I'm freshly back from an amazing stay in The Hostel in the Forest and feeling inspired and renewed. The Hostel in the Forest is just what it says, a unique hostel in the woods of Brunswick, Georgia. The rooms are tree houses, the complimentary dinners are vegetarian, and the atmosphere is peaceful. Electronics aren't allowed outside of your room. You walk trails, canoe in the lake, swim in the pool, check out the garden, read, draw, and enjoy a peaceful time away from your typical hustle and bustle.
We stayed in the "bamboo" hut. A tree house with three big glass windows overlooking the "labyrinth", a maze for meditation.
We enjoyed looking just laying it bed and looking out the windows, feeling the cozy embrace of the surrounding trees. The wind moving through the branches sounded like the gentle drops of rain on your roof, a very relaxing nature-song.
Not far from out hut there was a gorgeous pool fed with water from a nearby lake. It's (finally) feeling more like fall here in North Florida/South Georgia. It's chillier in the forrest hidden beneath the tree canopy. There was no swimming for us this time and we didn't pack warm-enough clothes, but this is the perfect time to visit. We weren't devoured by mosquitos, bug bites were minimal.
The main area is has a library dome, a "main office" dome where you check in- it has a community kitchen in the back. There's a screened-in cafeteria where dinner is served, a laundry room, an incredible library and music room, a fire bit and a gorgeous outdoor kitchen.
The outdoor kitchen is the stuff of dreams. With a wood burning stove and found-glass artistic details.
Behold the side detail. It appeared to be out-of-use but damn, it was beautiful to behold.
And within, a beautiful hen roosts. That's one of the cutest things I've ever seen. I never saw her move an inch. Chickens and ducks roamed the land freely, feasting on little bugs and bits. They're eggs were collected and placed in a basket in the kitchen for the community to use.
Our favorite space was the library and music room, outstanding! Remove your shoes before you enter as the sign instructs, when you walk it it smells fresh and earthy like cedar and sawdust. I love that it inspired my mostly left-brained boyfriend. "Now this is what our future house has to look like!" he exclaimed, going on about how our version will have an often layout with several lofts and light-up bars for guests. Yep, sounds good to me. The wall-to wall labeled books and ample seating make it cozy. There's a skylight in the center of the space to let in natural light. Look close and you'll see the recessed light mood lighting!
Even the outhouses are beautiful! You cover your "deposits" with fresh sawdust. Believe it or not, there is almost no odor in these spaces, the fresh wood smell overpowers. This is where some draw the line but I seriously wouldn't mind having a compost toilet of my own to use. I love how environmentally friendly these are. Boyfriend did not approve. There were sinks and hand sanitizers inside, guest books to write funny things while you're sitting, and murals on the wall with information on compost toilets. Funny enough, these "primitive" toilets and better smelling were far cleaner than 98% of public restrooms I've encountered.
The gorgeous main building is not without its charms as well. The front porch with lively plants provides a relaxing place to sit and talk. Guests come from all walks of life, some are career travelers, there are eccentric entrepreneurs, fellow nerds and artists and earthy hippies. Sometimes there are people anxious to escape the crazy hippie-place a friend dragged them to.
Upon checking in the gong pictured in hit, you share a hug, and you're given a brief tour of the area.
The kitchen in the rear of the same building is incredible! I love the mix of rustic and modern and the productive triangle-shape for easy, organic food prep. It's incredible cozy.
Why yes I did smell every single herb and spice in the back of the kitchen and make a big pot of mint tea for AJ and I to enjoy.
Continuing the comfortable mix of outdoors and modern, there are three comfortable outdoor shower/bath houses. The hot water was very welcome on the "cold" (anything around 70 degrees is cold for us) day.
We took three showers to experience each space! The outdoor tub and "sexy shower" by the lake were unfortunately out of order.
The trail to the lake is marked by a gorgeous tiki-style painting. It was too chilly to swim, but we did enjoy a couple of canoe rides. I have a lot to learn about steering a boat, need more practice!
We road our boat out to the little island and laid around for a bit. Very relaxing.
Yep, took a little time to enjoy the swing beside the lake as well.
At the end of another trail is a beautiful garden filled with wild tomatillos, pomegranate, citrus and papaya trees and many of my favorite herbs. I took cuttings from a mammoth path of holy basil, sweet basil, and lemon balm and have them rooting on my window sill. I was encouraged to try the okra (flower above) and picked some peppers, eggplant, and okra that will be stir fried with cabbage and tempeh for lunch today.
Another path led to a gorgeous glass house with a view of a tiny creek. The floor featured paintings of gods and goddesses of various cultures. It's a room where yoga classes and held from time to time.
While exploring we stopped at different tree houses to peek inside. Each one has its own theme and name. This one is "Dragon's Lair."
The fun part about the hostel are the options. There are various trails to explore, rooms to stay in, and events to attend. We will definitely be back to try different rooms and experiences. The forest alone has a lot to love, I enjoyed photographing various colored mushrooms and examining plant and animal life.
The large window in front of our bed overlooked the labyrinth. This was the view this morning when we sadly had to say goodbye. Duty called, but I wasn't ready to leave. One day I may seriously look into volunteering and living here for a while, it calls out to my rustic hippie soul. I'll clean/update the rooms, garden, make merchandise, update/maintain the website/blog and cook. C'mon guys, let me in!
We will definitely be back for rest, relaxation and explorations soon, beautiful Hostel! I'll close here with some notes from AJ about the trip. He and I are an example of polar opposites attracting and he's not earthy and artsy like I am, so I'm glad he thoroughly enjoyed the trip:
"After stressing out between my two jobs, I was given the opportunity to have several days off. The last couple of days, I've been staying at an old hippy hostel commune....sleeping in a tree hut, showering outdoors, community meals and chores, exploring miles of woods and natural lakes, I can honestly say this is exactly what I needed. It's not for everyone, but for me, having a few days to experience what it's like to be a rustic man of nature has taught me a lot about the past and also a few tips on how to live outside of "society"."
Notes for Visitors: According to a big book on hostels, The Hostel in the Forest possesses the dubious honor of "Most Inhospitable Entrance in the USA." The road to enter is unpaved, long, and riddled with gigantic potholes. Drive in carefully, drive a truck or jeep if possible. There was also no warning that the paths to the main areas and bathrooms are unlit at night, bring a flash light.
It can get chilly at night, pack comfortable, warm exploring clothes and scarves. The rooms get booked full fast on the weekends, and things are slow and quiet during the week. Sheets, towels, and pillows are provided but not pedantically sanitized, bring your own if you're a clean freak. This is a hand-holding (we hold hands and say grace before dinner) communal environment, people with social anxiety- beware! You are in the forest and there will be roaches. Bug phobia types- beware! The cost is a mere $25.00 per night per person and it includes a delicious, ample nightly dinner. You're responsible for the rest of your meals.
I highly recommend a stay at The Hostel in the Woods to any and everyone. Overcome any modern societal fears you may have and join the hippie side for a couple of days. Everyone needs a fresh change of perspective to live a full life! Check out their website here.