Unusual retreats for architectural stays: where building meets nature

If you're after something new for your architectural stays, a series of new unusual retreats offer a wealth of experiences to immerse yourself in nature

the natural shelter exterior for architectural stays
The Natural Shelter
(Image credit: Naturalmat)

Architectural stays always add an extra oomph to the holiday experience; and sometimes, the more unusual the place, the better. Here, we explore a series of new design-led offerings that cater to the architecturally minded visitor. From tiny contemporary cabins, to robust bunkers and compact minimalist architecture; this is our selection of buildings that allow immersion in nature in slightly less ordinary surroundings. 

The finest architectural stays in unexpected retreats

The Natural Shelter

the natural shelter

(Image credit: Naturalmat)

Go completely off grid with this tiny cabin, courtesy of bedding and mattress company Naturalmat and Devon-based cabin makers, Out of the Valley. The miniature space, with space for just a bed (naturally, with a Naturalmat mattress) and a bedside table and lamp, can be installed at any field, garden or estate for overnight stays in nature. The structure, made of organic wood, is a sustainable low-impact dwelling shaped in the archetypal outline of a home - ready to buy for urban escapes or full countryside immersion. 


Forest Bunker

Corstorphine & Wright dorset bunker

(Image credit: Corstorphine & Wright)

A subterranean WW2 bunker in Dorset that has been turned into a holiday home by architects Corstorphine & Wright. The structure - barely visible from within its leafy context, save for its concrete entrance opening - offers literal immersion into the field's mature green. Inside, a simple, exposed concrete space makes for a spartan, minimalist interior that leads the gaze towards the rich countryside outside and encourages a simple life. 


Mirrored Cube

mirrored cube retreat

(Image credit: Volvic)

Now you see it; now you don't. This unusual retreat comes in the shape of a mirrored cabin which, reflecting its green surrounds, almost disappears into the background. The project offers extraordinary architectural stays nestled in the iconic Chaîne des Puys, Limange fault - a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. A simple interior provides accommodation for up to four people. This escape was orchestrated by Volvic natural mineral water as part of a competition to win a stay in the site's volcanic landscape this September. 


Hide Cabin

Hide cabin by inclume

(Image credit: Inclume)

This small contemporary cabin, made entirely of timber elements, was designed to serve as a small architectural space that can sit lightly in its natural surroundings. While overnight stays might not be the thinking here, it's the perfect mini pavilion - a rest stop, bird watching cabin or picnic love seat. The structure, designed by Cambridge based Inclume Architects, is currently installed within lowland pine forest on the East Coast of England. 


Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).