News, reviews and opinions on everything to do with leisure, from hotels and holidays to food and fitness, by journalist and author Sarah Bridge
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Luxury hotel Christmas packages are getting booked early this year and with good reason. With the coronavirus pandemic far from over, it is uncertain what kind of restrictions there will be come Christmas Day but now more than ever, people want something to look forward to. After such a year, a stay at a luxury […] The post The best luxury hotel Christmas packages 2020 – my epic festive round-up appeared first on...
Luxury hotel Christmas packages are getting booked early this year and with good reason. With the coronavirus pandemic far from over, it is uncertain what kind of restrictions there will be come Christmas Day but now more than ever, people want something to look forward to.
After such a year, a stay at a luxury hotel for Christmas could be just the thing to cheer us all up. If you think of the best luxury country house hotels for Christmas you can instantly picture the festive scene: comfy sofas, roaring fires, beautiful decorations and acres of grounds for the Boxing Day walk.
While many hotels and restaurants offer pre-Christmas breaks and festive dinners, many luxury hotels, especially the best British country house hotels, offer two- or three-night festive breaks which wrap up the whole of the Christmas experience in a Christmassy package. The Christmas break often starts on Christmas Eve with welcome drinks on arrival, a festive afternoon tea, carol-singing and Christmas Eve dinner followed by Christmas morning cocktails and Christmas Day breakfast, the all-important Christmas Day lunch with all the trimmings, and then, if you’re lucky, a Boxing Day Ball.
Sprinkled among all this festivity will be Christmas presents, a Christmas film, a jigsaw or two and of course, the Queen’s Speech (Christmas at a luxury hotel is nothing if not traditional).
Added to this might be a luxury hotel spa, activities such as falconry, wine-tasting, treasure hunts, black tie dances, cocktail classes, Christmas games and quizzes (Father Christmas could even make an appearance) and probably the best thing of all: absolutely no washing up. You will be looked after, pampered, indulged and thoroughly cosseted and while all this comes at a price, well, it’s only once a year after all. (Here’s my day-by-day account of my Christmas spent last year at Ockenden Manor in West Sussex to give you an idea what to expect.) However each hotel chooses to celebrate Christmas, you can be sure of three things: it will be memorable, it won’t be cheap, and there’ll be a massive Christmas tree. Feeling festive yet?
Below is a round-up of the best luxury hotels for Christmas 2020 in the UK. The price of Christmas breaks is usually based on the cheapest room and so might be more expensive depending on what rooms the hotels have left.
All hotels should have a clear policy regarding cancellations due to Covid on their websites but if not, or for added reassurance, call them directly to find out where you stand if you are unable to make it due to Covid, or if the hotel itself has to cancel or is in a lockdown zone. Tell them that ALadyofLeisure.com said to ask!
Where I haven’t been able to find a price for Christmas 2020 I’ve kept the price from last Christmas but will add a note to that effect. If any of these Christmas hotels take your fancy then be quick as many of these will sell out – and fast. I’ve included links so you can jump to the different regions or just scroll through the whole list for Christmas inspiration. Good tidings to all!
Best hotels for Christmas in the Cotswolds
Best hotels for Christmas in South East England
Best hotels for Christmas in the New Forest
Best hotels for Christmas in South West England
Best hotels for Christmas in the Midlands
Best hotels for Christmas in the North of England
Best hotels for Christmas in Scotland
Best hotels for Christmas in Wales
Best hotels for a Christmas spa break
The hotel: Quintessential country house hotel with Michelin-starred restaurant, top spa and beautiful ornate gardens.
The Christmas package: Four days of indulgence and celebration await guests at Whatley Manor starting with a bottle of chilled sparkling wine from the acclaimed Gusbourne estate in your room, afternoon tea with musical entertainment and then the Chef’s Menu dining experience from two-Michelin-starred chef Niall Keating on 23rd December. On Christmas Eve enjoy a film in Whatley Manor’s own cinema followed by a candlelit dinner on Christmas Eve, plus optional transport to Midnight Mass at nearby Malmesbury Abbey and festive drinks on return. Christmas Day at this luxury hotel starts with a Champagne breakfast followed by a five-course lunch on Christmas Day plus board games and evening buffet. Boxing Day at Whatley Manor includes a trip to nearby Westonbirt Arboretum, a festive wine-tasting and canape reception with live jazz and a four-course black tie Gala dinner followed by dancing.
Cost of Christmas 2020 at Whatley Manor: From £3,899 per room including full use of spa based on two sharing. Dogs also welcome and will enjoy doggy treats during their stay.
Read what it’s like to stay at Whatley Manor here in my exclusive review
Compare prices and read more reviews of Whatley Manor on Tripadvisor here
Dormy House, Cotswolds, Worcestershire
The hotel: Dormy House, nestled in the hills above the Cotswolds village of Broadway, is the perfect boutique hotel, with an ultra-modern spa, cosy bedrooms, two restaurants and a great eye for what makes a lovely break.
The Christmas package: Snuggle up by the fire this Christmas for three nights of festivity at this award-winning boutique hotel. On Christmas Eve, enjoy afternoon tea and mulled wine on arrival, curl up by the roaring fire with a warming mug of hot chocolate and then feast on a three-course dinner at The Potting Shed or the Garden Room restaurants before the arrival of…guess who? On Christmas Day, enjoy a hearty Cotswolds breakfast with Bucks Fizz and Bloody Marys, followed by a Christmas Day lunch, and then for those who have room, a Christmas Day evening buffet. On Boxing Day, there is a host of Christmas activities to enjoy from cooking demonstrations to wine pairing, or walk off the Christmas treats in the Cotswold countryside. In the evening, tuck into a five-course farewell feast with live music (fingers crossed).
Cost of Dormy House hotel’s Christmas package 2020: From £2,500 based on two people sharing.
Read what it’s like to stay at Dormy House by clicking here to read my exclusive review
Check the latest prices and read more reviews of Dormy House on Tripadvisor by clicking here
The hotel: Cosy and charming award-winning boutique hotel in Cotswolds stone.
The Christmas package: Head to the Cotswolds and join this chic hotel for a three night Christmas break. Start off with cake, tea and Champagne on Christmas Eve before a three-course dinner in the hotel restaurant and a stroll if you fancy it to Midnight Mass at St Mary’s church – Covid-permitting – which is handily next door. Breakfast on Christmas Day morning starts with Bucks Fizz, followed by a five-course Christmas Lunch and a glass of Champagne, the Queen’s Speech and a selection of board games to while away the afternoon before Christmas Day evening buffet. The hotel has loads of maps for Boxing Day walks – it’s right on the Cotswolds way – and then a Boxing Day dinner to reward hikers.
Cost of staying at the Painswick for Christmas 2020: From £1,522 per room for three nights based on two people sharing, suites are from £2,212.
Read what it’s like to stay at The Painswick here in my exclusive review
Check the latest prices and read more reviews of The Painswick on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: Splendid historic manor house with beautiful grounds in the heart of picture-perfect Cotswolds village Castle Combe.
The Christmas package: Start with a festive cream tea and Champagne and canape reception before a four-dinner Christmas Eve dinner at Manor House’s Michelin-starred Bybrook restaurant. For those who wish to stroll to the local church for Midnight Mass it is just a few minute’s walk away. Between 12-3pm traditional Christmas Dinner will be served in the Bybrook restaurant while guests will be given a hamper for Christmas Day evening dinner. On Boxing Day after breakfast in your room, try your hand at laser clay-pigeon shooting, golf or festive games before gin cocktails and a four-course gourmet dinner.
Cost of Christmas package 2020 at Manor House: Three night stay from £1,500 per person based on two sharing. A four-night Christmas package is available for £1,290 per person based on two sharing.
Read what it’s like to stay at Manor House here in my exclusive review
Check the latest prices and read more reviews of Manor House on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: Gorgeously cosy and charming boutique hotel in a beautiful little Cotswolds village, with Rosemary Verey gardens, spa and private cinema.
The Christmas package: The three-day festive Christmas break includes a festive afternoon tea with a glass of fizz or mulled cider and three-course dinner on Christmas Eve showcasing Barnsley House’s ‘garden to plate’ cuisine. The spa will be open throughout your stay so you can book a Christmas Day dip in the hydrotherapy pool before a Champagne reception with canapes and indulgent three-course Christmas Day lunch, buffet dinner Christmas Day evening and a Boxing Day pie and quiz night or stroll to The Village Pub for Pie Night just yards away.
Cost of the Christmas package at Barnsley House 2020: From £2,326 for an elegant room based on two people sharing.
Read what it’s like to stay at Barnsley House here in my exclusive review
Check the latest prices and read more reviews of Barnsley House on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: Family-friendly Cotswolds luxury hotel (owned by the group behind Barnsley House, The Painswick and Lord Crewe Arms) set in 220 acres of Cotswolds countryside. Smart rooms, large spa and its very own pub make this a self-contained Cotswolds retreat.
The Christmas package: Guests are welcomed on 24th December with Christmas cake and mince pies in front of roaring log fires. That evening there’s a dinner glass of fizz followed by dinner in The Conservatory. Christmas begins with a Champagne breakfast – the spa is also open in the morning for some festive relaxing – then a traditional Christmas Lunch. Boxing Day take a stroll round Calcot Manor’s 220 acres or explore the nearby Westonbirt Arboretum and the Christmas break is finished off with a Champagne reception and dinner.
Price of Christmas 2020 at Calcot Manor: Rooms start at £2,390 per room based on two sharing.
Read what it’s like to stay at Calcot Manor in my exclusive review here
Check availability and read more reviews of Calcot Manor on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: A four-star luxury coaching inn in Broadway, the heart of the Cotswolds. Sister hotel to Cliveden and Chewton Glen and owned by the Iconic Luxury Hotels group.
The Christmas package: Unlike other hotels, Lygon Arms has gone for a ‘make your own Christmas package’ option which might be perfect if you would like more flexibility in your Christmas break. Guests can arrive on Christmas Eve, Boxing Day or even Christmas Day itself for a minimum two-night stay on a B&B basis and then you add the extras as you wish. So for example the rooms cost £345 per night, including breakfast, Christmas Eve entertainment in the form of carol singers, welcome gift and Christmas hamper. However you then add your own extras, such as Champagne afternoon tea (£40), three-course Christmas Eve dinner (£75 a head), Christmas Day lunch (£140 per person) and evening meal (£35). A Christmas tree in your room costs £125 (suites only). On Boxing Day wave-off the North Cotswold Hunt from the front door of the Lygon Arms and look forward to a three-course gala dinner with wine (£75 per person).
Cost of Christmas 2020 at The Lygon Arms: See above.
Read what it’s like to stay at The Lygon Arms in my exclusive review here
Check the latest prices and read more reviews of The Lygon Arms on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: A smart golf and spa hotel on the beautiful Bowood Estate next to Bowood House stately home.
The Christmas package: A two-night break promising a ‘magical Christmas’ including Christmas Eve Champagne afternoon tea and 3-course festive dinner, Christmas Day stockings, full Wiltshire breakfast and traditional Christmas lunch followed by a visit from Father Christmas and dinner in the evening with entertainment. Access to spa facilities and the golf course available at extra cost.
Cost of Christmas break at Bowood hotel and spa 2020: From £440 per person for a two-night break – a third night is also available.
Read what it’s like to stay at Bowood hotel here in my exclusive review
Check the latest prices and read more reviews of Bowood House on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: The Fish bills itself as a ‘back-to-nature bolthole’ with a little touch of luxury and is owned by the group behind the excellent Dormy House (see review at the top of this article).
The Christmas package: Afternoon tea with a glass of mulled wine on arrival on Christmas Eve followed by a winter BBQ. Christmas Day begins with a hearty Cotswolds breakfast with Bucks Fizz followed by Christmas Day dinner with all the trimmings and for those who still have room, graze on the Chef’s supper in the evening. On Boxing day explore the 400 acres estate on mini-quad bikes or burn of the calories with laser clay shooting.
Cost for Christmas 2020 at The Fish hotel: Prices from £1,250 based on two people sharing a medium room.
Check the latest prices and read more reviews of the Fish Hotel on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: A luxurious grade 1 listed, five star luxury hotel on the Bedfordshire border which has starred in several films including Four Weddings and a Funeral and Eyes Wide Shut. The vast 1,065 acre estate is perfect for a Christmas ramble and the hotel has its own championship golf course and fleet of London taxis to ferry guests around.
The Christmas package at Luton Hoo: The hotel is currently updating its Christmas plans but is likely to be on the same lines as last year. On Christmas Eve guests get a tour of the historic mansion, can take part in gin-tasting or have a swim in the spa, followed by dinner in the opulent Wernher restaurant with its glittering chandeliers. Christmas Day starts with gifts from Father Christmas, traditional Christmas lunch, tea and Christmas cake followed by dinner in the lounge. On Boxing Day try clay pigeon shooting, crossbow and archery on the lawn, and a Champagne dinner in the evening.
Cost of Luton Hoo’s Christmas package 2020: Likely to be from £915 per person for three nights based on two sharing.
Read what it’s like to stay at Luton Hoo here in my exclusive review
Check the latest prices and read more reviews of Luton Hoo on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: A 350-year old country house set in 376 acres of magnificent formal gardens and woodland, Cliveden is one of Britain’s grandest country houses and fittingly promises an ‘iconic’ Christmas house party. The hotel where Meghan Markle spent the night before marrying Prince Harry is a Grade 1-listed stately home complete with antique furniture and a thoroughly modern spa and guests can expect a Christmas celebration worthy of Downton Abbey.
The Christmas package: Christmas Eve starts with mulled wine and mince pies and a champagne and canape reception with carol singers followed by a three-course gourmet black tie dinner with wines, while there’s a three-course Christmas lunch with wines on the big day itself. On Boxing Day there’s a brunch buffet followed by a ‘butler’s tour’ of the stunning building followed by Christmas cake, then dinner with wines and dancing.
Cost of Cliveden House hotel’s Christmas House Party 2020: Prices start from £3,900 based on two sharing.
Read what it’s like to stay at Cliveden here in my exclusive review
Compare prices and read more reviews of Cliveden on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: Five-star Michelin-restaurant hotel near Ascot, set in 240 acres of Berkshire parkland. Coworth Park is the only hotel in the UK with its own polo fields and also has an award-winning spa.
The Christmas package: Festive Champagne afternoon tea on arrival with festive singing followed by Christmas card-making, family board games and story-time in the Oak Room followed by a three-course dinner at Restaurant Coworth Park or The Barn and optional transfers to Holy Trinity Sunningdale for the midnight service. Father Christmas will be in the lobby on Christmas morning followed by champagne, canapes and entertainment in the Drawing Room and a four-course Christmas lunch at The Barn or five-course lunch at Restaurant Coworth Park and live entertainment in the evening. Boxing day there’s a chocolate masterclass, children’s party, afternoon tea with harpist and wine-tasting followed by a three dinner and entertainment.
The cost of the Christmas package at Coworth Park 2020: Rooms from £1,470 per room, per night based on double occupancy, suites from from £1,640 per room per night.
Compare prices and read more reviews of Coworth Park on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: Luxury country house hotel and spa with 90 acres of land and impeccable customer service.
The Christmas package: A three-night break at Hartwell promises to be a luxurious and traditional affair, with cream tea, Champagne reception and three-course dinner with wine pairings on Christmas Eve, Bucks Fizz reception followed by four-course Christmas lunch with wine, the Queen’s Speech in the lounge with tea and Christmas cake, and a Boxing Day farewell black tie casino evening with Prosecco reception, three-course dinner and wine pairings.
Cost of staying at Hartwell House for Christmas 2020: From £1,165 based on two sharing
Read what it’s like to stay at Hartwell House here in my exclusive review
Check prices and read more reviews of Hartwell House on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: The view from the hotel’s terrace will take your breath away – rolling lawns surrounded by Ashdown Forest (which inspired Winnie-the-Pooh creator AA Milne). The 106-bedroom hotel in 186 acre-estate is full of beautiful historic rooms and even boasts its own spa and chapel.
The Christmas package: Ashdown Park is yet to finalise its Christmas offering but it’s likely to be along similar lines as last year’s which was: starting with a Christmas Eve champagne and canape reception with carols, a candlelit dinner in its Anderida restaurant, hot toddies and mince pies to welcome people returning from Midnight Mass. Christmas Day begins with breakfast, mince pies and mulled wine – and a visit from Father Christmas – and continues with a buffet lunch, afternoon champagne quiz and then a five-course traditional Christmas Dinner in the evening. Boxing Day treats includes clay pigeon shooting, archery and a falconry display, a quiz and a treasure hunt and after a Black Tie gala dinner, a casino evening with roulette and live music. Spa access included throughout the stay
Cost of Christmas 2019 at Ashdown Park hotel: From £999 per person for three nights, £1,134 for the four-night package based on two people sharing.
Read what it’s like to stay at Ashdown Park hotel in my exclusive review here
Check availability and read more reviews of Ashdown Park hotel on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: This 17th century five-star luxury hotel, situated just outside Winchester has luxurious suites, award-winning dining, stunning views across Hampshire and is home to Season, the Exclusive Hotels Cookery School where you can learn from award-winning chefs.
The Christmas package: Choose between a three-night or four-night stay, starting with a two-hour Christmas baking experience in the cookery school, followed by a four-course dinner with wines to match. On Christmas Day there’s Champagne and canapés before a five-course Christmas Lunch served with wine pairing to match and evening buffet. Boxing Day choose between archery or clay pigeon shooting have another chance to visit the cookery school and then a Boxing Day evening Champagne and five-course dinner with wine pairings. Four-night night guests can enjoy a private tour and tasting at Black Chalk Valley before a final farewell dinner.
Cost of Christmas at Lainston House: Three-night stay from £2,240 and four-nights from £2,650, prices per room based on two sharing.
My exclusive review of Lainston House is coming soon!
Check prices and read more reviews of Lainston House on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: 120-bedroom luxury hotel with one of the finest hotel spas in the country, covering 45,000 sq ft and with eight indoor and outdoor pools (one with underwater music), saunas, steam rooms, bubbling hot tubs, ice-cold plunge pools and a salt scrub ice cave. There’s also a gym, nine-hole golf course, tennis courts and 120 acres of parkland with paths and cycling trails and several restaurants and bars.
The Christmas package: Start the celebrations off with a welcome High Tea and a glass of fizz, or relax in the vast spa before Christmas Eve dinner in the Brasserie or Latymer restaurants. Christmas starts with – possibly – a surprise from Santa, followed by more pampering in the spa, a ‘gastronomic delight’ Christmas lunch, then relaxing before a grazing dinner and delivery of a cheese hamper at 10pm.
Cost of Christmas 2020 at Pennyhill Park: From £2,030 for the three night package based on two people sharing. There is an extra cost if dining in the Latymer restaurant.
Read my exclusive review of Pennyhill Park here
Check prices and read more reviews of Pennyhill Park on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: Just yards from Climping Beach, Bailiffscourt feels far older than its 90 years, with four-poster beds and its own 13th-century chapel in its 30 acres – but its large spa is bang up to date.
The Christmas package: Arrive on Christmas Eve for a Sussex Sparkling afternoon tea, a mulled wine drinks reception accompanied by carol singers, buffet dinner and Midnight Mass followed by mulled wine and home-made mince pies. Christmas Day starts with a full English breakfast with Bucks Fizz, a sparkling wine reception with canapés followed by a traditional Christmas lunch, tea and Christmas cake and a light buffet supper. For Boxing Day there is mulled wine with marshmallows by the open fires, tea and home-made cake followed by a gala dinner. Full use of the spa and swimming pools included.
Cost of spending Christmas 2020 at Bailiffscourt: From £1,105 per person based on two people sharing
What is it like to stay at Bailiffscourt? Click here to find out
Check prices and read more reviews of Bailiffscourt on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: In the pretty village of Cuckfield, 28-room Ockenden Manor combines the history of an Elizabethan manor house with a first-class modern spa.
The Christmas package: Start off with an indulgent afternoon tea, a Sussex sparkling wine reception with carols from the local church choir then dinner in the elegant restaurant. There’s the option of Midnight mass followed by mulled wine and home-made mince pies. For Christmas Day there’s a continental breakfast, sparkling wine reception with canapés followed by a six course lunch, tea and Christmas cake, light buffet supper with harpist accompaniment in the evening. On Boxing Day enjoy a full English breakfast with Sussex sparkling wine, full afternoon tea with Christmas Cake and cocktails before a gourmet dinner – plus full use of its award-winning spa and swimming pools.
Cost for Ockenden Manor’s Christmas package 2020: From £1,065 per person based on two sharing.
I spent last Christmas at Ockenden Manor – read all about my fabulously festive Christmas break here
The hotel: Part of Exclusive Hotels group (which also includes Pennyhill Park and Manor House), South Lodge is a luxury hotel in West Sussex overlooking the South Downs, with a brand new spa and individually-designed bedrooms.
The two-day Christmas package: Arrive from midday to mulled wine and mince pies before finding your very own Christmas tree in your room (surprise gifts will appear in your personal hidey-hole in the Grand Hall throughout the break). There’s a sparkling drinks reception with a choir in the evening, followed by a three-course welcome dinner in The Camellia or Botanica restaurants. The spa will be open throughout the festivities. After Christmas breakfast, enjoy traditional Christmas lunch in the South Downs Suite on Christmas Day and then enjoy a luxury hamper in your room over a classic Christmas film in the evening. If you can’t bear to leave on Boxing Day then you can stay an extra night on a B&B basis.
The cost of the 2020 Christmas package at South Lodge: Two-night stay from £1,690 based on two sharing.
Read what it’s like to stay at South Lodge in my exclusive review here
Check prices and read more reviews of South Lodge on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: Part of Historic Sussex Hotels, The Spread Eagle has been a fixture in the pretty town of Midhurst for almost 600 years, with notable guests including Queen Elizabeth I (the room she stayed in has a four-poster bed and a wig closet).
The Christmas package: Enjoy afternoon tea and a sparkling wine reception with carols and canapes before a Christmas Eve dinner and optional trip to Midnight Mass with mulled wine and mince pies after. Start Christmas Day with a full English breakfast and sparkling wine before a traditional Christmas lunch with a pianist, then festive supper with harp accompaniment. Boxing Day ends with a dinner in its stunning Jacobean hall. Full use of its award-winning spa and swimming pools throughout the stay.
The cost of Christmas 2020 at The Spread Eagle: Three-night stay for two people from £930.
Read what it’s like to stay at The Spread Eagle in my exclusive review here
Check prices and read more reviews of The Spread Eagle on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: Five-star luxury hotel in Newquay with private self-catering cottages set on an exclusive clifftop overlooking Fistral beach. The hotel says it’s a mix of ‘discreet English ambiance and decadent hospitality’ and offers ocean views, a top spa and fine -dining.
The Christmas package: The Headland is yet to reveal its Christmas break details but promises a ‘wonderful festive break’. Last year there was festive tea and cake followed by carols from the Newquay Town Band on Christmas Eve, before a Champagne reception and jazz-accompanied candlelit dinner. Christmas Day started with a Buck’s Fizz breakfast and an appearance by Mrs Claus, then a five-course festive lunch and carols around the piano. The Cornish coastline is a great place for a Boxing Day stroll and in the evening after dinner there was a ‘Casino Royale’ themed black tie event.
The cost of Christmas 2020 at The Headland hotel: Three-night minimum stay is £260 per room per night based on two people sharing including breakfast and dinner each day.
Read my exclusive review on what it’s like to stay at The Headland hotel here
Check availability and read more reviews of The Headland hotel on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: Taking over a whole bay, Watergate Bay is a sprawling but smart boutique hotel which embraces the elements from surfing to swimming while providing luxury with its own pool, hot tubs, bars, restaurants and epic views.
The Christmas package: Watergate Bay is offering an epic four-night Christmas back this year which promises to be a memorable one. Start your break on the 23rd December with a stroll along the beach, a dip in the pool or just get stuck into the mulled wine. There’s crafts, reindeer making, games, carol singing and cake followed by dinner. On Christmas Eve there’s the chance to surf or body board, or try wreath-making, then bubbly, early evening carols and canapés around the tree before dinner and laid-back entertainment. Christmas Day there’s a Champagne breakfast and festive lunch while on Boxing Day gather for Watergate Bay’s ‘legendary family challenge.’
The cost of Christmas 2020 at Watergate Bay: From £960 per person based on two sharing, and from £1,688 for full sea views
My review of Watergate Bay is coming soon!
Check availability and read more reviews of Watergate Bay on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: A stunning but welcoming grand historic hotel in the heart of Dartmoor.
The Christmas package: Bovey Castle transforms into a ‘Winter Wonderland’ every year and the setting couldn’t be grander. Arrive on Christmas Eve for a host of festive activities including cider and sloe gin making, plus afternoon tea and a storyteller for all the family. The evening includes welcome drinks, and a five-course candlelit dinner. On Christmas Day Father Christmas will be handing out presents to younger guests before a brass rubbing trail and a fabulous Christmas Day lunch in the Great Western Restaurant. After breakfast on Boxing Day, sign up for the golf tournament or a guided walk, take part in a treasure hunt in the castle grounds while the afternoon enjoy ferret racing or nearest the pin golf competition, with hot chocolate and mulled wine. The day finishes with a five-course black tie dinner and entertainment in the Great Western Restaurant.
Cost of Bovey Castle’s Christmas package 2020: From £1,350 per person for a three-night stay based on two sharing.
Read what it’s like to stay at Bovey Castle here
Check prices and read more reviews of Bovey Castle on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: A charming boutique hotel right on the coast at Babbacombe Bay and just a few miles from Torquay. From the welcome glass of sloe gin to the excellent locally-sourced food, cosy spa and luxury beach suites, Cary Arms is a memorable place to stay.
The Christmas package: Cary Arms is throwing a Christmas ‘house party’ for its guests – a three-night stay including cocktail parties, dinners and entertainment. Arrive on Christmas Eve and settle into your room with its wild and wintery sea views with a glass of mulled wine before a Christmas Eve cocktail party. Christmas Day arrives with a Champagne breakfast, then a five-course lunch and an afternoon relaxing over billiards before a ‘crazy’ Christmas quiz. Boxing Day can be spent in its spa or enjoying a blustery walk along the bay and enjoying Cary Arms spectacular location.
Cost of Cary Arm’s Christmas package 2020: Starting from £1,790 for a double room based on two sharing.
Read what it’s like to stay at Cary Arms and spa in my exclusive review here
Check prices and read more reviews of Cary Arms and spa on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: A Grade 2-listed 21-bedroom Georgian manor house with 28 acres and Michelin-starred chef Michael Caines.
The Christmas package: Arrive on Christmas Eve to mince pies and mulled wine before joining other guests for wine-tasting. In the evening enjoy aperitifs and canapés followed by Michael’s eight-course tasting menu in the Georgian fine dining rooms. Afterwards there’s the option to have a chauffeured service to Midnight Mass at Exeter Cathedral. There’s a champagne breakfast on Christmas Day, followed by a five course Christmas lunch menu – plus chef Michael Caine’s mum’s famous Christmas pudding, then on Boxing Day take a stroll around the grounds of Lympstone Manor or join a guided walk for an excursion along the coastline and River Exe with a local guide.
Cost of Christmas 2020 at Lympstone Manor: Three nights from £869 per night based on two people sharing.
Check prices and read more reviews of Lympstone Manor on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: Five-star 16th century country manor house near Plymouth with an award-winning Gaia Spa with indoor swimming pool, hydrotherapy pool, Finnish sauna, crystal salt steam room and alfresco hot tubs.
The Christmas package: Arrive to a warm welcome and a glass of mulled wine before a history tour of this Elizabethan house. Christmas Eve dinner is in the 3 Rosette restaurant with wine-pairings. Christmas Day starts with a Devonshire breakfast and an optional Christmas Day walk on Dartmoor (the spa will also be open) followed by four-course Christmas lunch. Later there’s Christmas cake and guests are encouraged to participate in Boringdon Hall’s Christmas Day tradition, the ‘Call my Bluff’ wine game. In the evening, a Christmas buffet dinner will be served, and The Swing Kings will perform live music in the Great Hall while Boxing Day activities include a falconry presentation and four-course black-tie dinner with live entertainment.
The cost of spending Christmas 2020 at Boringdon Hall: Three night Christmas break from £2,100 per couple, four-nights from £2,400 per couple including dining, all drinks and ‘frivolities’.
Check prices and read more review of Boringdon Hall on Tripadvisor by clicking here
The hotel: Charming traditional hotel with stunning garden views overlooking Lyme Regis and the Jurassic Coast.
The Christmas package: The Alexandra is not offering a Christmas package this year thanks to Covid but it still offering guests the chance to stay at this unique hotel for a minimum of three nights over the Christmas period. Rooms and self-catering apartments are available and meals including a seven-course Christmas Day lunch tasting menu, afternoon teas and Christmas Eve and Boxing Day menus are available for extra cost.
Cost of the Christmas at The Alexandra 2020: From £216 per room per night without sea view, £303 with sea view, self-catering from £384. Christmas Day lunch £150 and afternoon tea £30 per person.
Read what it’s like to stay at The Alexandra in my exclusive review here
Check prices and read more reviews of the Alexandra hotel on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: Just a few short steps from the historic Abbey town of Sherborne, The Eastbury Hotel is a charming boutique Georgian period listed townhouse dating from 1740 set within a walled garden and recently acquired by Peter & Lana de Savary.
The Christmas package: Settle in with a complimentary sloe gin before the Christmas Eve cocktail party accompanied by live music followed by Christmas Eve supper. Champagne English breakfast begins Christmas Day followed by a seven-course Christmas lunch in its award-winning Seasons restaurant. Explore Sherborne on Boxing Day or relax in the new hotel spa.
Cost of Christmas 2020 at The Eastbury: From £1,475 for the three-night break based on two sharing.
Read what it’s like to stay at The Eastbury in my brand new review here
Check latest prices and read more reviews of The Eastbury on Tripadvisor here
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The hotel: A mile-long tree-lined drive leads to gorgeous Lucknam Park, with a top spa, Michelin-starred restaurant, beautiful grounds and a grand but welcoming country house feel.
The Christmas package: Afternoon tea on Christmas Eve followed by a champagne reception with carols fromperformed by the local Parish Choir and Christmas Eve dinner in Lucknam Park’s Michelin-starred Restaurant Hywel Jones. Midnight Mass at Colerne Parish Church followed by hot chocolate, mince pies and mulled wine in the library. Christmas Day and Father Christmas arrives in a Victorian horse-drawn carriage to deliver presents and offer rides around the estate. Guests can expect a traditional Christmas Lunch with harpist accompaniment followed by the Queen’s Speech. On Boxing Day there’s the chance to visit the Theatre Royal, Bath for the pantomime or enjoy relaxing at Lucknam with a light lunch. The day ends with cream tea, Champagne reception and Boxing Day black-tie dinner and dancing.
Cost of the Christmas package at Lucknam Park for 2020: From £1,155 per room per night for the three-night package based on two sharing
Read what it’s like to stay at Lucknam Park in my exclusive review here
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The hotel: A five star, 250-year old hotel in Bath’s stunning Royal Crescent in the heart of this beautiful city.
The Christmas package: Arrive to mulled wine and festive afternoon tea in the Royal Crescent’s traditional drawing room or head straight for the spa – or Bath for some last-minute shopping. Meet fellow guests at a Champagne and canape reception with carol singers before a three-course Christmas Eve dinner. Transport for Bath Abbey for Midnight Mass is also on offer, with a winter cocktail and mince pies awaiting guests on their return. On Christmas Day itself, the spa will be open all day so you can squeeze some pampering in between Christmas lunch with all the trimmings, before a light buffet supper if you still have room. Boxing Day treats include afternoon tea, Champagne reception and a casino with ‘fun money’ and festive prizes plus a five-course Farewell Festive dinner with wines.
Cost of Royal Crescent hotel and spa’s Christmas package 2020: From £1,593 per person based on two sharing
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The hotel: Less than a few furlongs from the world-famous Cheltenham racecourse, Ellenborough Park is an impressive, 15th century luxury Cotswolds manor house with the racing theme running from the hotel bar to the rooms.
The Christmas package: Ellenborough Park is offering two and three-night packages. On Christmas Eve enjoy a welcome glass of mulled wine and some festive mince pies before a three-course dinner. Christmas Day starts off with a hearty Cotwolds breakfast, Champagne and canapes, Christmas Day lunch and night buffet dinner. Guests can hike Ellenborourgh Park’s 90 acres, swim in the heated outdoor pool or opt for a range of country pursuits including archery, clay pigeon shooting, Land Rover off-roading, duck herding or even dog-sledding with a pack of Siberian huskies.
Cost of Christmas 2020 at Ellenborough Park: From £789 per night based on two people sharing for the two night Christmas package, or from £709 for the three night Christmas package
Read what’s it like to stay at Ellenborough Park in my exclusive review here
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The hotel: A smart yet relaxed spa hotel in beautiful grounds just outside Cheltenham, part of the excellent Eden Hotels collection.
The Christmas package: Arrive Christmas Eve for Champagne cream tea with piano accompaniment to start off Greenway’s Christmas Experience before joining guests for a four course dinner.. Transport to Midnight Mass will be provided followed by roasted chestnuts and mulled wine on your return. On Christmas Day wake up to Bucks Fizz breakfast before cocktails and a six-course Christmas Day lunch. Spend the afternoon in the spa if you wish, then pens at the ready for the Christmas quiz. On Boxing Day after enjoying your day at leisure or shopping in nearby Cheltenham, return in the afternoon for tea and cakes in the front of the fire, before enjoying a four course candlelit dinner.
Cost for Greenway Hotel’s Christmas package 2020: From £665 per person, based on a three night stay or from £770 for a four night break.
Read what it’s like to stay at Greenway hotel in my exclusive review here
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The hotel: Part of the lovely Cotswolds Inns and Hotels group, itself owned by Fuller’s, the Hare and Hounds is a grand-looking hotel with expansive gardens just outside the pretty Cotswolds village of Tetbury and just a few minutes’ drive from the popular Westonbirt Arboretum. The hotel has a onsite fine-dining restaurant as well as its very own Jack Hare’s bar.
The Christmas package: Arrive on Christmas Eve to a warm welcome, tea and homemade scones, then the evening festivities will commence with Champagne and canapés, followed by a delicious five-course dinner with live music from the guest pianist. Christmas Day starts with a traditional Cotswold breakfast, then there’s time for opening presents and relaxing. The main event of Christmas day lunch with all the trimmings will then be followed by a light evening supper later on. On Boxing Day, enjoy a hearty breakfast before a day spent at leisure with plenty of tea and Christmas cake before a black tie dinner in the evening. On the 27th it’s time for a fond farewell… but not before one last Cotswold breakfast.
Cost of Christmas 2020 at the Hare and Hounds: Prices for a three-night stay from £720 per person, based on two people sharing.
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The hotel: Like the Hare and Hounds above, the Bear of Rodborourgh near Stroud is part of Cotswolds Inns and Hotels and is a spacious 17th-century coaching inn on Minchinhampton Common, making it perfect for country walks in the Cotswolds.
The Christmas package: Start off with full afternoon tea, before a glass of Champagne and four-course dinner in the evening. Wake up on Christmas Day for a traditional Cotswold breakfast with Bucks Fizz, before enjoying some time to relax and open presents. There’s then a Christmas lunch with all the trimmings, with time for tea and Christmas Cake in the afternoon and a light supper in the evening. On Boxing Day, start off with a leisurely Cotswold brunch and in the evening there’s a four-course dinner and music from a harpist.
Cost of a Christmas stay at The Bear of Rodborough: Prices for a three-night stay from £560 per person, based on two people sharing, prices for a two-night stay from £443.
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The hotel: Classic British luxury from one of the most established country house hotels, with a world-class spa and luxury treehouses on stilts in the forest. Part of Iconic Luxury Hotels which also owns Cliveden and Lygon Arms in the Cotswolds.
The Christmas package: Start off the Christmas house party with afternoon tea with mince pies and mulled wine before a Champagne reception and welcome with carols, then a Christmas Eve dinner with wines and piano accompaniment. Breakfast at leisure before a Champagne reception and Christmas lunch with wines followed by a festive cream tea with Christmas cocktails and canapés and buffet dinner. On Boxing Day there’s a black tie four-course dinner with wines followed by dancing.
Cost of spending Christmas 2020 at Chewton Glen: From £4,410 per room based on two sharing.
Read what it’s like to stay at Chewton Glen in my exclusive review here
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The hotel: It bills itself as a ‘New Forest restaurant with rooms but there’s much more to Burley Manor than excellent food: this historic manor house surrounded with fields has been loving restored into a unique boutique hotel with a sense of tradition as well as style.
The Christmas package: Burley Manor says ‘there’s nothing quite like the cosiness of our Manor at Christmas with roaring open log fires, trees with lights that sparkle, lots of cosy nooks to snuggle up and frost-covered countryside views. There’s carols from the local choir on Christmas Eve, a movie night in the Drawing room on Christmas Day, with a treasure hunt and big quiz of the year on Boxing Day. If you’d rather spend your time outdoors, there’s acres of gardens and woodland to amble around too. In between it’s one long feast, and a big sit-down lunch, but slightly different to the traditional way with a five-course menu infused with flavours of the Mediterranean, and tapas sharing boards in the evening on Christmas Day.
The cost of Christmas at Burley Manor: From £1,079 per room.
Read my exclusive review of what it’s like to stay at Burley Manor here
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The hotel: Practically perfect country house hotel, small but perfectly formed, with a Michelin-star restaurant, cosy bar, traditional rooms and beautiful grounds leading down to Rutland Water.
The Christmas package: The hotel is just finalising its Christmas package for this year but you are assured of a fabulously festive stay at this gorgeous hotel. Last year’s guests enjoyed a glass of mulled wine while checking into theirs room before indulging in a gourmet four-course dinner for two. Christmas Day they enjoyed a full English breakfast and a six-course traditional Christmas lunch with all the trimmings. The next day after a hearty full English breakfast guests depart for the annual Boxing Day picnic at Fort Henry (with Lord Gainsborough’s permission) – the hotel takes along a fine hot meat pie, cheeses and dessert and guests wrap up warm inside the Fort with a log fire blazing.
Cost for Christmas at Hambleton Hall 2020: To be confirmed
Read what it’s like to stay at Hambleton Hall in my exclusive review here
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The hotel: Stapleford Park country house hotel and sporting estate is surrounded by 500 acres of Capability Brown landscape in the heart of Leicestershire with a golf course, luxury spa and 55 rooms in a Grade I-listed mansion.
The Christmas package: There’s a classic Christmas package on offer at Stapleford Park, starting with mulled wine and mince pies on arrival, a cream tea buffet and Champagne reception with canapés ahead of a Christmas Eve dinner. The morning starts in decadent style with sloe gin and mince pies on Christmas morning with Santa, followed by a traditional Christmas Day lunch, Christmas cake and tea on Christmas Day, while on Boxing Day there’s breakfast and lunch followed by a ‘country pursuits taster’, with the Christmas break ending in pre-dinner drinks and canapés and a Boxing day dinner.
Cost of Christmas 2020 at Stapleford Park: From £999 per person based on two people sharing over the three-night break; two-night packages available from £712 per person.
Read my brand new review of what it’s like to stay at Stapleford Park hotel here
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The hotel: Lutyens-style grand manor hotel and grounds with designer room and art deco brasserie.
The Christmas package: Arrive on Christmas Eve to afternoon tea, then mulled wine and carols from St Mary’s Choir of Boys and Men, followed by Taste of the Season menu served in The Manor House. On Christmas Day enjoy a traditional four-course Christmas Day lunch with a glass of champagne on arrival. Christmas Cake and tea will be served in the lounge in the afternoon and a light supper will be served in the evening. On Boxing Day enjoy a sumptuous three-course dinner in The Dining Room.
Cost for Christmas 2020 at Mallory Court: From £629 per person for two sharing
Read what it’s like to stay at Mallory Court in my exclusive review here
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The hotel: Located in the heart of historic Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace, and directly opposite the world-renowned Royal Shakespeare Company Theatres, The Arden Hotel, Stratford is a sophisticated 45-bedroom boutique hotel.
The Christmas package: Enjoy afternoon tea on arrival, then relax and unwind before a welcome drink and a three-course dinner served in No44 Brasserie on The Waterside. Visit Shakespeare’s resting place at Holy Trinity Church for Midnight Mass and return to a warming glass of mulled wine or sherry and a mince pie. Start the day with a full English breakfast and maybe a walk around historic Stratford before Champagne, canapés and a five-course Christmas Day lunch in No44 Brasserie, followed later by a light informal supper. Boxing Day feel free to explore the Warwickshire
countryside before a glass of bubbly and a four-course gourmet dinner will be served in the evening.
Cost of staying at The Arden hotel for Christmas: From £425 per person, based on two sharing.
Check availability and read more reviews of The Arden hotel on Tripadvisor here
[See also separate entries for Dormy House and Lygon Arms in the Cotswolds section at the top of this article]
The hotel: This former manor house set in the Worcestershire countryside is a charming, relaxing and luxurious place to relax and enjoy delicious food and wine.
The Christmas package: Arrive to afternoon tea in the lounge and enjoy a glass of mulled wine and carols from Kidderminster
Male Choir, before an evening four-course dinner. Wake to a Champagne breakfast and take in the festive atmosphere before enjoying a glass of Champagne and canapés and a magnificent seven course Christmas Day lunch. Join in the Christmas Day quiz before enjoying a light informal supper. Following breakfast there’s the chance to take a trip on the Severn Valley Railway. Enjoy tea and Christmas cake in the afternoon and a four course dinner in The Chaddesley Restaurant in the evening.
The cost of Christmas at Brockencote Hall hotel: From £650 per person based on two sharing.
Read what it’s like to stay at Brockencote Hall in my recent review here
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The hotel: Dating back to the 1760s the hotel blends heritage with modern interiors and is set in a 2,000 acres estates with gardens designed by Capability Brown.
The Christmas package: Check-in from 3pm, but guests are welcome to book some pampering in the spa before festive afternoon tea in the stunning Grand Hall followed by Champagne and canapés with carols led by the local choir. A three-course dinner is served in the Cedar Restaurant from 6.30pm and afterwards, guests are invited to join midnight mass or the Christmas Day services at the nearby village church. Guests awaken on Christmas Day to a Champagne breakfast in time for Santa’s arrival. Guests can then guess the weight of the house Christmas cake or play board games in the lounge, take a crisp winter stroll or warm up in the spa. A traditional Christmas lunch with all the trimmings is served from midday and the Queen’s Speech will be on in the hotel’s cinema before showing a host of classic Christmas films. Buffet will be served from 7.30pm. On Boxing Day, guests will be served cooked breakfast before departing or can extend the celebrations with a third night and join the guided walk to the local village of Badby or alternatively relax with a board game, make the most of the spa or hit the sales at nearby shopping outlets before an afternoon cream tea buffet. A final festive break à la carte dinner will be served from 7pm.
Cost of Christmas package at Fawsley Hall 2020: Two nights from £1,035 based on two sharing, three nights from £1,330
Read what it’s like to stay at Fawsley Hall in my recent review here
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The hotel: Luxury half-timbered 15th century hotel at the heart of the historic village of Lavenham in Suffolk. The cosy hotel with oak beamed interiors, roaring log fires, cosy nooks and delicious food plus a spa is the perfect place to enjoy a three-night festive package.
The Christmas package: A Christmas Eve mulled wine welcome followed by cream tea, Champagne and canapes and a four-course candlelit dinner in the Gallery restaurant. Afterwards there’s Midnight Mass in the beautifully decorated church of St Peter and St Paul, before returning to the hotel for a late-night glass of mulled wine and mince pies in your room. On Christmas Day after a leisurely breakfast enjoy a glass a Champagne served before a traditional five-course lunch with all the trimmings. For those who are still hungry, there’s an informal supper in the evening while on Boxing Day there’s a three-course lunch and a candlelit dinner plus an optional guided walk around the historic medieval village of Lavenham.
Cost of Christmas 2020 at The Swan at Lavenham: The three-night package starts from £1,839 for two sharing.
Read what it’s like to stay at The Swan at Lavenham in my exclusive review here
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The hotel: An immaculate, smart, 35-room boutique hotel in the lovely Suffolk town of Southwold. Owned by Adnams brewery, the hotel has great rooms, excellent food and drink and is less than a minute’s walk from the Suffolk coast.
The Christmas package: A team of butlers will greet guests arriving for The Swan’s three-night Christmas break with a mulled wine or hot chocolate and each room will have been beautifully decorated for the occasion. There’s afternoon tea on Christmas Eve followed by a three-course feast served in The Still Room restaurant and guests will find a hamper of festive treats has been delivered to their rooms. On on Christmas Day a four-course lunch with all the trimmings will be served in The Still Room, following which guests can relax by the fire or take a walk along Southwold beach. On Boxing Day, a full English brunch is on offer before encouraging guests to explore the range of boutique shops and cosy cafés on the high-street. On this final evening, dine at leisure in The Tap Room or Still Room with live jazz and acoustic music performance from a local artist.
The cost of a Christmas stay at The Swan, Southwold 2020: The Swan’s Christmas Escape starts from £1,790, based on two adults sharing a room.
Read my review of The Swan in Southwold here
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The hotel: Set in one of Britain’s best seaside locations, the stylish 44-bedroom, four-star hotel is just a step away from the shingle beach with magnificent panoramic sea views to the front, while at the back it overlooks the river Alde and surrounding countryside. The Brudenell features coastal themed decor and fresh, locally sourced food.
The Christmas package: Arrive on Christmas Eve and you will be welcomed with tea, scones and a warming glass of mulled wine to put you in the festive spirit. Then take your table for a three-course celebratory dinner in the Seafood & Grill restaurant with its great sea views. Start Christmas day with a full Suffolk breakfast, or perhaps something lighter and save your appetite for the epic six-course banquet, which will be served from 12.30pm starting with a glass of champagne followed by roast Suffolk turkey and all the trimmings. On Boxing Day enjoy a late breakfast then explore the local area or take a bracing walk along the seafront. Lunch and then dinner will be served in the evening.
Cost for the Brudenell Christmas package 2020: Prices start from £1,200 for the three-night package based on two sharing an inland-facing Aldeburgh room or £800 for a single room.
Read what it’s like to stay at the Brudenell Hotel in my exclusive review here
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The hotel: The White Lion Hotel, Aldeburgh is right on the Suffolk coast and overlooks the fishermen’s huts along the beach.
The Christmas package: Celebrations start on arrival at the hotel with a festive afternoon tea and glass of mulled wine served in the Brasserie. Later enjoy a glass of fizz and sit down to a three-course dinner in one of the hotel’s candlelit restaurants. After a Bucks Fizz breakfast on Christmas morning, there’s time for a refreshing walk along the coast to build up an appetite for the traditional six-course lunch including roast Norfolk turkey with all the trimmings. A cold supper of festive favourites and table quiz follow in the evening. On Boxing Day, wrap up warm and explore the local area during the afternoon before a light supper.
Cost for Christmas 2020 at the White Lion, Aldeburgh: From £560 per person based on two sharing an Aldeburgh-facing room, sea view rooms available at a supplement.
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The hotel: Beautiful traditional Middlethorpe Hall is a William III country house just two miles from York’s city centre, yet is set in 20 acres of its own beautiful gardens and parkland and just next to York Racecourse.
The Christmas package: Arrive for afternoon tea delicacies in the Drawing Room followed by Champagne and canapés reception, followed by carols sung by a local choir. A three-course candlelit dinner will then be served in the Pineapple and Oak Rooms from 8.15pm. Guests might wish to attend Midnight Mass in St Andrew’s Parish Church or at the glorious York Minster and will be welcomed with a glass of port and mince pies upon return. On Christmas Day there’s a Bucks Fizz reception, followed by traditional four-course lunch. The Queen’s Speech will be shown in the Drawing Room, with a service of tea, coffee and mince pies. In the evening, sample the delights of a Christmas buffet. Boxing Day possibilities include pampering in the Middlethorpe Spa, pantomime at the York Theatre Royal, a picnic luncheon in the Yorkshire Dales or an exciting day of horse racing at Wetherby. On Boxing Day evening there’s a black-tie banqueting four-course dinner with wine, accompanied by jazz tunes on the piano, and later a fun casino evening.
Cost of Christmas 2020 at Middlethorpe Hall:
Read what it’s like to stay at Middlethorpe Hall in my exclusive new review here
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The hotel: Luxury but modern hotel in the heart of the historic village of Helmsley, with an award-winning, spa, smart restaurant and great spa bedrooms overlooking the hotel’s central swimming pool and hot tub.
The Christmas package: Arrive to a mini afternoon tea in the comfy lounge before a glass of fizz and evening meal in the Weathervane restaurant. For those who wish to attend, Mass takes place at the historic All Saints Church. Mulled wine and mince pies on return. Christmas Day starts with a Bucks Fizz breakfast before a sumptuous Christmas lunch with Champagne and canapes before the feast. On Boxing Day following a hearty breakfast, why not take a Boxing Day walk to Rievaulx Abbey or relax in the Verbena Spa before joining fellow guests for a Boxing Day gala dinner.
Cost of Christmas 2020 at Feversham Arms: From £1,409 for a deluxe suite based on two sharing
Read what it’s like to stay at Feversham Arms in my exclusive review here
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The hotel: One of the newest members of the Pride of Britain Hotels group, Grantley Hall is a hidden jewel of the Yorkshire Dales, with 47 bedroom, four restaurants, three bars and a top spa and elite luxury gym and fitness space.
The Christmas package: I’m told the hotel is fully booked this year but in case of cancellations or to plan next year here’s what’s on offer: Enjoy mulled wine and mince pies on arrival. Champagne and canapes served before dinner in one of Grantley Hall’s three restaurants. There’s the option to attend the festive service at Ripon Cathedral. Christmas Day breakfast at leisure before Christmas drinks reception hosted by the General Manager and Christmas Day lunch served in the Hall. The Queens Speech showing in the Drawing Room and Norton Lounge before evening buffet and entertainment. On Boxing Day there’s a Champagne brunch, a guided walk to Fountains Abbey, dinner and then a party in Valeria’s cocktail and Champagne bar. Three Graces Spa & Elite gym facilities available throughout.
Cost of the Christmas package at Grantley Hall 2020: Prices from £1,450 per person based on two sharing
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The hotel: Situated at the southern edge of the Yorkshire Dales, The 40-room Devonshire Arms hotel and spa is a charming country house hotel in picturesque surroundings.
The Christmas package: Start your stay on Christmas Eve with a light lunch and in the evening enjoy a three-course dinner in the Cavendish Room including wine. Christmas Day starts with a cooked breakfast and maybe a stroll up the riverside to the Priory Ruins before returning for a glass of Champagne and four-course lunch. There’s a guided walk on Boxing Day (with ‘Walkers Lunch’ provided) followed by a mulled wine reception and three-course Boxing Day evening dinner.
Cost of Christmas at The Devonshire Arms: From £1,140 per person for the three-night break.
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The hotel: Luxury hotel in the beautiful Borrowdale valley which last year underwent a £10 million redevelopment.
The Christmas package: Guests are greeted on Christmas Eve with a gin afternoon tea followed by cocktail and canape reception. In the evening there’s a four-course gala dinner, complete with magician and balloonist as well as a live piano accompaniment. On Christmas Day, guests start with a traditional Cumbrian breakfast with a Mimosa Cocktail for adults followed by a Christmas treasure hunt around the spa garden before a six-course Christmas Day lunch. Finish off the day with a ‘Cumbrian Lakes and Fells’ buffet, before a quiz with hotel prizes on offer. Begin Boxing Day with a Bellini breakfast before activities such as guess the weight of the Christmas cake and photos in front of the ‘magic selfie mirror’ before a six-course black tie dinner with live music.
Cost of the Christmas package at Lodore Falls for 2020: Three-day Christmas package starts at £900 per person
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The hotel: Set in 375 acres of parkland, the original building dates from the 1800s, but over the years the 61-room luxury hotel has been extended to include a highly-rated 50,000 ft spa and three restaurants, two of which overlook its 18-hole Championship golf course.
The Christmas package: Rockliffe Hall is offering two- and three-night Christmas Break packages which include a two-hour Spa Garden experience and leisure facilities throughout the stay, all festive food and drinks and Christmas games, activities and entertainment. On Christmas Eve there’s a festive afternoon tea with mulled wine and carols while on Christmas Day there’s a five-course lunch with a glass of fizz and all the trimmings. Father Christmas will be making a visit and guests can also add on extras such as a round of golf.
Price of the Christmas packages at Rockliffe Hall 2020: The two-night Christmas Break starts from £615 per person, based on 2 adults sharing a Tiplady Lodge bedroom or 4 to 7 sharing a Woodland Mews house. Three-night package is available from £780 per person.
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The hotel: Five-star all-suite boutique hotel and spa on Durham’s heritage coast.
The Christmas package: Begin your break with Champagne afternoon Tea followed by a three-course dinner, then an indulgent breakfast delivered to your suite on Christmas Day, followed by Champagne and canapés reception and five-course traditional Christmas Day lunch with all the trimmings served in The Dining Room as well as a visit from Santa to make the day extra special. Guests also get a 45 minute spa treatment and use of the award-winning spa.
What it costs to spend Christmas 2020 at Seahall Hall: From £649 per person based on two sharing.
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The hotel: The Grange Hotel is a luxury hotel in a Grade II listed building within walking distance from the city centre of York and with a 2 AA Rosette restaurant. The country house hotel has 41 individually-designed en-suite rooms set amongst Regency style décor, antique paintings, sash windows, rare racing memorabilia and a sweeping staircase.
The Christmas Package: Afternoon tea on arrival plus a welcome cocktail and canapés before dinner is served in The Ivy Brasserie. Christmas Day starts with a hearty Yorkshire breakfast followed by a traditional Christmas lunch served from 12.00 noon. In the afternoon guests can relax and watch the Queen’s speech, play traditional board games or sink into one of the comfy sofas in the morning room with a good book and a glass of port. In the evening, enjoy an informal buffet from 7pm. Boxing Day Brunch shall be served until 11.00 am. The day is free for guests to relax and enjoy York or explore the moors and Yorkshire dales before a Boxing Day dinner.
The cost of the Christmas package 2020 at The Grange: Two-night package from £1,193 per room based on two sharing, single rooms available from £788.
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Grosvenor Pulford hotel and spa, Cheshire
The hotel: Grosvenor Pulford hotel and spa is a four-star Cheshire hotel which combines traditional elegance with contemporary luxury. In close proximity to the historic city of Chester, the family-owned hotel is nestled in the picturesque countryside along the Welsh border.
The Christmas package: Arrive on Christmas Eve to be welcomed with mulled wine or hot chocolate, before a three-course meal with live music from resident pianist Chris Turner in the opulent Palm Court restaurant. On the big day itself there’s breakfast served before the main event: a delicious four-course Christmas Day meal with a glass of bubbly on arrival in the unparalleled Palm Court. Your evening will wind down with fun roulette tables, a light evening buffet and relaxing acoustic music from guitarist Jack Woodward. Boxing Day presents the perfect opportunity to explore Chester after a hearty breakfast, whether taking in the sites or hitting the sales. Complete the festive fun with a Boxing Day dinner dance, accompanied by entertainment from swing singer Matt Roberts and master magician Robbie Danson.
The cost of a Christmas stay at Grosvenor Pulford: Two night stays from £320 per adult and three nights available for £439 per adult. If you book by 31st October 2020 receive a complimentary night’s accommodation on 23rd or 27th December (room only).
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The hotel: One of Scotland’s top gourmet destinations on the West Coast, named Luxury Scottish Hotel of the Year 2020.
The Christmas package: Arrive to home-made seasonal cakes and tea. Christmas Eve gets underway with a Champagne reception for guests with canapes followed by a candlelit five-course gourmet dinner. Wake on Christmas Day to Airds’ Scottish breakfast and Bucks Fizz. With traditional Christmas Lunch not served until 4pm, there’s plenty of time to enjoy the day: enter the annual Port Appin treasure hunt, burn some calories on a long walk or bike ride in the beautiful surrounding countryside, or simply relax by the fire. Mince pies, Christmas cake and mulled wine will be offered at lunchtime and light snacks in the evening. On Boxing Day, breakfast and dinner are taken at leisure and once the winner of the treasure hunt is announced, the day is free to explore further afield.
Cost of the Airds Christmas package 2020: All the rooms are fully-booked for Christmas 2020 but I’ve been told there is still availability at two-bedroom Bramble Cottage which sleeps up to five people and costs £895 per person based on a minimum of three people.
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The hotel: Luxury, award-winning five-star hotel in Ayrshire, Scotland, with period furnishings and interiors as well as breath-taking gardens, forests, and the seascapes that surround the castle.
The Christmas package: Arrive in time for afternoon tea and enjoy listening to the Glenapp pianist in the drawing room baby grand piano. A six-course gourmet dinner will be served in the evening and afterwards perhaps a nightcap in the library before the Glenapp piper sends you off to bed in true Scottish style. Transport to the Watchnight service at Ballantrae Parish Church is also available. Enjoy a full Scottish Christmas breakfast on Christmas Day morning, visit the local Ballantrae church for the Christmas service, or relax around the Christmas tree with family and friends and enjoy your Christmas gifts. Mid morning there will be a falconry display before a Champagne reception and festive four-course Christmas lunch. After lunch, experience the endless possibilities for walks on the coast, in the Glen and throughout the Estate and finish off the day with a Scottish ceilidh. Boxing Day activities include clay pigeon shooting, archery and treasure hunts and after a light Boxing Day lunch Glenapp harpist will play over the final three course gourmet dinner.
Cost of Christmas at Glenapp Castle in 2020: From £3,330 per room based on two sharing.
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The hotel: One of the top hotels in Scotland, the 850-acre Gleneagles estate offers an array of attractions that includes a five-star luxury hotel, three championship golf courses and an award-winning spa.
The Christmas package: The hotel is offering a three-night Christmas break including all food and entertainment, including a Christmas Banquet. Guests booking the full Christmas experience get an extra night free on the 23rd or 27th December as well as complimentary airport transfers.
Cost of Christmas at Gleneagles 2020: £4,930 per room for a three-night stay, based on two sharing.
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The hotel: Modern hotel with a unique location on the shore of Loch Lomond, with 48 guest bedrooms and leisure facilities including a swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. The hotel is 30 minutes from Glasgow City airport and just a stroll from the pretty village of Luss.
The Christmas package: This is yet to be finalised but here is what was on offer last year: The two-day seasonal house party include all sort of festive delights from three-course Christmas Eve dinner with entertainment and Midnight Mass at the local church followed by mulled wine and mince pies. Christmas Day starts with Bucks Fizz followed by a Champagne reception, five-course Christmas lunch, cocktail masterclass with a Lodge quiz and ‘fabulous prizes’ to be won!
The cost of Christmas 2019 at The Lodge on Loch Lomond: Rooms start from £325 per person based on two sharing.
Check availability and read more reviews of The Lodge at Loch Lomond on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: Situated in the heart of St Andrews, the five-star Old Course Hotel with an award-winning spa borders the renowned 17th Road Hotel of the Old Course, the oldest golf course in the world, just metres from the Scottish coast.
The Christmas package: This is yet to be finalised but here is what was on offer last year: Arrive on Christmas Eve to mulled wine and mince pies before Christmas Eve Dinner in the 3 AA rosette-awarded Road Hole Restaurant. Christmas Day Lunch will be in the AA rosette-awarded Sands Restaurant with a pre-lunch glass of bubbly. In the evening guests can choose from a carvery in the ballroom or a three-course menu in the Road Hole Restaurant. Guests will be able to enjoy a full Scottish breakfast each day and full access to Kohler Waters Spa and Leisure and Fitness Centre.
Cost of the Christmas package 2019 at Old Course hotel: Two-night package from £900 per room based on two sharing.
Check availability and read more reviews of Old Course hotel on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: Luxury four-star hotel built in 1625 for the Dukes of Perth, with 15 rooms and set in 20 acres.
The Christmas package: This is yet to be finalised but here is what was on offer last year: Arrive at this country retreat with afternoon tea and sherry before carol singers welcome you to a Christmas Eve tasting menu with wine. There’s Christmas Day breakfast in bed before a glass of mulled wine preceding a five-course Christmas Day lunch. Boxing Day is a day for relaxing after a late breakfast and then a final tasting dinner to round off your stay.
Cost for Christmas 2019 at Roman Camp hotel: Rooms from £395 per night based on two sharing.
Check availability and read more reviews of Roman Camp hotel on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: Traditional 114-year old country house hotel in five acres on the Scottish border
The Christmas package: This is yet to be finalised but here is what was on offer last year: Arrive on 24rd December for afternoon tea, followed by a three-course candlelit dinner and evening of live entertainment. On Christmas Day time for some last minute shopping in Biggar and then back to collect your jumbo quiz forms before dinner. Christmas Day starts with a hearty Scottish breakfast and a countryside stroll before traditional Christmas Day lunch, a glass of wine and a visit from Santa. The Queen’s speech is followed by Tea and Christmas cake. In the evening there will be a cold buffet, then live entertainment, and on Boxing Day chance to hit the Boxing Day sales in Lanark before returning for a three-course candlelit dinner.
Cost for Christmas 2019 at Tinto Hotel: Four-night package £288 per person, three-nights £243 per person.
Check availability and read more reviews of Tinto hotel on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: Set in 200 acres of parkland just outside Llandudno on the north coast of Wales, Bodysgallen Hall is located in an imposing building dating back to the 13th century but has modern luxuries including a spa with indoor pool.
The Christmas package: Festivities commence on Christmas Eve with a Champagne reception before dinner. Transport can be arranged to Midnight Mass and guests will be welcomed with port and mince pies on return. On Christmas Day traditional lunch will be served and in the evening there will be a light buffet supper. On Boxing Day guests can swim in the pool or be pampered in the spa, go for a drive or just relax at Bodysgallen. There will be a Champagne farewell reception in the evening with music from a Welsh harp, followed by a Gala Dinner.
Cost of Christmas at Bodysgallen Hall 2020: Doubles from £1,720 for the three-night break or from £1,880 in a cottage suite. Single occupancy for a double room is from £1,440.
Read my exclusive review of Bodysgallen Hall here
Check availability and read more reviews of Bodysgallen Hall on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: Palé Hall is an 18-bedroom AA Five Red Star, Relais & Chateaux destination luxury country house hotel in the tranquil Dee valley.
The Christmas package: Enjoy mulled wine and mince pies on arrival before carols and a glass of fizz around the piano followed by canapes and chef Gareth Stevenson’s signature five-tasting menu with matching wine flights. After Christmas morning’s Bucks Fizz Welsh breakfast there’s a sumptuous Christmas lunch with matching wines and relaxed evening buffet, and the following day enjoy Boxing Day packed lunches while exploring the grounds or nearby Bala Lake and then relax in the evening wiht a three-course a la carte dinner.
Cost of Christmas 2020 at Palé Hall: Three nights from £1,775 based on two people sharing.
Check availability and read more reviews of Palé Hall on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: Privately owned luxury country house hotel nestled in the heart of the rolling Pembrokeshire countryside with stunning views of the Preseli Hills and just 12 minutes drive to the sea.
The Christmas package: Festive tea and mulled wine next to warming open fires greet guests before drinks and canapes before dinner. Wake up on Christmas morning to Welsh Country breakfast and Bucks Fizz, then Christmas Dinner, afternoon festive tea and buffet supper and Boxing Day dinner and drinks.
Cost of Christmas break at The Grove at Narberth 2020: Prices for the three-night Christmas Break start from £1,825 per room, based on two guests sharing.
Check availability and read more reviews of The Grove at Narberth on Tripadvisor here
The hotel: Welcoming Welsh country house set in its own 50 acres, with rhododendron-lined pathways, riverside walks and a well-stocked trout lake as well as a spa with indoor pool.
The Christmas package: Full afternoon tea, a glass of mulled wine and tasting menu dinner on Christmas Eve, followed by Christmas morning full Welsh breakfast, mid-morning coffee and homemade mince pies, reception drinks, five-course Christmas lunch. After lunch, coffee and petit fours, full afternoon tea and an evening buffet. On Boxing Day there’s full afternoon tea and a four-course gourmet dinner.
Cost of Christmas 2020 at The Lake Country House: From £1,350 per room based on two sharing.
Check availability and read more reviews of Lake Country House on Tripadvisor here
The hotels: The original health spa in a beautiful country setting
The Christmas package: Christmas might be about indulgence but the Champneys in Tring, Hertfordshire is offering the chance to be a little healthy too. All meals are included over the three-day break including a festive Christmas lunch and Christmas Day drinks reception. Guests also get a 50 minute treatment each, time in the spa, fitness classes a Thalassotherapy pool session and a Champneys gift set included in their stay.
Cost for spending Christmas at Champneys Tring: From £639 for three nights per person, based on two sharing.
Check availability and read more reviews of Champneys Tring on Tripadvisor here
Are you planning to stay in a luxury hotel for Christmas and do you have a favourite hotel you always return to, or do you like trying somewhere new each year? Do let me know in the comments and do say if I’ve missed any of your favourites out!
A Lady of Leisure
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After months of lockdown, exploring the Cotswolds near Stroud with a stay at the Bear of Rodborough hotel near Stroud, Gloucestershire was just the things to blow away the cobwebs. This 17th-century Cotswolds coaching inn, part of the excellent Fullers-owned Cotswold Inns & Hotels chain, is located on not only one but two glorious commons […] The post Exploring the Cotswolds near Stroud with a stay at the Bear of Rodborough, Stroud appeared first on...
After months of lockdown, exploring the Cotswolds near Stroud with a stay at the Bear of Rodborough hotel near Stroud, Gloucestershire was just the things to blow away the cobwebs. This 17th-century Cotswolds coaching inn, part of the excellent Fullers-owned Cotswold Inns & Hotels chain, is located on not only one but two glorious commons – Rodborough Common and Minchinhampton Common – which sprawl across this part of Cotswolds in southern England yielding footpaths and sweeping views across all sides.
Cows graze across the common for much of the year and I went for an unheard of three walks during my overnight stay here – one when I arrived, one before dinner and one before breakfast the following day – as it was so lovely to be out and about in the fresh air.
Those who prefer to be outside in more of a sedentary position, however, will be able to get their fill of fresh air in the Bear of Rodborough’s large beer garden, which has a variety of seating from dining chairs and tables, cushioned sofas and even deckchairs so you can tailor your afternoon accordingly.
Covid-19 regulations mean that everyone arrives through the beer garden, is signed in and asked to use the hand sanitiser station before being seated at the well-spaced tables and chairs. I was surprised that it wasn’t table service but maybe that was due to the size of the beer garden, but people were happy to queue at the outside bar (socially-distanced, of course) and the service was for the most part pretty speedy.
We soaked up the sun in the garden and shared an excellent afternoon tea between us as well as enjoying a complimentary glass of Prosecco which the company was giving guests as a thank-you for visiting after lockdown which I thought was a nice touch. We finally getting round to checking in to our rooms and made our way to reception inside the hotel where we were greeted by not only the receptionist but a couple of life-sized stuffed bears.
One in the corner was anonymous, but the other held a sign declaring it to be the real Bear of Rodborough, a Himalayan brown bear which had been shot by a solider in 1881 and had been used as a drinks holder before being bought by the pub. That solved the question of the pub name at least – and was possibly the oddest thing I found in a hotel reception – and we bid him and his furry friend farewell as we headed to our rooms.
A post-lockdown rush of bookings meant there were only two single rooms left, which was fine by me as it’s good to experience the whole range of rooms. Both singles were well-stocked with essentials such as kettle, tea and coffee and full-sized Molton Brown toiletries in the immaculate bathrooms and managed to pull of the trick of being both cosy and roomy at the same time, with colourful designs and old-fashioned windows.
There is no shortage of space at The Bear of Rodborough should you wish to tuck yourself away with a book, a drink or a mid-meal snack, from the sunny internal courtyard to bars and lounges downstairs, many of which boast original flagstone floors, open fires and traditional furnishings. It’s definitely worth a wander around as I kept finding pleasant little rooms I hadn’t noticed before.
One room which was unmissable was the restaurant which makes the most of its location with large picture windows allowing diners to soak up the view. The menu was clearly-written and offered a good range of classic British dishes, such as English pea soup and ham hock terrine starters, to salmon, steak, lamb and fish and chips – although vegetarians might have wanted more choice than courgette bread and butter pudding or a garden salad.
The menu is the same across all Cotswold Inns in case, like us, you are exploring several in the chain in rapid succession, and meant we could see how much of a creative spin each chef is able to put on each dish. We had pea soup and marinated tiger prawns with grilled sourdough to start (the sauce with the prawns was particularly tasty), and sirloin steak and cannon of lamb with salsa verde and samphire as mains. They were all very capably cooked if not particularly excitingly, but it was decent pub fare and certainly the great views over the green commons made it into a very pleasant evening.
I was keen to immerse myself in those views so the next day before breakfast it was walk number three, this time due west following a lovely contour-hugging path which yielded stunning views and was a local favourite judging by the number of joggers and dog walkers.
Breakfast in the restaurant had the addition of grazing cows who were enjoying the grass surrounding the hotel, so it was another unique feature of this perfectly-located pub. Having enjoyed stays in several other Cotswold Inns pubs over the years – the Bay Tree at Burford being a particular favourite – I’m delighted that Fuller’s is investing in such a lovely collection of properties while still keeping their original charm and I couldn’t wait to explore the rest of the chain. So, next stop – the Hare and Hounds at Tetbury.
The Bear of Rodborough, Rodborough Common, Stroud GL5 5DE
Rooms at the Bear of Rodborough start from £89 for a double room B&B while the top luxury suite starts at £179 per night
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If you are researching the best hotels in the Cotswolds then you want to also read my reviews of these great hotels:
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Hotels in the Cotswolds are always a pleasure to discover and having stayed in a few places owned by Cotswold Inns pubs and hotels before – the Bay Tree and Lamb in Burford, the Manor House at Moreton-in-Marsh and most recently the Bear of Rodborough near Stroud – I had expected the Hare and Hounds […] The post Relaxing in grand style in Cotswolds hotel the Hare and Hounds Tetbury appeared first on...
Hotels in the Cotswolds are always a pleasure to discover and having stayed in a few places owned by Cotswold Inns pubs and hotels before – the Bay Tree and Lamb in Burford, the Manor House at Moreton-in-Marsh and most recently the Bear of Rodborough near Stroud – I had expected the Hare and Hounds Tetbury to be build upon similar lines: a traditional coaching inn or cosy pub. I did not expect it to be so grand-looking, more of a country house hotel with expansive gardens, a vast dining room with huge windows and sprawling grounds including individual cottages, conference facilities and a pub/restaurant just next door.
Built in the 1860s by wealthy landowner Robert Staynor Holford, who also created the Westonbirt Arboreteum (just a few minutes’ drive away) this four-star hotel has 42 bedrooms, some in the main house and some in the separate coaching house – renovated during lockdown – and are furnished in an traditional yet boutique style, combining mullioned windows with splashes of colour, open fireplaces and interesting artwork.
A large downstairs lounge runs the width of the hotel from front to back and contains an abundance of stylish sofas and chairs along with books and games to while away the afternoon but in good weather the gardens and outside courtyard beckon, perfect for morning coffee or afternoon tea. The hare and hounds theme – or at least the hounds part – runs through much of the hotel’s artwork and there are many dog-friendly rooms here if you wanted to bring your pet.
We arrived from the Hare and Hound’s sister hotel, the Bear of Rodborough near Stroud, and so were early enough to enjoy a whole afternoon in the sunshine, complete with a welcome prosecco and a cream tea – one was enough for two to share and not ruin the evening meal – and sitting in the summer sun with the Sunday newspapers and absolutely nothing else to do was a delight.
Our bedroom – once we finally made it upstairs – was also an unexpected treat, larger than I’d expected, and had a brand-new carpet thanks to the enforced lockdown break. This meant the en-suite bathroom door didn’t actually shut, but a quick word to reception and it was fixed in a matter of minutes. As well as double or twin beds, the room contained a large sofa, coffee table, writing desk and an abundance of tea and coffee-making facilities, so we were all set.
If you like hotels with great restaurants then you’ll love these great reviews!
Dinner in the Hare and Hounds’ own Beaufort restaurant was, like the hotel itself, grander than I’d expected, with subdued lighting and sparely-furnished, spaced-out tables (thanks to Covid) adding to the formal atmosphere. While it wasn’t one of those restaurants where you have to dress for dinner, most diners looked pretty smart – probably as a nice change to lockdown casuals – but the cheerful and chatty staff meant meant the mood was informal and friendly rather than stiff and snooty.
The Hare and Hounds Tetbury menu – which is standard across all the Cotswold Inns sites – was simple and classic British, with five or six options for each course including English pea soup, ham hock terrine, grilled sardines, followed by sirloin steak, poached lemon sole, roast lamb and Chateaubriand to share. By a quirk of hotel reviewing we had dined at the Hare and Hound’s sister hotel the Bear of Rodborough the previous day so could compare like-for-like dishes and the Hare and Hounds definitely had the edge, lifting the dishes to something above the menu’s description, full of flavour and quality which matched the impressive surroundings.
Breakfast the next day was equally good even though Covid restrictions meant that any coffee other than filter was temporarily off the menu. I could have done with a stronger brew after a night disrupted by late-night revellers in the courtyard just below our bedroom, who were letting off steam after lockdown until the early hours. I couldn’t really blame them though and it was a delight to wander round the gardens in the sunshine the next morning before heading off to explore Tetbury and the rest of the Cotswolds. Here’s hoping to the avoidance of a second lockdown meaning hotels like the Hare and Hounds can continue to welcome guests without interruption.
The Hare and Hounds hotel, Bath Rd, Westonbirt, Tetbury GL8 8QL
Rooms at the Hare & Hounds start from £125 for a double room B&B while the top luxury suite with hot tub starts at £255 per night
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If you are researching the best hotels in the Cotswolds then you want to also read my reviews of these great hotels:
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It is impossible to walk around the grounds at Middlethorpe Hall York and not take dozens of photos. While the front of the hotel is surprisingly close to the road, a quiet country lane just next to York racecourse, the rear of the hotel looks out over a beautiful lawn containing a stunning 180-year old […] The post An Historic House Hotels hat-trick with my stay at Middlethorpe Hall York appeared first on...
It is impossible to walk around the grounds at Middlethorpe Hall York and not take dozens of photos. While the front of the hotel is surprisingly close to the road, a quiet country lane just next to York racecourse, the rear of the hotel looks out over a beautiful lawn containing a stunning 180-year old cedar tree, a ha-ha and a sunken fence according to the detailed hotel map (I’m not sure what the difference is) and further beyond, a separate park, lake and walled garden. Every step seemed to yield another stunning view to be snapped and I could have spent hours just wandering around in the sunshine.
My stay at Middlethorpe Hall on the outskirt of the historic city of York was my third visit in the Historic House Hotels group, a collection of three historic house hotels owned by the National Trust. The others, Bodysgallen hotel near Llandudno in North Wales, and Hartwell House hotel, in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, had both been memorable stays and I was hoping that Middlethorpe Hall would be a similar experience of a classic English manor house hotel.
Thankfully I was not disappointed thanks to the beautiful setting, the interiors done in the style of traditional luxury, and above all the excellent welcome and hospitality shown by long-standing general manager Lionel Chatard (who moved to the UK from France for a few months and decades later, is still here and very much at home). His love for Middlethorpe Hall is apparent and it was delightful having a tour round the historic house with him, from the downstairs lounges to the portrait-lined oak staircases, the upstairs drawing room and the various suites with four-poster beds and rolltop baths.
Built at the end of the 17th century by country gentleman Thomas Barlow, Middlethorpe Hall spent the next several hundred years as a family home, a girl’s boarding school, converted into flats and even, in the 1970s, a nightclub called Brummels. In 1980 the by then rather run-down Middlethorpe was bought by Historic House Hotels and lovingly restored to its former glories.
If you like grand country house hotels then you’ll love these other hotels which I’ve also reviewed:
Now a luxury hotel with 29 rooms and suites in the main house and adjacent courtyard, as well as a spa building across the road with a swimming pool and treatment rooms, Middlethorpe has reopened for business after the Covid shutdown and guests are delighted to be back.
Coronavirus regulations are strictly observed at Middlethorpe Hall, with an automated temperate check on arrival, one-way system, sanitised pens and all the staff wearing masks. Our room was in the courtyard, just a few paces from the main building, and our first-floor suite was like a cosy little country cottage, with a lounge full of traditional furniture and furnishings, plus a double bedroom, walk-in closet and the unexpected luxury of two bathrooms which made getting dressed for dinner far less of a scramble than usual.
The question of whether to pocket the room toiletries was answered by Lionel who said they were all ours thanks to Covid, and as well as putting them and the tea/coffee kit in little airport-style plastic bags, the hotel had thoughtfully provided a bag of masks and antibac gel and wipes as well. Even the TV remote control was wrapped in clingfilm which was a first for me in the ‘new normal’ but showed a great attention to detail. The towels in the bathrooms were some of the fluffiest I’ve ever encountered and were very smartly embroidered with group’s initials HHH.
We left our cosy rooms to explore the grounds – and take dozens of pictures – and enjoyed wandering through the well-kept kitchen garden which had been laid out with walkways, seats and pleasant views before heading to the terrace for a pre-dinner cocktail. We so enjoyed soaking up the views that it was only when the waiters arrived bearing the menus for dinner that we realised the time and dashed back to make ourselves presentable.
Dinner was in one of three high-ceiling’d but fairly small oak-panelled dining rooms and will appeal to guests who prefer a more formal dining experience. The rooms themselves are fairly austere, with little colour to brighten up the brown of the walls and the furniture, and due to the new restrictions all the tables were bare apart from the white tablecloth and a few small items so it felt as if you’d arrived after the main event when everything had been cleared away.
At both dinner and breakfast there was quite a wait before the cutlery, drinks and bread and so on arrived, and with the absence of any music and with the waiters wearing masks it felt a little unrelaxing. It’s hard during Covid-19 but hopefully Middlethorpe will be able to add some of the charm we found throughout the rest of our stay to the meal times.
Thankfully the food was very good – and formally presented with each course arriving under steel domes – and we began with an excellent English pea velouté with cheese scones and equally good salmon with dressed crab. My main of sea bream, prawn broccoli tasted as good as it looked and the aged fillet of Waterford farm beef was pronounced excellent. The desserts were very pretty and super-sweet – strawberry tart with elderflower and white chocolate, and an apricot delice with Champagne and chamomile – and on the way out we had a lovely chat with our table neighbours who were long-time regulars (always good sign) and delighted to be back at Middlethorpe.
Next morning I was up and out early before breakfast to explore the grounds even further, finding the lake at the end of the estate, home to a family of ducks. The gardener had thoughtfully cut a path through the long grass so you can wander at will and I managed to get happily lost in the woodland trying to get back to the hotel. Unfortunately the grounds back straight onto the busy A64 which means there is a constant sound of traffic, but closer to the hotel the noise is more of a distant hum. For nature lovers there is an informative leaflet from the National Trust detailing the gardens and trees of interest at Middlethorpe Hall with the main deodar cedar tree, planted 180 years ago, the fruit trees in the walled garden and birches, oaks and a variety of others all listed.
Breakfast was a complicated affair; our waiter told us we couldn’t order coffee when we sat down as he would be only taking one order for the whole meal which seemed rather inflexible (we managed to persuade him to relent and bring us hot drinks and juice while we decided what to order for our cooked breakfast) and several items were missing or had to be asked for twice, but I think that can be put down to Covid and staff only just coming back from furlough and having to cope with a lot of new ways of doing things. The full English breakfast with Swaledale sausage was full of flavour though.
After breakfast we had a lovely tour round the rest of the hotel with the charming Lionel, from the Lady Mary Suite to the upstairs parlour, including possibly the smallest lift I’ve ever seen (it only fits one person) and enjoyed a good gossip about the various celebrities who have stayed at Middlethorpe Hall over the years, including many famous jockeys and trainers when Ascot was moved to York Racecourse – the Queen’s carriage passed the hotel on the way to the course each day.
Thanks to Covid regulations the spa was yet to reopen when I was staying at Middlethorpe Hall, but Lionel kindly showed me around the cute little cottage across the road where the spa is situated. For such a small building on the outside, it’s like a Tardis on the inside, with a good-sized swimming pool and various treatments rooms on two floors. Due to these changing times it’s always good to phone in advance to check what is available and Lionel said one of the hardest things to manage these days is knowing exactly what is allowed and what it the safest way to proceed.
However Middlethorpe Hall is doing a great job under his expert eye to maintain the relaxed atmosphere of a country house hotel while providing a safe environment for guests and it was pleasure to finally complete my hat-trick of Historic House Hotels.
Middlethorpe Hall hotel and spa, Bishopthorpe Rd, York YO23 2GB
Main building rooms start at £159 per night for a single, deluxe double/twin £299, four poster bedroom £429, The Lady Mary Suite £439 and The Duke of York Suite £539
Courtyard rooms start at £149 per night for a single, standard double/twin £219, superior double/twin £259 and Junior Suite £319
Middlethorpe Hall is a member of Pride of Britain Hotels, a group of 50 of the some of the best luxury hotels in the UK, and Historic House Hotels, three hotels owned by the National Trust. To read my reviews of other HHH hotels, go to:
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I had been told that the Sunday roast at Feversham Arms hotel and spa in Yorkshire was not to be missed and my informant had been bang on the money. It was pronounced: ‘A ten out of ten, the best I’ve ever eaten’ by my dining companion, who isn’t given to false praise, and I […] The post A perfect Sunday roast and stay at Feversham Arms spa hotel in Yorkshire appeared first on...
I had been told that the Sunday roast at Feversham Arms hotel and spa in Yorkshire was not to be missed and my informant had been bang on the money. It was pronounced: ‘A ten out of ten, the best I’ve ever eaten’ by my dining companion, who isn’t given to false praise, and I had to agree.
We had arrived at Feversham Arms in the heart of the pretty town of Helmsley, deep in the North York Moors national park, at exactly 1pm and went straight into the restaurant. Thanks to lockdown this was my first Sunday roast out for months and as Feversham Arms had only just reintroduced Sunday lunch after a break of five years, it was a happy reunion all round. The team under executive chef Adam Jackson had prepared the roast beef to perfection and all the trimmings including roast potatoes, green beans, cauliflower cheese and – of course – Yorkshire puddings – were top notch too.
Our waiter and sommelier was the snappily-dressed Alex, who combined Yorkshire charm with speedy efficiency and even produced an excellent off-menu Primitivo red wine which was instantly put on my ‘to buy when I get home’ list and all in all it was a great start to our stay.
The friendly welcome at reception was enough to make us feel at home even before we had made it to our room and it felt like a great place to spend a couple of nights, whatever the weather might throw at us.
In the end in true British summertime tradition, we had both torrential rain and balmy sunshine and Feversham Arms was a great place to enjoy (or endure) either: when the sun shone we could sunbathe by the outdoor pool and when it rained we read books and played games in either the bar downstairs or our impressive spa suite with its separate lounge and balcony.
There are 33 bedrooms at Feversham Arms, 21 of which are suites, including spa suites (like ours) and poolside suites where you literally stepped out of your room to the pool area. I preferred our spa suite (number 33) which had a substantial balcony overlooking the pool area which was ideal for morning coffee or sunset cocktails without having to move far from our room.
Our room was equipped with everything you could want from a hotel stay, from two TVs, a desk, sofa, large bathroom with a walk-in shower and deep but fast-filling bath, coffee and tea-making equipment (although no fridge) and sliding doors to separate the bedroom and lounge if you wanted to.
Unlike some hotel rooms where you just put your head down at night and never spent any time in it during the day, this one with its French windows onto the balcony felt like you could stay there all day and feel like you were really on holiday, and indeed the hotel has increased its room service options during Covid-19 so guests can spend their stay in splendid isolation if they so wished.
Having expected Feversham Arms to also be in isolation in the Yorkshire countryside (as many fellow Pride of Britain hotels are) I was pleasantly surprised to find it in the middle of Helsmsley, where a 30 second walk through the churchyard opposite led to to its central market square, a popular meeting point for bikers and day-trippers at weekends.
As well as a wide variety of local shops, mainly delis and cafes, there are also the ruins of Helsmley Castle, which dates from Norman times. Those who prefer longer walks would enjoy the five miles or so to the 11th-century Rievaulx Abbey which has now re-opened after lockdown – the path to which goes from almost outside Feversham Arms, although you can of course also drive there if you’re short on time or energy.
Having indulged ourselves at lunchtime with the Sunday roast – the whole thing was very good value at £20 for the main course, or £25 for two courses and £35 for all three, if we’d had room (we didn’t) – we picnicked on our balcony that evening which meant we could enjoy another blowout for breakfast the following day.
If you like hotels with swimming pools then you have to read my other reviews!
Covid-19 regs have put paid to breakfast buffets for the time being, but that’s no bad thing as we could sit back and enjoy the delivery of excellent coffee, home-made granola with fresh fruit and yoghurt, and smashed avocado with sourdough bread and poached eggs. Other options included a Full English, smoked haddock and Eggs Benedict so almost everything you could want from a hotel breakfast was covered, and the restaurant itself was light and airy with bright colours, quirky lighting and high ceilings making it a pleasant and relaxing dining space without being too formal as in some luxury hotels.
Rain in the morning gave way to sunshine in the afternoon and guests emerged to enjoy a swim in the pool – maximum of eight people currently allowed at one time, but you don’t have to book for the pool, just the hot tub – or sunbathe or enjoy a drink or two. It felt like a proper holiday stay and will no doubt be much in demand this summer with all the uncertainly over overseas travel. There is also a Verbena spa which is gradually reopening after lockdown and offers a range of health and beauty treatments – do check with the hotel when you book though, as the availability of various treatments will change as the restrictions are lifted.
Dinner that evening was again excellent quality, from the tomato and burrata starter to the elegant lamb rump main course, although we weren’t quite sure that the chocolate, cherry and pistachio dessert warranted its £12 price tag. The indefatigable Alex – resplendent in a checked suit – made sure everything ran like clockwork and one of Feversham Arms strengths was that there were staff everywhere, so you felt very well looked after.
If you didn’t want to lounge around the pool all day long then Feversham Arms is a great base to explore the North York Moors, and we had a great time exploring the coast from Whitby to Scarborough and admiring the beautiful and rugged Yorkshire landscape which was spectacular in the summer sunshine. Feversham Arms is possibly the 30th hotel in the excellent Pride of Britain Hotels group which I’ve reviewed (links to others below) and, despite not being as grand or historic as some of its other members, is worthy of its place in the group thanks to its excellent customer service, immaculate room and of course, that Sunday roast.
Feversham Arms Hotel & Verbena Spa, High Street, Helmsley, Yorkshire YO62 5AG
Rooms start from £120 B&B in a standard double room, with the spa and poolside suites priced from £320 per room B&B and £410 DB&B. Use of the Verbena spa heat facilities, outdoor heated pool and jacuzzi are included in all room packages. Check with the hotel what Covid restrictions there are due to Covid-19.
Feversham Arms is a member of Pride of Britain Hotels group, a collection of 50 of the best hotels in the UK. Other Pride of Britain Hotels I’ve received include:
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After months of lockdown my first hotel was, reassuringly, at Hand Picked Hotel‘s flagship hotel Fawsley Hall hotel and spa in Northamptonshire near Daventry. This grand country house hotel and spa – we’re talking at least 600 years old here – has withstood all manner of wars, plagues and famines and turned out to be […] The post Luxury after lockdown: a Covid secure stay at Fawsley Hall Northamptonshire appeared first on...
After months of lockdown my first hotel was, reassuringly, at Hand Picked Hotel‘s flagship hotel Fawsley Hall hotel and spa in Northamptonshire near Daventry. This grand country house hotel and spa – we’re talking at least 600 years old here – has withstood all manner of wars, plagues and famines and turned out to be perfectly capable of dealing with coronavirus as well.
Set in acres of beautiful green Midlands countryside down a quiet country lane, Fawsley Hall is in a bubble at the best of times – like the best country house hotels – and made the most of its ability to create a safe and secure environment.
Unmissable by the front door was an anti-bac station – the first of literally dozens which were all about the site – and the moment we stepped into the foyer we were temperature-checked (receptionist Shannon politely wielding the gun) and then asked five Covid-related questions before being allowed in the hotel and shown to our rooms around the one-way system.
I would be temperature-checked at the spa too, and asked to wear a mask, and my bedroom had a sign confirming that it had been cleaned and sanitised.
I had to also book a swim time at the spa, which was a first – Fawsley Hall is allowing six people into the pool at a time, two per lane – and we booked not only times for dinner but breakfast too. Everywhere we went we saw anti-bac stations, and waiters constantly using them, and all in all it felt extremely safe. Thankfully all these measures – vital as they are – did in no way detract from what is a really lovely and traditional hotel.
Built by the prestigious Knightly family, who came over with William the Conqueror and whose descendants were knighted by various Kings of England, Fawsley Hall has hosted all manner of monarchs including Elizabeth I and Charles I.
My earlier fears about a too-antiseptic environment were swept aside on entering the Great Hall, and never has a hall been so aptly named. The ceiling is possibly one of the highest hotel lounge ceilings in Britain and still contains some original beams from its construction in 1537 as well as the original Tudor fireplace, where you can see the coat of arms of Richard I and the 26 knights who accompanied him on his first crusade.
These days the Hall is a popular place for afternoon tea and every socially-distanced sofa was occupied by friends and relatives enjoying a long-awaited catch up over scones and clotted cream, under the watchful eye of Tudor portraits.
It felt very fitting that I had bought with me Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy to read and in fact, my bedroom (Louisa Mary Bowater, aka room 42) was the perfect place to read it in – a vast, grand but relaxing space with not only a huge bed but a sofa, huge bay windows and a walk-in closet area so you could keep the main area pristine.
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Bay windows with original wooden shutters opened out to views of carefully planted gardens and the fields and lake beyond and the whole room exuded opulence and calm – perfect for Covid times. I had a peek into another room, Sir Francis Wolsingham, which was darker and more traditional in feel – four-poster bed and a lot more oak – so the rooms do vary in style and for me, room 42 was just perfect.
The bathroom was immaculate, with a roll-top bath, walk in rainfall shower, tonnes of large fluffy towels and toiletries and great views across the field to the parish church beyond. It was like going back in time to hundreds of years before coronavirus was even heard of.
My booked swim and spa treatments called so, as requested, I donned the robe and slippers in my room and padded across to the spa which is a minute’s walk from the main hotel building. There I was greeted by another temperature check, more anti-bac and asked to wear a mask during my back, neck and shoulders massage – another Covid first for me.
The treatment by the cheerful, visor-wearing Jodie was excellent – far more thorough than I was expecting – and I was completely unknotted by the time I headed to the pool for my first swim in months. Only two other people were swimming at the same time – we exchanged happy smiles at the novelty of it all – and while the sauna and steam room were closed, the large outdoor hydrotherapy pool was open and two people allowed at a time. I was so busy chatting about how lovely it was to be back in a hotel again to a fellow bather that Jodie had to come and fetch me for my pedicure. An hour of gossip (the masks no barrier to chat) and foot therapy later, me and my transformed feet were heading back to the hotel to change for dinner.
Dinner was in one of several smaller rooms and probably the only room I thought could have done with a touch of improvement: it was very dark, not especially packed with atmosphere, and a few thoughtful design touches to give it a touch of life would work well here – maybe some quiet music or some better lighting. There was just one other table dining that night so social-distancing wasn’t a problem and it was more of a novelty than an annoyance to discover what Covid measures the hotel had put in place.
There were paper menus, no salt and pepper on the table and our waiter, Allen, apologised but said he wasn’t allowed to pour the wine or water. The menu, as in other Hand Picked Hotels I’ve stayed in, including New Hall and Brandshatch, was clearly written and a good range of modern British cuisine, and we started with Caesar salad and British charcuturie.
I then had baked sea trout, brown shrimp, fine beans, parsley and caper butter, while my dining companion had 10oz Herfordshire beef sirloin with chunky chips. There was also an extra course thrown in with eggs confit. All were very well done indeed, the mains being particularly tasty. However the first time ever – I’m probably out of practice – I couldn’t even look at the dessert menu because I was so full, and indeed I had to go for a walk around the grounds after the meal before I was genuinely scared I was going to go ‘pop’. How lockdown has changed me! The upside was that it was a beautiful evening and I had the hotel and grounds to myself which was a delight for me but a shame for the hotel – many people are still understandably cautious about venturing out.
My disturbed night’s sleep was certainly a result of over-eating and not a fault with the immense and comfortable bed, but it did mean that I was determined to walk off a few more calories before breakfast. On the dot of 7.30am I headed out for a the perfect Sunday morning walk; first down the winding lane to be greeted by dozens of grazing sheep, then across the fields along the well-marked Knightly Way, and then back across the neighbouring field to the hotel which contained the charming little church of St Mary the Virgin.
This is a popular place for weddings at Fawsley Hall – although you’d have to persuade the sheep to go someone else for a few weeks beforehand I’d suggest – and the little parish church is the final resting place of many of the Knightley family, but sadly not of its copper roof which made headlines when it was stolen in 2015 – an appeal raised £100,000 to replace it. It’s well worth a visit though and is full of fascinating facts such as the bells date from 1440 and are possibly the oldest set of still ringable bells in the country.
After a palate-cleansing yoghurt and granola breakfast (there were many cooked options too but no buffet thanks to Covid regulations) it was time to head off to North Yorkshire to see how another hotel was coping with life after lockdown – but it couldn’t have been a better or nicer place to break my reviewing fast.
Fawsley Hall hotel and spa, Fawsley, Northamptonshire, NN1 3BA
Rooms start from £270 for a classic room and from £508 in a Master Suite.
Hand Picked Hotels is a collection of 19 luxury hotels in the UK and the Channel Islands. Other Hand Picked Hotels reviewed by ALadyofLeisure.com are:
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