Hostel Apeldoorn, Gelderland, Netherlands
For Big Foot types who want to occasionally come out of the forest to visit the Hendersons, the Stayokay Hostel Apeldoorn offers the best of both worlds: a designer cabin in woodlands on the edge of the small city of Apeldoorn in the Veluwe, a region known for its nature reserves, lakes and Hanseatic towns. The cabin is an off-the-shelf Wikkelhouse – wikkelen being the Dutch word for cardboard – which these sustainable, biodegradable tiny houses with glass facades incorporate in their structure, along with flax and wood. This one is livened up with colourful furniture.
From £90pp a night B&B, sleeps four, on booking.com
Transylvania Log Cabins, Romania
With its centuries-old way of rural life, misty forests and legends, Transylvania is completely enchanting and home to unpretentious but fashionably folksy retreats such as Transylvania Log Cabins near the remote village of Pesteana. Three woodland cabins include one raised on a hillock in the treetops. It has bedrooms under the eaves, thick log walls, fairy lights and rocking chairs on the balcony from which to gaze at the glorious Retezat mountains and wave down at the site’s resident goats.
From £46pp a night, sleeps five, on Facebook
Coucoo Grands Cépages, near Avignon, France
Among the vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, 12 miles from the city of Avignon, is Grands Cépages, whose luxurious cabins include some floating on the serene Lac de Lion, accessed by pontoon or boat, and others swathed in greenery with hammocks or a wood-fired hot tub. The shared infinity pool has a cafe to call on for drinks and ices, and a breakfast basket of locally sourced goodies is delivered each morning to start days spent wine tasting, truffle hunting and hiking, before nights out gorging on Provençal cuisine.
From £155 a night, sleeps two, hostunusual.com
Le Shack Sur Le Lac, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France
The mountains of Vercors and Dévoluy may lie nearby, with dream terrain for hiking, cycling and fell-running, and the city of Grenoble an hour’s drive away, but at Le Shack Sur Le Lac, holidays are all about fun on the water. Lake Monteynard-Avignonet to be specific, where powerful thermal breezes make it, they say, Europe’s second windiest lake and hugely popular with sailors, kitesurfers and windsurfers. The fishing’s good too and there are unusual Himalayan-style footbridges to test the nerves. Only a few strides from the water, this low-key, old-fashioned cabin has a large wooden deck, hammocks and a shady garden.
From €720 a week, sleeps four, mystrikingly.com
Ecotagnes, near Annecy, France
Deep in a pine forest near the Aravis mountain resort of La Clusaz – not far from the city of Annecy and its lake – is Ecotagnes, a smart little collection of treehouses, cabins and a teepee, where a wood-fired hot tub and homemade Alpine cuisine are among the list of treats. An aerial walkway through the upper branches leads to the most highly perched cabins, whose pine-clad interiors are cosied up with fluffy faux-fur blankets and wood stoves, and a wooden deck above the forest floor provides shady respite on sunny days.
From €195 a night with half-board, transfer and hot tub; €95 per additional child, ecotagnes.com
Poacher’s Cabin, Dordogne, France
Hike into the forested hills of Périgord-Limousin national park and you might come across wild boar and coypu, and the Poacher’s Cabin, an off-grid hideout near its own small lake. Built from gnarled, reclaimed timber by an English couple more than a decade ago, the cabin is now owned by outdoorsy telly presenter and author Kate Humble, who has added her own quirky touches, not least a library of bird books. A raft is provided, and nearby is the north Dordogne’s wonderland of caves, chateaux and vineyards.
From £110 a night, sleeps two, canopyandstars.co.uk
Cabu by the Lakes, County Cavan, Ireland
Known as “the lakeland county”, Cavan is home to one of Cabu’s two cool cabin collections (the other is on the Kent coast), design-led nature retreats which have been making a stir. This one, in the woods of Killykeen forest park on the shores of Lough Oughter, is surrounded by a tangled network of lakes and rivers. A stylish main reception with a shop and bar is the place to organise forest bathing, bike hire and nature spa bookings, and accommodation comes in a variety of sizes and styles, from log cabins for two to three-bedroom boathouses with direct access to the lake.
From €436 for two nights, sleep two or four, holidays.cabu.co.uk
Resort Baumgeflüster, Lower Saxony, Germany
Feel the need for some tree hugging? Germany has nine billion of them, so is a worthy destination for a woodsy escape, whether you’re after a casual cuddle or some full-on shinrin-yoku. The Black Forest isn’t the only option – in the northern region of Lower Saxony, a woodland in Ammerland is home to a stellar treehouse collection, Resort Baumgeflüster. Sleek larch cabins with neat-as-a-pin interiors are raised on stilts, and come with underfloor heating and sun terraces where breakfast baskets are delivered each day. Zwischenahner Meer lake is a sun-dappled stroll away.
From £195 a night, sleeps four, hostunusual.com
Zwarte Zwaan nature house, near Antwerp, Belgium
To the east of fashionable Antwerp are pockets of woodland where city folk escape for the weekend, including the Kempisch forest, home to Zwarte Zwaan, or “black swan”. This curvy black timber cabin with a living green roof was built in a neglected patch of forest in 2018, since when the replanting of 1,000 native trees has brought it back to life. A hot tub amid the greenery, a long forest swing, sauna and projector screen for film sessions boost the luxe factor, and within walking distance are a summer bar, nature trails, an ice-cream parlour and swimming pond.
From €1,260 for four nights, sleeps four adults and two children, bosvilla.eu
Mala Morava, Moravia, Czech Republic
This charming 1930s hunting lodge with sloped gabled roof and chalet-style decor is in a sublime location, in a clearing amid dense forest near the small city of Olomouc. Used by skiers in winter, the property (No 36982) is typical of the Nature Houses website, which collates authentic cabins and cottages in Europe and Scandinavia – the wood stoves and antiques type, rather than flashy ones with underfloor heating. Here, too, logs are stacked against a wall, bunches of dried herbs hang from the ceiling and folk art furniture decorates the cosy lounge.
From £750 a week, sleeps 10, naturehouse.co.uk
Nisser Hyttegrend and Camping, Lake Nisser, Norway
You know about the convivial Danish concept of hygge, but what about hyttekos, the Norwegian term for “cabin cosiness”? Embrace it by choosing from thousands of cabins and lodges listed on NorgesBooking, DanCenter, or the Norwegian tourist board website, which has 500 run by the Norwegian Trekking Association alone. Set on the shores of Lake Nisser, 3½ hours’ drive west of Oslo and renowned for its beaches and beautifully clear water for swimming, Nisser Hyttegrend and Camping is backed by forested hills and offers boats, a floating trampoline and even Tarzan swings in the woods. Some of its simple wooden cabins are only five metres from the water and come with their own rowing boats.
From £48 a night for a basic camping cabin, sleeps four, nisser.no
Novasol holiday home, Bryrup, central Denmark
Once a station stop on “Denmark’s most beautiful railway” (an old steam line that still operates as a tourist experience), the small town of Bryrup lies in a deep wooded valley between Silkeborg and Nørre Snede, west of Aarhus. It’s here that this effortlessly cool 1950s cottage can be found; a simple home full of art and colourful furniture with a veranda overlooking a river connecting several lakes. Nature trails explore the surrounding woodland and valleys carved by ice age meltwater.
From €670 a week, sleeps seven, novasol.com
Løvtag, North Jutland, Denmark
Summer cabins are a way of life in Denmark, with North Jutland – packed with art galleries, historic sites and white sand beaches – one of the most popular locations for a chic but pared-back escape. In a forested area of oak, beech, spruce and pine near Mariager fjord and the untouristy hamlet of Als Odde, are Løvtag’s three designer treehouses: Et, Ro and Ly. Trees poke up like arboreal fireman’s poles through the interior spaces, which have huge south- and west-facing windows, and each has an outdoor shower and rooftop terrace in the leafy canopy.
From £220 B&B a night, sleeps two; add up to two extra guests on the sofa bed for £22pp, løvtag.dk
Erikson Cottage, Västergötland, Sweden
“When you go tenting [camping], the last thing you see before you close your eyes at night is the canvas, and in these buildings, it’s the stars,” says architect Jeanna Berger, who designed the glass cabins for Erikson Cottage, a farm with cafe and accommodation in Sweden’s Västergötland region. You’ll feel like the world’s most pampered tomato as you fall asleep in one of these designer greenhouses, built on stilts to reduce environmental impact, one set in forest, another by the lake. Kayaks and paddleboards can be borrowed. The project was inspired by Berger’s original accommodation at the Dalslands Aktiviteter activity centre on Lake Iväg in the Dalslands region, where there are four of the glass cabins to rent, conceived to reduce stress through being immersed in nature.
Three-day package £1,133 half-board for two people including boat or paddleboards, eriksoncottage.com
Inforest, central Sweden
In a departure from the traditional Swedish vernacular of red wooden cabin trimmed in white, the off-grid retreat Inforest features three tiny cabins in sleek, inky black timber, each in its own clearing. Surrounded by woodland looped with trails, the cabins lie outside the arty town of Hjo on Lake Vättern in central Sweden, equidistant from Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen. Neat interiors of concrete and ply set off the black furniture; outdoor decks have fire pits and two have double beds on a mezzanine “sleeping loft”, the third, a separate ground-floor bedroom.
From £141 a night, sleeps two, inforest.se
Swedish Country Living, Dalsland, west Sweden
In an area known as the “land of the valleys”, two hours north of Gothenburg and full of lakes and hiking trails, is this wholesome, off-grid project. The owners have spent the last few years building a collection of delightful “hermit” cottages in their lakeside woodland. Choose one clad in slate tiles, an A-frame or the large Shipyard Farmhouse. Animals graze between oak trees and there are canoes to borrow, plus, new this year, an infrared sauna, outdoor kitchen and outdoor spa.
From £155 B&B a night for two, including use of a canoe, swedishcountryliving.com
Rock Cabin, Lake Saimaa, Finland
Finland is home to about 187,000 lakes and more than half a million summer cabins used as weekend escapes. These are typically made from logs, with a sauna by a lake where foraging, fishing and relaxing around the campfire are the order of the day. Lake Saimaa, the country’s largest waterbody in the Lakeland region near Lapeenranta, is a popular choice. The tourist board website gosaimaa.com lists many gorgeous options, including Rock Cabin, one of three grand structures hand-built from local trees at accommodation site Villa Lumme Lahti. Built over a huge rock, it has a veranda, a glazed barbecue hut, its own dock and rowing boat and rustic-luxe interiors.
From €70 a night, sleeps three, villalummelahti.fi –
Nuuksion Taika, Nuuksio national park, Finland
Close to Helsinki and the city of Espoo, and providing an easy-to-access wilderness fix for city dwellers, are the lakes and forests of the Nuuksio national park, north-west of the Finnish capital. Nuuksion Taika, a family-run retreat, offers a charming lakeside cottage, Villa Paratiisi, built in 1961 as a hunting lodge and ideal for larger groups, with a sauna and hot tub, a variety of outdoor seating nooks and al fresco kitchen. Go full Viking by booking wild food dinners and sessions on Finnish folklore and traditions in the site’s iron age-style longhouse, the Wäinölä.
From €680 a night, sleeps 14, nuuksiontaika.fid
Villa Sissi, Carinthia, Austria
Austria’s southernmost province, Carinthia, on the sunny side of the Alps, is a laid-back region of forests and lakes where cyclists, swimmers and hikers spend their summers. Wim Hof refuseniks should head to Klopeiner See, claimed to be the warmest swimming lake in Europe, with water reaching up to 28C. On the northern shore and with its own sunbathing pontoon accessed from the vast lawned garden via a jetty, is the grand-looking Villa Sissi, whose high-ceilinged rooms boast balconies overlooking the garden and water.
From £497 a night, sleeps 12, on airbnb.co.uk
Rustico Enrico, Ticino, Switzerland
There are picture-perfect chalets all over the Swiss Alps, but less well-known is the Ticino region in the south, bordering the Italian lakes and largely Italian speaking, with fabulous cuisine, wines and palm-fringed lakes. There are also homespun hideaways aplenty, such as Rustico Enrico, a simple chalet surrounded by meadow, on the edge of a deep pine forest. Bookmark the Huetten website for more of the same.
From £1,000 a week, sleeps five, huetten.com