If you’re looking for unique lodging in Hocking Hills, check out the Hobbit-inspired underground tiny houses at Magical Earth Retreat.
I’ll never forget the first time my husband and I visited Hocking Hills with our kids. It was a magical experience for all of us.
We had just finished reading The Hobbit aloud and had moved on to The Lord of the Rings series. The kids were convinced that any minute, Bilbo Baggins would step out from behind one of the lush, green ferns or they would see Gandalf briskly descending the stone stairway found along the trail at Old Man’s Cave. That love of fantasy and all things Middle Earth never really dissipated.
So it should come as no surprise that when I was offered a chance to stay in one of the tiny underground homes reminiscent of a Hobbit-hole, at Magical Earth Retreat, I was excited.
I’ll share my personal thoughts below but first, allow me to share a few reasons I think you would enjoy a stay at this magical destination too.
Location, Location, Location.
The Hocking Hills region of Ohio is a popular vacation destination.
Visitors travel from across the country and around the world to hike the incredibly scenic trails that offer massive rock outcroppings, access to several caves, and flowing waterfalls.
Magical Earth Retreats is located about 25 minutes from Logan, where you’ll find Walmart, restaurants, and more, but less than a ten-minute drive to Ash Cave, one of the most popular spots in Hocking Hills to hike and take pictures. The retreat sits on 13 gently rolling acres and scenic views right outside your door.
Sleep in Unique Hocking Hills Lodging.
Unique lodging is all the rage. I mean why stay at a cookie-cutter motel if you can stay in an underground hobbit hole, am I right?
When it comes to travel, lodging plays a huge role in the experience. And at this stage in my life, I want to stay somewhere different and look for something that offers more than just a pillow to lay my head on.
Magical Earth Retreats does just that with their underground lodging that was inspired by a trip to none-other than Hobbiton in New Zealand.
Hostess, Mervat Schwarby, said that her family wanted the retreat to be inspired by their travels. As frequent travelers and lovers of the outdoors, it was important to them to incorporate nature with a bit of luxury. This leads to my next point.
All the Comforts of Home.
Who says you need to choose between a nature adventure and a comfortable night’s sleep?
You won’t at this location. The large front door of the cabin opens to reveal a cozy 375-square-foot dwelling.
Inside you’ll find a living area with a gas fireplace, a kitchenette with stove top, frig, microwave, and Keurig stocked with coffee and tea, a dining area with a table and chairs for two, and a bed(s) with a luxurious memory foam mattress and linens to ensure an amazing night’s sleep (and this is coming from someone who rarely sleeps).
You’ll be happy to know that each of the earth homes has a private bathroom and an awesome shower with good water pressure and hot water.
Outdoors you’ll find a stove-heated cedar hot tub, a shared fire pit and grill, and a cedar sauna that can be booked for an additional fee.
If you’re on the fence about the sauna pod, let me assure you that it will feel amazing in the cold and will soothe your aching muscles after a day spent hiking in the parks.
Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Lodging in Hocking Hills.
The rentals were built with sustainability in mind. Each unit creatively incorporates reclaimed wood and materials that could be easily recycled.
The underground build also maintains that the temperature of the unit doesn’t get below 58 degrees, making it easier to heat in the winter and also keep cool during the summer which uses less energy consumption.
There’s also a special HEPA-approved air filtration system to ensure the unit is thoroughly cleaned.
It’s Off-Grid…Well, Almost…so You Can Recharge.
If you’re looking for that unique getaway where you can unplug and relax, Hocking Hills is the place. It’s pretty common not to have access to the internet when in the area.
While Magical Earth Retreats does offer 2G and 5G services, you are at the mercy of the elements. If it’s windy, wet, rainy, or snowing, you may not have much, if any service.
This was not a big deal for my husband and me.
Instead of streaming TV, we read books, sat by the fire pit and listened to the who-who-whooing of a nearby owl, relaxed in the hot tub as a heron flew overhead, and played several hands of Rummy with cards I’d packed from home.
You’re welcome to pack your own books and games, but if you forget them, you’ll find some in your room that are provided to use during your stay.
Two-Bunks. No Bunks. You Have Options.
You’ll find three different layouts to consider when booking your getaway at Magical Earth Retreats. My husband and I stayed in Daisy with a Queen bed and a set of bunk beds. Aspen has a Queen and Full bed, while both Forest and Dalia each have Queen Beds.
What’s Coming Next?
Pulling into the driveway, you’ll catch a glimpse of the construction taking place on the upper level, past the underground dwellings. The vibrantly colored structures are the newly constructed Moroccan-inspired lodging accommodations that will be opening to the public in the next few weeks.
Inspired by travels to Morocco, you’ll find vibrant colors and tile work that is authentic to the Moroccan culture.
Mervat shared that they hope to branch out to offer Moroccan-inspired weddings with tents and floor pillows in the near future. If you’re planning a wedding in the next year or so, you may want to keep that in mind. Or, if you’re looking for a fun place to propose….I’ll leave that thought right there.
I promised to share my thoughts so here it goes.
I loved this retreat before I even saw it. I mean, after sharing my love of Middle Earth, how could I not? My excitement heightened as we pulled into the drive, started up the hill and the brightly painted doors came into view.
We parked in our parking space, grabbed the provided wagon to haul our things up the trail to our dwelling, and let ourselves inside with the code that was supplied to us.
The retreat was full the night we stayed, with all the dwellings rented, but we were the first to arrive.
As I opened the door, I gasped, “Look how cute?” and my husband agreed. It takes little effort to imagine that you’ve stepped inside a fairy tale.
The property is easy to find and while it’s remote, I didn’t feel that I was cut off from civilization. If you are used to outside noise when sleeping, it may be a bit too quiet for you. I normally pack a portable white noise machine, but I found the silence relaxing, and coupled with a rather large glass of wine and the luxurious mattress, I was out in no time.
Now that I’ve shared what I loved, I’ll share what I didn’t.
The underground house is adorable and I love the windows, but not thrilled that one of them is in the bathroom. While there is a shade, I could easily see out so I’m not convinced that other guests couldn’t see in if they happened to walk past. We solved the dilemma by hanging a towel over the window while showering.
The units are a short walk from the parking area and wagons are provided for your use to help you unload and transport everything to your room. My husband was not a fan of the wagons and thought they were hard to pull in the gravel. He also has a wife who overpacks. So there’s that.
Though we never saw anyone when we were using the hot tub, we both wish that it were a bit more secluded.
All in all, our stay in the Hobbit-inspired dwelling was incredibly delightful. It was a very relaxing getaway that allowed us to indulge our fantasy of traveling somewhere exotic without leaving our home state of Ohio.
We both agreed that we’d love to stay again, only this time, we’d visit with our oldest son and his family since he still loves all things Hobbits too.
Tips for Visiting Magical Earth Retreats in Hocking Hills
- I suggest that you download the Hocking Hills app prior to your arrival. This has maps and area information to help you get around and find things to do.
- I also recommend using What’s App to keep in touch with family if needed or to communicate with Mervat, your hostess.
- I have Verizon service and did receive texts and calls outdoors but my data barely worked to allow me to send an email or post to Instagram. If you have AT&T or T-Mobile, I think you’ll be okay.
- Take a pair of slip-on or slide sandals (Crocs are perfect) to wear when you go outside to jump in the hot tub or when making your way to the sauna pod. Towels are provided so no need to pack your own.
- Speaking of the hot tub, if you plan to use it, you’ll want to get the fire started right away as it can take several hours for it to warm up and be ready for use.
- Be sure to reserve the sauna pod before your arrival (it is available for one hour for an additional fee). I don’t recommend entering nude as it is possible for other guests to catch a glimpse into the sauna so you will want to pack a bathing suit or loose-fitting clothes.
Robes will be provided for your use. You’ll find directions on how to use the sauna inside your dwelling. If you’ve never been in a sauna pod, it is an amazing experience.
Unfortunately, we did not partake in this trip but I did take a peek inside and breathe in the amazing smell of cedar.
- Depending on what time of the year you’re visiting, it probably wouldn’t hurt to pack some bug spray. We didn’t have any issues on our visit but it’s normally a staple when I travel during the spring/summer months.
- As mentioned, you’ll be about 25 minutes from the largest town so you may want to stop at the store and stock up on any groceries you may want during your stay. Don’t forget the fixin’s for S’mores.
The refrigerator does have a small freezer section and the stovetop, outdoor grill (shared with one other unit), and microwave are provided along with dishes, cooking utensils, dishwashing liquid, etc.
You’ll Find These Nearby
If you want to venture away from the retreat, check out the covered bridges in Vinton County, the abundant hiking trails, and Moonville Tunnel.
If you’re there for a romantic retreat, you may want to browse the antique mall, check out the Hocking Hills Winery, and pop into the salt cave in Logan.
If you need more ideas, be sure to read our post 50+ Things to do in Hocking Hills.
Now, who’s ready to embark on a Hobbit-themed getaway and make some memories? Learn more and book your getaway at the company website.