Take 5: Luxury treehouse escapes
Live up your holiday sky high in the treetops of extravagance...
Going back to nature needn't mean pitching a tent and bedding down on a hard forest floor, especially when you can live it up in a luxury treehouse.
Fox and Hounds Country Hotel
Where: Devon, England
Why: On the grounds of a country hotel in the heart of the Devonshire countryside, there stands a huge oak tree, which is 250 years old. In among its branches is what can only be described as a tree mansion, with two bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and a bathroom.
Kids will go wild for the wooden bunk beds, while adults will love the large decking area and copper bath tub. You can also pop into the hotel bar for a pint of local ale.
How: Prices start at £250 (€305) per night, for four people, with a two-night minimum at peak times. The nearest airport is Exeter, which is about 50 minutes away. Flybe (flybe.com) fly there from Dublin from €36 one way.
Post Ranch Inn
Where: Big Sur, California
Why: Remember the ramshackle treehouse you hammered together when you were young? The creations at Post Ranch Inn are about as far from that as you can imagine. With a king bed, an indoor spa tub, wood-burning stove and private decking area, these treehouses are the height of luxury.
The ranch itself sits high atop the cliffs of Big Sur, with stunning views out to the Pacific Ocean. On site, you can watch the sun go down from the Sierra Mar Restaurant, or take in the views from one of the steaming infinity spas.
How: Nightly rates in the treehouses start at $995 (€714), including breakfast. The nearest airport is Monterey, but it may be easier to fly into San Francisco and enjoy the infamous coastal drive down to the ranch, which takes around three hours. Aer Lingus (aerlingus.com) fly direct to San Francisco from €369 one way.
Where: Victoria Falls, Zambia
Why: There are some pretty nifty places to stay at the luxurious Tongabezi Lodge. There's an open-air 'bird house', a beautiful 'honeymoon house' and the amusingly named 'nut house'.
But the real stunner is the 'tree house'. Set among the branches of an ebony tree, built into the cliff front, the house spreads over the Zambezi River, providing incredible views. You can dine on the private deck, enjoy a sundowner over the water, or relax in the open-air, claw-footed bath while you listen to African birdsong.
How: Fully inclusive rates for the tree house start from $715 (€513) pppn. The rate also includes excursions such as sunrise/sunset boat trips, canoeing and game drives. Emirates (emirates.com) fly to Lusaka via Dubai, with return flights currently available from around €775 in October.
Chateaux dans les arbes
Where: Dordogne, France
Why: Spending a night in the trees doesn't necessarily mean compromising on your comforts. There's no scrimping on the extras at the Chateaux dans les Arbres, where tree houses come equipped with mini bars, an iPod docking station, fancy coffee machines and a jacuzzi on the terrace. One of them even has a sauna.
From the outside, the treehouses look like fairytale castles, with wooden turrets poking out between the branches. All have little terraces with outdoor seating areas, where you can relax among the tree trunks jutting through the floor.
How: Rates start at €240 per night, or €225 a night for stays of more than two nights, in low season. The nearest airport is Bordeaux Mérignac, about a two-hour drive away. Aer Lingus (aerlingus.com) fly there from Dublin, with flights in September currently starting from €120 return.
Where: Powys, Wales
Why: You can find some fabulous tree house properties on Sawday's Canopy and Stars, one of which being the Welsh Gwdy Hw. Pronounced Goody Hoo, the curved rustic treehouse is located well into the woods, with a spiral staircase lifting you off the forest floor.
As opposed to the more glamorous options featured, Gwdy Hw is completely off the grid, making it a dream for lovers of the great outdoors. There's a hot spring shower below the treehouse, heated by the fire, and a compost loo across the deck. There are some sneaky treats too, like the cute little fireplace and the wood-fired hot tub nearby.
How: Gwdy Hw starts from £199 (€243) per night, with a two-night minimum, and sleeps four. The treehouse is about a two-and-a-half hour drive from either Liverpool or Birmingham airports, and around two hours from Holyhead ferry port.
See: Ryanair.com, Irishferries.com and canopyandstars.co.uk
NB: All prices subject to change/ availability.