Ten of the world's best tree houses

TREEHOUSE TETSU, JAPAN

Leave it to the Japanese to create an exquisite miniature teahouse and set it amid a grove of flowering cherry trees. Architecture professor Terunobu Fujimori made a name building whimsical tree houses, but this 2006 creation is arguably his most beautiful, with its rustic exterior and simple interior of sliding wooden shutters, accessed by clambering up through a hatch in the floor. You'll find it in Kiyoharu Art Village in Hokuto. See kiyoharu-art.com

DOI KHAM RESORT, THAILAND

Doi Kham Resort in northern Thailand.	© Doi Kham Resort Sun9Dec - TRAVELLER 10 Treehouses - Brian Johnston
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Doi Kham Resort in northern Thailand. Photo: Supplied

Designed to resemble the traditional rice barns of the local Lanna people, this teak tree house outside Chiang Mai encapsulates the cosy tree house stereotype. The cabin is dramatically located in the embrace of a giant jamjuri tree and allows visitors to catch mountain views and cooling breezes. Although rustic, you can enjoy airconditioning, television and bathroom mod cons while suspended in the branches, for a Tarzan lifestyle with 21st-century comforts. See doi-kham-resort-th.book.direct

TREEHOUSE RESTAURANT, UK

Treehouse Restaurant at Alnwick Castle in England.	© Visit Britain Sun9Dec - TRAVELLER 10 Treehouses - Brian Johnston
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Treehouse Restaurant at Alnwick Castle in England. Photo: Supplied

One of the world's largest tree houses sits in the grounds of Alnwick Castle in Northumberland. The huge sustainable-wood structure covers 1800 square metres and is interconnected by suspended walkways and bridges. It houses classrooms and play areas for children, as well as a restaurant where trees grow through the floor and a fire roars in winter. No better place to enjoy fine seafood or a beefsteak while sitting in a tree. See alnwickgarden.com

FREE SPIRIT SPHERES, CANADA

A Free Spirit Sphere hanging in the forest on Vancouver Island, Canada.	© Free Spirit Spheres Sun9Dec - TRAVELLER 10 Treehouses - Brian Johnston
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A Free Spirit Sphere hanging in the forest on Vancouver Island, Canada. Photo: Supplied

These movable pods inspired by sailboat technology are made of laminated wood and fibreglass, have windows and skylights, and are accessed by a suspension bridge and spiral staircase wrapped around the tree trunk. They hang in the coastal rainforest of Vancouver Island, which boasts some of the world's tallest trees. Because the spheres aren't fixed, they sway gently like a rocking cradle for the perfect sleep. See freespiritspheres.com

HAPUKU LODGE, NEW ZEALAND

Hapuku Lodge in New Zealand.	© Hapuku Lodge Sun9Dec - TRAVELLER 10 Treehouses - Brian Johnston
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Hapuku Lodge in New Zealand. Photo: Supplied

This alpine holiday resort at Kaikoura features five solar-powered tree houses that have guests perched in considerable comfort 10 metres above a native manuka forest, with views over the trees towards the mountains or Pacific coastline from big windows. Rain showers open onto treetop decks, and deer crop the grass below, adding to the feel that you're surrounded by nature. Wood-burning stoves are great winter warmers. See hapukulodge.com

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TREEHOTEL, SWEDEN

The Treehotel near Harads in Sweden.	© Treehotel Sun9Dec - TRAVELLER 10 Treehouses - Brian Johnston
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The Treehotel near Harads in Sweden. Photo: Supplied

At Harads in northern Sweden, childhood notions of tree houses are reinvented in an extraordinary hotel that features seven different, architect-designed tree houses that provide stylish, eco-friendly accommodation. Choose from a blue box suspended in the branches, the avant-garde bird's nest, or the wonderful Mirrorcube, which reflects its surroundings and almost disappears into the forest. The Blue Cone (actually red) looks like a cabin from a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. See treehotel.se

STEAMPUNK TREE HOUSE, USA

Steampunk Treehouse at a music festival; it is now located at Dogfish Brewery in Delaware, USA.	© Steampunk Treehouse Sun9Dec - TRAVELLER 10 Treehouses - Brian Johnston
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Steampunk Tree House at a music festival; it is now located at Dogfish Brewery in Delaware, USA. Photo: Supplied

Who says you need a tree for a tree house? This amazing structure is the collaborative vision of 60 Californian artists who built it using reclaimed and recycled wood and metals. The movable art installation weights eight tonnes and featured at various music festivals before finding a permanent home at a Delaware brewery. It's named for the steampunk artistic genre that draws inspiration from fantasy and science fiction works. See dogfish.com

TREECASA RESORT, NICARAGUA

The swimming pool at TreeCasa Resort in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.	© TreeCasa Resort Sun9Dec - TRAVELLER 10 Treehouses - Brian Johnston
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The swimming pool at TreeCasa Resort in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. Photo: Supplied

Smaller canopy suites and a larger two-storey tree house feature at this resort at San Juan del Sur on the Emerald Coast, centred on a three-storey central lounge that is also lodged in the branches. Below lie organic gardens, orchards and a swimming pool. The resort is the brainchild of sustainable-living and wellness-oriented Californians, and treads lightly on its environment. Early morning yoga in the trees is a must. See treecasaresort.com

TSALA TREETOP LODGE, SOUTH AFRICA

Tsala Treetop Lodge near Plettenberg Bay in South Africa.	© Tsala Treetop Lodge Sun9Dec - TRAVELLER 10 Treehouses - Brian Johnston
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Tsala Treetop Lodge near Plettenberg Bay in South Africa. Photo: Supplied

Tsala Treetop Lodge near Plettenberg Bay is set in an ancient native forest. Huge blackwood columns support the lodges which, like the glassed-in lounge areas, perch high above the forest floor with views over the valley. Each lodge has private decks with a plunge pool and an outdoor shower so you can mingle with the 260-odd bird species that live in the surrounding forest. See tsala.hunterhotels.com

ARIAU AMAZON TOWERS, BRAZIL

Ariau Amazon Towers in Brazil. Ariau Amazon Towers Sun9Dec - TRAVELLER 10 Treehouses - Brian Johnston
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Ariau Amazon Towers in Brazil. Photo: Supplied

This 1980s resort in Negro River National Park outside Manaus in the Brazilian Amazon was one of the world's first tree-house hotels. The buildings, connected by kilometres of catwalks and stairs, stand on stilts above the rainforest canopy and leave the surrounding eco-system untouched. The honeymoon suite perches in the centre of a giant mahogany tree. Monkeys, macaws, parrots, butterflies and even sloths are routinely spotted. See ariauamazontowers.com

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