Escape the stress of delivering a perfect Christmas by letting the pros do all the work for you. Hole up in a luxury hotel – and surround yourself with loved ones –for an idyllic festive season (with no washing-up in sight)
Best for couples: celebrate in Tudor splendour
Cuckfield in West Sussex is one of the UK’s prettiest Tudor villages and is also home to the atmospheric Ockenden Manor Hotel & Spa. The cosy, timbered Elizabethan manor house is the perfect spot for Christmas minus the in-laws. Panelled public rooms, creaking staircases and four-poster beds are straight out of the history books. A modern-day bonus is the hotel’s contemporary spa, although the real highlight here is the three Michelin starred restaurant, headed up by chef Stephen Crane. Needless to say festivities at Ockenden Manor centre around culinary delights and kick off on Christmas Eve with traditional afternoon tea and, later, a champagne reception to the accompaniment of Christmas carols. The six-course feast on Christmas Day is, of course, the star of the show and it doesn’t end there. If you can still move on Boxing Day, you can look forward to a black-tie gourmet dinner. Gloriously romantic.
The three-night Christmas package costs from £848 per person based on two people sharing, including breakfast, afternoon tea, Christmas Day lunch and evening meals. hshotels.co.uk
Best for family fun: make merry in the English countryside
The Dorchester’s younger sister hotel Coworth Park, found in 240 acres of pristine Berkshire countryside, is renowned for its glamorous interiors offset against the original Georgian features. Expect roaring fires, twinkling lights and all the trimmings in this country house hotel with an edge. From the Tower House cinema room to a dedicated games salon, the emphasis this season is fun, fun, fun. Christmas Eve starts with champagne on arrival, children’s story time and transfers to Sunningdale Parish for Midnight Mass followed by hot toddies and cheese. The big day itself sees a special appearance by Santa, followed by a festive lunch. On Boxing Day, there are chocolate and wine masterclasses, Segway racing in the grounds, falconry displays and festive films. Don’t forget to pre-order your own decorated Christmas tree for your room. Magical.
From £615 per person per night, based on a two-night inclusive stay, from 24-27 December 2014. dorchestercollection.com/ascot/coworth-park
Best for traditionalists: hark back to the past
With its Capability Brown designed grounds, grand vaulted Tudor Hall and antique furnishings, Fawsley Hall Hotel is most loved for its traditional surroundings and links to the past (Queen Elizabeth once stayed here). Boasting one of the tallest Christmas trees in Northamptonshire, the festive period is all about evoking a classic Christmas of bygone times. There are family movies in the private cinema, the Queen’s Speech listened to with rolling parkland as your backdrop, not to mention Christmas Eve carol singing, mulled wine and mince pies and a traditional Christmas Day lunch. To round off the nostalgia, Santa himself arrives on Christmas morning bearing gifts for one and all. For those who want to escape the schmaltz for a bit, take off to the modern Grayshott Spa, which is seriously of the moment.
Festive breaks cost from £910 per couple, from 24–26 December in a Classic double room, and includes breakfasts, dinner on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day lunch and dinner buffet on Christmas Day. Handpickedhotels.co.uk
Best for Mum and Dad: cosy up in a winter wonderland
Earn some brownie points by whisking the parents away to the family-run The Gilpin Hotel & Lake House. Just two miles from Lake Windermere, this is a stylish haven from the hustle and bustle that can mar this time of year. On Christmas Eve, you’ll be taken out to enjoy lunch on Lake Windermere followed by a gastronomic dinner in the evening. Christmas day sees a champagne reception and an endless feast for lunch. On Boxing Day, there are wintry walks to be had and an extra-special alfresco lunch by the warmth of a campfire, accompanied by warm punch and resident reindeer.
The four night Christmas break from 23-27 December costs from £1,125 per person based on two adults sharing a Classic Room on a dinner, bed & breakfast basis inclusive of festivities. thegilpin.co.uk
Best for friends: toast the camaraderie of Scotland
Reunite with long-lost friends at Rocco Forte’s The Balmoral Hotel in the heart of Edinburgh. There’s no better way to reconnect than over a bottle or two, especially if it’s a vintage whisky. Good news then that this year each guest at The Balmoral will receive a bottle of 10-year-old Speyside Single Malt Scottish Whisky and an invite to a special ‘whisky journey’ in Scotch, the hotel’s whisky bar. The tasting session is hosted by a Whisky Ambassador, who will explain the heritage of each dram, and you can also tuck into specially chosen bar bites, such as wild boar salami and dark Swiss. An elegant Christmas Eve dinner is a further chance to catch up while the traditional Christmas Day lunch is accompanied by – thankfully – gentle music from the resident harpist.
The Scotch Whisky Festive Offer costs from £675 per suite per night, including breakfast and is available to suite guests staying from 20-28 December, in Grande Suites and above. roccofortehotels.com/hotels-and-resorts/the-balmoral-hotel/
Best for the little ones: see London lit up
The Italian-owned Baglioni Hotel may have a reputation for being one of the capital’s most chi chi boltholes, but that’s not to say it’s not family-friendly. Italians are hot on design but they also adore children and so the Kensington hotel is flinging open its doors to welcome the young (and old) for a memorable few days spent together. Little ones are welcomed with cookies and hot chocolate while the oldies can sip on a glass of prosecco. You’ll also have the chance to take in some of London’s best seasonal events with tickets to Glorious Georges’ Christmas exhibition at Kensington Palace and the Magical Ice Kingdom and Winter Wonderland, both in Hyde Park. There are classic Christmas films with popcorn in the private cinema room and Italian-themed dining in the Brunello restaurant.
The family package is available from 30 November 2014 to 3January 2015 and costs from £485 per night for a family of four (and families of five can be accommodated upon request.) Meals not included in the price. baglionihotels.com/London