Unusual Retreats to Reconnect you with the Great Outdoors!

2 July 2024

Why spend your well-earned holiday time in the Great Outdoors? For one thing, you might find yourself welcoming weather that can make a more ‘traditional’ holiday feel a tad disappointing.

Not sure what we mean? Beach breaks have a lot going for them… unless it happens to be raining. Five-star hotel suites are sumptuous and opulent, but if the sun is shining, you may feel like you’re missing out by being indoors.

Meanwhile, camping, glamping, treehouse-stays, and quirky al fresco retreats all offer remarkable natural views and a relaxed atmosphere that suit all kinds of weather – as well as compelling you to step away from the digital devices!

There’s simply nothing like listening to raindrops drumming on a canvas roof, or strolling through a magical, sun-dappled woodland glade, to make you feel at one with the natural world and rediscover your zest for life.

Outdoor holidays don’t just mean adventure, but luxury – and even learning!

Some retreats offer outdoor facilities and activities, too – think dreamy bathing, cooking, foraging and wildlife-spotting – to reconnect you with everything that’s so wonderful about being in the midst of nature.

So, whether you’re travelling as a family, a couple, with friends or solo, these wonderful retreats all promise to ease the cares from your shoulders and introduce you to simple, soothing, and naturally beautiful ways to live.

Each unusual retreat featured here also boasts an extra-special location or extraordinary facilities… or indeed, both!

Outdoor Bathing

There is such a thing as ‘forest bathing’ – or shinrin yoku – a Japanese relaxation practice that involves calmly observing and breathing deeply in nature.

While this is wonderful (and it really is!), you can’t beat a bubble-filled bathtub or an invigorating, piping-hot shower in the elements, surrounded by big-sky views and soundtracked by birdsong.

Once tried, we don’t think you’ll ever want to freshen up inside again.

Graig Escapes

Ruthin, Denbighshire, Wales
Beauty, tranquillity – and alpacas! – live and breathe in the scenic heart of North Wales, where you’ll discover a dreamy selection of retreats with al fresco bathtubs to help you unwind in style.
Bedrooms: 1 or 2 per unit
Sleeps: 4
£140 / night

The Orchard at Fenny Castle

Wookey, Somerset, England
Two bespoke treehouses and a luxury cabin, rich in comfort and dreamily nestled on a historic, family-run wildlife retreat in the scenic heart of Somerset.
Bedrooms: 1 per unit
Sleeps: 2
£148 /nt

Rewild Things Treehouses

Elmore, Gloucestershire, England
Six master-crafted “pods of dreams”, each one styled to perfection and secluded on an ancient Gloucestershire country estate that’s completely dedicated to nature.
Bedrooms: 1
Sleeps: 4
£250 / night

Erwain Escapes

Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, Wales
A cwtch-infused cabin with an indulgent bathtub, nestled in its very own four-acre, river-fronted wildflower meadow and beautifully secluded in the “garden of Wales”.
Bedrooms: 1
Sleeps: 2
£160 / night

Nymetwood Treehouses

Crediton, Devon, England
Sumptuous Scandi-inspired hideaways with al fresco copper bathtubs, secluded amongst acres of Devon woodland, meadow, and apple orchard, with idyllic views over Dartmoor.
Bedrooms: 1 per treehouse
Sleeps: 2 per treehouse
£250 / night

Daisy Chain Cabin

Ticehurst, East Sussex, England
Relax and unwind amongst the blissful simplicity of nature, in a grown-ups only log cabin privately set within an East Sussex Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Bedrooms: 1
Sleeps: 2
189 / night

The Nest

Dolassey, Powys, Wales
A sumptuous, secluded retreat with a green roof, a wildflower garden, and double al fresco bathtubs, completely surrounded by idyllic views on a working family farm in Powys.
Bedrooms: 2
Sleeps: 4
£185 / night

In the Trees

These sumptuous treehouses and tree-retreats (tree-treats?) are a far cry from those wobbly childhood efforts of yore, seen in back gardens across the land!

More akin to hotel-suites set amongst the whispering leaves, here you can truly experience the best of both worlds: a luxurious stay with the abundant charms of nature built right in.

The Kite's Nest

Pont-rhyd-y-groes, Pembrokeshire, Wales
A welcoming, adults-only Welsh sanctuary with a curved roof and an al fresco copper bath, peacefully secluded in a Ceredigion village with superlative rural views.  
Bedrooms: 1
Sleeps: 2
£747 / week

Aarunya Sky Suites

Central Province, Sri Lanka
Get back to nature in soul-stirring style with a soaring suite set on a Sri Lankan mountain-top, complete with an infinity plunge pool, spa treatments, and scenic on-site dining.
Bedrooms: 1 per villa
Sleeps: 2
£520 /night

HappenOak Treehouse

Balsham, Cambridgeshire, England
A hand-built oak haven with an elevated Finnish-style sauna and indulgent al fresco bathtub, beautifully secluded in peaceful Cambridgeshire countryside.
Bedrooms: 1
Sleeps: 2
£270 /night

The Quist

Brinsop, Herefordshire, England
A luxurious, off-grid tree-scape with designer interiors and a Swedish wood-fired hot tub, secluded on a scenic hilltop amidst a private, 800-acre estate in rural Herefordshire.
Bedrooms: 2
Sleeps: 4
£350 / night

Ty'r Derw Treehouse

Talybont, Ceredigion, Wales
A treetop sanctuary, complete with an al fresco copper bath and an indulgent hot tub, blissfully secluded deep in the Cambrian mountains, close to the Ceredigion coast.
Bedrooms: 2
Sleeps: 5
£309 / night

Pedras Salgadas Park

Trás-os-Montes, North Portugal
Architect-designed treehouses and eco-houses, set within a magical century-old spa and nature park in northern Portugal.
Bedrooms: 1 or 2 per house
Sleeps: Varies
£170 / night


Kamala, Phuket, Thailand
Escape to paradise at Keemala - a tropical wonderland of magical pool villas, spa indulgences, gastronomic experiences and a total immersion in Thai culture.
Bedrooms: 1 or 2 per villa
Sleeps: 2 or 4 per villa
£360 / night

Birding and Wildlife

These rural retreats offer plenty of scope – and some, tailored experiences – for you to observe diverse species of birds and wildlife in their natural habitats. Our tips: bring binoculars, and leave your phone at home!

(Why not make a day of it, and pack a tasty picnic to take with you on your wildlife-spotting travels?)

Thorney Mire Woodland Retreat

Wensleydale, North Yorkshire, England
Watch red squirrels play in the trees, from lovingly-created havens set amongst three magical acres of ancient woodland in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Bedrooms: 1 per unit
Sleeps: 2
£108 /nt - hut

Wilson Island

Wilson Island, Queensland, Australia
Get lost among pristine white sands, diamond-like seas, and incredible marine life, in a private adults-only hideaway on the breath-taking Great Barrier Reef.
Bedrooms: 1
Sleeps: 2
£677 /night

Owl's Nest Hideout

Underhill, Gloucestershire, England
A romantic hideaway in the heart of the Wye Valley AONB that’s cocooned in nature, styled with eco-friendly luxury, and completely surrounded by wildlife.
Bedrooms: 1
Sleeps: 2

Cabanes de La Réserve

Saint-Léger-aux-Bois, Picardie, France
A magical eco-retreat in rural northern France, with cocoon-like cabins for couples and families, al fresco Nordic baths, and vast wildlife-steeped forest to explore.
Bedrooms: Varies
Sleeps: 5

Chena Huts

Yala, Southern Province, Sri Lanka
Experience an authentic sense of the exotic, surrounded by outstanding tropical luxury (and flamingos!) in the Sri Lankan jungle.
Bedrooms: 1 per cabin
Sleeps: Up to 3 per cabin
£810 / night

Canopy Tower

Soberanía National Park, Colón, Panama
Get up close and personal with the natural world, from the comfort of a treetop bedroom in Panamá's tropical paradise.
Bedrooms: Rooms/suites
Sleeps: 1-2 per room
£101 pppn

Elmley Nature Reserve Shepherds Huts

Sheerness, Kent, England
Eclectic accommodation and seasonally-inspired dining on a National Nature Reserve in Kent, with an abundance of wildlife right on your doorstep.
Bedrooms: Varies
Sleeps: Varies
£120 / night

Wild Swimming

Is there any better way to greet a new day than with an energising dip in a serene lake or a natural swimming pool?

(Trust us: caffeine can’t compete!)

A stay at each of these retreats mean you can start each day feeling revived, or float a balmy summer’s afternoon away, without a care in the world.

The Firs Suffolk

Cratfield, Suffolk, England
A tranquil slice of rural paradise, with cosy retreats, wood-fired soaking tubs, a kitchen garden and a natural spa, all blissfully secluded close to the Suffolk coast.
Bedrooms: 1 or 2 per unit
Sleeps: 2 or 4 per unit

Tiny Home Borders

Bonchester Bridge, Scottish Borders, Scotland
A cosy, off-grid hillside retreat with magnificent views of the Border Hills, complete with a wood-fired hot tub, neighbouring red deer, and your very own lochan.
Bedrooms: 1
Sleeps: 2
£175 / night

Moat Island Glamping

Haveringland, Norfolk, England
Whimsical, luxurious glamping accommodation with generous facilities and a natural swimming pond, enchantingly secluded within the moat of a rural Norfolk estate.
Bedrooms: Open plan
Sleeps: 5 per unit
£65 / night (bell tent)

Piglets Boutique B&B

Saffron Walden, Essex, England
A welcoming and award-winning sanctuary in the heart of Essex countryside, complete with home-cooked meals, sun-drenched patios, and an eco-swimming pond.
Bedrooms: 5 guest rooms
Sleeps: 2 per room
£170 / night

Ecotone Cabins

Ullapool, The Highlands, Scotland
Two lovingly-crafted eco-cabins, peacefully secluded among unspoilt coastal woodland in the Scottish Highlands, on a family-run site that's dedicated to sustainability.
Bedrooms: 1 or 2 per cabin
£495/ 4 nts

Kilmartin Castle

Kilmartin, Argyll and Bute, Scotland
Exclusive rule of an authentic, sustainable, and exquisitely restored castle that dates all the way back to the 16th century, located within Scotland’s most concentrated collection of archaeological sites.
Bedrooms: 5
Sleeps: 10 exclusive


Tintagel, Cornwall, England
For a true escape to pure wilderness, come to Kudhva - an incredible wild camping experience in stunning Tintagel, Cornwall.
Bedrooms: Studio
Sleeps: 2 per unit
£110 /night

West Lexham Treehouses and Glamping

Nr. Kings Lynn, Norfolk, England
Discover the natural magic of West Lexham, an enchanting holistic eco-retreat venue rich in nature, offering fairytale treehouses, bell tents, wild swimming, and a range of wellness workshops.
Bedrooms: Varies
Sleeps: 2-6 per unit
£100 / night

Outdoor Cooking and Dining

Aside from the odd summer barbecue at home, how often do you get to whip up tasty meals in the Great Outdoors?

Cooking outside inspires relaxation and laughter-fuelled social chit-chat. It’s also a natural mood-booster, since you’re breathing in plenty of fresh, aromatic air at the same time.

Oh, and food tends to taste much better when devoured al fresco, too!


Hatherleigh, Devon, England
An enchanting collection of five unique hand-crafted wooden ‘Truffles’, spaciously dotted around 15 acres of ancient oak woodland in the heart of Devon.
Bedrooms: 1
Sleeps: 2 or 2 (+2)

Nature's Spectacular

Chew Stoke, Somerset, England
A laid-back camp filled with creative retreats, hot tubs, and warm communal spirit, deliciously secluded amongst 35 acres of illuminated woodland in the lakeside hills, just 15 minutes from Bristol.
Bedrooms: Varies
Sleeps: 16

Ursabear Cabin

Morebath, Devon, England
A sumptuous, hand-built Amazing Space that takes inspiration from the stars, filled with bespoke elements and mesmerisingly nestled on the edge of Exmoor National Park.
Bedrooms: 1
Sleeps: 2
£220 / night

Plum Tree Glamping

Pershore, Worcestershire, England
An award-winning haven with a whimsical selection of eco-friendly retreats, peacefully secluded amongst an ancient plum orchard in the Vale of Evesham.
Bedrooms: Varies
Sleeps: 2 or 2-4 per unit
£95 / night

Bryn a Mor

Pentywyn, Carmarthenshire, Wales
Off-grid private hand-built shepherd's hut and tipi accommodation with onsite creative workshops, set on a sustainable farm, with ocean access and magnificent sea views in every direction.
Bedrooms: 1 per unit
Sleeps: 2 per unit (+ up to 3 extra tents)
£35 / night

Fforest Farm

Cilgerran, Pembrokeshire, Wales
Simplicity, adventure, and beautiful outdoor living - that's what you'll find at fforest farm.
Bedrooms: Varies
Sleeps: Varies
£237 /2 nts

Swallowtail Hill

Beckley, East Sussex, England
Make the perfect picture-postcard lifestyle a reality in an East Sussex Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, built for conservation, luxury, education and fun.
Bedrooms: 1 per cabin
Sleeps: Up to 4 per cabin
£250 (2 nts)

Author: Nina Jervis
Main image: Nature’s Spectacular | Somerset


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