I Stayed in a Secret Tree House in Finland — Here's What It Was Like

Note to self: bring a headlamp if I’m ever invited back.

The Koja treehouse in Finland

Courtesy of Polestar

In an effort for a truly sustainable trip, my stay in Finland may have been the ultimate eco-friendly experience.

Arriving in Helsinki in late afternoon, I drove the ultra-sleek and modern Polestar 2 electric vehicle to a remote village where my accommodations — a secret treehouse — awaited me. (So secret that I wasn’t even given an address, just the coordinates that were already plugged into my vehicle). 

After about an hour drive, I arrived to the tree house called Koja — the Swedish word for hut or den — and climbed up to what would be home for the night. Measuring approximately 99 square feet, and suspended about 19 feet in the air, the structure itself was complete with floor-to-ceiling windows with its trunk at the center but still managed to feel cozy thanks to its carpet and comfy bed.

The Koja treehouse outside of Fiskars, Finland

Koja exists as a celebration of Finnish design and is part of Polestar’s sustainability initiative in hopes to help its guests feel immersed in nature. 

And being that I was surrounded by greenery, had no Wi-Fi, and my only neighbors were occasional deer and frogs, it’s safe to say that goal was accomplished. After all, the whole thing came to be thanks to a progress-themed design contest in 2021, aptly known as the Polestar Design Contest where designer of Koja, Kristian Talvitie, received an honorable mention.

“Most designers look at the design from a user perspective. I also look at things from the environment’s perspective,” Talvitie said in a press release. His design was chosen because of  its account of the climate crisis as well as Polestar’s design aesthetic and sustainability values, the car company shared with Travel + Leisure. 

The stay was almost reminiscent of family camping trips I took when I was younger as I had to climb out of my cozy space to use an outhouse — note to self, bring a headlamp if I’m ever invited back.

However, one major difference between Koja and your average tent campsite is the electricity, so thankfully, the tree house can be lit at night. The accommodations sleep two on twin beds that are seatbelted (with the same seatbelts as the Polestar car) to the wall when not in use. The final detail is a Nespresso maker because as I quickly learned, the Fins are serious about their coffee.

Located in the outskirts of the village of Fiskars, about 88 kilometers (54 miles) from Helsinki, the area is also known for its initiatives in sustainable tourism  including nature conservation and using recycled products for construction as well as its buzzy art scene. The population of 600 year-round residents practically doubles in the summer as artists flee the cities and head for villages. Fiskars, however, was a steel-producing town, known for quality products like world-famous Fiskars scissors and knives.

Two electric scooters on a rural road in Finland.

The village was originally known as a place of manufacturing but has since evolved into an area known for its artist culture — and that is nowhere more apparent than during the annual Art Biennial. The exhibition had three main exhibits, and Koja is part of it — kind of. 

Each exhibit represented a different form of art, one took an interpretive look into the five senses, with interactive exhibits like sound boxes, and staring at felt circles on a wall. The second examined “knots and knits” from the very simple (knot tying) to the very complicated (gorgeous woven rugs), and finally the third was all about tiny houses with Scandinavian design. 

“I know Koja is nearby,” one exhibit volunteer told me in passing. “I live just outside of town but I haven’t been able to find it yet,” she added.

And that’s the point.

Koja was built this year to be part of the biennial art exhibit, but it's not for the public. Not yet at least.

While Koja is not yet available for the general public to rent, there are other accommodations in Fiskars like the Hotel Tegel where I enjoyed a traditional Finnish breakfast after my stay at Koja.

To best experience both the nature and city, visitors can rent a Polestar 2 from Hertz. (Polestar is a Swedish car jointly owned by Volvo) — which I quickly fell in love with. 

While you’re there, enjoy delicious coffee and embrace the free oat milk. If you dare, try the region’s favorite: salty (black) licorice. And if you’re curious about where exactly Koja is… take the lesser-known trail, you’re probably closer than you think.

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