The strange events of 2020 have left many of us with a greater sense of purpose than ever before.
As the world slowly opens up again, our priority lists will include things like spending more time with our loved ones, finding new fulfilment from our work, and reconnecting with what really makes us happy.
We’ve also found ourselves craving deeper personal connections… not just with people, but with places. Not being able to go on holiday for so long has underlined the importance of spending our precious downtime somewhere truly special.
For us, this means swapping bland hotel rooms for something a little more unique and cherished.
That’s why we’ve rounded up some of our favourite handcrafted UK hideaways, and asked their creators to let us in on the fascinating stories that brought them to life.
“What I wanted most to happen was for people to smile as soon as they entered, and experience a feeling like they’ve just been given a giant hug!”
Owner and creator Kim combined her two passions, natural building techniques and motherhood, and channelled them into Hobbit Hideaway, a soul-nurturing ‘wow factor’ retreat at the foot of Moray’s breathtaking mountain Ben Rinnes (from which you can view eight Scottish counties!)
The proud winner of Best Green Home in the European Home Awards, the family-and-dog-friendly hideaway was lovingly hand-crafted from straw-bales, stone, clay, and earth, to striking architect designs. Proof of this is the amazing custom-built roof dome, allowing you to keep an eye on the sun, moon, and stars.
“I love cleaning the Hideaway and nourishing all the gorgeous natural materials, especially the wooden pillars, and earthen floor… it’s just so yummy and satisfying!” (Kim)
While away some time in the beautiful fairy glen outside, or chat with Kim and Mark about the best things to see and do in the local area.
“We wanted to create a magical space… somewhere we would love to have stayed when we were living in the city”
Anna and Pete are passionate about sustainability. So much so, that in 2009 they moved into the woods and started their award-winning Bulworthy Project, a sustainable woodland enterprise based on 12.5 acres of Rackenford woodland… on the crest of a hill known as Bulworthy Knap.
“Our main occupation is making charcoal, but some pieces of wood are just too beautiful for that! We’ve used those pieces as features in the cabin, instead.” (Anna and Pete)
Created with exceptional love and care, the cosy, handcrafted cabin for two comes with a hammock, a campfire, and a barbecue for sizzling sunset suppers, while inside awaits a wealth of natural creature comforts, including downy bedding and fluffy towels.
“We love the fact that each of our places has its own character… and our landscape is so uniquely restful and restorative that you can’t fail to relax here”
Nestled in 40 acres of wildflower meadow and woodland in an East Sussex Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Swallowtail Hill has been a private nature reserve for around 30 years.
Completely committed to biodiversity, owners Sarah and Christopher wanted to offer their visitors an out-of-the-ordinary holiday experience, whilst protecting their breathtaking natural surroundings. That’s why each of their eclectic, uniquely designed retreats is soothingly off-grid, allowing you to relax and reconnect with the Great Outdoors.
“Our guests enable us to continue our year-round conservation work” (Sarah)
Choose from two enchanting wood cabins, or the quirky Meadow Keeper’s cottage-on-wheels… then perhaps set out on a nature walk with Sarah and Christopher to meet the farm animals!
“There is an intimate and simplistic connection to nature that has no space for the serious complexities of modern life”
The Dragon Cruck and The Sleepout at Sunny Lea have two things in common. One, they both feature exceptional, far-reaching views down the beautiful Vrynwy valley.
Two, they were both lovingly created from local timber by owner Mike; a professional tree surgeon and resident ‘Man of the Woods’.
Each secluded in private woodland with its own facilities, The Dragon Cruck is a curved, oak-framed cabin with medieval doors, while The Sleepout features a turf roof, and windows framed by oak trunks.
“One of the most important things we thought about when designing the cabins was that your only neighbours are sheep, or the occasional buzzard soaring overhead.
So, while you lie in bed reading, drinking a cup tea made on the wood fire, or baking a pizza in the hand-crafted oven, you can relax back into yourself, and revel in the simple pleasures and tranquillity of cabin life.” (Rachel and Mike)
(We suggest being quick if you want to stay at these gorgeous retreats… Rachel and Mike are frequent guests themselves, and have seriously contemplated moving in!)
“It all started with a drawing on an envelope…”
Dinah’s drawing of a little woodland hut inspired partner John to bring her vision of “something that feels like a hug” to life!
Full of “cwtch” (the Welsh word for hug), the soothing retreat is surrounded by diverse wildlife, in magical woodland close to the Brecon Beacons. To help preserve these naturally stunning surroundings, Dinah and John have pledged to plant a new tree for every booking they take.
“What I most love about The Charcoal Hut is snuggling under blankets (with a cup of John’s lovely hot chocolate) to watch the night sky… since we moved here, we’ve never seen so many stars!” (Dinah)
Situated at the end of a peaceful track, The Charcoal Hut comprises one hut for your bedroom, and another housing a kitchen and bathroom. Packed with books, games, a record player and artist’s materials, you’re unlikely to feel bored!
“We fell in love, and in a moment of our hearts ruling our heads, decided to bid in the online auction.”
The story of Fallen Angel began when Jane and Mark fell in love with the overgrown Mousehole garden and derelict house they went to view in 2015. The plot was so privately secluded, most of the locals didn’t even know they were there.
With the help of specialist designers and craftspeople, they set to work on transforming the space into a sumptuous retreat, with strong eco-credentials and globally sourced elements that include Spanish tiling and a reclaimed Moroccan entrance door.
Accessible only on foot, and boasting sheltered sub-tropical gardens, Fallen Angel feels like a delicious secret waiting to be discovered.
“Just as in Grand Designs, our budget was completely blown! That’s because every part of this property is bespoke built. Internally and externally, the very best quality of everything has been used.” (Jane and Mark)
Overlooking the glistening sea, you’ll be able to gaze across to Mounts Bay from the floor-to-ceiling windows… bliss.
“After an alcohol-fuelled evening debate about architecture, I was ‘dared’ by a friend to design and build a truly tiny house!”
Aidan accepted the dare, and Tinywood Homes – a clever and quirky collection of “architecture in miniature” was born.
Tinywood One started life as a 20-foot shipping container, before Aidan transformed it into a two-storey retreat with innovative foldaway stairs, and its very own hot tub.
Aidan enjoyed the freedom of his creative process, yet there were strict rules and conventions to conform to, such as road transport law requirements that meant his first house could only be 3.6m high in total.
“The eureka moment came while out walking my dogs. If I could place the upstairs bedroom floor quite low over the space at the end of the double bed, I could achieve a floor to ceiling height in the upper floor of 2m.” (Aidan)
You can now choose from six Tiny holiday homes (plus two Tweenies… well-equipped pods that feel like furnished tents) with dazzling interiors, all generously spread across an acre of soothing farmland.
“I hope the sense of fun comes across in this design – we love bringing out the inner child in our guests”
Seriously special, not to mention seriously unique, Woodman’s Treehouse boasts a RIBA award-winning design, as well as two magnificent decks, a sauna, and a hot tub.
It’s no wonder that the opulent tree-treat has been featured just about everywhere in the media, including filming for George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces, and Grand Designs’ House of the Year.
Owner and creator Guy built the amazing treehouse himself, with some help from his friends and other experts, all working to traditional craft techniques.
“This is an indulgence that I have dreamt of for many years, and it was great fun to design and build” (Guy)
Keeping the childhood fantasy of treehouse living alive and well, Guy even made sure to include a slide!
Have you picked a favourite from our handcrafted retreats?
If we’ve whetted your appetite for an unusual holiday this year, simply grab a cuppa, browse our categories, and get ready to fall in love.