As we sit down to write this piece, our friends at Coconat in the small hamlet of Klein Glien are about to celebrate their 5th birthday. And it is indeed five years since we first pulled up outside the old manor house in Brandenburg, not long after they had opened.
At the time, Paul was finishing a book and was given a five-day retreat to get the work done. The place Katrin found was not even open yet, but it looked perfect: an hour from Berlin, with comfortable rooms, working spaces, three meals a day and some beautiful hiking trails leading out from the door when a break and some thinking space was needed.
The Coconat is what is known as a ‘workation retreat’, and its name comes from the idea of CO-mmunity and CO-ncentrated work in NAT-ure. Their offer is a relatively straightforward one. You get a place to stay, access to workspace and high-speed internet, three tasty vegetarian meals a day, and a community of fellow guests to meet and hang out with when the working day is done. If you’re working in a group there are meeting rooms and places to gather both inside and out, and they even have a small pub, a tiny forest and a pond.
It is located in the High Fläming Nature Park, and can be accessed from Berlin (including the airport) by the train to the spa-town of Bad Belzig and then a local bus, bike ride or hike through the woods. This corner of Brandenburg is a gently attractive landscape of low, rolling countryside with a mix of forests and farmland, villages with their old stone churches and the occasional red-brick castle reflecting the region’s history as a borderland between kingdoms.
The Internationaler Kunstwanderweg is a 42-kilometre hiking trail that passes right through the middle of the Coconat grounds (see our Instagram stories for some impressions of the trail) and the 201m Hagelsberg – either the highest or 2nd highest “mountain” in the state of Brandenburg, depending on who you ask – is just, erm, up the hill. Indeed, the whole of High Fläming is criss-crossed with walking and cycling routes, which makes the Coconat the perfect working retreat for lovers of the outdoors, complete with fire pit for when the sun goes down.
Five years ago we met the lovely people behind the Coconat and they became our friends. Paul finished his book in the garden room while the honey bees did their business beyond the window and red kites hovered above the nearby fields, and we discovered a part of the world that would truly become our second home. Just over a year later, we bought a little yellow house just down the road from Coconat, and from there we continue to return to visit our friends for one of their regular events, whether a festival of creativity, literature or film festival, apple harvest get-together, their summer pizzeria or just to say hello.
So if you’ve got a project to finish, or fancy a place where you can be looking after and concentrate your energies on the next great idea, the Coconat might just be the retreat for you. You never know, we might even meet you out on the trail…