8 of the best Christmas escapes
Festive, fun and stress free. A Christmas mini break where you rock up to eat, drink, sleep and be merry could be just the antidote to a rubbish 2020.
Feeling a bit meh about Christmas this year? Listen up. No-one minds if you jack in the traditional prep and slog this year. It’s a simpler affair now so why not put on your best frock, gather your bubble and head off for a magical mini break for a seriously memorable Christmas Day?
Pop Chris Rea’s Driving Home For Christmas on the car stereo and sweep up the drive of this magnificent country estate. Wasing is a glossy home-from-home venue that does low-key luxury with bells on. This Christmas you can book in on the big day for a fabulous five-course festive feast. Get dolled up (giddy with excitement it has been so long) and enjoy Champagne and canapés, seasonal starters, traditional turkey or Veggie Wellington, boozy puds and warm mince pies – decadent, delicious and great value for food of this quality at £70pp and £25 per child. Book here.
Why stop there. How does three whole days off from the cooking, cleaning and refereeing sound? Enjoy a Night Before Christmas supper, Christmas Day brunch, lunch and evening cheese board followed by a Boxing Day brunch and dinner and some quality Zzzz. So much food you’ll have to roll down the hill (prices from £1,165 for two people sharing a room).
After a year of cancelled holidays, make this year festively five star – whether you’re kid-free or not. A Christmas mini break at Coworth Park is ridiculously special. Listen hard enough, and you’ll hear the hooves of his reindeer on the mansion’s rooftop (or perhaps it’s the horses in the stables).
Your stay is scattered with stardust: enjoy a Champagne afternoon tea and festive singing, meals in either the fine dining Restaurant Coworth Park or The Barn for a more relaxed, casual vibe. There’s storytime for the kids, Christmas card and chocolate making fun, wine tasting for the adults and 240 acres of stonking grounds to romp around. Plus, Father Christmas checks in on Christmas Day. The big man knows a good thing when he sees it. Three-night minimum stay, rooms from £1,550 per night (includes dining and activities).
Fancy taking a trip to the Tuscan Hills this Christmas? No packing required. Slip into your sequins and follow the Michelin stars to Bray for a Christmas Day at Caldesi in Campagna. The five-course festive tasting menu is a fine dining experience, full of classic Italian flavours and brimming with winter sunshine. Lots of familiar dishes like roast turkey and smoked salmon, alongside lobster ravioli, Panettone pud, Ricciarelli biscuits and lashing of Italian wines. It’s next level food, delivering a sizzling kiss under the mistletoe with every mouthful. £130pp.
A wine hotel with 30,000 bottles nestled in the cellar waiting to put the merry into Christmas with your friends shiraz, chardonnay and Champagne. The Vineyard is a five star bolthole in the West Berkshire countryside. Book in for two nights of luxury loafing with fine food and delicious wines on tap. On arrival you’ll be passed a glass of bubbles or mulled wine, before your slip into your glad rags for delicious three-course Christmas Eve dinner – and the hotel’s elves will deliver a festive hamper to your room. On the big day, you’ll enjoy a festive breakfast and presents, then kickback, relax until your five-course Christmas dinner is served. No basting, no stress, no marigolds. Heaven. £769pp.
Unlike some hotels, you don’t have to stay to enjoy someone else’s cooking. Book a table and tuck into Berkshire pork terrine, lobster l’apres, halibut, turkey and Christmas pud. £165pp.
Poised and ready with the mistletoe, all you need is gorgeous George Clooney and all your Christmas wishes will come true. The Great House in Sonning is a within staggering distance of the Clooney’s Berkshire home. This cool, contemporary hotel is a fabulously festive spot to spend the holidays. Cosy up by the fire, take long walks along the river and indulge yourself without lifting a finger. If ever there was a year to eat, drink and be merry – this is it! Unlike many hotels at this time of the year, The Great House is offering one and two night stays, including a three course Champagne dinner at Coppa Club and breakfast the next day. £235 for one night and £352 for two nights (based on two sharing). Bring fido too for an extra £10.
Nothing beats the thrill of a house party. Particularly at Christmas. Tier two stops play until we edge towards the big day. But a Christmas house party is no ordinary affair at Cliveden House. You will spend three nights (24-27 Dec) at Lord and Lady Astor’s elegant party pad eating, drinking and getting dressed up (a scene not witnessed since 2019). You’ll scoff a festive afternoon tea, enjoy a black tie dinner with dancing, Champagne and more Champagne and the chance to stroll the 365 acres like you own the place. It’s going to make credit card wince, prices start at £3,900 per room based on two sharing (under 5s free).
If all you want is a stress-free Christmas with plenty of Vitamin D and a river view, this is it. The Swan at Streatley is a stylish home-from-home boutique hotel, a stone’s throw from George Michael’s Goring home on the River Thames. Enjoy one (£235 per room) or two nights (£352 per room) here with Champagne Coppa Club Christmas dinner and bring your four legged friends for an extra £10. It’s laidback luxury and you won’t have to lift a finger.
If Hollywood did Christmas in a quaint English pub, it would look just like The Bel & the Dragon in Cookham. An historic inn, with low beams, roaring fire, cosy nooks and boutique rooms that are a mix of modern and traditional. It’s gloriously kid friendly and the food is gastropub good. Book a couple of nights here from £240 including brekkie and enjoy a traditional festive feast £95pp.