I was recently lucky enough to take a little break in the Berkshire countryside. That in itself would be lovely enough, wouldn’t it? But this break was a little bit different in that I went, ‘unplugged’.

Staying in an off-grid cabin nestled in nature, I took part in a digital detox. The practice of setting aside a block of time and intentionally avoiding use of digital devices. No smartphone, no TV, no social media.

Things Helen Loves, Polaroid picture of cabin infromt of actual cabin. Unplugged cabin break, Berkshire

I’ll tell you at the end how I found being tech free, but first the cabin. It really is the backbone of the whole experience and quite the delight to call home for a few days.

Come on, get unplugged with me…

Digital Detox Cabins: Unplugged

I stayed in a cabin called Bunty- yep, all the cabins have names- provided by digital detox experts, Unplugged. The company was founded by two blokes who found inspiration in experience. Having worked, partied and travelled hard, they began to feel a bit burnt out.

After a two-week silent retreat in the Himalayas, inspiration struck. Realizing most of us could benefit from switching off, but many of us would be either unable or unwilling to meditate with monks in the mountains, Unplugged was born.

Off grid cabins surrounded by nature, designed to support you in switching off and resting your mind. Both beautiful and functional but backed by science. The idea that less time online and more time with nature is good for us is evidence backed.

Bunty- A Cabin Tour

First up, finding the cabin. We did, after a false start and a detour into a farm. Unplugged sent directions, but as Bunty is sited on private land with no address as such, arrival is an adventure. The approach took us through the countryside, onto byways and down a woodland lined track.

By a gate; a clue. Parking for Bunty. On foot from here, a pull along wagon thoughtfully provided for your luggage. Cross a field, through another gate and there she is: Bunty. Our off-grid haven for 72 hours.

Stepping into the cabin is like stepping into a cuddle. I love to feel cosy and Bunty hit the mark. The interior is made entirely of wood giving it a rustic Scandi feel. That doesn’t mean basic though; everything is of quality. Think elevated simplicity. Colour comes in touches of pinks and blues; colours known to signify tranquility, kindness and serenity.

Things Helen Loves, black dog in cabin. Unplugged Cabin break Berskshire

Our cabin was dog friendly, so we brought The Wolf along. Actually, the cabins are named after dogs. Will there ever be a ‘Little Wolf’ cabin? I think there should be, but I’m utterly biased. Whatever your four-legged friend is called, they are welcome here. They are even left a few essentials.

The bed… oh, it’s a beauty. High and wide, dressed in luxury bedding from Piglet. Built in by the panoramic window. The perfect spot to rest, read, to enjoy a slow morning coffee whilst watching the fields outside come to life. I spotted pheasants, squirrels and a couple of deer. Bliss.

Elsewhere in the cabin, all the things to create a nurturing stay. Thick towels, gorgeously scented toiletries, loose leaf tea and coffee beans. A two-ring gas hob and a whistling kettle to use on it. All you’d need to rustle up a simple meal. Directions to the nearest pub in case you don’t feel like it.

The real joy is in the purposeful design for slow living. To make coffee, you grind the beans and slow brew. Tea is loose leaf, made in the pot. Washing up done by hand. When there’s two of you, one to wash and one to dry. Time to chat while you do it. That doesn’t happen when taking turns to load the dishwasher. Slow simplicity.

A unique touch comes in the form of the Unplugged Lock box. A lockable wooden box designed to keep the tech out of easy reach, it gives before it takes away. It holds tools that will do the job in those moments that have us reaching for our smartphones. A map and a compass. A polaroid camera. A torch. And if you really need to be in touch with someone? An old-but-gold Nokia phone. Charged and complete with snake.

Once you’ve freed up your time, hands and mind what do you do?

If you want to, do nothing at all. There’s seating inside and out; listen to the birdsong, watch the countryside and just be. Bunty came with a radio-cassette player and some great 80’s pop cassettes. We had vintage Madonna and Run DMC. This unplugging thing, it’s not dull. Doesn’t even have to be quiet. Singing along, encouraged.

We had board games, including a rather beautiful Art Deco Edition Scrabble. I lost twice but enjoyed playing. Books, inspirational and outdoorsy. Fiction and non. A copy of one of my old favorites, The Salt Path by Raynor Winn. The luxury of time without distraction to read.

The cabins are rural, but not remote. Each one is within walking distance of a pub, a village. Marked on the map if you want to venture out. Bunty is situated on the Eling estate with miles of woodland walks, and we took full advantage of that. A nice change after the usual rugged beauty of Salisbury Plain. Not a soldier in sight, except the one I brought with me.

At the end of the day, time to get settled. A shower, hot and powerful. A bit chilly at this time of year, so we lit the fire nightly. Everything is provided but you need to lay the kindling, light it. Nurture it a bit, then the satisfaction when you have a blaze. joyful, slow living.

Honestly, I didn’t find it all easy. I’m not used being offline, parted from my phone or having no obligations. I felt a little lost at times. It got easier. I settled into it. The fact I needed to settle probably shows I was over-due this break. I returned energized, refreshed, optimistic. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. You can read more about the benefits of unplugging here.

How about you- can you see yourself going unplugged?

If you liked this post, try this one next- Life Outdoors:Forest Bathing

I did not personally pay for my stay with Unplugged. All opinions are my own. If I didn’t love it, you wouldn’t be reading about it.

Helen x

31 thoughts

  1. What a lovely place to unwind for a day or two Helen. It looks so well equipped and of high quality and I liked the way that the comfy bed was up against the windows to gaze out into the countryside. I’ve never tried a digital detox, the longest I’ve been offline would be on long haul flights! Having said that, I’m not totally addicted to it. For instance I met a friend for lunch today who I hadn’t seen for about 10 years and we spent around three hours in each other’s company with my phone staying on silent in my bag the entire time. Don’t know if I could or would want to last out a weekend though ! How did we ever manage before! M xx

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      That sounds like a lovely catch up with an old friend- I love the friendships that can pick up like that! I’ve been quite wedded to my phone, but it’s half preference and half need with a husband working away a lot and three children at school/work/hobbies etc. And I am bad for Instagram scrolling. But the break made me think I could tweak my habits and feel better for it. The cabin was a beauty- worth it for the views from the bed alone!

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      That view was very soothing, especially first and last thing.

  2. The cabin sounds absolutely blissful. In fact, I wouldn’t mind moving there for good. Though, I would need WIFI eventually, for work and the blog, and other things like the World Cup. Having some quiet time, and the abundance of gorgeous walking trails on your doorstep, sounds like a weekend we all need. Going off the grid would’ve been very tough for me, but I’m sure I could endure a couple of days.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      It was a lovely break, and an interesting experience. Like you I’d always need WiFi eventually (I’ll pass on the World Cup though 😆) but it has made me realise I reach for my phone a lot when I could do other things. I could happily make an off grid, off line break an annual event though!

  3. Beautiful scenery and Bunty looks very cosy. I had a digital detox during the summer, felt less distracted and more focused at the time, but fallen back into bad habits since then. I’d recommend Catherine Price’s How to Break Up with Your Phone.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      It’s very tricky, isn’t it? Especially when so many of our daily tasks have become app or technology based. For example, even paying for something for the kids at school is via an app now. I’m trying to strike more of a balance. I’ll look up the book, thank you!

  4. This looks beautiful and I found myself wondering how I’d get on. I did have an enforced lengthy unplugged period when visiting North Korea as there’s no access to the internet or social media while there, but our tour was so busy I didn’t have much time to miss it – although I did yearn to be sharing photos with family and friends as we travelled. Your time in Bunty was rather different however, much more slow-paced. I fear I’d get bored, but of course that’s the point – if we’re so addicted to our online lives that we get bored without them, maybe we should be finding other ways to fill at least some of our time.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      I did struggle a little bit at times, there’s also no clock in the cabin so the only time is your time. It’s a little strange but as I relaxed into it, I did really feel brighter and refreshed. It made me think that I appreciate the speed and advantages of what is at my fingertips, but maybe I could be a little more mindful in how much and often I use it.

  5. It looks lovely – I was offered the same stay but couldn’t make the dates worked. Maybe I will give it a go next year as it’s probably great to be unplugged 🙂

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      I’d recommend it without reserve, the cabins are gorgeous and the whole experience of slowing down really does lift a weight that I don’t even think most of us know we are carrying.

  6. What an interesting experiment! I think we could all do with a digital detox now and then, and it would be so much easier in a location like that.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      That was exactly it, Ruth, it was set up to allow you to do it. I’ve tried at home, but modern life is pretty tech heavy.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      It was strange at first, but definitely something I could do more often!

  7. Looks a seriously quiet spot and just right for a detox. I can easily do without TV, computer and mobile phone but would miss my radio a lot. I often spend a couple of days without the first three just relaxing with the radio (confession here, it’s not always voluntary, my eyes just go wonky and I have to close it all down) and it’s good for the soul. I’m not receiving notifications of your blogs Helen, so that’s why you haven’t had any comments from me lately. I see I’m listed as still ‘following’ so hope WP will start the emails again.

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      There was a radio, but reception seemed a bit touch and go! It did highlight for me how much I use technology out of habit and that I could be more mindful. You’re right, a bit of down time is good for the soul! I think WordPress has been a bit wonky for everyone lately- hopefully it will straighten up soon. Thanks for dropping by, Mari!

  8. NattyTravels says:

    Oh wow, this sounds like a fantastic experience. I think like you, I’d find it a little difficult to be offline, but I’m sure I’d benefit from it like you did. Thanks for sharing

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      Thanks for coming along and taking time to leave a comment- appreciate it!

  9. I’d love this. I spend far too much time hooked up to my computer or phone, but find it surprisingly easy to junk the lot on holiday. It’s a bit all-or-nothing with me. I can’t ration my usage, but I can go without altogether. I’m looking this place up right now!

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      I think I’m a bit ‘can resist anything but temptation’. But that’s why the cabin works- temptation is removed and distraction on offer! I believe Unplugged have- or are about to launch- a cabin near Manchester, so not terribly far from you?

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      It’s a bit tricky at times, but I did feel better for doing it.

  10. That does look and sound lovely. I like the idea of the box of handy retro gadgets, such as the Polaroid Camera. 🙂
    I have been on a social media detox break before, but completely by accident. A holiday in the Dales 10 years ago with no phone signal, nevermind wi-fi. It was very relaxing, even then. Not sure I could manage a week ( like then) but a weekend I could. X

    1. ThingsHelenLoves says:

      The polaroid was great fun, but showed me how impatient I’ve become, it felt like aaaages waiting for the picture to appear. 72 hours did me good as a reset, I’m not sure I’d enjoy much longer.

      1. We are all much more impatient now, wanting things to happen asap. Even 10 years ago we were not quite so social media obsessed, I remember feeling slightly panicked because I couldn’t use my phone, but in the end, we had such a relaxing holiday. I am glued to my phone even now when supposedly watching the England Wales game. Whoop! X

  11. I would love to go unplugged. In fact, it would go well with my current goal of trying to find my own stillness. The information overload from the internet is such a pesky thing, and it hampers my creativity. But it’s like giving an addict free access to his substance of choice, but having my phone so readily available.

    Anyway, I love your prose for this piece. The shorter sentences and rhythm makes it different from typical travel pieces. And nice pics as always.

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