Tired of the city? Escape to the country in an eco-friendly holiday cabin with a twist

By Frances Jenner April 25, 2018

Modern life wears us all down. Pollution, commuting, breakfast meetings all take a toll on our wellbeing and make us yearn to run away from it all and escape into the countryside, far away from human civilisation.

But could you really do it? Slow Cabins is a Belgian startup that is giving you the chance to unplug and unwind, in small environmentally friendly retreats. The cabins have solar panels, rainwater collectors and a wooden stove, and large insulated windows from which you can contemplate the beauty of nature from your cosy little room.

Sounds too good to be true, and there is a teensy weensy catch; you have no idea where the cabin is until you’ve reserved it. This is to enhance the mystique and sense of isolation, and the cabins are even moved around to different locations so they are not discovered by loud, contaminating homo sapiens.

Slow Cabins is the brainchild of Xavier Leclair, and the cabins are currently available in his home country of Belgium, but the company has plans to expand to other locations throughout Europe, although elusively they will never be anywhere for long.

“Residence time of the cabins depends on several indicators, but we plan to move the cabins to or incorporate new locations regularly,” a company representative told Fast Co Designs.

There are three options for your off-the-grid experience: ‘Time for Family’ offers a cabin big enough for five people, ‘Time for Two’ is the perfect eco-couples retreat, and ‘Time for Focus’ is for some alone time, but are often used for meetings or to encourage a new perspective (and you can pay extra for wifi).

“We specialize in special meeting moments as well as creating breakthroughs and new thinking patterns to do things differently and better,” the company writes. “To stimulate innovative and circular thinking processes in business and social life.”

The ‘Time for Two’ cabin costs 195 euros per night and can be booked for a minimum of two nights. More expensive than an AirBnB for sure, but the money is also going contributing to the environment, as not only are the cabins incredibly eco-friendly, the whole company is as well. Peter Bellens, deputy of Antwerp province in Belgium, explained to Flemish-language news source Noordernieuws how he welcomed the project due to its green outlook.

“This start-up of Xavier Leclair is embedded in the model of the circular enterprise,” he told the online paper. “Not only the materials used in the cabins are ecological, the logistical process, local products and sensitization for a simpler and better life are also included in the concept. This while the impact on people and the environment is as small as possible and the relaxation is as great as possible.”

Modern lifestyles are causing more stress, which can have long-term negative effects on our bodies, exacerbating heart conditions or causing other symptoms such as headaches, chronic fatigue, and anxiety, according to The Mayo Clinic.

Our digital addictions are also taking their toll and it’s unsurprising that many doctors and psychologists think that extended internet and social media access has negative effects on our brain. Various studies have postulated that social media has negative effects on our moment-to-moment living and subjective well-being, as well as an increased sense of social isolation.

Although many dismiss social media as a habit they can ‘control,’ getting away from it all, or even turning your phone off for a while could have positive effects on your health. A 2016 study showed that quitting Facebook leads to higher levels of well-being, and a 2013 study by the US National Institute of Health showed that silence actually instigated the creation of neurons in the brain.

So it seems that escaping the grind of the rat race could have positive benefits for mind and body, improving mental health and even renewing our brains. The UN states that over half of the world’s population lives in cities, which comes higher levels of stress and a faster pace of life.

Moving to the country is rarely a practical decision, but Slow Cabins are allowing people to take some time to be in the great outdoors and recharge their batteries, albeit with the stress of not knowing where it is.