Greatest escapes: 3 quirky holiday rentals for the ultimate getaway

Fancy sampling life on a remote island, sleeping in a futuristic treehouse or cosying up in a quirky forest cabin? These unique hideaways are the ultimate getaways – and available to rent!

The private island

Kara Rosenlund

Located between Tasmania and Bruny Island, Satellite Island is the ideal castaway retreat. The landscape is a mix of native bush, ancient blue gum trees, sea cliffs, pebble beaches and sunny coves. Owners Kate Alstergren, her husband Will and their three teenage sons split their time between here and Melbourne, renting the small island in its entirety to a maximum of eight guests.

Elise Hassey

How did you end up with your very own island? We inherited it from Will’s Uncle Ian who fell in love with the place and bought it in the 1960s. He lived here on his own, built a simple home, farmed sheep, started a salmon farm, wrote poetry and painted.
Did you have to make many changes? It was a working salmon farm, so there was a lot of machinery lying around. The work involved in transforming it into a welcoming retreat felt overwhelming, but we fell under the island’s spell.
What about the interiors? I love simple Scandinavian aesthetics combined with a laidback Tasmanian beach vibe. We updated the original summer house, expanded the deck and took down the veranda roof to allow light in. New sleeping spaces have been added: a converted two-bedroom boathouse – falling asleep to the sound of water lapping against the jetty is magical – and a clifftop canvas bell tent.
And colours?
These echo the palette of outdoors – soft greys, blues, sun-bleached woods, with whitewashed floors and walls. Furnishings are relaxed: linen sheets, jute rugs, canvas sofas, lots of throws, island treasures, favourite antique furniture finds and a wood-burning stove.
So can you switch off when you’re here? Yes! The quietness and gentle rhythm of the days make you instantly slow down and relax. We have a resident guest manager on call helping to set fires or teaching you to dive for abalone.
The amazing view must help… Looking out over the beautiful blue-green water to the Hartz Mountains is the ultimate stressbuster. In winter it’s all about snow-capped peaks and in summer beautiful sailing boats.
And when you’re feeling a bit more energetic? Visitors can paddleboard, kayak, snorkel and swim; picnic on the clifftops, catch supper and shuck oysters from the ancient rock shelf; watch the sunset and Southern Lights from Last Glimpse Point and the sunrise over Bruny Island…or just curl up by the fire.
What does it cost? A two-night minimum stay for two people from around £1,320. Extra guests from around £180pp per night.

The hive hideaway

Humble Bee is a secluded bolt-hole for two in Okehampton, Devon. Owner Yvette Martin, who also designed it, studied environmental art at the Royal College of Art. Humble Bee is one of three retreats she has created, all inspired by her garden. With 360-degree views, you can see across the full garden to the river and town.

It’s an amazing structure – what’s it made of? A mix of timber, corrugated iron and tin, reminiscent of local agricultural buildings.
What’s it like inside? Over seven metres high, the cabin spans three floors: kitchen and bathroom downstairs; a lounging living area in the middle and a bedroom at the top.
Any quirky interior details? The bed is inspired by a packing case: it opens and closes, appearing to be suspended. A honeycomb feature above the fireplace, made from a gravel grid, allows light to flood in.
When’s the best time of year to go? In springtime you get the wildflowers: daffodils, primroses and bluebells. Summer: lush trees, ivy and pretty, camouflaging blossom. Autumn: cosy days by the fire in the living area. In winter it has a cocooned, mountain-chalet feel. A visit to nearby Dartmoor is recommended at any time of year.
What does it cost? Book a minimum three-night stay for two at Humble Bee with Sawday’s Canopy & Stars from £120 per night.

The Scandi secret

The Mirrorcube is like a futuristic treehouse. In the far north of Sweden, in the village of Harad, close to the Arctic Circle, it is one of the design-led retreats selected by award-winning interior architect Marta Nowicka for her Dom Stay & Live website. It’s one of several unique spaces suspended above the pine-forest floor, at the eco Treehotel designed by architects Tham & Videgård. The cube is rented out to a maximum of two guests – the perfect romantic getaway.

It looks incredible – how does it work? The lightweight aluminium box is clad in mirrored glass to form a four-metre cube.It is hung around a tree trunk and you reach it via a 12-metre-long bridge. The panoramic forest vistas are fabulous.
And inside? The interior is made from plywood with a birch surface. Minimalist in style, it has a double bed, toilet, sitting room and rooftop terrace. Showers and sauna are in separate buildings and guests can enjoy meals at a nearby restaurant and guesthouse.
So is it a cube with a view? Yes, you can gaze out across the Lule River and watch the Northern Lights illuminate the sky.
And when you’re not hanging out inside? Enjoy snowmobile rides in winter and fishing trips in the summer. Forage for berries and wild mushrooms.
Tell us more about Dom… ‘It’s a web space that handpicks the best architect and designer homes – UK and international – for short-term stays or longer-term rentals,’ says Marta.
What does the Mirrorcube cost? From £400 per night for two.

Feature by Ali Heath