Why you should care
Because monkeying around just got picaresque.
Everyone has a dream house. My fantasies have always aimed higher. Like, treetop high. My parents, steeped in the American Dream as they were, adored the Kodak-perfect suburbs. But me — with my gangly teenage limbs spread, feet jammed into nooks and hands gripped against flaky bark dozens of feet up in any tree I could wrestle myself into — I was more Huck Finn than Andy Griffith.
It turns out I wasn’t alone. When Airbnb released its most “wish listed” stays earlier this year, tree houses topped them all, beating out igloos and lighthouses as the most desirable of phantasmagoric dwellings. And of that list, it wasn’t the sun-soaked loft in Tuscany or the tranquil wading pool in mystical Bali that was most in demand, but a secluded tree house in the heart of my own hometown stomping grounds, Atlanta. “There’s a personality to the place,” says owner Peter Bahouth, a New Yorker who moved there in ’94 and built his tree village in 2000. “It’s very Southern and gracious.”
The urban hideaway, listed simply as “Secluded Intown Treehouse,” is actually divided into three tree houses connected by Ewokian rope bridges and furnished with reclaimed wood, flea-market antiques and salvaged butterfly-encrusted windows. First is Spirit, the barest “house,” a platform encircling a 165-year-old Southern shortleaf pine that Bahouth, a former Greenpeace director, calls “the Old Man.” The second structure, Mind, has a rustic couch and armchairs, where guests can talk esoteric things while munching on the provided snack baskets — wine, cold water, Pirate’s Booty and whatever fruit is in season — and in the third house, Body, the bedroom, a heated mattress, rolls out to the porch, so guests can sleep beneath the stars and above a bubbling creek. “They touch the bark, feel it and slowly crane up their necks as if they need oil to look up at it,” Bahouth, 62, says. “And I think that’s when they realize they’re not in a hotel.”
While some guests called their stay “magical” and a “dream come true,” others weren’t impressed by the height of the houses — about 12 feet on one end, 20 on the other — or the hype surrounding them. It took Bahouth six months of planning and six weeks of work from local builder Nick Hobbs, and, at $350 per night, it may seem pricey for a weekend of roughing it. “It didn’t quite match our fantasy and value expectation,” wrote Christopher Sellers, a physician from Rome, Georgia.
Still, staying downtown in a city famous for its nightlife, eateries and world-renowned aquarium isn’t cheap, and that’s without a starry night included. Don’t pack your bags yet, though: This romantic world apart is booked every weekend until September.