Ever wanted to know what happens when you build luxury treehouses in a forest, in the middle of France, amid a sculpture park? You probably haven’t pondered it for too long, but now you don’t have to.
Two hours south of Paris, a world away from the hustle and bustle of the French capital – which has burst back to life after all the events of the past 18 months – sits a new, unique hotel that will remind you why you need some peace and quiet every once in a while.
Until the Loire Valley Lodges opened in July last year, this neck of the woods was best known for its famous wine industry and its breathtaking castles. But now there is a new reason to visit the Loire Valley. One which will appeal to many of you.
Former Parisian advertising executive turned first-time hotelier, Anne-Caroline Frey, has created her own spin on glamping, building 18 different treehouses on 300 acres of forest, with each treehouse hidden from the other to ensure a level of privacy and a feeling of seclusion that guests travel are travelling all over the world for.
Frey and her husband Bertrand bought the land 15 years ago and quickly discovered how powerful the countryside was for not just taking the pace off things, but also integrating a blended family.
They fell in love with nature and over time realised how other people would enjoy switching off with a touch of opulence, hence the Le Labo products, the jacuzzi in each lodge and the art adorning the walls and grounds of the property.
In a world where everything is accessible on your smartphone and there is always another game or Netflix show to watch, there is power in being shut off from everything in the middle of nowhere, especially when you do it in comfort.
If you derived a lot of enjoyment from treehouses when you were growing up, then this is a hotel you will particularly connect with. Each lodge is built from wood found in the forest, with chestnut, Douglas fir and oak trees emerging through some of the balconies to limit deforestation.
The design of the treehouses was inspired by Frey’s travels to Japan and Australia, where the architecture focuses on transferring the outside inside. And with floor to ceiling windows at the foot of each bed overlooking the forest, there aren’t many more harmonious ways to wake up each morning.
If you are looking for a place where you can scroll on Instagram or watch Emily in Paris again for the fifth time, this is not the place for you. You won’t find any reception out in the forest and you won’t find a television in this hotel. And that’s the point.
Leave your phone in the car. Enjoy the spa and the peace and quiet. Being cut off from the world isn’t the worse option in the current climate. And don’t worry, you will be equipped with a walkie talkie if you need to communicate with the hotel to book a massage or a table for dinner.
Large-scale outdoor artworks can be found across the hotel, some in plain sight, while others are more off the beaten track, waiting to be discovered on foot or in the saddle of a bike. Frey spent more than a decade working in the art world in Paris and has built up a sizeable collection, which can be found in the lodges and all over the grounds.
An old farmhouse in the centre of the property has been converted into a reception, general store, restaurant and bar, which is where most guests eat a farm-to-table inspired dinner using local produce from the Loire Valley region.
After a bottle of wine or two, everyone excuses themselves to retreat to their treehouses for the night, wandering through the dark forest floor with a torch, which is more enjoyable than it sounds in the crisp, fresh air.
It’s amazing what switching off from the outside world for a day or two will do for you.