Garden Village Bled provided the backdrop for our first time “glamping” experience this past week. It falls somewhere in between hotels and camping, with wooden treehouse living and large “glamping” tents at its core. Garden Village Bled is located a mere 5 minute walk to Lake Bled and the Pletna boat landing that takes you to Bled Island, making it a prime location. I would consider it an eco-tourism resort and you will see why.
The receptionist welcomed us with a free drink in the restaurant. The tables have square plots of grass planted into them. The restaurant has a series of bridges crossing over small streams. Every morning a bountiful all you can eat breakfast was served to include eggs or omelets made to order, croissants, Italian meats and cheeses, bread, cereal, coffee and juices. This is included in the price of your stay. Dinner is not included, but they cook traditional Slovenian cuisine. If you catch fish in their stream, they will cook it for you.
The receptionist guided us through the outdoor area adjacent to the restaurant which included an infinity pool that looked like a pond, a play area for small children and a fire pit surrounded by a cushioned bench as well as largeglamping tents (6 total).
The fire pit was enjoyed by all when the temperatures dropped during our stay. From there, she led us down to the pier with its rushing stream of water (quite pleasant at night) where you could see various smaller tents (9 total). And up above, six wooden tree houses filled the sky.
Stairway to Heaven
Each treehouse has either a staircase or ramp that takes you up to the house. A large wooden key opens up your castle in the sky. A balcony encircles the treehouse with a table and chairs for you to enjoy the outdoor environment.
Inside is a small two-story living area. The first level includes a bed situated within what I would call a cubby. It was large enough for two adults. There is a TV, a table surrounded by wooden benches, a small bathroom with a shower, and a small “kitchenette” (more on that later). WiFi was available and there were many plugs concentrated in certain areas in case you needed to charge your phone or other electronics.
A ladder leads you to the second level of the treehouse where a hammock/net stretches out above the first floor. Our children were more than thrilled and I have never seen them read so much in their lives. I attribute it to that nook created by the net. A bean bag chair sits adjacent to the net and another bed for two people is found around the corner from the net. There are plenty of shelves available for storage.
The kids marveled that many aspects of the house were made using the science of simple machines. The windows open and close via pulleys. The lock on the bathroom is not on the door, but rather it is a wooden lever that you pull down from the wall creating a wedge that keeps the door closed.
The treehouse was clean, towels and basic kitchen/dining supplies were provided. Natural light was abundant from all the different windows with shades provided for privacy. Village staff was friendly and helpful.
Wow, that sounds great! Was there any downside to staying there?
Highway to Hell
Not exactly, but for some, it may seem that way. While a unique experience, it may not be “heaven” for everyone. If you do not like living among bugs or cramped spaces, you may not enjoy this experience.
The treehouse does have two stories, but it is cramped. We brought two duffel bags with us and had to place them on the benches around the table because there was no space on the first level to hold our bags without creating movement barriers. The kids had plenty of space in their loft area, but for adults it was not much space. If I had to do it again, I would have packed several small bags and kept them in the car, swapping them out daily to create more space.
The “kitchenette” had a small sink and a hot plate that we could not figure out despite trying all kinds of button combinations. It was not that big a deal since we had coffee provided at breakfast and did not plan to cook any meals while there. There is a small refrigerator typical of most hotel rooms.
The bathroom is very small without much storage space for your toiletries. The shower is standard, but being the eco-friendly place that this is, the hot water runs out quickly and you must wait about 15 minutes between showers for the water heater to get back to normal. The staff was up front about this when we arrived and by doing so helped manage our expectations.
It did not help that fall (including a thunderstorm in Bled and snow in the Julian Alps) arrived a day after we did. The treehouse is not insulated and there was no heating system. Garden Village Bled does provide a space heater on each level which worked well when we slept, but the bathroom had no heat. It was freezing. We found creative ways to warm it, like running the hair dryer aimed at the shower to warm ourselves or placing our towels near the heater and having one of us hand the nice and toasty towel to the person in the bath. In the spring or summer, a cold shower may be welcoming, but definitely not between October and April.
You may find glamping to be much more tolerable than camping. However, you are in the woods and everything that comes with being in the woods (like bugs and weather related phenomena) will affect your stay here as we learned very quickly. We had our share of bugs who were trying to find shelter from the changing weather pattern. Our second night there, a thunderstorm (Bled)/snowstorm (Alps) swept through around 2am. Lightning was visible through the windows. The windows popped open, the wind howled and we could feel the treehouse sway. I should also say that the only thing holding the door closed was a small hook. The treehouse is only truly locked when you leave and take the key with you. There was a lot of rattling and very little sleep.
Overall, though, the pictures on the website are an accurate representation of what to expect aesthetically, but perhaps not logistically.
Things to Consider
Timing Your Visit
I would strongly suggest waiting until spring or summer to visit. This tip is not necessarily weather related, but tourist related. Lake Bled is a summer resort town. Being there during the off-season, it felt like a ghost town albeit with many busloads of Japanese and Korean tourists who came, saw and clicked their way through before disappearing on their buses. Restaurants were empty with the exception of a few families. There is much to do there in season including white water rafting, an adventure tree top park for kids, horseback riding and much more for any outdoor enthusiast. While we attempted to go rafting, the temperature drop forced us to cancel the trip.
Also of note, when we initially tried to reserve for a three-day weekend last spring, we were told that there were no tree houses available. We ran into the same this time around, but, when we increased our stay from 2-3 nights, it became available. It is not a large resort so book in advance. The staff was very helpful and answered many of our questions via email. You must prepay 40% of your stay via bank transfer prior to arrival and they ask that you pay the balance within 45 days of arrival. There are no fees for a SEPA credit transfer between Austria and Slovenia because they are on the Euro.
Young and school age children will think of this as a dream come true. However, you may want to wait until they are at least school age. The net floating above the first floor area is secure, but as with most nets, it has gaps that little feet or arms can slip through. There is also the ladder they will have to climb to get up and down from the loft which may be a problem for young children and a hassle for parental piece of mind. Our children, ages 8 and 12, were independent and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Overall, it was a great place to stay and we highly recommend it.
For more on Lake Bled and other parts of Slovenia, please visit Nicole’s post from 2013.