Travel, as we all know, is an increasingly popular activity for the mind and spirit. It is a chance to explore new surroundings, a chance to taste a new cuisine, get accustomed to new cultures, and if you’re lucky enough, it offers up the chance to revel in luxury. With that being said, for the avid traveller that likes to add in that bit of luxury and story-telling experience, being selective is key. These days it’s travelling to destinations that offer an aesthetic appeal that has become one of the crucial factors when consideration is at play. It is that slice of exclusivity and of showmanship that offers the individual ownership of storytelling through the lens.
One such destination that offers genuine storytelling is an otherworldly place located within a forest in the Northern Swedish province of Norrbotten. It’s the beginning of October and it’s still considered the low season in Sweden. End of October onwards, the region becomes a highly popular winter destination. It is challenging to describe the place we visited without using many adjectives because after all, the Treehotel is a world in which adjectives help to justify the architectural magnificence of this place.
But of course, a place such as this doesn’t exist without a story to it and the story has proved to be the backbone for the creation of Treehotel. Without listening to the story, one is merely in a forest surrounded by modern installations for which the experience becomes just a place for a photo-op, but we assure you, it is so much more than that. It is a story about hard work, team effort, an insatiable will even in the face of hopelessness and above all too literally put a dream into reality.
The people behind that dream are Kent and Britta, the creators of the Treehotel and locals of the Swedish Lapland. Kent, a former guidance counsellor, and Britta his wife, a former nurse had the vision to stay close to their roots whilst trying to set up an unconventional livelihood in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps this paragraph depicts it perfectly “during their troubled years, it would’ve been difficult to imagine that Britta would one day be standing here in her dress and apron, cooking wild game patties for Crown Princess Victoria. Or that her husband Kent would be out in the world, talking about “the big idea” at prestigious conferences, when he wasn’t busy building the new “tree dining terrace’” eight meters up in the tree, whilst Britta and her staff welcome major foreign TV producers, magazines and celebrities from near and far, to the trees n the forest behind Britta’s Pensionat (Guesthouse).”
But how did it all come together? Kent and Britta had already owned a restored retirement home, which they turned into a guesthouse but it wasn’t enough to earn them an ideal livelihood. Like fate, however, an unknown filmmaker visited their guesthouse one summer to make a documentary on tree houses, as there was one lone tree house in the woods in which the film was centred on. Soon after filming was completed, it had become almost like a sign for the couple to do something related to tree houses. It wasn’t until Kent’s fishing trip to Russia (he is passionate about fishing) with his three friends who just so happened to be architects from competing firms. Kent mentioned the idea of designer hotel rooms and in short, each of the architects agreed to design one concept each adhering to Kent’s main objective: that it had to literally be built upon the trees and that it had to function as eco-friendly as possible. The architects were allowed their own freedom of expression.
Out of this path was born seven tree houses: UFO, a bird’s nest, a cabin, a mirror cube, the dragonfly, the blue cone, and the 7th room. During our two-night stay, we were able to review the 7th room and the Birds Nest, each offering very different interiors and sizes, and of course, experiences.
The 7th room is by far their largest room at the Treehotel, and although each room is unique in its own right, the 7th room does have some funky elements to it, which its neighbouring houses don’t have but make up for in their own design. Perching 10 meters above the treetops, you enter by a staircase and the higher you go, the better the breathtaking view of what the Lapland treetops have to offer. But the views don’t stop there, as you enter the 7th room, you are surrounded by expansive windows across the living room and rooms themselves. There’s no need for TV here when you can get expansive views of the forests and its surrounding habitat. The most unique feature of the 7th room is its patio where in the middle of it; a tall forest pine grows through it. During the summer days, one can have a lie-down and take in the forest sounds and scenery. Two separate bedrooms are available and are positioned opposite one another, each as plush and comfortable with windows that look out to one another. For privacy, there are curtains. Only two tree houses offer their own ensuite showers, one of them being the 7th room and the other, the Dragonfly room. For the other Tree houses without a shower, you are to head over to a separate building a mere minute away which houses their sauna and shower. It may seem inconvenient but its all part of the experience. Adding to the experience is the way in which the toilets function in each of the Treehouses which is via an incinerating process, meaning that it burns waste and turns it into ashes. It isn’t the most convenient but it isn’t the most difficult to use either, and when you think about the ecological impact it has, it makes sense. Tap and shower water is also recycled through a ‘smart water’ process, therefore the use of water in each of the Treehouses is limited but enough for one nights use and will be replenished by the Treehotel staff.
If you’re a lover of Scandi design, then the 7th room boasts such an aesthetic. With Scandinavian wood and textiles, you’ll easily find comfort and style within this Treehouse of an abode. You will also find a Nespresso machine, a trinket box full of teas, little mint chocolate rounds, milk, sugar, a kettle and a minibar loaded with wines and spirits. For food, however, you’re to head to the main guesthouse, Britta’s Pensionat located approximately 8 minutes away by foot. There you’ll find the best home cooked Swedish meals prepared each day using fresh produce and what is available in the town. Be sure to let the staff know beforehand as they’ll need time to prepare your meals.
Britta’s Pensionat doesn’t get enough credit for its authenticity to the Swedish way of life. Inside this guesthouse, it’s also as if you’ve stepped into another world. The complete opposite of the modern Treehouse, Britta’s Pensionat is homey, cultured, and quirky. With old magazines dating as far back as the 1930’s, to framed old school photos and retro bits and bobs, its almost as if you’re inside an antique shop. The guesthouse also offers 12 rooms, so if you’re one to prefer a bit of both modern and quirky, feel free to book out one of their rooms.
Now, for the Birds Nest – this was one of the Treehouses that was easily hidden compared to its neighbours. Camouflaged by the forests, the Birds Nest is actually located next to the Cabin. The way in which to enter the Birds Nest is via a retractable staircase. There is a switch on the landing and as you press the switch, the retractable staircase slowly unfolds. As you enter, you’re in a completely cosy interior of 17 square meters kitted out with separate bedrooms, toilets and living area. The Birds Nest is perfect for a couple with two children, as there is a bunk bed just for the little ones to enjoy the nature and Treehouse lifestyle. Unlike the 7th Room, the Birds Nest doesn’t concentrate on views but rather the compact and cosiness that a Treehouse of such size can offer. With a fireplace to match and little bird figurines and books here and there, one is nothing but snug in this architectural feat.
Luxury is one thing, but luxury with a conscience is another, and that is perhaps what defines Treehotel. You come here for the experience as much as the luxury appeal – do not expect room service or the typical five-star experience as you’ll be disappointed given the price tag, instead expect nature at its finest and what one can do in the middle of nowhere – create something nobody would expect, create an experience that is unconventional and makes the person yearn to come all the way to a forest in Sweden to try out luxury living in a Treehouse. This is the place where dreams become a reality.