Treehouses for Grown-Ups? Yes, Please. A Review of Vermont’s Elevated New Lodgings

Twin Farms in Vermont is a standard setter for luxurious getaways in the Northeast—and now the retreat’s new Treehouse accommodations are elevating it further.

This bedroom of a Treehouse accommodation at Twin Farms in Vermont has floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the area's birch forest.

The bedroom of a treehouse accommodation at Twin Farms in Vermont

Courtesy of Twin Farms


The vibe: An iconic, high-end New England retreat with distinctive design, friendly service, and beautiful grounds

Location: 452 Royalton Turnpike, Barnard, Vermont | View on Google Maps

Book now: Website | Relais & Châteaux



The AFAR take

The former home of Nobel Laureate Sinclair Lewis and famed journalist Dorothy Thompson from the late 1920s to the mid-1950s, Twin Farms, a member of Relais & Châteaux, is a collection of unique cottages and suites that has been preserved and enhanced as one of the top retreats in the Northeast. In Fall 2023, Twin Farms opened eight Treehouse accommodations nestled within the area’s thick birch forests. Having recently relocated from California to New York City, I’m getting to know the region as a local, and Twin Farms is the most appealing getaway I’ve found to date.

The last owner to use the 300-acre Vermont home was Thurston Twigg-Smith, a businessman and philanthropist who toward the end of his life decided with a group of friends to open the property to paying guests who could enjoy it as they had. Twigg engaged Andy Warhol’s partner and acclaimed interior designer Jed Johnson to reimagine Twin Farms’ 15 original guest rooms as a resort, which debuted in 1993. Updates have generally maintained the original design elements. Today there are 28 guest rooms, all designed to be unique, eclectic even—with a definite sense of design imbued with comfort. Much of Twigg’s outstanding art collection, including pieces from David Hockney, Cy Twombly, and Jasper Johns, is on display throughout the estate.

The grounds of Twin Farms are covered in natural foliage.

Twin Farms in Vermont

Courtesy of Twin Farms

Twigg-Smith was known to walk the property daily, and access to the grounds is one of the hallmarks of this resort. There is an extensive trail network that allows one to soak up this beautiful corner of Vermont in any season, apart from early spring (mud season), when Twin Farms closes for remodeling and other periodic work (dates vary by year, but in 2024, the closure runs from March 10 to May 2). The gardens and grounds were designed by landscape architect Dan Kiley in a natural style, with wooded areas, meadows blanketed by wildflowers in the spring, a large pond, and even a ski hill.

Twigg-Smith and his friends wanted guests to feel like friends staying for a few days, and today, the vibe of the resort remains homey and nontransactional. Meals, beverages, and most activities are included in the rather lofty daily rates. The 120 staff members (serving the resort’s maximum 56 guests) quickly establish a friendly and caring rapport with visitors while providing space for guests to maintain privacy if desired.

Who’s it for?

Twin Farms is ideal for couples and groups celebrating a special occasion. Note that kids under 14 are not allowed. It is best for people who want to get away from it all and enjoy a relaxing and pampered few days with outdoor activities, all on a beautiful Vermont estate with few other guests.

Rates run from $2,800 per night for one of the rooms in the circa-1795 Main House and $3,500 for the Treehouse accommodations, to $5,500 per night for the most expensive Cottage. Rates include all food and beverages and most activities and gratuities for two guests (treatments at the spa and upgraded liquors have additional costs). The typical stay is three nights; I was there for two nights and wished I had stayed another.

This guest room in the Timber Camp cottage at Twin Farms in Vermont has a red armoire, a four poster bed, and an ornate chandelier.

A guest room in the Timber Camp cottage at Twin Farms in Vermont

Courtesy of Twin Farms

The location

Twin Farms is in the bucolic Vermont countryside outside the town of Barnard. It is especially ideal for travelers who are close enough to drive there (the resort is a three-hour drive from Boston and five hours from New York City). The nearest major airport is Burlington, about 90 minutes away.

The 300-acre property has woods, meadows, hills, and a nine-acre pond. There are nine miles of trails for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. There is also downhill skiing on the property, though without snowmaking ability, the resort doesn’t promote it.

Just outside the resort lies Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Park, the Simon Pearce glassware factory in Quechee, and numerous quaint Vermont towns, including historic Woodstock.

Twin Farms is best for people who want to get away from it all and enjoy a relaxing and pampered few days with outdoor activities, all on a beautiful Vermont estate with few other guests.

The rooms

The rooms vary in style and location throughout the property, but every room has two sinks, a bath, a shower, and a fireplace (either wood or gas). Most rooms also have private outdoor spaces or enclosed patios.

There are four rooms in the historic Main House, which also houses the primary restaurant and a small but quite sufficient bar. The Lodge, next to the Main House, has two suites and a common area (it’s now offered as one two-bedroom unit). Ten Cottages are spread throughout the property, nine of which were original to the 1993 opening. The most popular of the Cottages is the Aviary, a spectacular two-level, 950-square-foot contemporary space made with glass, stone, and cedar that opened in 2005.

Four suites are situated in the Farmhouse at Copper Hill, also a 2005 addition, designed by architect Peter Bohlin, with interiors by Thad Hayes. The Farmhouse is approximately a 10-minute walk from the Main House. The four suites, connected by a lounge and library, have been recently remodeled. The suites may be booked individually, or the Farmhouse can be booked in its entirety.

I stayed in one of Twin Farms’ eight new Treehouses, located throughout the property, and I quickly became a fan. About 800 square feet each, these accommodations are unlike any tree house I experienced as a kid, and they’re more contemporary in design than other accommodations in the resort. Among the luxurious and modern amenities and features are, most notably, the large windows and the accommodations’ proximity to Twin Farms’ beautiful woods. Floor-to-ceiling windows surround the king bed, and I seemed to be sleeping amid the trees, albeit with a gas fireplace (and air conditioning!), no wind, and every comfort within reach. There’s a living room, a deck, a dining area with a stocked fridge, and a large bathroom.

Lamb roulade with carrot, romanesco, garlic scape, and swiss chard at Twin Farms in Vermont

Lamb roulade with carrot, romanesco, garlic scape, and swiss chard at Twin Farms in Vermont

Courtesy of Twin Farms

The food and drink

All meals, wine pairings, and spirits during a stay are included in the rate, whether it’s a meal brought to your room, a picnic on the grounds, or a full-service spread at one of the two restaurants. Twin Farms grows many of its own herbs and produce, and chef Nathan Rich sources nearly all his food from the region.

The Main Dining Room has classic vaulted beam ceilings and a large fieldstone fireplace. There’s an adjacent room with an additional fireplace that faces the gardens, as well as the Terrace with alfresco dining in the warmer months, which serves as the primary location for breakfast and lunch. I’m not much of a breakfast eater but couldn’t resist the local butter, cheese, eggs, and breads. Months later, I’m still dreaming of the fried chicken sandwich I had for lunch: buttermilk compressed chicken thigh, dredged in seasoned panko, set on a brioche bun with sriracha aioli, Napa cabbage, and pickled carrots.

For dinner, the Main Dining Room features a tasting menu. This spring they are expanding the tasting to nine courses and offering a separate à la carte menu with seasonal dishes that highlight estate-grown produce and local purveyors. As nice as the Main Dining Room was, for dinner I preferred the more casual Twiggs restaurant, which opened in 2022. Twiggs is informal and convivial, with some people opting to dine in booths, others in cushy chairs by the fireplace, and many, like me, at the bar. The menu changes seasonally and revolves around the Argentine wood-fired grill. There are apps and snacks, soups, salads, burgers, steaks, and the like. I had grilled lamb chops to die for, charred to perfection.

Staff and service

Many staff members have worked at Twin Farms for years, and they make you feel right at home. When I arrived, there was no check-in. Instead, I was greeted by Jacob Page, the activities manager, who showed me around and talked to me about activity options. At lunch, I noticed immediately that each employee I came across introduced themselves in a friendly and eager-to-please manner.

Managing Director John Graham told me that staff may not always get the formalities right (though they do a very fine job), but their two top priorities for service are to be friendly and to make guests happy. So much of that attitude comes through with respect to the activities.

After my arrival lunch, I went to the Carriage House, a well-stocked activities center, and told Jacob I’d like to explore the property on foot. Jacob didn’t want me to mar my boots, so he outfitted me with a great pair from their extensive stock. The resort has great maps for the property’s nine miles of trails, which are very well-marked. Plus, the activities coordinators are a great resource for recommendations and even act as guides, if you like. I wandered on a combination of flat and incline trails (Twin Farms has a hill used for skiing and sledding in the winter) and ended my exploratory walk at the spa. There, after my massage, Brenda Hillier, who has worked at Twin Farms since its beginning, picked me up in a house Volvo SUV and took me to my Treehouse, along with my boots that I’d left in the Carriage House—a very nice touch.

Left: The library at Twin Farms. Right: The resort's Japanese-inspired 'furo' bathhouse.

Left: The library at Twin Farms. Right: The resort’s Japanese-inspired furo bathhouse.

Courtesy of Twin Farms


Twin Farms offers two ADA-accessible guest rooms in the common spaces for guests. People in wheelchairs can access all areas of the Main House, and there’s a wheelchair-accessible route from the parking spaces to the front entrance. Service animals are allowed at no additional charge. The ADA-accessible guest rooms have a visual alarm, closed-captioning television, and a telephone with volume control to meet the needs of people with audio or visual challenges.

The furo bathhouse

The refurbished furo, the Japanese-inspired bathhouse, is ideal after a day exploring the great outdoors. It is located down the road from the spa in a structure with an 8,000-gallon heated saltwater pool and an overhead shower that turns on at the push of a button. As I soaked in the warm pool, I opened the windows to let in fresh air. The furo is reservations-only, so guests who book it have it to themselves. Although the furo has two changing rooms with toilets and showers, I took the slovenly way out and was picked up by car in my robe and taken back to my delightful Treehouse, where I could clean up at my leisure, which was considerable. From $2,800

Greg Sullivan is the cofounder and CEO of AFAR. You can reach Greg at
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