Adults who say they’ve outgrown treehouses are lying… Show them the six, stylish branch-hung dens at Sweden’s Treehotel, and they’ll scramble up the ladders and floating walkways with unbridled glee. Romantic breaks at this eco-friendly hotel are lo-fi; rooms are shower-free, but mind-boggling mirror-cube and bird’s nest designs, and Scandinavian-chic interiors ensure you’re not exactly roughing it. There’s much to love here at the Smith Awards 2017's Best Family Hotel: treks through lush boreal forest, husky-drawn sled rides, rustic Nordic cuisine, and a possible peek at the Northern Lights; but really, what more could you want when you’re staying in the world’s coolest treetop dens?
Get this when you book through us:
A free two-hour session in the tree sauna, including snacks
Seven individually designed treehouses, including the spacious Dragonfly suite.
Noon. Earliest check-in, 2pm. Early arrivals can stow their luggage and relax in the restaurant or wander through the woods.
Double rooms from £1254.10 (SEK16,500), including tax at 12 per cent.
Rates include a buffet breakfast, served in Britta’s Guesthouse (the reception building), with pancakes, bacon and eggs, cheeses and meats, freshly baked bread with home-made jams, muesli and fresh orange juice.
On arrival you’ll be ushered into Britta’s Guesthouse to check in – stop for a while to grab a cup of coffee and a handful of retro foil-wrapped sweets. Filled with vintage knick-knacks, this homey Swedish stay (there are nine rooms guests can stay in, alongside the restaurant) has kitschy Grandma-chic interiors, which are quirkily cool – Vogue held a fashion shoot here, don’t you know?
At the hotel
Restaurant, bar and shared kitchen in Britta’s Guesthouse; shower blocks (one with a sauna, the other with a sauna and whirlpool plunge bath); open-air hot tub; woodland sauna; ziplines; free WiFi throughout. In rooms: mobile phone, minibar, a kettle with a selection of teas and coffee, free bottled water and air-conditioning.
Our favourite rooms
If you plan to hibernate in your treehouse like a pair of upwardly mobile squirrels, the Mirrorcube is a well-camouflaged modern hideaway with rustic-chic interiors and a discreet terrace. The Cabin is simple but snug, just big enough for a bed and two cushion seats by a window feature wall. Set high off the ground, this room has soul-restoring panoramic views.
The owners can organise massages (of the Swedish ilk, of course), but here it’s all about schwitzing like a Scandinavian. The tree sauna can fit up to eight guests at a time, and towels, drinks, snacks, soap and shampoo are included with each session. Booked sessions last for up to two hours. The shower blocks are both well outfitted, with saunas in each – well, you are in Sweden, after all – and one has a whirlpool plunge bath. There’s also an open-air hot tub, which is satisfyingly brisk in the winter and surrounded by lavish greenery in summer.
Bring a full beauty arsenal: no bath products are provided, and an eye mask to shut out the winter sun’s light. A sturdy pair of hiking boots will come in handy in summer; in winter, some warming wardrobe essentials.
The Blue Cone has wheelchair access. Owners Britta and Kent can arrange transport for disabled guests from the Guesthouse to the treehouses.
Are very welcome. Extra beds (SEK450 a night) and cots (free) can be added to all treehouses, except the Cabin and Mirrorcube. A children’s menu is served, there’s a wide range of kids’ activities (best suited to over-7s) and babysitting is available.
The Blue Cone can sleep up to four, and has easy ramp access if you’ve brought a buggy. Mini space-explorers will love the Fifties-sci-fi-style UFO treehouse.
Kids can trek, zipline and mountain bike all-year round; or visit a traditional Lapp village to learn about local culture. Come summer, kayaking on the Lule River, horse-back forest tours, fishing, white-water rafting and excursions to Storforsen lagoon and waterfall are possible. Winters are equally action-packed, with snowshoe tours (for over-12s); dog-sledding (for over-7s); horse-drawn sleigh rides (free for uner-3s); and a Northern Lights tour. The hotel also runs snowman-building competitions.
Children under 12 pay half price for food. The kids’ menu has local meat and fish dishes: Swedish meatballs, moose burger with potatoes and lingonberry jam, and sausages and mash.
Local babysitters can be hired for SEK250 an hour; must be booked two days in advance.
No need to pack
The hotel has a good range of baby kit, but be sure to pack toiletries, eye masks and mini hiking boots. The in-room minibars don’t have many snacks, so stock up in Boden on the way to Treehotel.
The restaurant has an ice-cream-sundae machine for little ones, there’s a tot-tailored afternoon tea and the owners can arrange campfire cookouts.
Britta and Kent, the hotel’s owners, are serious about treading lightly in their surroundings: the treehouses are built on live trees, using non-intrusive construction methods, and all materials are chemical-free. Hydroelectric power and low-energy LED lighting are used throughout, and bathrooms have combustion toilets (or freezing toilets) and water-efficient sinks.
Cross-legged on a reindeer-skin rug by a campfire in the snow, for full-on Viking-style feasting.
Try traditional Lapp fur-lined snow boots in winter, and a lightweight dirndl skirt in summer, both elaborately embroidered and brightly coloured.
Britta’s Restaurant feels like an eatery your grandparents might run if they took up bear wrestling. Warm and cosy interiors – mismatched plates, candlelit tables and Fifties artwork – contrast with the menu’s rugged local delicacies, such as reindeer, bear and moose meat, and fish and caviar from the Kalix and Lule rivers nearby. However, with juniper and lingonberry sauces to drizzle over meat, thyme-sprinkled salmon and cloudberry ice cream, this is no mess-tin affair. Afternoon tea is served too, and there’s a brick oven in the Guesthouse basement, which can be hired for private pizza-making parties. For a truly memorable meal, book a campfire feast in advance.
There’s no official bar, but you can sip a range of local beers or birch-flavoured schnapps in the Guesthouse. There’s lingonberry juice and shots of vitamin-packed birch sap (when in season) for abstainers, too.
The restaurant is open from 8am to 11pm; breakfast is served until 10am. In the bar, snacks and drinks are served from noon until the last guests are treehouse-bound.
Tucked up in your treehouse, but getting peckish? Rather than trek for five minutes to the Guesthouse, ask for hot pies, gravlax, cheese and charcuterie platters, salads, sandwiches, fruit and chocolate, to be delivered to the foot of your ladder.
Set in a remote part of Swedish Lapland, Treehotel’s treehouses dangle from branches and cling to trunks in a Norrbotten County forest, close to Harads village. A 40-minute drive away sits Boden village, but there are acres of birch and spruce in between.
The closest airport is Luleå Airport (www.swedavia.com/lulea), a one-hour drive away, where frequent flights from Cyprus, Greece, Spain and the Canary Islands, Turkey, Norway and other major Swedish cities arrive. Transatlantic flights and flights across the Pacific connect via Stockholm, on a 90-minute flight from Arlanda airport.
Boden Central Train Station is a 35-minute drive away; the hotel can arrange one-way transfers for SEK990 a car. The ride from Luleå Station is 25 minutes, and there’s a 12-hour overnight train from Stockholm – with breathtaking views of Swedish Lapland along the way.
The hotel is an hour’s drive from the airport: follow Route 97 north until you reach Harads. Hiring a car isn’t essential – the hotel can organise transfers and day trips – but you may want to explore the magical surroundings further. In winter, roads are icier and prone to closures.
Helicopter to hand? Chartered a private jet? Treehotel has on-site heli-parking – and can arrange transfers – and the owners are happy to help arrange landing permits.
Worth getting out of bed for
Norrbotten County is wonderfully wild, with vast stretches of tundra, mountains and forests. Guests can tour the Sámi (native Lapp) village in Flakaberg – 80km away from the hotel – or meet the Disney-film’s worth of furred creatures that graze in Treehotel’s forest surrounds: sociable reindeer and the odd moose or arctic fox. Britta and Kent can organise excursions that let you explore the great outdoors in full-throttle fashion. Hop on a husky or horse-drawn sled; go for a midnight-sun ride; bike, trek, ride a Segway or snowshoe-walk through the countryside; cross the Arctic Circle and scan the sky for glints of the Northern Lights, or strap on a pair of skis – the very brave can go skijoring, where a horse pulls you along. Snap-happy guests can join a Northern Lights photography tour too. Kayak, or go white-water rafting and ice fishing (until April) in the Lule river, and in summer the lakes close by are the ideal temperature for swimming in. The hotel has a zipline on site, with speedy sections for the accustomed. Take a day trip to the waterfall at Storforsen, where the water runs even when the banks are icy; and in December, it’s worth heading into Boden – an hour’s drive away – to visit the Christmas Market, where you can sip warming mulled wine and pick up some crafty souvenirs and ironic knitwear. Alternatively, relax in the tree sauna or hot tub onsite. Guests can visit fellow Smith spot Arctic Bath, an eight-minute drive away near Bodtraskfors, which has refreshing cold baths, saunas and massage treatments in a building that resembles frozen kindling. Then again, you could simply sit on your terrace with a suitably outdoorsy tome – may we suggest Walden, or perhaps Cheryl Strayed’s Wild – and fantasise about starting a new life in loftier climes.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have decamped from their designer treehouse in Sweden and unpacked their bottle of birch schnapps and notebooks filled with wildlife sketches, a full account of their fun-filled forest break will be with you. In the meantime, to intrigue your inner child, here's a postcard written on the back of a bark rubbing, from Treehotel in Sweden…
What has the power turn pre-holiday excitement into apoplectic pre-holiday glee? Treehouses, of course. We get giddy when pulling up to any boutique hotel, but we’re close to leaping from the moving car at the thought of Treehotel’s cosy and quirky mirror cubes and bird’s nests, set in a ruggedly good-looking, reindeer-populated forest in Swedish Lapland. Forget your childhood hangout; these treehouses are to a backyard wood-and-nails effort what Fallingwater is to a Barratts home. Chic furnishings from cutting-edge Swedish designers, neutral hues and a planed and sanded Grizzly Adams-goes-minimalist look means that if wandering urbanites squint, it’s almost as if they never left the city (until the morning dart to the shower block, that is). When you’re not pretending your bed is a fort, and generally acting anything but your age, mingle with wildlife in the forest, dash through the snow on a husky-led sleigh – ‘mush’-ing optional – and eat a haute hunter-gatherer menu of arctic game and windfall berries downed with a judicious slug of birch-flavoured schnapps. By check-out, you’ll feel like you’ve reconnected with your Viking roots, even if you’re from Wapping, and you’ll have fallen head over heels in love with your treetop home.