With Christmas only 23 days away, we’ve rounded up the finest, most merry places to bid adieu to a challenging 2020 and celebrate the festive holidays in serious style. Be it a brilliantly British city break, a private island blow-out in warmer climates, or an enchanting escape to thousands of acres of rural French forest, we have the antidote to keep every traveller happy and replete with Christmas cheer this unusual year. From the meticulous forward planner to the laidback, spontaneous holidaymaker, there is something for everyone…
BEST OF BRITISH
A quintessentially regency Christmas at the capital’s finest history-steeped private residence
The Lanesborough Hotel, London, is at its most magical during the festive season, softly sparkling with Christmas décor and full of merriment, as the grand residence is transformed into an enchanted mansion filled with stunning seasonal displays. Whether it be for the ultimate city staycation or a micro-celebration à famille to remember, The Lanesborough has something for all ages to enjoy during the holidays.
Already, the hotel is filling Londoners with hope and cheer with the unveiling of its beautiful festive display at its grand entrance. Created in partnership with London based florist Dickinson & Doris, the festive installation features a majestic wreath above the entrance complete with little crowns to match the hotel’s crest, while two twinkling Christmas trees stand guard either side of the hotel’s iconic doors.
Guests can make The Lanesborough their home this holiday season with the Christmas in Residence package, perfect for a much-needed change of scene. During three days in residence at the hotel, guests will enjoy a magical Christmas Eve with mulled wine or hot chocolate on arrival, a beautifully decorated Christmas tree in their bedroom or suite, a chauffeur-driven car to Hamleys to pick up any final presents and to St. Paul’s Church in Knightsbridge for a jolly evening service, all with the benefit of having a dedicated Butler on hand to help with any last-minute present wrapping.
The magic continues on The Big Day as children awake to personalised stockings stuffed with presents and a visit from none other than Santa himself, while the butler returns with Champagne for grown-ups. Visitors will then indulge in a sumptuous five-course traditional lunch in Michelin-starred Céleste, followed by a live broadcast of the Queen’s speech. Boxing Day dawns with a quintessential English breakfast and the opportunity to take a chauffeur-driven car to Harvey Nichols for an exclusive shopping experience, whilst little guests can enjoy a cupcake making class or Festive Peggy Porschen Afternoon Tea for the whole family.
HOW: Rates for The Lanesborough’s two-night ‘Christmas in Residence’ package, valid for stays between 24th to 27th December, start from £1,195 per room, per night for two people (currently approx. 5,836 AED). The Lanesborough’s festive Peggy Porschen Afternoon Tea is priced at £75 (currently approx. €84) per person including a glass of Champagne on arrival, available until 4th January 2021. Find out more here.
A festive package including two tickets to the sold-out Royal Albert Hall Carols
In true festive spirit, The Kensington hotel has partnered with its local neighbour the Royal Albert Hall to offer Kensington guests the exclusive opportunity for tickets to the sold out ‘Carols at The Royal Albert Hall’, on 21, 22 and/or 23 December 2020. The new Christmas package includes an overnight stay in a newly refurbished Studio Suite for two, a delicious pre-theatre dinner (£75 credit) with a glass of Champagne each, à la carte breakfast and two tickets to the show.
Those who book the package will immerse themselves in the spectacular surroundings of the Royal Albert Hall for what is one of most sought-after events of London’s holiday season. Singing along with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Richard Cooke, the evening is an annual celebration of the nation’s favourite carols. Prior to the performance, spectators will indulge in a pre-theatre dinner in front of the roaring open fires in the hotel’s elegant Drawing Room with a crisp glass of bubbles.
The Kensington, London’s finest townhouse hotel, is located just five minutes from the Royal Albert Hall and many cultural institutions such as the V&A, Natural History Museum and Design Museum. Set amongst the leafy squares of the Royal Borough of Kensington and comprising four townhouses, The Kensington promises a home-away-from-home feeling this Christmas, more like a beautiful private residence than a traditional hotel.
HOW: The Christmas Carol package at The Kensington starts from £600 (currently approx. 2,930 AED) and includes parking, an overnight in a Studio Suite, two tickets to Carols at The Royal Albert Hall, pre-theatre dinner, bottle of Champagne and à la carte breakfast. Bookable on 21, 22 & 23 December 2020. Book online here.
Can’t get to the slopes for Christmas this year? Enjoy a taste of a taste of après in Bloomsbury instead
Just steps from Bloomsbury Street, The Montague on the Gardens’ Ski Lodge is London’s original ski lodge and winter party venue. Ideal for celebrations, groups of up to six are able to make the most of the Ski Lodge’s heated outdoor space, complete with pine trees, falling snow, reindeer, snowmen, ski racks, piste maps and strings of fairy lights and lanterns. The centrepiece is a bar serving up a selection of suitably après-themed beverages, including 12 different flavours of schnapps, hot spiced cider, mulled wine and hot chocolate cocktails.
An ‘Individual Ski Pass’ starts from £40 and gives visitors access to the Ski Lodge for an hour and a half, three drinks of their choice and a platter of alpine treats, including mini turkey schnitzel, bratwurst sausage and deep-fried camembert. Big woolly rugs will keep guests cosy throughout the night, or they can head to the Log Cabin, which boasts a decorative fire, Christmas tree and cosy armchairs with blankets.
For those who would like to experience this and stay on Christmas Eve, the hotel is just a short stroll from the joyfulness of Piccadilly, Regent Street, Oxford Circus and Bond Street. The Montague on the Gardens’ festive package includes a two-night stay in a beautifully appointed suite, welcome glass of mulled wine or hot chocolate on arrival, stocking full of goodies on Christmas morning and Christmas Day lunch for two guests in the Blue Door Bistro.
HOW: Weekend Ski Lodge Passes start from £40 (currently approx. 195 AED) with daytime and evening slots available between Thursday – Sunday at The Montague on the Gardens from 3rd December. The hotel’s festive package starts from £387 (currently approx. 1,890 AED) per night based on two adults sharing over two nights. Book online here.
An exclusive ‘Festive Wonderland’ staycation, just a short distance from Oxford Circus’ beautiful Christmas lights display
Experience Christmas in the heart of London this year, with a festive stay at Hotel 41. The hotel is just a short distance away from Oxford Circus, a shopper’s paradise with a spectacular Christmas lights display. Valid for stays up until December 25th, Hotel 41’s ‘Festive Wonderland’ package includes two nights in a beautiful Executive Double Room, glass of Champagne on arrival, full English breakfast served daily and a Christmas-themed turndown. Guests will also experience a little taste of the hotel’s sister property – The Rubens at The Palace, located just next door – with the option to experience either a Festive Afternoon Tea, five-course Christmas Day lunch served in the Rubens’ flagship English Grill Restaurant, or a festive dinner in The Curry Room. For those who stay on Christmas Eve, a beautiful Christmas stocking will be available in their room.
A home away from home, the hotel comprises just 30 luxurious rooms and suites, complete with personal butlers, 24-hour room service and staff who outnumber guests two to one. The epitome of luxurious style, the chic black-and-white design of Hotel 41 is enriched by rich mahogany and exquisite furnishings.
HOW: Hotel 41’s Festive Wonderland package starts from £697 per room, per night (currently approx. 3,405 AED) based on a two-night stay in an Executive Double Room over the 24th & 25th December, with Afternoon Tea. Find out more here.
A classic British Christmas with all the trimmings
Unlike a lot of things this year, Christmas at University Arms is not cancelled! Guests can celebrate in style thanks to the hotel’s new package, suitable for solo travellers, couples or families and promising this year is one to remember. The package includes a two-night stay in the landmark hotel on the 24th and 25th December, with a host of special festive activities and treats.
As the excitement builds on Christmas Eve, Sherry and Cream Tea will be served in Drawing Room, followed by lavish dinner. The indulgence will only get bigger and better with an impressive feast the following day, complete with all the traditional trimmings. In true seasonal spirit, the Queen’s Speech will be televised so those in residence can cosy up and dose up with a cocktail or two served up by Parker’s Tavern’s expert mixologists. For those who still have room, a cold cuts supper will be available in the evening, before retiring to the comfort of a sumptuous room or suite.
The package also includes à la carte breakfast in Chef Tristan Welch’s Parker’s Tavern each morning, favourite films and board games available throughout for a thoroughly wholesome break. Throughout a stay, the hotel’s expert concierge will be on hand to arrange festive activities. Guests can even explore the wonders of winter in Cambridge by the traditional mode of transport in the city – bike.
HOW: University Arms’ Christmas package starts from £455 (one guest) and £665 (two guests) and includes a two-night stay on 24th & 25th December with a special Christmas Eve Dinner and Christmas Day Lunch at Parker’s Tavern. Currently approx. 2,223 AED / 3,249 AED respectively. Book online here.
Fires, feasting and festivities – a season of winter exploring including tree trails, open fires and mulled cider
Christmas at The Newt this year is about simple Somerset pleasures: walking in nature and warming by the fire, washed down with plenty of cyder. Visitors to the gardens and hotel guests can enjoy the best of country living, with outdoor experiences and winter menus featuring estate venison, hearty stews and handmade pies.
Encouraging families to get out in the fresh air whatever the weather, The Newt’s gardens, woodland and Deer Park will be open every day except Christmas Day. Visitors over the festive period can experience a mapped Tree Trail created by the woodland team, celebrating the estate’s veteran and ancient trees. The Winter Garden and Garden Café provide warming lunches, snacks and drinks – such as Sloe Gin and Pumpkin, Walnut & Bath Blue Tart – while mulled cyder and apple juice simmer away continually at the Cyder Bar.
The Story of Gardening indoor experience is the ideal wet weather attraction, transporting you to warmer climes through immersive sensory ‘Garden Rooms’ and Virtual Reality. Escape the cold to ‘visit’ sister estate Babylonstoren in the South African winelands, or Villa D’Est in the Mediterranean sunshine. Hotel guests meanwhile, are encouraged to make themselves at home with every meal catered for, indulgence encouraged, and the option to take estate hampers to their room for a private experience.
Seasonal cocktails made with estate liqueurs and cordials will be served in the bar, with bottled nightcaps for in-room – including a Somerset Old Fashioned: whiskey washed with The Newt’s apple butter, chestnut syrup, aromatic bitters and applewood smoke. Entertainment will be provided by local musicians, with curated iPod playlists enhancing the in-room experience.
HOW: Christmas at The Newt is a four-night minimum stay, from 23rd – 27th December. Rates start from £2,775 (currently approx. 13,558 AED) and include: three-course Christmas Eve Supper in The Botanical Rooms; five-course Christmas Day Luncheon with paired wines in The Botanical Rooms; a well-stocked estate hamper to enjoy in the afternoon or evening; three-course Boxing Day vegetable-led lunch in the Garden Café; five-course Boxing Day Feast in The Botanical Rooms and Breakfast each morning. Book online here.
THE FINEST FRENCH FANCIES
Reconnect with nature and savour Michelin-starred festive fare in an undiscovered region of rural France, staying in a farmhouse cottage ideal for longer stays
Domaine des Etangs in Massignac, South West France is offering a magical festive experience this December for those that are able to quarantine on return. The ideal antidote to the challenges of 2020, the hotel provides an enchanting escape within 2,500 acres of beautiful forest and rolling rural surrounds.
Guests can stay in splendid seclusion in one of the hotel’s Farmhouse Cottages, perfect for families, ranging from one to five bedrooms and complete with a Citroën C-Zéro electric car to get around the estate. The Domaine itself will be beautifully decorated with elegant festive firs and twinkling lights to create an atmospheric setting for celebration. Guests booking a minimum two-night stay over 24th and 25th December can enjoy sensational fine wine and dining.
On Christmas Eve, there will be a celebratory dinner including Champagne, perfectly paired wines and a starter of local produce including foie gras with spicy onion chutney, oysters, smoked trout, snails, lobster, scallop carpaccio and a selection of local cheeses, followed by the famous Barbezieux Chicken and topped off with a traditional “bûche” dessert. Christmas Day will commence in style with a brunch in the hotel’s Michelin-Starred Dyades restaurant.
HOW: The Christmas Package is available to book 24th to 26th December from €1,350 (currently approx. 5,864 AED) based on a two-night stay in Prestige Room for two adults, Champagne on arrival, Christmas dinner, breakfast, festive brunch, afternoon tea and a Father Christmas appearance. Book online here.
FOR THE FAR-FLUNG SUNSEEKER
Celebrate joyful times, past and present on a paradisiacal private isle
Picture a faraway place that is exceptionally secluded, yet accessible; ringed with coral reefs, idyllic white sand beaches, winding bicycle paths, and not a car in sight. Meaning ‘playful spirit’ in Antiguan and hailed as being the true Queen of Caribbean resorts, Jumby Bay Island is set in one of the most beautiful untouched locations in the world – a private island of simple pleasures in the nation of Antigua & Barbuda, just two miles off mainland Antigua.
The holiday season on the island this year is all about celebrating joyful times, past and present, and creating fabulous festive memories for the future. Jumby Bay sets a sunlit, starlit, glittering scene for revelry and mind-refreshing relaxation, ideal for both toasting family and friends in splendid seclusion, or skipping across the beach to join the open-air party. There are multiple accommodation options to choose from, including super-luxe multi-bedroom Private Residences for those who want to amp up the privacy and claim their own private slice of paradise for the duration of their stay, with even their own private beach if they wish.
From brunch to midnight to dawn, there are merry events, sailing regattas, beach bonfires, limbo and, of course, the Jumby Bay Island New Year’s Eve Ball to keep all the family entertained. From 21st December, there is a fun daily programme of merry events suitable for all ages and disciplines. On the 24th, holiday carols and cocktails in the Jumby Bay Bar & Lounge are on the agenda, followed by a festive tasting menu at the iconic Estate House. On Christmas day, Santa will arrive by morning – likely by jet ski – before holiday photoshoots, a Christmas-themed jazz brunch, as well as an adrenaline-fuelled kayak relay race and beach cricket in quintessential Caribbean style. There’s also ‘Rum in the Sun’ tastings, a ‘Sip-n-Paint Class’ for adults and children, and outdoor cinema on the agenda.
With the festivities culminating on New Year’s Eve, after marvelling at the final sunset of 2020 on Jumby Bay Beach at 5:30pm, it’s time to ring in a new year at the Estate House’s ‘Back to the Future’ themed cocktail party with live entertainment, where the chic dress code calls for something vintage, and something blue.
HOW: Festive rates at Jumby Bay Island start from $2,900 (currently approx. 10,650 AED) per night in a Beachside Suite on an all-inclusive basis: daily gourmet breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon tea; all non-alcoholic beverages, cocktails and house wine by the glass; water sports (water-skiing, paddle boarding, kayaking, Sunfish sailing, windsurfing), snorkel equipment, twice weekly snorkel excursions and more; daily children’s programme. Book online here.
Holiday on possibly the world’s most glamorous island, with white sand beaches, guaranteed sunshine and the most stylish service at the coolest hotel in the Caribbean
At the epicentre of St Barths, Eden Rock – St Barths is the destination of choice for those seeking the chicest getaway this December. Perfectly fusing glamour, fun, service and sun, Eden Rock is fresh from an extensive two-year renovation, with guests in residence over the holiday season amongst of the first to experience a new-look hotel including three brand-new suites for 2020. This is an addition to fully renovated suites, bar, restaurant and spa concept.
To bring the festive spirit alive, Eden Rock called upon Swiss luxury jeweller Chopard. An expert in expressing emotions since 1860, the jeweller perpetuates a heritage of know-how and traditional craftsmanship by fashioning contemporary designs synonymous with emotion. An Eden Rock partner for many years, the jeweller, who celebrates the joy of living, will adorn the hotel’s Christmas trees with Chopard decorations in their signature colours. Chopard bracelets with diamonds set in Eden colours are also available to purchase at the Eden Being boutique.
For a festive treat, guests should book one of three brand-new suites built atop the iconic rock, each featuring a private terrace and beautiful views over the beaches and reefs of the Bay of St Jean. The Vogue Suite is a decadent, yet cosy cocoon while the Jane boasts a delightful garden terrace and jacuzzi pool – the perfect space for enjoying a glass of something chilled and bubbly. The Pippa meanwhile is an enchanting split-level, one-bedroom suite with a unique wooden tubed spiral staircase leading to a hidden heated pool built into the rock.
Visitors in residence over the holidays will be the lucky recipients of a selection of special turndown gifts and surprises, including limited-edition items from Eden Rock’s collaborations with Diptyque and Orlebar Brown. Rounding off the experience will be the legendary Eden Rock New Year’s Eve dinner at the Sand Bar on St Jean Beach. On New Year’s Eve, parties are hosted all over the island but Eden Rock’s is one of the best and most sought-after for an invitation. Attendees will enjoy a gourmet menu designed by legendary Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, music by Eden Rock’s resident DJs and other surprises. Naturally, hotel and villa guests have priority access to booking this exclusive event.
HOW: A 14-night minimum stay is required over the Christmas break with rates starting from €3,000 (currently approx. 13,033 AED) per night for an Eden Room. For prices and to reserve a ticket for the New Year’s Eve dinner please contact: Nyeevent.firstname.lastname@example.org. Book online here.
Swap the cold winter months for a dose of winter sun, and head to the spice island of the Caribbean for some festive fun
Spend the holidays in the sunshine, staying at Silversands Grenada on the Spice Island of the Caribbean. Glorifying in its beachfront position, the super sleek resort has curated a festive programme to delight each and every family member, with celebrations commencing on 20th December and running until 2nd January.
From morning wellness activities to evenings spent at the Beach Lounge with live music by local musicians, to children’s pizza-making activities, local rum tastings and sunset cocktails – there really is something for everyone. Those craving that Christmas spirit will love the holiday carols, eggnog and cookies on the 23rd, and for little ones, the children’s gingerbread cookie decorating session on Christmas Eve. A family-style festive dinner with all the trimmings and a glass (or several) of Champagne will be served on the evening of the 24th, while on Christmas Day, Santa will arrive at the Beach Lounge to hand out presents to all children.
The Big Day will commence with a poolside BBQ lunch and DJ for all the family to enjoy, while the days between Christmas and the New Year can be spent relaxing around the pool, exploring all the island has to offer, indulging in Cognac and chocolate pairing – and for the active, a paddle-boarding competition. On New Year’s Eve, guests are cordially invited to a decadent dinner at Asiatique, and the Casino Royale Party at the Beach Lounge with live music and fireworks. 2021 will start as it means to go on: with a Champagne breakfast, music at the Beach Lounge and a local street food night for visitors to sample delectable Grenadian delights.
HOW: Scott Dunn offers 14 nights at Silversands Grenada over the festive season from £6,500 (currently approx. 31,759 AED) per person based on a couple sharing a Garden View King Room on a B&B basis, including $200 resort credit, a 30-minute jet lag massage, economy British Airways flights and transfers. For more information, visit www.scottdunn.com or call 020 8682 5080