HOTELS • December 2019
Looking for a leafy hideaway to cosy up in as the temperature drops? From log cabins in the deep dark woods to designer treehouses and rustic-luxe mountain chalets, Rachel Truman finds woodland boltholes perfect for a winter adventure
Bed down in a luxury log cabin amid pinewood forest in the stunning Scottish Highlands. These 10 eco-hideaways are scattered around a hill in an 8,000-acre private estate in Struy, tucked into the glens. Handmade using sustainable wood, they have unique carvings, charming interiors and private decks, prime spots for gazing at magnificent valley views and wildlife spotting (think deer, badgers and golden eagles). Wrench yourself away from the wood-burner for bracing walks around the estate, deer stalking, dog sledding or a black grouse safari.
Be sure to pack a torch when you escape to one of Swinton Bivouac’s delightful tree lodges. Set within woodland on the gorgeous 20,000-acre Swinton Estate, one of England’s largest private estates, the lodges may not have electricity but they do have snug beds, wood-burning fires, and gas-powered showers and stoves. You’ll feel off-grid, but you’re just a short hop from the Bivouac café should you crave company or cakes. Wintry woodland walks, plus mountain biking and horse-riding trails, are plentiful.
With a minimalist design and spectacular location in the Dolomites’ Fanes-Sennes-Braies nature reserve, Mountain Lodge Tamersc is a one-of-a-kind mountain hut hideaway. Made from larch wood, the three-bedroom cabin has a luxurious interior. Panoramic windows open out onto mesmerising meadow and mountain views – add a sprinkling of snow and this former hunting lodge is the stuff of fairy tales. There are cross-country ski trails or you can don snowshoes to set off around the snowy surrounds. Lifts in nearby San Vigilio will take you up to the ski slopes.
Squirrelled away in a hectare of private woodland in the Alps, close to Chamonix, Chalet F’Net is quite the find. From its gorgeous outdoor wood-fired hot tub and cosy-chic interior (complete with fires and well-stocked bookshelves) to its on-site private chef and concierge, there’s really no reason to leave this secluded and beautifully restored 19th-century chalet. However, you’ll be missing some of the Alps’ best skiing if you don’t venture out. Geneva is a one-hour drive away.
Set in the Bitterroot Mountain Range, there’s pine forest, meadows, peaks and sky as far as the eye can see here. The all-inclusive (and adult-only) Triple Creek Ranch's cabins and lodges range in size and style, but each one offers the ultimate cosseted hideaway experience. Dinners are served in the main lodge where a firepit provides a convivial setting for a nightcap or s’mores. Winter activities include dog sledding, snowshoeing, snow-ga (outdoor yoga), ice fishing and hatchet throwing. A horse ride around the ranch’s snowy tracks is a must – keep watch for elk, bison, deer, moose, wolves and osprey.
Blazing out of a pine forest in northern Sweden, this bright red, modern treehouse makes for an extraordinary winter escape. It’s spacious and stylish with woollen rugs, large windows and mirrors to maximise the incredible views. There are other architect-designed ‘treehouses’ in these woods, and you’ll meet fellow guests for meals in the restaurant where wild game and foraged ingredients punctuate the menu. Winter is a wonderful time to be in the wilds of Sweden: join guided activities to go on a moose safari, fatbiking and skijoring (horse-pulled skiing). Or sign up for a yoga session, sauna and snowbath.
Straight from the pages of a storybook, this cute cabin screams woodcutter’s cottage and is the perfect base to explore northern Slovenia’s spectacular Kamnik-Savinja Alps. Despite being in a village, you’ll feel a world away from civilisation, with trees and snowy peaks of picturesque Jezersko valley all around. Inside it’s homely, with a well-equipped kitchen, central fireplace, local handicrafts and rooms sleeping up to five. Fill your days by following hiking trails around the valley and hills (refuelling on hearty soups and stews at mountain huts), snowshoeing or tobogganing.
Cool Scandi design meets pristine Arctic wilderness at Paishill Private Lodge, a log cottage on the banks of the River Teno in Finnish Lapland. The two-bedroom lodge has every conceivable luxury, plus little nooks with woolly blankets and sheepskin rugs, and the housekeeper will deliver meals of local produce to your door. Go wild swimming (if you dare), snowmobiling or husky sledding, then warm up in your wood-fired sauna or outdoor hot tub. Watching the Northern Lights as you soak is wonderful for whiling away the long, dark nights – and with zero light pollution you’re in with a great chance of seeing them.
For a woodland retreat with all the bells and whistles, book into one of Twin Farms’ enchanting cottages. Tucked away in the woods of this Relais & Chateaux property in central Vermont, they have roaring fires, screened porches (perfect for enjoying the pretty surroundings), original art plus the classic luxuries of a hotel room. Meals can be taken in your cottage or the main house (where you’ll find games and books to rifle through). As well as private downhill ski slopes, the estate has trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. You can go ice skating, sledding or head to the fitness centre for a soak in a Japanese-style ‘furo’ bath.