J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of the The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings fantasy novels, has inspired hundreds of copycat underground hobbit homes around the world – and is itself inspired by ancient Viking hill houses. These 15 green-roofed dwellings that take a page right out of Tolkien’s books come in all sizes for all kinds of functions, from hotels in New Zealand to backyard playhouses and vintage underground hill-dug duplexes.
The World’s First Hobbit Motel
For tourists the world over, New Zealand will forever be associated with The Lord of the Rings, since it served as the filming and production location for the film version of the saga. And for some of those lucky travelers who make it out to see the real-world version of Middle Earth, nothing but a hobbit motel will do. Luckily for them, there’s Woodlyn Park, the world’s first hobbit motel, located on the north island.
Modern Hobbit Home in Switzerland
From outside, this home is like any other hobbit hole: half-hidden in a grassy hill, sheltered from the elements and blending in seamlessly with its surroundings. But this incredible underground home by SeARCH and Christian Muller Architects is made for modern people with an appreciation for unusual architecture. Aside from its streamlined, minimalist interior, this house also sports a central patio built into the incline which gives it an entire wall of windows, something that many other hill houses don’t have.
Rent-a-Hobbit-Hole: Hebridean Earth House
Another modern take on the timeless hobbit house design is the Hebridean Earth House, a secluded rental cottage on the Scottish isle of South Ulst. It’s barely distinguishable from the rolling hills that are such an iconic part of the Scottish landscape, but with a modern wall of windows in the front, it still gets plenty of natural daylight inside.
Backyard Hobbit Playhouse
“A hobbit hole in my backyard? It may sound crazy, but I can tell you that my kids are ecstatic about it,” says Joe, the unarguably cool dad that built this amazing hobbit playhouse. The underground house is made from a culvert covered in dirt and sod, with concrete walls on either side. The back wall sports a big window, while the front has a big round door for that traditional Tolkien-app roved hobbit look.
A Little Slice of Hobbiton: Playhouse in Britain
Not everyone has a big enough backyard to build such a large underground playhouse, but there are ways to accomplish a similar effect even in the tiniest of urban lots. This design by Wild Flower Turf in the UK is backed into a corner to save space but still features the all-important green roof as well as a round door and two little windows.
Beachfront Hobbit House
Hilly valleys and perhaps even elvish forests make natural settings for hobbit houses, but beaches? Dune House is more like a hobbit vacation home, built into a hill on Florida’s Atlantic Beach. This low-profile home wasn’t created by a big fan of hobbit houses, but rather an architect who lived next door. “I wanted to look out and see the Atlantic. I didn’t want to see a house built next door to mine,” William Morgan told The Wall Street Journal. “I wanted to keep the landscape as near as possible to what was existing.”
Hobbit Holes by High Life Treehouses
Not up to the challenge of building your own backyard hobbit getaway? Get a builder to come out and do it for you. High Life Treehouses in the UK offers a selection of hobbit holes as an alternative to treehouses, for those who don’t have suitable trees in their yards. This one is adorable and quite low to the ground – perfect for hobbit-like creatures of the human variety.
Backyard hobbit holes aren’t just for kids. This one, in Kenai, Alaska, is used as a shed for garden tools. “My uncle brought me a piece of culvert which we installed in a hill on my property. After enclosing, covering with moss, and adding doors and art (and a “side door”), the illusion is coming together. Still have a bit of stone work to do, but the overall effect is there,” says creator R. Estelle.
Viking Home Re-Creation, Newfoundland
Hobbit-type houses are hardly a modern creation. Tolkien, who was vocal about how highly he regarded the epic poem Beowulf, got some of his inspiration from ancient Scandinavian culture in which underground homes played a notable role. The L’Anse Aux Meadows hill house in Newfoundland, Canada is a recreation of Viking structures that protected inhabitants from the harsh weather.
Simondale Hobbit House in Wales
“Looking like something straight off the Lord of the Rings set, this cozy hobbit hole of a home was built in Wales from stone, mud and remnant wood from nearby forests, resulting in a cost of just $10 per square foot. Natural light streams in from a skylight at the top of the earthen, grass-covered dome. The use of materials from the construction site and the way the home was designed give it that truly unique, eco-friendly character that can only be found in earthen homes.”
Hidden Hobbit-Like Lair
Without walking right onto them, you might not even realize that this little cluster of hills was anything but a natural formation. But once you got to the center, you’d realize that you’re standing on the roof of a community of grass-blanketed underground homes that open out onto a central lake. The Swiss estate by Vetsch Architecture consists of 9 houses connected by stairs that lead down to a basement and even a subterranean parking lot.
Another Hidden Hobbit Hole
A camera-wielding traveler stumbled across this curious little home while on a walk near the Carnglaze Caverns in Cornwall, England.. “Whilst on a visit there with my family we stumbled across this real hobbit house in the woods. It is complete with table and chairs and it was just as if the inhabitants had quickly disappeared as we approached because the little house was scattered with little drawings, a lantern and small trinkets. I left an offering of copper stars on the table.”
Undiscovered Hobbit Tribe of Pembrokeshire
For five years, they were left entirely alone, unnoticed by the world outside while enjoying a quiet sustainable life in hidden green-roofed hobbit-like houses in the Welsh countryside. But a survey plane noticed the ‘lost tribe’ during a flyover and soon, Julian and Emma Orbach and the rest of their eco-community were locked in a decade-long battle to save their hobbit village, which was under threat because they failed to get the proper building permits. Ultimately, the village was allowed to remain, and is now leased to the Brithdir Mawr ‘intentional community’.
Abandoned Lord of the Rings Set
Venture onto a farm in Matamata, New Zealand and you’ll find a stunning sight: the remains of a once-cheerful and bustling hobbit village, now home only to sheep. Make that the hobbit village – this was actually the set for Hobbiton in the Lord of the Rings films. The farmers asked Peter Jackson & co. to leave the facades behind as a tourist attraction, and though they don’t have finished interiors, they make quite a sight on the lush green hill.
Bag End Hobbit Dollhouse
Shelves of microscopic books. Drawers full of impossibly tiny clothing. Notes written in Frodo’s flowing hand, and a fully accurate map of Middle Earth. All of these things and more were recreated in miniature in Maddie Chambers’ incredible scale model of Bag End, Frodo’s home in Hobbiton. Superfan Maddie spent over a year on her dollhouse, not sparing the slightest detail, down to the leaf label on bottles of ale in the kitchen. “”This all began when I was a young child and read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings for the first time. I was about ten years old and I was instantly hooked by this magical world.”