Baumhaus Lodge reconnects you to nature through cutting-edge architecture
When I was younger, I loved climbing the trees in grandpa’s garden, but having a much-desired treehouse always eluded me. So when I heard about the Baumhaus Lodge (Treehouse Lodge), a unique hotel with state-of-the-art cabins among the canopies in Lower Austria’s Waldviertel (Forest District), a long-forgotten dream stirred once again. And indeed, once my companion and I arrived, we felt like we had entered a movie set: hypermodern dwellings were hidden away in the forest like a sci- settlement in some strange environment, metallic surfaces shining among the foliage. We looked forward to feeding our inner child, while still indulging in the adulthood luxuries of modern day tourism.
Two hours from Vienna near the small city of Schrems, the treehouses, two of which opened just this year, are spread over 20,000 square meters in a former quarry. Elements such as a pond and granite walls are hidden by oaks and pines, creating a charming setting for five cabins that can accommodate no more than 12 people at once. With the tallest standing at 18 meters and others seemingly floating a just above the ground, it feels more like an open-air art installation than a hotel.
Owner Franz Steiner got the idea for Baumhaus Lodge after a trip to New Zealand, where he first experienced this type of treehouse tourism. It took him four years to create his paradise; he plans to build one or two more cabins at the most, as he doesn’t want to risk losing the rejuvenating sense of solitude.
A contrast to nature
To make his dream a reality, he hired a professional: German architect and treehouse specialist Andreas Wenning. In only three weeks, the concept was finished; construction went equally swiftly, with houses sprouting from the ground in one or two days like mushrooms, thanks to prefabricated elements. The brushed metal facades change color according to the angle you view them, giving them an otherworldly feel. While their sharp contours make them stand out, when observed from a distance, they almost seamlessly blend into the surroundings.
The interior reconnects with the forest: Beneath the aluminum panels rests a mix of delicate wooden textures, the furnishings contributing to a greater, harmonious whole. Through the huge glass windows, you can see pines, oaks and spruce dancing in the soft breeze. The entire house smells of pinewood, making it refreshing and cozy.
There are plenty of outdoor activities to choose from. Renting a bike for exploration or crossing the Czech border are both popular. Golf lovers will be satisfied to hear there are several courses nearby. There is also the Unterwasserreich (Underwater Kingdom) nature park, which offers intriguing insights into the peculiarities of Waldviertel ponds and wetlands. A relaxing stroll through the woods will lead curious tourists to the Himmelsleiter (Heaven’s Ladder), a wooden observation platform with a wondrous view of the moors. By the time we climbed up to the Tower House, our home for the night, we were thoroughly steeped in the spirit of the woods.
Nestled high above the ground, we fell asleep as the sun went down, assuring we would wake before sunrise. Conveniently, that was just when the local baker hung freshly baked bagels and croissants on our doorknob. With coffee beans already in the machine and a fridge filled with cheese, tomatoes, prosciutto, wine and local beer, we felt supremely spoiled, immediately forgetting our resolution to go on a dawn hike in favor of breakfast in bed.
Lying back in perfect bliss, we looked out of our panoramic window into the forest, the early morning mist slowly giving way to a glorious sunrise. Baumhaus Lodge had surpassed all our expectations. Unsurprisingly, it is very popular for honeymoons and is fully booked throughout the year, with some regulars returning four times or more. To us, it was no surprise. As we sipped sparkling wine amidst the trees, it hit us – childhood dreams do come true.
The Five Tree Houses
The Tower House
… is 18 m above ground,
with two merged cabins accommodating up to four people. The roof terrace gives a stunning 360-degree view of the woods.
The Cliff House
… is perched just above the small pond – and partially over it. It looks like a cubist space shuttle built for two.
The House at the Pond
… is owner Franz Steiner’s favorite; just a few meters away from the similar Cliff
House, it’s spacious and secluded, with a retrofuturistic interior that sets it apart.
The House at the Wall
… sits atop an old wall, with a commanding view from its large terrace.
The House at the Foundation … balances precariously atop a massive block of granite, defying gravity.