Creative retreats: 9 havens for artists, writers and musicians

Inspiring spaces in remote locations

Retreats are no longer just the preserve of hippies and health fanatics – a growing breed are springing up with creatives in mind. From a Tadao Ando-designed haven in Mexico to a recording studio in a Norwegian cabin, these are spaces to re-charge and re-inspire artists far away from the pressures of daily life. We’d like to book in for a residency at these 9 creative retreats…

Stedsans in the Woods, Halland, Sweden

Stedsans culinary retreat
Via Stedsans Woods

For foodies
Permafarming meets wilderness living at this foodie creative retreat in Sweden’s Halland region. Stedsans is the brainchild of restaurateurs Mette Helbæk and Flemming Hansen, and comprises a farm-to-table restaurant and 14 glass-fronted guest cabins and tents on the banks of Lake Halla. Practice Lendager Group designed the outpost’s rustic boltholes and restaurant, which is the heart of the project. They’ve been built with rammed earth and upcycled materials found on-site, including abandoned greenhouses, barns and discarded wood. Says Helbœk and Hansen: ‘We call the place a “lab for the lifestyle of the future”, and try to make every choice and action as sustainable as possible, for the sake of our guests, our staff, and the planet.’ On weekdays, guests cook their own dinners, with produce included in the price, while at weekends, they can enjoy six-course dinners cooked for them in the restaurant.

Diane Middlebrook Studios, California, USA

Diane Middlebrook Studios
Photography: CSS Architects

For writers
This set of four self-contained cedar cabins in California offers a distraction-free environment for writers to get down to work in – that is unless you count the view overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Designed by Cass Calder Smith, the ‘almost monastic’ chalets nestle close together while maintaining strict privacy for each inhabitant. Authors can apply online for a residency. The studios are part of the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, which has been running since 1979.

Wagon Station Encampment, California, USA

Wagon Station Encampment in Joshua Tree, USA
Photography: Andrea Zittel / Wagon Station Encampment

For artists and writers
With lift-up lids and beds just big enough for one person, these tin can-style wagons are among some of the more diminutive getaways on our list of creative retreats. Set in the stark and cactus-dotted landscape of Joshua Tree National Park, the 12 ‘stations’ by artist Andrea Zittel are open to artists and writers seeking inspiration from the high desert. Arranged like a campground, the site’s amenities include outdoor showers and a communal cooking area – designed to encourage visitors to socialise. Stays are by invite-only and require an online form and a letter of intent to qualify.

Casa Wabi, Oaxaca, Mexico

Photography: Edmund Sumner and Fernanda Romandia
Photography: Edmund Sumner and Fernanda Romandia

For artists
Set between the beach and the mountains, this creative retreat on the Mexican seafront offers a set of six huts for guests to stay in. Japanese architect Tadao Ando paired his trademark concrete with a local thatching technique to design the complex, which is divided into zones by a huge curved wall. Casa Wabi is directed by Patricia Martin, who is also the curator of Coleccíon Jumex – reportedly the largest private contemporary art collection in Latin America. Art residencies are by invite-only, with artists’ work judged on its social merits.

Fordypningsrommet, the Arctic Circle, Norway

Photography: Kathrine Sørgård

For artists
Musician Håvard Lund founded Fordypningsrommet, which claims to be the northernmost artist’s retreat in the world. The enclave of cabins was designed by TYIN Tegnestue Architects and their mentor Sami Rintala, and are set into the rocky terrain of the Fleinvær archipelago in the Arctic Circle. Artists can apply to stay for free but amateurs are welcome too – groups of up to 12 people can spend the week for 30,000 NOK. Among the stilted dwellings is a sauna, kitchen house, studio, bathhouse, sleeping houses and a ‘tower for big thoughts’, no doubt inspired by the dramatic coastline and dreamy Northern Lights.

Villa Lena in Tuscany, Italy

Photography: Louise Long (c)

For writers, musicians and artists
This 19th-century neo-Renaissance villa, set atop a hill in the Tuscan countryside, offers views across nearby olive groves and vineyards. Its residency programme welcomes writers, musicians and artists for two-month-long periods, with accommodation and studio space provided in exchange for a programme of talks and workshops. Guests can roam the creative retreat’s surrounding wilderness and enjoy food cooked with ingredients from the villa’s own garden, before leaving an artwork behind as a record of their stay. Prospective residents can apply online.

The Bothy Project, Scotland

For artists and researchers
This growing network of off-grid art spaces was set up by artist Bobby Niven and architect Iain MacLeod. Taking traditional bothies – basic shelters usually found in remote areas across Scotland and left unlocked for passersby to use – as their model, they have created three cabins in collaboration with artists and designers including Alex Finlay and Douglas Flett Architects. Artists, makers and researchers can apply to stay in the dwellings for self-funded residencies, including Sweeney’s Bothy which inhabits the isolated surroundings of the Isle of Eigg.

Ocean Sound Recording Studio in Giske, Norway

Ocean Sound Recordings, Giske, Norway
Photography: courtesy of Ocean Sound Recordings

For musicians
Forget Abbey Road. This shoreside recording retreat gives guests the chance to completely immerse themselves in the landscape. Windows offer panoramic views across the sea, and double-height ceilings amplify the studio’s acoustics. Visiting musicians can enjoy the region’s isolated surroundings while making the most of a studio fully stocked with the requisite analogue and digital equipment.

Fogo Island off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada

Photography: Alex Fradkin
Photography: Alex Fradkin, courtesy of Todd Saunders

For artists, filmmakers, writers, musicians, curators and designers
Occupying a remote crop of land off the northeast coast of Newfoundland, Fogo Island Arts welcomes creatives from across disciplines to embark on residencies that can last up to a year – with the aim of helping to develop the region and encourage tourism. Guests can stay in one of four cabins designed by architect Todd Saunders, which are set on metal stilts and scattered across the landscape. In true creative retreat style, each hut is off the grid, powered by solar panels and heated by wood-burning stoves. For those that absolutely can’t go without, high-speed internet is still on hand.

 9 inspiring artists’ studios you can visit



Share Tweet