’s how it goes: you arrive to Skylark Treehouses via the entrance lane and then the parking for each treehouse is signposted with a little emblem. (They send you all the info by email before you arrive.) Each little car park has an electric charging point, which is massively handy if you’re an electric car-haver and want to recharge whilst you stay. (I am a new electric car-haver and still getting used to the fact that you can’t just pull into any old petrol station and fill up; having a charger at your destination just seems to be the ultimate, world-changing convenience at this point in my life. More exciting, I think, than even an outdoor bath.)
A private walkway takes you down, Swallows and Amazons style, to the entrance of your treehouse (which is lockable, and lit) and the door opens onto the most gorgeous little outdoor camp, high up in the trees, totally private and with a roof over the living bits so that it can be constantly in use. When I say camp, this is nothing like camping; it’s camping, I suppose, for those (hello!) who love the smell of the outdoors and like being surrounded by nature but who don’t want to get trench foot and need to be within ten metres of a fully flushing toilet at all times. It looks like the rural treehouse/camping idyll, though a version of it you’d find in Vogue, but it acts like a luxury hotel. All of the best materials, expensive appliances, a bin with buttons to open and close (God how easily pleased am I?) and that brilliant, show-stopping outdoor tub. With only the cows in the field to witness your soak.
There’s a woodburner inside the sleeping suite, as well as radiators, so I’m pretty sure this place would be toasty as anything in the wintery months, but in summer it’s doors thrown wide open and outdoor fire pit on, just for the ambience, if you fancy it. I didn’t, because I was there on my own and I’m an eternal catastrophiser and imagined myself accidentally setting fire to my own hair and not having anyone to help put it out. Still, it was nice sitting there and listening to the near-silence, once the birds had gone to sleep. With my Brixham Harbour fish pie, one of the ready-to-oven freshly-made meals the people at Skylark can deliver to your treehouse for your arrival. It was delicious. And massively welcome as I’d decided in advance that I didn’t want to have to cook, because it would have been just another distraction, and so it saved me from eating muesli for dinner three nights in a row.
So to recap: you want absolute peace and quiet. You want the luxury feel and attention to detail that a hotel might give, but you want something more secluded and private. You love the idea of a camp-style break but want a good bed, full plumbing and no sense of damp. You want the ever-Instagrammable “bath under the stars” but don’t want to hear another soul whilst you lie in it and – finally – you want to enjoy the outdoors but feel safe and secure.
Bingo! I don’t think anyone would regret a couple of nights here for a total reset. What I liked most was their very stern rules contract that you had to agree to and sign, promising not to make noise and to respect other guests. Bloody brilliant. You really do feel as though you’re the only guests there – and it was fully booked on the nights that I stayed.
Prices? From £250 per night. Maybe slightly more than you’d expect if you went “glamping”, but this absolutely is not glamping. It’s a full hotel suite that’s completely private, with the benefit of a big outdoor space that can be used all year round. (There’s heating above the dining table and the whole space is considerately lit.) It’s nowhere near as expensive as a luxury hotel suite but that is what I’d compare it to; although the materials inside the sealed sleeping area were left quite rustic and natural, just one of the many eco-measures here, the fixtures and fittings were of the highest quality and no expense had been spared.
Had I not stayed alone, I genuinely think that it would have been difficult to ever leave. In actual fact, I booked another night on the end of my two night review stay, so I think that says it all. The mad thing was, I didn’t even venture out of the treehouse. I couldn’t tell you what was half a mile in any direction, even an eighth of a mile. I just wrote and wrote and wrote. In my escape pod. Which is exactly what it was.