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By Regina Winkle-Bryan
My husband and I got the unique chance last month to sleep like the birdies, monkeys, squirrels. and Ewoks. We took a trip deep into the Guilleries Mountains to stay at Spain’s first tree-house hotel, Cabanes als Arbres. I loved being snug in my tree-house cabin looking over the forested hills, not a noise to be heard, just silent stillness. Maybe that was the best part of the experience: the quietness. In Barcelona we are so used to hearing ruckus at all hours that many of us have forgotten what the sound of rain on leaves is, or the sound of nothingness. Silence can be a blessing.
Cabanes als Arbres has quiet in spades. It also has unmatched views, and a fun, well-executed product. There are ten tree-houses including some that sleep two and others that sleep up to four. Each tree-house is different with its own theme, design, and name (each tree-house takes the name of a local bird, in Catalan). Some are reached via a suspended bridge (mine was), others are accessed by ladder, and still others a combo of both. Some are in fir trees, and others in beech trees, and all are round, cozy, and magical.
There is no running water, no flush toilet, and no electricity inside the tree-houses (all of that is found in the main stone masia farmhouse). This may sound like a pain, but it’s fine. Really. There is a pitcher and extra water stored in all the tree-houses so that guests can wash their hands and faces. The WC has a dry toilet and I am not sure exactly how it works but can attest that it was not a cold, creepy, smelly outhouse experience. Candles and lanterns replace electric light. This may sound like roughing it but the lack of amenities was. in fact, very fitting for the space and also romantic. Think ‘rustic luxury’.
Tree-houses are reached by a footpath that leads from the farmhouse through the woods. The trail is well marked and all guests are given headlamps, flashlights, and a map upon arrival. I showed up in sandals in a skirt and ill prepared. Expect cooler temperatures (you’re in the mountains) and a woodsy environment that demands good shoes, jeans, and a jacket. Inside the farmhouse and tree-houses guests will be comfy by the fire or under a down comforter, but getting from point A to point B requires tennis shoes (at least) and a sense of adventure.
For 18.00 euros per person you can have a traditional Catalan dinner in the farmhouse at 9:00 p.m. They put on quite the feast with multiple courses and a good selection of desserts. During my stay there was homemade chicken noodle soup, Spanish tortilla, typical toasted bread with tomato, salad, and an ample platter of cheeses and sausages from the area. There was also Spanish red wine, water, and tea or coffee. The service was prompt and friendly and the vibe was relaxed and festive.
The only critiques I have for Cabanes is that they should inform guests on what is the appropriate clothing for the area and season, and that they could install a couple more showers (there are only two to be shared between ten tree-houses). Apart from these two issues, Cabanes als Arbres is a winner.
Getting to the tree-house hotel is an easy, albeit curvy, drive from Barcelona. It is well worth the effort. A trip to Cabanes and the Guilleries Mountains is an opportunity to see a different side of Spain and to experience one of Catalonia’s Natural Parks. My best advice? Head for Cabanes als Arbres late fall when the trees change to yellow and crimson and enjoy the sound of silence and falling leaves.
Zip-line canopy tour with La Selva de L’Adventura