Even if you’ve never heard of the northern Swedish community of Harads, you’ve probably already seen a photo of their most famous attraction: the Mirrorcube treehouse at Treehotel. It's graced countless calendars, posters, and coffee table books in addition to being a popular backdrop for photo shoots and modeling gigs.
As its name suggests, it really is a mirror and a cube! Its aluminum frame wraps around a tree trunk and reflective glass covers the 13x13x13 foot cube. The mirror effect of the glass makes Mirrorcube all but melt into the surrounding forest. Inside, a compact, ultra-modern hotel room awaits, complete with double bed, powder room, and Wi-Fi. Large windows emphasizing gorgeous views and near-total privacy complete the package.
Mirrorcube is just one of seven incredible structures suspended from the trees at Treehotel. A “floating” cabin, a UFO, Dragonfly, The Blue Cone, Bird’s Nest, and the family-friendly 7th Room round out the offerings. The contrast between the innovative structures and the unspoiled beauty of the area come together perfectly. Mirrorcube disappears into the trees, Bird's Nest evokes organic coziness, and The Blue Cone (which is actually red!) is a nod to the unexpected splashes of red -- like the flash of a woodpecker -- you inevitably encounter out in nature. It really is one of the most unique, innovative, creative hotels on the planet -- and Mirrorcube is well-deserving of its viral fame. If you visit, here’s what you should expect from one of the world’s most photographed hotels.
You’ll Be Hanging Out With Celebrities (Maybe…)
I can’t promise you’ll see Kate Moss, Justin Bieber, or the members of the Swedish national hockey team if you’re staying at the Treehotel. In fact, I can’t even confirm that they’ve been to the Treehotel! But if you believe local chitchat -- and why wouldn’t you? -- some seriously A-list Swedish and international celebrities have stayed here.
A big part of the appeal is the incredible privacy. Not only is Harads a quiet community on the cusp of Swedish Lapland, but the design of the hotel itself also prioritizes privacy. While it’s just a short walk from the UFO to Dragonfly, you’ll feel like you’re the only one in the forest. Another big perk is the hotel’s fashion cred. Mirrorcube, in particular, has been a popular backdrop for fashion shoots and ad campaigns, and it’s regularly featured in “top ten” lists of the world’s most unique hotel rooms. Who wouldn’t want to be associated with that kind of clout?
There’s A Lot Packed Into A Tiny Space
Each treehouse is outfitted with, at minimum, a double bed, a heating and cooling system, a washroom with a combustion toilet (which means that waste is incinerated in a system powered by electricity), a lounge area, Wi-Fi, and an outdoor terrace. Some of the bigger treehouses even have showers en-suite, though the small ones rely on shower facilities that are part of the sauna complex in the middle of the property. Note that The Blue Cone is suited to people with mobility restrictions as it has a wide ramp. However, the other treehouses are more challenging to access and not well suited for travelers with mobility restrictions.
There’s A Bit Of Dust And It’s Down To Earth
The area is a forest first and a hotel second. Mosquito spray is needed for the short walk between the reception area in the main guest house and the treehouses. There are leaves and pine needles on the walkways leading to each treehouse. And inside, the sparse, minimalist interiors aren’t exactly outfitted with silk sheets or gold-rim china. You’ll find everyday cotton sheets and duvets like any other hotel and the ordinary coffee mugs could very well be from any hotel supply shop.
In many regards, this is ideal. Guests come to immerse themselves in nature, after all. They’re paying for location and design. High-maintenance finishings and manicured grounds would be awkward and disruptive here. But for travelers who associate high prices and funky design with opulent interiors, the more spartan interior of Treehotel’s rooms might come as a surprise.
There’s So Much To Do, On Site And Off
Each treehouse room feels like its own private nature retreat, but staying inside isn’t the focus at Treehotel. Hiking, exploring nature, and even zip-lining are all options for guests. You can sign up for a guided hike, whitewater rafting, sea kayaking, moose safari, yoga classes, night photography, horseback riding, dog sledding, fishing, and much more.
Slightly further afield is the Arctic Circle Gateway, an absolutely wonderful interpretive center and archaeological space just shy of the Arctic Circle and about 45 minutes north of Treehotel. Run by dedicated volunteers, the center pays tribute to the indigenous people who settled in the area some 6,000 years ago. Note that the center is closed for summer 2019, but that -- when it’s open -- it’s a must-visit attraction where you’ll learn more about the history and culture of the area.
Art lovers will relish a trip to the large town of Boden, about an hour away. Boden is famous in art circles for the Boden School, a group of artists who flourished in the area in the 1950s. At the Havremagasinet, a former oat depot (where grain was stored for horses of the Swedish army) turned into a modern art gallery, visitors will find art exhibits that focus on local, Nordic, and international contemporary art.
There’s A Secret, Budget-Friendly Option Most Travelers Miss
Staying in a funky treehouse-style hotel room appeals to a lot of travelers, but those in search of budget accommodations or who crave more space and a traditional environment will be thrilled to take advantage of this crafty travel hack. You can stay at the Treehouse Guesthouse (formerly known as Britta's Pensionat) for about 950 Krona ($100 USD) a night. This is a mere fraction of the starting price of 4400 Krona ($465 USD) that the treehouse units command.
At the Guesthouse, you get all the amenities and activity options as treehouse guests do, but stay in a large, spacious bed and breakfast room styled with vintage decor. And for a small fee, you can take a tour of all available treehouse units. For me, this option was a perfect compromise between frugality and style. During my Treehotel stay, I enjoyed all the comforts, convenience, and savings of a traditional guesthouse room, plus the fun of exploring the treehouse units, connecting with nature, and keeping my eyes peeled for celebrities!