This year, why not escape the festive fuss and let someone else do all the hard work? Here, I reveal the most lavish hotels which will ‘do’ the season in style.
Coworth Park, Ascot
A traditional country Christmas with a foodie twist
With executive chef Adam Smith at the helm, there’s no surprise that there’s a foodie focus to Christmas at Coworth Park – the Dorchester’s sister, country-house hotel, located in a rural idyll just outside of London. Highlights include a Champagne afternoon tea on Christmas eve, with carols sung by a traditional choir, and, for the main event on Christmas Day, there’s a six-course tasting menu in the Michelin-starred Restaurant Coworth Park. On Boxing Day, meanwhile, there’s a chocolate masterclass and wine tasting to enjoy. Luckily, the hotel is located in 240 acres of picturesque parkland – so it’s perfectly situated for working off the calories with a brisk winter walk.
While Coworth’s gourmet treats will satisfy the adults, the little ones are also in focus with Christmas card-making sessions, story times and board games, not to mention an appearance by Santa on Christmas morning. An extra layer of magic is added by the roaring fires, the grounds festooned with twinkling lights and even your own tree in your room if you desire.
Rome Cavalieri, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, Rome, Italy
Soak up the iconic city with a host of lavish treats
From the famous nativity scene in St Peter’s Square to night-time ice-skating at the Auditorium, Rome is especially atmospheric at Christmas time. Elevating it even further is a stay at the iconic Rome Cavalieri hotel which, this year, offers a series of indulgent treats.
Taking away the stress of last-minute shopping, is the hotel’s own Christmas Market, which will showcase artisan products from Roman craftsmen. While, at the Grand Spa Club – which is palatial in size and feel – there’s a new La Prairie treatment created just for the festive period. The Ultimate Rejuvenating Night Elixir Platinum Facial uses the brand’s most advanced products, including those from its ‘Rare’ collection, as well as the infamous cellular Night Elixir, described as the most expensive serum in the world (it costs £894 for 20ml).
Finally, you can’t come to Rome and not feast and there’s no better place than the glorious La Pergola. Rome’s only three-Michelin starred restaurant, it is found on the hotel’s top floor, with glorious views over the Eternal City. Headed up by maverick chef Heinz Beck, guests can expect an extravagant eight-course menu for Christmas Day, which includes smoked capon consommé, sole with spinach and black truffle and duck breast with black salsify and hazelnuts. The meal is accompanied with a staggering collection of wines from La Pergola’s wine cellar, which boasts over 70,000 bottles.
The Old Course Hotel, St Andrews, Scotland
Head to The Highlands for Hogmanay
It may be famous for having one of the most commanding views of a golf course (it overlooks the striking 17th fairway of the Old Course golf course), but this St Andrews classic is so much more than its idyllic setting and golf facilities (as spectacular as they both are).
A recent multi-million-pound refurbishment saw a new Kohler Waters Spa open earlier this year. Focusing on hydrotherapy, it’s just the place for a ‘watery’ recovery after the extravagant New Year’s Eve celebrations the hotel has planned. Taking place in the grand Hall of Champions, the Gala Ball promises to be a strictly Scottish affair, including a six-course dinner (think: whisky-cured salmon, Black Isle rib eye and a selection of locally-sourced artisan cheese, all paired with wine by the resident sommelier). A live band will get the party started and a firework display will end the evening with a bang. On New Year’s Day, meanwhile, you can nurse your hangover with a traditional New Year Brunch at the hotel’s Road Hole Restaurant.
Bürgenstock Resort & Hotels in Lake Lucerne, Switzerland
Have the ultimate white Christmas, Alpine-style
Encompassing four hotels, a mega spa and no less than 12 restaurants, the Bürgenstock Resort is no ordinary place to stay. Factor in its fairy-tale-like setting above Lake Lucerne, and this becomes a veritable winter wonderland when Christmas comes around.
From ice-skating underneath the snow-capped peaks to warming up with traditional fondue, there’s a range of wintery festivities to enjoy, but the pinnacle takes place on Christmas Eve (the day when Christmas is traditionally celebrated in Switzerland). Children will love the three-course Kids Brunch, balloon painting and gingerbread-baking class – ideal for keeping them busy while waiting for Father Christmas’s arrival. For the main meal, you can choose between a variety of options, from farm-to-table dining at the Oak Grill to sumptuous French fine-dining at RitzCoffier.
With its lofty mountain views and vistas over the glassy lake, staying at the resort – which stretches across 60-hectares – is like residing in a grand palace in the clouds. In fact, the scene is set from your arrival: which consists of you being whisked across the lake in the hotel’s private boat, you then ascend into the hotel via a vintage funicular (built in 1888).
Following a recent nine-year £440 million revamp, the resort cannot fail to impress with its cutting-edge architecture amid tranquil surroundings. Look closely, however, and you can still spot historic features from the original property, which dates back to 1873 and was famous as a chi chi bolthole in the 1950s – check out the tiny chapel where Audrey Hepburn got married in 1953. There’s also a line-up of shops, wine cellars and a cinema. Best of all, though, is the 10,000sq m Alpine Spa, where you can be pampered with special winter-themed therapies and enjoy the snowy vistas from the heated infinity pool 500m above Lake Lucerne.
Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa, Bath
Join an elegant Regency house party
Christmas at The Royal Crescent Hotel is like stepping back into a more elegant era. Set in Bath’s famous Georgian crescent, it is the UK’s only 250-year-old hotel, carved out of two historic townhouses, with their own private gardens and original period details. From the roaring fire in the genteel drawing room to the elaborate chandeliers, oil paintings and curvaceous staircases – this is as evocative of a bygone age as you’d expect.
Arrive on Christmas Eve, and you can enjoy mulled wine and a festive afternoon tea. The house party vibe is encouraged with an evening Champagne and canapé reception, accompanied by carol singers. After a three-course dinner, you can take a stroll toBath Abbey for Midnight Mass, before retiring back to the hotel for winter cocktails and mince pies. On Christmas Day, the fun starts with a treasure hunt and then vintage Christmas movies to watch while ensconced on cosy sofas. Head chef David Campbell oversees the traditional three-course Christmas lunch with all the trimmings. On Boxing Day, you can have a breath of fresh air by ice-skating at the outdoor rink in nearby Royal Victoria Park, or exploring Bath’s historic streets and boutiques. Back at the hotel, the yuletide festivities continue with a five-course dinner and casino night. It’s a winner.
This article is also published in the November issue of Canary Wharf Magazine