For those craving a return to nature and some gold ol’ fashioned peace and quiet, a forest holiday is exactly what you need. And when better to do it than the most beautiful season of all?
What is a forest holiday, you might wonder?
The term has been getting more airtime recently, becoming a trending travel search on Google and the go-to way to describe all of the leafy dwellings that have been popping up around the UK. As holidays become more focused on peace, calm and recentering ourselves to nature (like these relaxing wellness retreats) and less about boozy all-nighters (alcohol-free breaks are on the rise), more of us are looking for a travel destination among the trees.
So, a forest holiday you might say, is a trip away that lets you fully unfurl from stressful commutes and endless inboxes surrounded by the wilderness, to help you really let go in the fresh air and quiet.
But don’t be fooled – just because these staycation spots are out in the wild, it doesn’t mean they’re any less beautiful than a sophisticated London hotel. These eco pods, hobbit-like homes and tree houses are stunning, and impeccably designed.
From Scandinavian-inspired sky-high spas and treetop free-standing baths, behold your favourite new type of getaway and our rundown of the best forest holidays in the UK.
Meadow Keeper’s Cottage, Sussex
If the busy grind of daily life has worn you a little thin of late and you’re eager to reconnect to nature, what you need is to go completely off the grid. And if there was ever anywhere to do it, it would be Meadow Keeper’s Cottage.
This adorable, hand-made home on wheels is based on Swallowtail Hill Farm in Sussex. It’s positioned in-between two meadows in complete privacy from the rest of the farm, with the nearest local store sitting two miles away. There’s no power in Meadow Keeper’s Cottage, so although you might want to take a portable charger in case you really need to use your phone, this definitely isn’t the place to be plugged into your digital devices – quite the opposite.
In the day time, enjoy long walks through the beautiful countryside or explore the farm (and help feed the animals!), and when night falls you simply have to take advantage of your personal fire pit and sit out under the stars. We can guarantee you’ll see the constellations clearer than you ever have in the city.
Inside you’ll find a modest kitchen, but book into the farm’s Hill Top Tent for your evening meal to taste some delicious local produce and enjoy the atmospheric space which is decorated by lanterns, fairy lights and bunting.
Prices from £115 per night.
Soho Farmhouse, Oxfordshire
Soho Farmhouse, the world-renown brand’s Oxfordshire branch, manages to pair rustic touches and a feeling of being totally out in the sticks, with literally every heavenly comfort you could want when taking a break from the nine to five.
Oversized tin tubs sit on wooden decking meaning you can bathe under the stars, while the array of bedrooms all come with luxurious Cowshed products and boutique decor, appealing to your glamorous side.
But it’s not just the beautiful surroundings or cosy Piglet huts that make Soho Farmhouse such an idyllic, countryside break. It’s that while you’re there you can get your hands a bit dirty, too.
With bikes available for guests to use you can pedal off into the surrounding greenery, jump in a rowing boat to get out on the water or ride on horseback to really get the wind in your hair. While the outdoors pool is a scenic place to take an open air dip.
Prices from £170.
Chewton Glen, Hampshire
As staycations go, Chewton Glen is a bobby dazzler. Located out in the Hampshire countryside, guests can choose to stay in the main house and pick a garden overlooking or hot tub room, take over their own coach house with private walled garden, or wait for it, a luxurious tree house.
Although all of the former are lovely, for us the tree houses take centre stage. There are four to choose from; the Treehouse Studio Suite, Treehouse Loft Suite, Treehouse Hideaway Suite and the brand new, as well as The Yews. All are united in their unabashed decadence, but each one has its own unique perks. The Loft Suite, for example, is designed for a larger group and houses six people with its own kitchenette, while the Hidaway Suite boasts a hot tub on its decking. All of them, though, are suspended 35 feet above the ground, have marble bathrooms and free standing baths with views of the forest, under-floor heating and mood lighting. Sexy.
No matter which treehouse you stay in, each morning a hearty breakfast will be delivered to your door, to ensure you don’t have to leave the calm of the woods and venture into civilisation until you’re really ready. If you can force yourself down from the tree tops for an hour or two, make sure you visit the spa where you’ll find a hydrotherapy spa pool, a nail studio, aromatherapy saunas, crystal steam rooms and 12 individual treatment rooms offering 50 different treatments and holistic therapies.
Prices for a double tree house starts at £950.
Aqua Sana. various locations
You might think tree houses are pretty niche forms of accommodation, but not for Aqua Sana, who have made tree top dwellings and spas their whole business. With five villages around the UK, you’re never too far away from a bit of luxury woodland living, which is great considering the sites cater for day visits as well as overnight stays.
Pick from Sherwood, Whinfell, Elveden, Woburn and Longleat forests for your visit, and indulge in the Alpine steam and intense Nordic Sauna with an invigorating Ice Cave and outdoor Scandinavian snug, complete with flickering fire pits. Or what about the treetop escape, which lets you steam while you look out across the branches and the Forest Immersion, where you can experience the power of forest bathing while you relax between heat experiences?
Stay in a Luxury Spa Suite or Executive Apartment in the heart of the forest, and you can expect floor to ceiling glass to show off the views, nature-inspired decor and roomy baths so that you feel totally relaxed.
Prices from £169 per person for double occupancy, which includes some access to the spa and breakfast.
Cynefin Retreats, Hereford
Cynefin Retreatsis a collection of four luxury pods in Wales’s Wye Valley, that have been sensitively designed to respect the beautiful surrounding countryside while offering guests all the comforts of boutique accommodation – think private hot tubs, underfloor heating, wood burners, wifi, iPod docks and Neals Yard toiletries.
A gorgeous getaway whether you’re with a best friend or a partner, the pods might be cosy but they’ve been created with comfort in mind, so you can expect king-sized beds and rainfall showers, with relaxed, minimalist decor in soothing natural tones and materials.
But forgetting about the luxe touches for a minute, Cynefin might have all the mod cons but you won’t find a spa in sight. In fact, the closest you’ll get to that is wild swimming in the nearby lake and the only activity resembling a HIIT class is the wealth of country walks across the Brecon Beacons. Cynefin is a poetic Welsh word with no direct English translation, meaning a natural habitat where you experience a sense of belonging. And this is exactly what the owners of Cynefin Retreats hope for their guests, who live completely within nature.
Guests can order food hampers of local produce in advance and can cook in the well-equipped kitchen or outside on a private fire pit. Alternatively, the literary town of Hay-On-Wye is just five minutes’ drive away, with a fantastic Thursday market and an array of shops, pubs and restaurants.
Luxe pods at Cynefin Retreats start from £150 per night, based on two people sharing.
Images: Courtesy of venues