In general, Louise and I lead a pretty hectic life. Between various projects, travelling, keeping the blog running and our love of the outdoors, having a day off has become rather a strange concept for us. Even when we do have down time, we’re normally ‘wired in’ to some extent (checking emails, editing photos etc). I’m not sure I even remember the last time I sat down to a good book and just disconnected from the world. That’s why, when Louise mentioned she’d arranged for us to stay in the Outa-the-woods treehouse hotel last week, I have to admit that I came at the idea with a degree of trepidation:
“How are we going to work?” and “would I be able to charge my laptop at least?” were a couple of thoughts that crossed my mind, not to mention, “wouldn’t we just get bored being stuck in a treehouse for a couple of days?”
Well, I have to admit that aside from my fleeting concerns, the idea of staying in a treehouse hotel was more than exciting. It’s not very often that the chance to sleep in a tree comes up, and it’s something that I’d been itching to try for a while (ever since discovering the Free Spirit Spheres on Vancouver Island).
It turns out that there are actually a number of treehouse hotels in Canada, but the vast majority are in Western British Columbia and they tend to get booked up months in advance and many have a two or 3 night minimum. It might come as no surprise that these things are pretty sought after, so competition is pretty high and they don’t come cheap.
Louise is usually amazing at figuring this stuff out though, and she managed to find a beautiful one near Cranbrook, British Columbia (4 hours from Calgary), in an amazingly secluded piece of forest. Even better, they had a space and were willing to let us stay for just one night.
This is where we ended up staying!
To be honest, our biggest fears of being disconnected from the world turned out to be the best part of the weekend.
From the moment we stepped out of our car, we were struck by how incredibly calm it was. I think we often forget how much noise there is in everyday life. Coming to a place that was so absolutely still and silent was a complete shock to the system, and was something I had no idea I was craving so badly. Can you remember the last time you heard absolute silence? No cars, no bird song, not even trees rustling? Honestly I would pay to come back again just for that.
Having that perfect silent backdrop even made it that better when a thunderstorm rolled in that night. The thunder seemed to roar away in the distance for so much longer than we’d ever experienced before, and we spent a while just sitting on the sheltered hammock listening to the rain hit the roof and watching the lightning. Being stripped of our technology forced us to appreciate things we’d barely take a second glance at usually, and without wanting to take ourselves too seriously, it was incredibly gratifying.
When the storm eventually reached us, we suddenly realized that we were probably in the last place you’d want to be in a lightning storm. Not something you’d normally consider when booking a hotel. Ah well… we told ourselves we’d dive into the car if it got too bad!
Probably the coolest thing about sleeping way up in a tree is the way the house moves with the trees. I’ve never experienced an earthquake before but I’m guessing it’s a similar experience to sleeping in a tree while it sways in the wind. Once you come to terms with the fact that the house will creak and sway (only a tiny bit..), it’s actually pretty cathartic.
The only disconcerting thing was when we heard a big clunk during the night, only to discover that a big piece of wood had fallen off part of the ceiling during the storm! Glad I found it in the morning!
All in all it was an expensive but enjoyable weekend and something we will 100% be doing again. (By the way, this post is in no way sponsored; we just can’t help recommending the things we love!)
The treehouse itself was built by hand over a period of 3 summers by the owner. He said he’d collected various interesting pieces of wood over the years and all of those went into the design and construction of the house. The house is bursting with unique hand carved art, and to think that one person built it was just incredible.
The Treehouse itself is powered by solar power, and has all the normal luxuries that a normal cabin might have; running water, potable water, functioning toilets and showers, lights, a stove, a fridge.. it even had power outlets and a BBQ. There was also even great cell service (for those that truly can’t disconnect). The only thing it didn’t have was internet, but let’s be honest… we were deep in the middle of nowhere, 20ft up in a tree… internet would have been a miracle.. Oh but if for some reason you’re the type of person that needs a hair straightener while you’re up in a tree in the middle of nowhere…, it’s a definite no-no. Fire risk aside, we were told that any high powered appliances would overwhelm the limited solar power supply.
The Treehouse overlooks a pond and a bigger lake behind. We were told there were canoes that we could use if need be, but it wasn’t really on our agenda this time around. That being said, there was a family in another cabin on the property, and they seemed to be loving the water amenities (don’t worry, from the treehouse you literally can’t even tell there’s a cabin). There’s also a fire pit for s’mores and a lake stocked with rainbow trout if you’re into fishing!
Being in such a remote part of the world, it felt like the wildlife was far more comfortable with us. It was almost as if being up on a raised platform made the animals forget we were there.. I suppose now I understand why hunting blinds are so often raised up into the trees..
We saw a few deer, a few eagles, muskrat, trout, and most amazingly to me, we were regularly visited by hummingbirds! Until this weekend I literally didn’t even know they existed in Canada.. We were also told that Moose often visit the area to wade around in the ponds and that they’ve had visits from almost every animal over the years. It’s really an amazing spot to sit and watch animals be themselves. There are even some pretty interesting/enormous insects (foot for scale)!
Honestly, it was nice to just spend an evening reading and unwinding, and while we no doubt could have charged our laptops and done something constructive, we were really content with just enjoying the quiet and staying put.
Having said that, the area is actually full of great things to do. Lussier Hot Springs are a stone’s throw away, there are tons of great lakes to visit (Wasa, Premier), and there are lots of amazing hikes to do (Fisher Peak, Lake of the Hanging Glacier for example). Fernie is also very close nearby, which has tons of great things to do (check out our things to do in Fernie post for some ideas) and is a mountain biking/skiing Mecca.
Cranbrook has great food options (we went to the Sakura sushi (amazing) restaurant and “Peter Wrap it” (a good veggie option), and Fernie has a few hidden gems as well (Big Bang Bagels for example).
If you’re looking to have a chilled weekend or night away, the treehouse is a great option, and it’s definitely not too far from tons of activities if you’re the more active type. I would say that it’s not that suitable for kids, as clambering around the treehouse could be a bit hazardous if you’re not careful.
You can book the Outa-the-woods treehouse hotel here
Wardner BC – 4 hours from Calgary
$200 per night + 5% tax, minimum 3 nights on long weekends. Sleeps 4.
Of course, this isn’t the only great treehouse in BC. Check out the following links for some other great options (although I think that word’s got out about treehouses now because the prices definitely aren’t that low anymore)!