These Cool New Companies Are Building Socially Distant Cabins Around the World

A roman reads a book in front of a large window in a cabin, looking out onto an autumnal forest

Editor’s Note: Travel might be complicated right now, but use our inspirational trip ideas to plan ahead for your next bucket list adventure.

Less than two hours south of Sydney, a 150-square-foot wooden cabin sits alone in the middle of an ancient pine forest. Despite the isolated setting, guests don’t go there to rough it. Solar panels line the roof, and, inside, visitors will find many of the comforts of home, including a plush queen bed fitted with Italian linens. The fully stocked kitchenette has bottles of local lager and organic coffee, while a stone firepit ringed with Adirondack chairs awaits for evening campfires and s’mores.

This hideaway is the latest offering from Unyoked (cabins from $159), a start-up founded last year by Aussie brothers Cam and Chris Grant. Their mission: to provide appealingly secluded yet accessible ways to escape the city in beautiful rural spots, be it a eucalyptus grove in Kangaroo Valley or deserted acreage at Blue Pyrenees Winery in the state of Victoria. Each of their 17 cabins is less than two hours by car from Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane.

Even before the pandemic, overworked urbanites were turning toward nature as a way to recharge, experts say. ″We've seen a move toward experiences that foster mental wellness by allowing travelers to slow down, recalibrate, and pause to take a breath,″ says Albert Herrera, the senior vice president of global partnerships at Virtuoso, a collective of luxury travel advisors. ″Fast forward to now while we’re in the midst of a global health crisis, where we’ve been isolated from so many aspects of our lives and people we love, and the desire for restorative travel, clean air, and open spaces only intensifies."

A private rental cabin from Unyoked

That movement sparked the launch of Unyoked and, in the U.S., Getaway (cabins from $99), which debuted in 2016. “We’re always connected to a device and feel the need to constantly check it,” founder Jon Staff says. “Our goal is to provide a break from the city, technology, and work so people can recharge.”

Like Unyoked, the minimalist Getaway cabins are located near major cities and tend to attract design-minded urbanites. Getaway is already in places like California’s Big Bear Lake, the Catskills in New York, and Shenandoah National Park in Virginia; a 12th location opened this year near the Uwharrie National Forest in North Carolina.

Sleek cabins have also popped up at the 3,300-acre Elmley Nature Reserve (cabins from $150), about 50 miles east of London. Owners Georgina and Gareth Fulton commissioned expert craftsman Richard Lee and his company, Plankbridge, to design and build the “shepherd huts,” as Georgina calls them.

“It’s an immersion in nature, but we still wanted it to be incredibly stylish,” she says. The hideaways have luxe blankets from Romney Marsh Wools and linen curtains from Fable and Base, which uses natural dyes. Next up for Elmley? A tree house beside a pond in the woods, for that extra measure of remove.

A version of this story first appeared in the October 2020 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline A Place in the Woods.

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