Life moves as slowly as you’d like it to at Loire Valley Lodges, a boutique treehouse hotel set in 750-acres of private French forest. Tree branches and flowers sway in a barely felt breeze, gravel crunches under the wheels of a bicycle, water laps at the edge of the pool, champagne flute chime together, and bees and butterflies dance across the scene as though choreographed or added by a digital editor in post-production.
Dreamed up by Parisian art-seller Anne Caroline Frey and opened in 2020, the hotel follows principles of beauty, harmony, and sustainability. In the forest are 18 wooden treehouse lodges, each designed by a different contemporary artist, and each following the same layout as a hotel suite.
At 35 square metres and four metres above ground, they’re perfectly proportioned for one or two guests, with everything you might need for an indulgent break in nature: fully fitted bathrooms, Italian showers, Le Labo toiletries, stacks of cloud-soft towels, light robes, coffee machines, tea-making facilities, snacks, playing cards, stacks of books, bike racks outside, stocked mini fridges and a walkie talkie to connect you with the front desk.
Each lodge also has its own massaging hot tub, sunk into the balcony decking, with Efflorescences, Moodywood and Les Ailes du Désir additionally equipped their own private saunas. Wherever possible, the forest has been left undisturbed, with some trees growing straight up through balconies, the kind of quiet coexistence you can expect from a stay here.
Days begin with a decadent breakfast basket, delivered to your lodge at 8AM and attached to a rope and pulley system, to be winched up whenever you’re ready. The baskets are generously packed with items selected by guests upon arrival. With a choice of yoghurts, milks, juices, breads, butters, fruits, cheeses, meat and fish, it’s a great way to sample gorgeous local produce as you ease into the morning entirely at your own leisure. The absence of internet, TV and telephones in the lodges means that you’re drawn both inwards towards your own senses and outwards, back into the natural world.
The lobby, reception and a strong Wi-Fi connection can be found up at the main building, a restored 16th Century hunting lodge, which is also where you can dine, drink, browse luxury products, or grab a clean towel and a bottle of something cold and delicious while you relax by the heated pool. There’s a free bicycle store too, and so taking a leisurely cycle around the grounds or through the picturesque surrounding countryside is as easy as choosing a bike, (electronic or regular), securing your helmet and setting off.
Every Tuesday there’s live music in Asperatus, the Lodge’s main restaurant. The food, by the way, is fantastic. When I visited in July the chef in residence was Juliette Barry, who could be seen cooking in the outdoor kitchen, or leaving her post now and then to weave through an adjacent herb garden to pick ingredients for the plates that would soon be served to waiting diners.
The hotel is hopelessly romantic, but also incredibly serene, a perfect indulgent escape for solo-travellers, friends looking for quality time or creatives looking for inspiration or breakthrough. The focus on art and rest, as well as the invitation to unplug from technology, is a truly renewing force. Though there isn’t an on-site spa, massages can be easily arranged in-room, with the masseuse arriving by buggy and setting up outside on your balcony. Other activities include forest bathing, cycling, or taking a tour to see each of the many outdoor art installations. A favourite spot for returning guests is the cinq chênes, or five oaks. I won’t ruin the surprise, but it’s a breath-taking space.
Loire Valley Lodges offers a truly serene and unique escape. Time slows in the forest; the chatter of modern living quietens. You can reset here, spend time in nature, walk, run, cycle, or simply catch up on sleep. As Anne-Caroline reminds me when she stops to say hello, doing nothing is an activity all its own.
The hotel is easily accessible from London via a short plane ride and a 20-minute transfer, or two trains if you’re watching your carbon emissions.
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For more info, see Loire Valley Lodges