The busier and more fraught with pressures our lives become, the more elaborate the ways in which we choose to escape. “Relaxing” is no longer in the realm of kicking back by the pool or unwinding with something potent over ice; the more our smartphones buzz and apps ding, the more we desire complete and total release. It’s no coincidence the past few years have seen the rise and rise of ‘kidult’ pursuits; grown men and women dressed as Star Wars characters running around a warehouse in Canada Water; people in their forties pelting each other with coloured paint in Wembley Park; hell, you can’t even sign up to a simple 5k run these days without waving glo-sticks while panting around the track.
And perhaps nothing encapsulates the kidult phenomenon better than the luxury treehouse. It is the moneyed professional’s equivalent of convincing mum to let you sleep the night in your Wendy house. This is very much about kidults at play – only, at The Woodsman’s Treehouse in Dorset, playtime is about as luxurious as you can get when you’re spending the night up a tree.
Just arriving at this dream-like creation is pure fantasy. There’s no one to greet or check me in; I was given pre-arrival instructions in order to find it myself. (I won’t interact with any staff during my stay – I am master of my own private hideaway.) After parking at the top of a nondescript field deep in the West Country sticks, I follow a boardwalk down through a hidden wonderland in the woods. I pass a communal sauna yurt, and shepherd’s huts and bell tents tucked into the trees; some have their own accompanying shower rooms tacked together from ramshackle planks. It feels like some sort of alternative commune, an Ewok campsite, or possibly both. Keep following the boardwalk and eventually you reach a suspended walkway and… there it is. The Woodsman’s Treehouse, all £150,000-worth of it, wrapped around a magnificent oak.
Creator Guy Mallinson spent six months building his dream project, the culmination of a lifetime spent crafting from wood (he says he was tinkering away in his first wood workshop at the tender age of eight). Mallinson started out in furniture design before launching eco woodworking workshops here in his secret clump of…