Angelo Mastropietro decided to become a modern caveman when he built his luxurious new home inside this ancient den. You may have seen Bilbo Baggins’ home in the Lord of the Rings? Well, consider this the real-life thing. It sounds far fetched, but remember that humans have lived in caves for a long time. Think of it as an ode to history! And the secret behind it all will definitely surprise you.
The Eight-Month Build:
Angelo Mastropietro knew he wanted a unique house. He wanted it to fuse with nature and have both hard and soft details. But life was getting in the way of his big plans.
Angelo was dealing with a serious health scare since he was diagnosed multiple sclerosis in 2007. It was a huge blow, but he was committed to not letting it define him.
On top of the diagnosis, Angelo had been questioning his career for a while. It earned him good money but was too involved and constantly caused him stress. Something had to give!
Father of Two
Angelo had recently spent more than a decade living in Australia, but he returned to Britain in 2010 as a father of two children. They wanted playtime one afternoon, so he suggested a bike ride.
One might say that Angelo met his destiny on that ride. They were in the Wyre Forest, Worcestershire, which he visited with some friends back in 1999. A twist of fate derailed their pleasant afternoon.
Suddenly it started to pour, and the rain was about as bad as it gets in Britain, and it forced them to seek shelter. The rock was simply the first thing Angelo found!
Historical Hole in the Wall
Once he came across the cave again with his kids, Angelo couldn’t get it out of his mind. Like Bilbo Baggins, he saw potential for a little home for himself. In that moment, the Rockland Retreat was born.
In an Interview with Grand Design Magazine, Angelo said: “There were many things that inspired me to build The Rockhouse. When I first saw it my gut feeling was to restore it into a romantic retreat.”
Master of the Stone
“It felt like it was meant to be,” Mastropietro admitted, fatefully adding, “I bought it at an auction on my birthday, and my surname in fact translates to master of the stone.”
This wasn’t about getting it done as soon as possible either. Angelo wanted to pay tribute to the men who created the natural structure 800 years ago. So he dug using only his hands and manual tools!
“I wanted to achieve something extraordinary,” Angel said. “The first thing I did was I bought a pickaxe and started digging, literally as simple as that.” That, plus a $230,000 investment.
The Biggest Surprise
“The biggest surprise was the fact that nobody shared my vision or my positive energy about the project as a whole, he said, “but, I was determined to do something different. If everyone goes left, I want to go right.”
Years later, Angelo ended up living full-time The Rockhouse Retreat, and when asked to sum up the construction process in three words, he chose inspiring, spontaneous, and grit.
Angelo now lived far away from the hustle and bustle of a city, but he enjoyed a lush natural landscape instead. It’s definitely a trade-off but sounds worth it!
Even though Wyre Forest is far from a metropolitan district, it features a highly functional road cutting straight through. If Angelo needs to get to civilization, it’s an easy shortcut.
Not only is the landscape green and beautiful, but it’s also considered an ancient woodland, one of the last ones in all of Britain to be exact. It’s part of Angelo’s mission to live in harmony with nature.
Home to the Birds
Wyre Forest is especially famous for its many healthy bird species, including the hawfinch, dipper, wood warbler, common crossbill, spotted flycatcher, pied flycatcher, redstart, and long-eared owl. There’s also Angelo’s lovable pooch. Was it all too good to last?
Dreams Come True
This was Angelo’s dream, so he feels strongly about his unconventional lifestyle: “You’ve got to stick to your dreams. I think a lot of people have an initial vision and deviate from it, however I think it’s important to stick to your vision.”
Angelo’s home did more than just go viral; it also won awards! In fact, the famous British designer Kevin McCloud awarded him a part in the top 20 Grand Designs.
“It’s in a beautiful location, it’s uplifting, it makes you feel good,” Angelo concluded, “While you are a mile from the nearest pub or supermarket, you’re a thousand miles back in history.” His Rockland Retreat is the sunnier version of another luxurious cave home, which was built for far darker reasons.
An Esteemed Businessman
While Angelo was just an ordinary guy, John Hay had it all. He was the co-founder of popular tea brand Celestial Seasonings and owned lucrative real estate all over the country. Still, there was one lingering fear that kept him up at night…
Nuclear annihilation. After a period of de-escalation, tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union shot back up in the early 1980s. Both sides were stockpiling weapons and mobilizing troops all over the globe.
The Red Menace
However, Hay was sure the Soviets were poised to strike first, and that the entire world would soon turn a bright shade of red. America couldn’t protect him from this threat.
But Hay could protect himself. He was a born self-starter. A former marine, Hay built Celestial from the ground-up by picking herbs in the Rocky Mountains and stuffing them into hand-sewn bags.
An Ozark Sanctuary
In 1983, Hay turned his attention to the tranquil Ozark Mountains in Arkansas. He purchased 240 acres of empty land for a mere $146,000. So how would this keep him safe?
The Underground Complex
Well, Hay wasn’t so much interested in the woods as he was in the gigantic limestone cave that ran beneath them. He believed it had the potential to house the ultimate fallout shelter. Construction began immediately.
Cold War Settles Down
However, relations between America and the USSR soon improved, and it became increasingly unlikely that any nuclear war would take place. What could Hay do with his half-built bunker?
The New Plan
Hay, a shrewd businessman as always, knew how to adapt under changing circumstances. Maybe his underground abode could be used not just for survival, but for recreation. He drew up a new plan.
After a few more years of intense construction and furnishing, the Beckham Creek Cave Lodge was born. What was once a bomb shelter was now a subterranean, high-end hotel.
No Mad Max
Hay naturally felt quite pleased with its transformation. “I didn’t want to come through the war like Tina Turner in Mad Max,” he said, “so I created Tinseltown.”
A Steep Cost
To stay in one of the cave’s four bedrooms, guests have to shell out as much as $1,600 per night. Although the rate is as steep as the mountains surrounding the hotel, the price is worth it!
Each morning you can take a hot shower that will wash away the problems and worries that you brought from above ground. That’s right, you can stay clean even when you’re living in a cave.
Luxury Below Ground
You can relax and watch a movie on the 75-inch LED television mounted on the limestone walls. The lodge’s thermal heating will keep you nice and cozy even in the dead of winter.
Later on, you could head over to the state-of-the-art kitchen to enjoy a classy dinner and good company. Unlike most bomb shelters, the Beckham Creek Cave Lodge has way more than just canned goods.
Of course, guests aren’t confined to the indoors. You can hike around the Ozarks and, if you’re lucky, catch a glimpse of the region’s majestic wildlife.
There’s plenty of nature still present inside the hotel too. The lodge preserved some of the original cave features, like the stalactites hanging from the ceiling, as well as this waterfall.
And the Beckham’s guests never have to be afraid. Should the danger of a nuclear attack ever resurface, the hotel can seal all the openings in the cave with concrete blocks.
Travel by Helicopter
Like any eccentric millionaire worth his salt, Hay also installed a helipad. That could really come in handy for all those instances when the average joe travels by helicopter.
If you dream of making this luxurious cave your own, you are in luck. The property recently went on sale for the sum of $2.75 million. One lucky person can make the Beckham Creek Cave Lodge their own private retreat.
A Hidden Gem
Just imagine sitting by the fire on the front deck, with nobody around for miles and miles. You could sip a mug of herbal tea and be grateful that John Hay’s paranoia created such a special place.