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Pining for the woods? The best places to bed down deep in nature


At north Portugal’s Pedras Salgadas spa and nature park hotel – part of the Design Hotels family – guests have a choice of 16 rooms split between pitched-roofed cabins and snake-like tree-houses. Clean lines and floor-to-ceiling glass windows allow for 24-hour cinema-style screenings of the ancient trees outside. After hikes through the sequoia and squirrel-filled landscape, head to the 19th-century thermal spa, which has been renovated by the Pritzker Prize winner Alvaro Siza Vieira, to loll in its bubbling thermal waters. From £166 per night for a stay during May,


Japan launched a national health programme of mindful walks in nature in 1982 at Nagano prefecture’s Akasawa Natural Recreation Forest (see box). The closest English-speaking accommodation is in nearby Kiso-Fukushima, 40 minutes by bus from Akasawa and its 100ft cypress trees. Komanoyu Ryokan, which has its own hot spring, calls itself a ‘spiritual home for modern people’. From £90 per night,


Matarraña is a tiny slice of Spain that’s often compared with Tuscany for its waterfalls, forests and sun-scorched olive groves. Here, three hours south of Barcelona, you will find a remarkable holiday home. Solo Circle is a concrete, glass and circular structure with outer walls formed of sliding screens for total immersion in the silent Aragon landscape. The six-berth, ring-shaped structure is the second creation from the ongoing ‘Solo Houses’ project. From £568 per night,


Those who prefer their dose of nature washed back with a nice glass of red will enjoy Uruguay’s new Sacromonte Landscape Hotel in Maldonado. Here, you will find a farm-to-fork restaurant, a winery and 13 cabins with smoked-glass facades that conceal life inside while reflecting the wild world outside. Young vineyards of tannat, merlot and cabernet sauvignon grapes share hillsides with natural spring-water reservoirs, streams, green meadows and clusters of trees as far as the eye can see. From £500 per night,

South Tyrol

With room categories that include Nest, Hangout and Treetop, you can be assured that the outside is mostly inside at South Tyrol’s new 104-room My Arbor. The exquisite, high-end hotel, which opens next month, sits on towering stilts within a pine forest in the emerald Eisacktal Valley. After a hike, head to the spa for a 50-minute Abroris Treeritual cleanse (£163), which uses extracts from the arolla pine, slippery pine, larch and spruce. A special opening offer of £414 for four nights is available for stays between May 13-17,

New Zealand

Chris Tate, one of the stars of the New Zealand architecture scene, originally designed this minimal A-frame cabin as his private studio and rural hideaway. The one-bed Tent House – so-named for its tent-like structure – sits in the rich rainforests of Auckland’s Waiheke Island and although modest in size, its soaring pitched roof and glass front give the illusion of sleeping in the treetops. From £142 per night,

United Kingdom

For a taste of Scandi summer in the Cotswolds head to The Fish Hotel, which will launch three timber-clad treehouses next month. Each one is snuggled in among oak trees and styled with bold geometric Scandi-inspired tiles, large day beds and that chic northern European essential: outdoor hot tubs. From £360 per night,

Green healing power

WHEN shinrin-yoku -or ‘forest bathing’ — was originally practised in the early 1980s it was based on a belief that being among the dazzling green forests of Japan would be good for people’s health.

Then a Forest Therapy Study Group created by Dr Qing Li, associate professor at the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, proved it could boost the immune system, and lower cortisol, adrenaline, anxiety, depression, anger and blood pressure.

Trees heal in many ways and Dr Qing Li found that one powerful element is their natural aromatherapy.

Trees release natural oils known as phytoncides that protect them from bacteria, insects and fungi — and studies have shown that exposure to essential oils lift depression.

Shinrin-Yoku: The Art And Science Of Forest Bathing by Dr Qing Li (Penguin) is out now