Going back to nature
Photo credits: Ben Cremin
It sounds like something out of a fairytale. A magical luxury setting within an enchanted forest; a secluded retreat far away from the rush, noise and headache of modern life. While most dream holiday adverts display pristine, secluded beaches and turquoise seas, sometimes going back to nature can be even more special. Luxury hotels in forests can provide a romantic, exclusive and original experience. For the ultimate in eco, spa and safari chic in the depths of the woods, check out our selection of top-quality forest retreats and exquisite private destinations across the world.
The great British countryside
There are many things that England is famous for, with fish and chips, old-fashioned pubs and football among them. But the great British countryside with its luscious rolling hills and expansive green fields dotted with farmhouses and grazing herds of cows and sheep are one of the island’s best features and where you can find the most enchanting forest retreats. The multi-award-winning Chewton Glen is a country house hotel in deepest Hampshire, nestled among some of the finest British landscapes beside the New Forest National Park. Within the 130 acres grounds of this luxury boutique setting, guests can stay in their very own treehouse. Each one stands on stilts and features floor to ceiling windows to welcome natural forest panoramas and treescapes, as well as spaces flooded with natural light.
Back at the main hotel, the spa has one of the biggest treatment menus in the UK and guests can even enjoy select treatments in their tree house setting, such as the tree top tranquillity. The hotel’s dining room offers quintessentially English fare and a wine list with over 1400 choices. Guests can also enjoy leisure time on the golf course, tennis court, croquet lawn, swimming pool and sauna. There is also the opportunity to indulge in some truly British activities with clay pigeon shooting, falconry and duck herding, or to explore the forest on a mountain bike or hiking trip.
Chewton Glen’s sister hotel, Cliveden House in Berkshire, is another gem located in the enchanting British countryside. This unique and beautiful, grand stately home is set in formal gardens and parkland managed by the National Trust. Each of the bedrooms at Cliveden House is named after a prominent guest from Cliveden’s illustrious past and the distinct regal atmosphere will make you feel like you are on the set of Downtown Abbey!
In wider Europe, there are plenty more forest fantasies to indulge in. The Brenners Park Hotel & Spa sits on the northern foothills of the expansive Black Forest and beside Germany’s spa town of Baden-Baden, one of the most impressive forest retreats. This is the ideal location for nature lovers, with the natural phenomena of the forest at your fingertips, featuring spiky hilltops and dipped valleys along with rolling parkland and dramatic mountain ranges. All of the luxury villas and suites welcome views of the colourful flora and fauna of the surrounding woodland while elegant furnishings with artistic detail and modern amenities create comfortable and relaxing spaces. The hotel offers bikes for rent so that you can explore along the winding cycle paths in the forest, which also provide ample opportunity for climbing, horse riding, jogging and hiking. The town of Baden-Baden is also an extremely popular spot for winter sports, with cross-country ski trails and toboggan runs.
For a location that combines the best of forest living with a historic and cultural experience, journey on down to Hotel Spa A Quinta Da Auga. This luxury eco hotel is situated in an 18th-century building just outside the Spanish town of Santiago de Compostela. This romantic and compact hotel fuses olde worlde charm with a contemporary finish and luxury setting. It is situated on a private estate surrounded by expansive lawns, elegant water features, gardens and woodland, all of which can also be seen from the comfort of your private room or suite. This is an extremely peaceful location away from it all in the gorgeous region of Galicia, which is home to seven outstanding national parks and a whole host of wildlife. The hotel is also just a few minutes’ drive from the historic centre of Santiago de Compostela – a UNESCO World Heritage site that welcomes millions of visitors every year. If you cannot bring yourself leave the comfort of the resort, there is also a glass-roofed spa including a hammam, sauna, hydrotherapy pool and Jacuzzi.
Wonders of the world
Photo credits: Inkaterra
The Inkaterra hotel in Peru is a spectacular place to staywithin an exclusive nature retreat next to Macchu Picchu – the lost city of the Incas. The hotel sits amongst 12 private acres of secluded natural beauty within the Macchu Picchu Pueblo and more than eight thousand feet above sea level, taking the concept of forest retreats to a whole new level. Located between the highlands and the rainforest, the hotel is designed to represent a traditional Andean village. It is embedded in the values of ecochic with 100% carbon neutral hotel stays for every guest with a focus on sustainable tourism and social responsibility. The spa uses 100% natural products, and the casitas are designed using handmade, environmentally friendly materials. Guests can embark on nature experiences with a private guide who will offer a privileged insight into the wildlife and natural surroundings, which include over 200 species of birds. The hotel also offers personalised twilight adventures around the ancient petroglyphs at Macchu Picchu with the opportunity to indulge in an Andean eucalyptus sauna.
While safari holidays may take a slight twist on the idea of forest retreats, there is perhaps nowhere quite as spectacular as the Ulusaba Private Game Reserve in South Africa. This Richard Branson-owned safari lodge clings to the cliff under a canopy of ancient trees within the private Sabi Sand Reserve on more than 13,000 hectares of land. The lodge sits alongside the Kruger National Park – the largest game reserve in South Africa which is home to the Big Five as well as a number of endangered species. The location affords unparalleled wildlife viewing with luxury suites and a treehouse lodge, connected by swing bridges within an intimate setting. The lodge includes a wine cellar, swimming pool, spa with panoramic views of the wilderness and an observatory for stargazing. You can also opt for a private dinner in the bush by moonlight for the ultimate in romance among the dreamy African wilderness.