A Treetop Escape in the South Downs: Cowdray Tree Houses Review
Looking for a wild adventure under an hour from London? Take to the trees.
Who hasn’t dreamed of waking up amongst the leaves in their own tree house escape? Fulfilling that childhood dream is more appealing than ever, thanks to the new luxe Tree Houses at Cowdray Estate, finds Rebecca Cox.
Cowdray Tree Houses Review
The Enid Blyton tree house of my childhood visions involved scrabbling up a rickety ladder and ducking under a beam for entry. But Cowdray’s luxe new tree houses, built in collaboration with Tree House Retreats, are reached by a short lofted wooden ramp, and entry is via a full-sized front door into a smart tiled boot room. However, on entering the lounge, things get much more tree-house-y. The open-plan kitchen-lounge is all wood and glass, the exposed timber sourced from the estate blending seamlessly with the lush nature beyond the enormous bi-fold glass doors. Alongside the spacious living area is a large bedroom with a king size bed facing more glass doors and the woodland beyond, plus a chic tiled bathroom with a walk-in shower. If this is all feeling a little domesticated for you, you can shun the shower in favour of the wooden tub outside on the wraparound wooden terrace, tucked away into an enclave for privacy but perfectly positioned for a stargazing soak. And if you’ve ever wanted to experience an al fresco bath in the rain, the British weather may just acquiesce, as it did for me.
Along with the timber walls, the interiors reflect the woodlands around, with sheepskins, wool blankets, earthy tones and vintage linens: cosy cabin in the woods perfection. The walls are brightened with modern artworks sourced with Migrate Art, who collaborate with contemporary artists to raise money for displaced and homeless communities across the world.
There are four treehouses in a row nestled in the private woodland, separated by trees (and plenty of space) to ensure privacy from your neighbours. But they do share the view: over the famous Lawns Polo Ground and Cowdray ruins beyond.
Every tree house has an electric buggy for getting between your car and tree house, and the short ride through the woodland often includes an encounter with the resident deer. There is also access to bicycles to explore Cowdray’s stunning grounds, which hold a wealth of activities to fill your days including art classes, polo, golf and clay pigeon shooting. Of course, with the South Downs on your doorstep, letting your feet lead you for a full day of hiking (via a local pub or vineyard) is also a great option, or short foraging walks through the grounds, with a stop at the café for sustenance. Cowdray Ruins is also a must-see, the original Cowdray House, with early guests including King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I.
Alternatively, with a tree house holiday home this cosy, you may just want to hole up and enjoy the views from your terrace, your bed or the big-enough-for-two outdoor bathtub. If you visit on a clear night, take the opportunity for stargazing with a glass of local wine, since Cowdray is situated within the South Downs International Dark Skies Reserve.
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Cowdray’s award-winning Farm Shop & Café is a hub of local activity, stocking seasonal and local produce including sustainably managed wild venison, locally grown veg and freshly baked pies, cakes and breads. On arrival, tree house guests will receive a welcome hamper from the shop, stocked with a selection of supplies including baked goods, fruit, vegetables and snacks. On your way onto the site, stop off at the shop and choose a freshly-cooked meal for your evening’s supper (my cheese, leek and potato pie with red cabbage was the stuff of comfort food dreams).
THE FINAL WORD
Far from the rustic tree house adventure your younger self dreamed of, this is the ultimate grown-up woodland adventure for lovers of luxe living, hearty British food and evening soaks under the stars.
One nights’ self-catering for two from £388 | Available to book online at treehouseretreats.com and cowdray.co.uk.
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