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7 of the ultimate places to get away from it all this Christmas

The build-up to Christmas is invariably a very hectic time. Add to that the preparations for the big day itself and it’s perhaps understandable that many people choose to go away and be well and truly pampered instead. Here we provide a round-up on 7 places – chosen primarily from a European perspective – where your Christmas will be one to remember… Tiger’s Nest Lodge, Les 4 Vallées, Switzerland Leave the rainy days behind you this Christmas and head to Tiger’s Nest Lodge for a magical ski holiday, complete with crisp blue skies and powdery white snow. Named after Bhutan’s iconic Tiger’s Nest Temple, Tiger’s Nest is a home away from home, nestled in the heart of the Swiss Alps. Located at an altitude of 1550m in the east of Les 4 Vallées, the lodge offers access to Switzerland’s most extensive ski area. It is the ideal place to spend Christmas with family or friends. With reliable snow conditions, a dedicated in house team – including a chef, host, driver and ski concierge – five beautifully appointed double bedrooms and extensive facilities including a spa treatment room; Tiger’s Nest ideally hosts up to two families or ten people and could not be better situated for a perfect winter wonderland Christmas.  Owned by a Hong Kong-based British couple, the lodge reflects their time spent in Asia, their love of architecture and design, and of Asian and European food and art. Old Swan & Minster Mill, Oxfordshire, UK Embedded into some of Britain’s most beautiful countryside, this 60 bedroom country house hotel captivates guests with its laid-back atmosphere. The log-fire bar and the gastro-pub style restaurant captures the charm of bygone years and modern cuisine. Chef David Mwita prepares delicious dishes as well as specialised ice creams using as many local and seasonal ingredients as possible. The hotel is situated on the River Windrush and boasts over 65 acres of grand gardens, ideal for winter walks. Specifically designed guided hikes from 2 to 8 hours long, will lead you through the romantic scenery of the Cotswolds. Upon return to the hotel, guests may cuddle up in the cosy lounge for a traditional afternoon tea. Further, they can enjoy a relaxing spa treatment from one of the Yon-ka Spa therapists, before heading to the homely restaurant to enjoy a seasonally inspired dinner accompanied by a glass of delicious wine. Its remote location and beautifully calm and soothing atmosphere makes it the perfect hideaway from all the Christmas hustle and bustle. Old Swan & Minster Mill is a member of Great Hotels of the World Premium Collection. Gordon Castle, Moray, UK Set in the heart of Speyside in 400 acres of spectacular Scottish countryside, the magnificent and lovingly restored Gordon Castle makes for a wonderfully luxurious and exclusive retreat this Christmas. Up to 18 guests can enjoy large open fires in the beautifully furnished entrance hall and drawing room, and have exclusive use of these along with the study and billiard room. The elegant bedrooms and bathrooms have been individually designed, featuring huge beds, crisp linen and large fluffy towels, providing a wonderful sanctuary at the end of the day. Gordon Castle is fully catered with a superb resident chef serving only the finest local produce including Aberdeen Angus beef, Morayshire pork, game from the estate, excellent fish and shellfish and delicious local cheeses. Herbs and fruit are grown in the Castle’s enchanting eight-acre walled garden. For Christmas and Hogmanay guests can enjoy a five course Scottish supper with Champagne cocktails and a piper to ‘pipe in’ the Haggis and to celebrate the bells at Hogmanay. Blow off the cobwebs with a walk or bike ride through the magical estate, or take advantage of horse-riding, a number of excellent golf courses, and of course Speyside’s famous whisky distilleries near by. Chateau les Carrasses, Languedoc, France Escape to a magical fairytale chateau in France’s unspoilt Languedoc region this Christmas and enjoy a relaxing break away from in one of Chateau les Carrasses 28 luxurious self-catering villas/apartments/suites. These are ideal for couples travelling alone or families looking to enjoy some time away together (the biggest villa sleeps up to 8) without the pressure of having to host. There is lots to do in the area – you could visit the local Christmas market towns, enjoy the numerous restaurants and bars whilst also making the most of the Christmas celebrations at Chateau les Carrasses where they will be offering a sumptuous seafood dinner on Christmas Eve with Champagne and a live band, and a 5-course meal on Christmas Day with local specialities from the region such as foie gras and oysters. Villa Armena, Relais & Beauty Farm, Tuscany, Italy Villa Armena contains just 10 individually designed rooms which coincide with the heritage of the property, dating back to the 16th Century. The red brick walls, original oak beams and beautiful terracotta floors together with the stunning surroundings of country houses and vineyards creates a unique rustic and luxurious atmosphere which prevails throughout Villa Armena. Il Sorbo Allegro – The Merry Rowan – offers an elegant and exclusive dining atmosphere. Local produce of exceptional quality is used to create sensual and delicious dishes. The impressive wine cellar of the property invites guests to a journey of senses through the Tuscan wine heritage. On site cooking classes will spice up every guest’s stay and let them forget about rushing around for Christmas presents. Villa Armena, Relais & Beauty farm is a member of Great Hotels of the World’s Luxury Collection. Argos in Cappadocia Hotel, Cappadocia, Turkey The Argos in Cappadocia Hotel blends seamlessly into the magical lunar landscape of Cappadocia. This region is truly one of the world’s wonders, where the works of man unobtrusively match their surroundings. The luxury boutique hotel enables guests to identify with the culture of Turkey and includes everything you would ever need to entirely relax and escape the realities of the Christmas rush. Tradition is one of the prevalent features in this establishment. Authentic carpets, antique ornamental pieces and en suite cave pools are only some of the many features that bring forward the rustic yet luxurious personality of the Argos in Cappadocia Hotel. Take a walk around the fairy chimneys and astonishing clay formations that make this area truly unique. If that’s not enough, you can go horseback riding in the neighbouring village or take in the silence and scenery from your terrace with a glass of local wine or a relaxing cup of tea. The hotel is a member of Great Hotels of the World Luxury Collection. Hotel La Croix-fry, Haute Savoie, France Hotel La Croix-fry is a beautiful French hotel, located just beyond a remote village called ‘Manigod’. You walk into the hotel and immediately sense the peaceful way of life and a little bit of quiet luxurious time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The restaurant has just achieved its 3 Gault-Millau stars, and has the most stunning views over the valley below. For Christmas snow will be on the ground, the neighbouring linked skiing of Lake Annecy Ski Resorts including La Clusaz and Le Grand Bornand are all available and their private taxi takes skiers to the slopes. If skiing isn’t your thing, just relax in the beautiful lounge, wander down to the ancient farming village, take in the scenery and forget about the commercial-ness of Christmas at home!  

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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