The sounds of the forest, the scents of the trees, the fresh, clean air – The Hudnalls Hideout is not simply a treehouse; it is a bridge between you and the natural world. And a door that restores you, to you.
This article has been produced in partnership with the The Hudnalls Hideout
We’re a different breed of human from those who once made their homes under the thick canopies of the UK’s ancient woodlands. Back then, when we knew that Mother Nature was wiser than we were, we lived our days according to her wisdom and spent our nights sleeping in her arms; knowing, we were safe.
The techno-boom world we live in today has divorced many of us from the wisdom that comes from trees, plants, birds and insects. It has disconnected us from ourselves – from the knowing within. With all the notifications and 24/7 streaming, we’ve forgotten how to ‘just be’.
But there is an eco-antidote: to put ourselves back amongst ancient trees, like our ancestors. To feel the stillness in between branches and roots, to listen to what nature says and reconnect with who we are when the busy world falls away. Forest bathing or shinrin-yoku as the Japanese call it.
And for that, only one experience will do: a treehouse stay at The Hudnalls Hideout in the beautiful Wye Valley – a place where the words ‘just be’ are written in the timbers.
Somehow ‘treehouse’ just doesn’t quiet capture the truth of The Hudnalls Hideout. The word is too flimsy, too juvenile. The Hideout is a treehouse – but this is no timber shack or tipi construction; it won’t wobble in a stiff breeze.
Rather it is a work of solid, mature proportions: a luxury A-frame build of thick oak wood laid out over two floors and suspended four metres above the forest floor on broad, leg-like pillars.
It is an adults’-only playground, sleeping only two. Children not allowed. Why? Because you don’t come here to play grown-ups. You come here to play children again and taste the freedom that once saw you swinging from a rope swing, without a care in the world.
Even the rope swing is provided, hanging tantalisingly under the decking with one simple instruction carved into the block seat, addressing the grown-ups who need it: ‘laugh more, think less’.
Like the swing, every inch and angle of The Hudnalls Hideout has been carefully considered, crafted and designed by the owners, Sarah and Ade. So skilfully is the treehouse constructed that the Hideout slips into the woodland as quietly as a hide.
The owners were extra-cautious about not harming any trees in making their vision real, too. They are passionate guardians of the 2-acres of woodland, orchard and meadow that they own, continually working to enrich and support the natural habitats.
For the build, they sourced materials on location wherever possible and blended the surrounding woods into the design to enhance the experience of being one with the forest. Two young oaks are skilfully woven into the circular decking. Not as supports for the house but as reminder – when we are overwrought or strung out, trees have something important to say to us. Quite simply:
…be still, be still, be still.
You’ll find The Hudnalls Hideout rooted deep within the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, perched on the English-Welsh, border on the English side.
Nearby, the vibrant little village of St. Briavels ticks happily along with a clutch of shops, pub, church and farmers’ market. Just beyond, there’s the Forest of Dean; home to mists and mosses, legend and lure – and supposed inspiration for JRR Tolkein’s Middle Earth.
Within this green and blue landscape, amongst a thick belt of ancient oaks and ferns, beeches and yews, the Hideout stands with 2 acres of private woodland all to itself.
It’s quite a spot; invisible from the valley below and shielded from walkers making use of adjacent Offa’s Dyke Path. It’s not hard to see why Sarah and Ade fell in love with the area and chose it for their dream project back in 2017.
Of course, this kind of seclusion requires a little more effort to get to – but nothing worth doing is ever easy. Sarah and Ade do everything they can to ensure you arrive at your treehouse stay unflustered. From the pictorial directions you’re sent by email to the self-check pack waiting for you.
They’ve marked a path through the orchard meadow that takes you under fruit trees and through wildflowers and they’ve created a woodchipped track, which snakes down to the treehouse once the meadow runs out.
To carry your stuff from the car-port parking, there’s a wheel barrow and, in case you need them, there are a torch, umbrella, wellies and a laminated map, although the chances of getting lost in the grounds are remote.
A short wooden bridge carries you from forest path to treehouse. The inscription ‘think less, feel more, laugh more, just be…’ is carved into the timber slats, as a note to self.
The front door is at the back of the property, so you enter without seeing what awaits you – like walking into a church portico. Unlock the door, step inside and wait a moment. As you stand under the soaring timber beams, that sear upwards in an arrowhead, you’ll need to steady yourself while your heart stops racing.
This place is beautiful. The air hangs in an expectant hush – as if the sleeping timbers that make up the treehouse have woken for a moment at your arrival.
Everything about the inside is balanced and harmonious – venerable – with wood floors and walls joining kitchen to lounge and lounge to the bedroom on the second floor (which you reach via a staircase curled around a cedar treetrunk).
The bathroom is set in a side space of its own, a vision of copper and teal, linked to the outside with a heavy oak door.
Both downstairs and upstairs have been deliberately curated to make the maximum impact with minimal décor. No space is wasted. No area unconsidered.
Some furnishings come from a collaboration with online design brand MADE.COM (the geometrical rug, the bottle-green sofa, the midnight glazed dinner set); others are handpicked, there to enhance the natural joy of a stay in the treehouse.
The suspended bioethanol fireplace flames silently as you sip your wine. The underfloor heating warms the soles of your feet in the morning. The king-size handmade loft bed on the mezzanine holds you as you sleep under linen bedcovers.
At the far end of both the upper and lower level of the treehouse hideaway are floor-to-ceiling glass windows that put you eye-to-eye with the centuries-old boughs beyond.
Moss-covered branches and leaf bundles fill the A-shaped space, flooding the interior jade or amber depending on which season you stay. From your sofa and bed, you are within touching distance of the woodpeckers, blue tits and nuthatches that swing and peck on the bird feeders. Head outside and this treehouse hideaway gets better still.
The circular wood terrace wraps around the treehouse, reaching out over the forest almost brushing the trees, like the rim of a UFO. From here, you’ve the world at your feet.
In the surrounding brush, fallow deer, foxes, rabbits and squirrels hide, rustling as they move from one secret spot to another. Binoculars and a wildlife camera are provided to capture them as they go about their business.
Walk around the side of The Hudnalls Hideout and a staircase slips down to the earth below, a copper-topped bannister showing the way. Head to the ground underneath and the rope swing stirs playfully, pushed by the forest breeze.
Here, awaiting quietly and hung with feestoon lights, is a barrel sauna that guests can use. It’s easy to use, comes with plenty of wood and will melt worries to puddles in no time.
There’s also a luxury Delivita wood-fired pizza oven set in a clearing of its own, as well as a firepit and grill ready for your al fresco dinner for two. If you want to fire it up, simply order your organic vegan pizza dough before you arrive (you can also pre-order breakfast hampers, Indian takeaways and cake and fizz, too).
Of course, as impressive as this all it, there are two more delights that The Hudnalls Hideout has up its sleeve. First, a beautiful copper slipper bath sitting in the open air, raised on a reclaimed wooden plinth, against a patinated copper wall. And second, if you follow the woodland path a short way and climb an earthy staircase you come to the Lookout Bar & Larder.
This slick wooden cabin is jewelled with fairy lights and local treats to buy. Before you arrive, order your favourite cocktails and they’ll be waiting for you in the fridge – or you can bring your own, like we did. The views from this elevated spot are incredible – its a vista few get to enjoy and one that’s worth devoting a few hours to sat on the comfy seats with the one you love.
The roll-top copper bath tub eyes you up with a very wicked glint. All it asks is a little hot water, a flush of bubbles and your complete and undivided submission. Believe us, resistance is futile.
To come to The Hudnalls Hideout is a luxury, in more ways than one. It is a stay unlike any other because it is strikingly beautiful. And it is also an invitation to press stop and discover the path home to stillness – which is a life luxury we all deserve now and again.
With your needs and comforts taken care of; with modern distractions such as TVs and wifi switched off (they’re not needed here), all that remains is for you to feel the quiet that flows from the sleeping timbers of The Hudnalls Hideout and the forest outside.
This forest has stood for centuries watching life come and go; its trees are restful, long-breathing, wiser than we, with longer lives than ours. They remind us not to fight or struggle against the nature of who we are, but to fulfil ourselves, to grow into our true form.
They show us that even in the storms we can be indestructible, we can stand strong and ‘just be’. That is happiness. That is home. And that is the gift of The Hudnalls Hideout.