The best hotels in the UK for an alternative Christmas

It’s fair to say that Christmas is not a relaxing time of year; families coming together in a cacophony of noise, the enormous pressure of perfecting the Christmas feast to feed the masses, end of year exhaustion… If only there were warm, cosy, characterful sanctuaries, for one to take refuge in at this hectic and frantic time of year. Oh wait, there are! Here we have compiled a list of the most atmospheric hotels in the UK which make for the perfect winter retreats…

Best for a pampering spa retreat: Coworth Park, Berkshire

Luxurious, glamorous and within easy access of London, if you’re looking for the finest service, beautiful surroundings and an effortlessly cool spa, then head to Coworth Park, immediately! The award-winning eco-friendly spa is an architectural delight; a beautiful glass structure that blends into a grassy bank, with a herb-garden rooftop.

There is a wide range of therapies within the eight treatment rooms, an indoor swimming pool, a streamlined gym, steam room and ‘experience shower’. There is a Spatisserie, an airy café which serves breakfast, lunch and snacks, which perfectly combines nutritionally balanced spa cuisine and chocolate cake. By the time you leave, Coworth Park will have you feeling ‘dry-cleaned and polished’, ready for the start of the New Year around the corner.

Best for foodies: Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa, Bath

Roll along the extensive drive that sweeps up to the 18th-century Palladian fronted property, and you will instantly have a sense of lavish grandeur. Lucknam Park is refined British style at its finest, and Michelin-starred Restaurant Hywel Jones emanates just this. Chef Hywel Jones earned the restaurant its Michelin star, and over the last thirteen years has been creating epic culinary wonders. Hywel picks sources the finest ingredients and works with local suppliers to ensure the fullest Christmassy flavours.

Alternatively, the Brasserie is a much more low-key affair, with an open kitchen and a wood-burning stove, and when you’ve pulled yourself out of the comfy armchairs, mince pies and mulled wine are served in the library after Midnight Mass at Colerne Parish Church.

Best for outdoor activities: Gleneagles, Perthshire

Gleneagles, set amidst 850 acres of ravishing Perthshire countryside, is an ideal setting for those looking for a blustery winter adventure in the wilderness of the Scottish Lowlands, and at Christmas it pulls out all the stops. Best known for its golf, with three 18-hole champion courses, other leisure pursuits and activities abound, including horse riding, fishing, falconry and shooting, tennis, cycling, archery and off-road driving.  But it doesn’t stop there, the 5-star country estate lays on an ice rink with Olympic coaches, a grotto for Santa and his elves, and even a Peter Pan pantomime!

Best for urban chic: Claridge’s, London

Claridge’s is London’s most glamorous grand dame, and is a splendidly decadent, if a little unusual, affair at Christmas. The famously fashionable hotel has, for the last eight years, entrusted Karl Lagerfeld to magic up a Christmas tree creation, and this year is no less magnificent and unique. An upended, bedecked tree, resting on a snowy sheepskin, its branches dripping with icicles and the roots twist around a mirrored star.

Other Christmas tree designers at the iconic Mayfair hotel include Christopher Bailey, John Galliano and Dolce & Gabbana. If this tree doesn’t get you into the festive spirit, then we suggest a cosy horse-drawn carriage ride with hot chocolate and marshmallows, followed by Champagne in the Lalique-panelled Fumoir and a decadent Christmas lunch.

Best for a quintessentially British retreat: Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saison, Oxfordshire

Celebrated chef Raymond Blanc’s Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons epitomises the quintessential charming country house retreat. The grandest and oldest house in a small, idyllic Oxfordshire village, it is a wonderfully preserved 15th century Chiltern manor house and straight-up old-fashioned luxury, and it looks a picture too with a Christmas tree in each individually designed bedroom, and two more at the top of the lavender path. And the food is, of course, magnificent with a seven-course Christmas menu including roast goose with apple, black pudding, chestnuts and all the trimmings.

Best for families: Chewton Glen, New Forest

Chewton Glen is one of a kind for children and parents alike. A grand family-owned manor house surrounded by 130 acres of beautiful English gardens and parkland, it is the perfect place to come for some countryside fun. Book one of the luxurious and cosy treehouses for an exciting place to stay for all; each suite with its own terrace hot tub, breakfast hamper, wood stove and gourmet mini-bar. On Christmas Eve join the house party with a treasure hunt for the kids and a cabaret and dinner for parents, and a special falconry display is organised for Boxing Day.

Best for house parties: Aldourie Castle, Loch Ness

For a truly different multi-generational Christmas, the beautiful and ethereal Aldourie Castle, on the banks of Loch Ness, is the perfect choice. Experience a world of pure indulgence and take over the entire castle with your family, to enjoy exclusively and privately, as your own home. Wholly yours for the duration of your stay, there is no limit to the luxury you can experience, and no rules and regulations, other than respect and common sense!

It can be as relaxed or as active as you like; immerse yourself in a book by a roaring log fire, savour a drink and good conversation around the table, embark on exclusive country pursuits or plan a private banquet; great parties needn’t be put off until New Year’s Eve!

What do you think about having an alternative Christmas? Please do comment below, we’d love to know what you think. If you’d like to discuss your Christmas getaway plans with us, then please do get in touch.

James Jayasundera is Founder and Managing Director of Ampersand Travel.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

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