Avoid the airport melee and feel festive with a weekend break in one of these super Christmassy hotspots…
It doesn’t get much closer for Christmas staycations. Our capital is packed full of fun, great restaurants, shows and markets. And it’s only a quick trip on the Tube or train – perfect if you’re craving a break but have no annual leave. Where to stay: Royal Lancaster has spectacular suites, with incredible views across London. Try the wonderfully luxurious and spacious Park Suite, ideal for a family stay. Curl up by the fire in the bar with a cocktail before heading out for a spot of ice skating at the nearby National History Museum, wander into Knightsbridge or head over the road to Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. Rooms from £229; £900 to upgrade to the Park Suite. Read our review.
The award-winning Bath Christmas Market (28 November-15 December) is located in the picturesque Georgian streets of the city. There’ll be over 150 glistening chalets and the chance to try wreath-making before sitting down for a two-course Champagne lunch at The Ivy Bath Brasserie. You can also catch a panto at Theatre Royal Bath, have a skate on the outdoor rink at Bath On Ice, and sip mulled wine at Abbey Hotel’s Après-Ski Bar. Where to stay: Set in a magical 500-acre estate, Lucknam Park is a Pride of Britain hotel and offers pampering and elegant dining a short drive from Bath. Re-energise in the award-winning ESPA Spa, relax with a festive afternoon tea in the library or sumptuous drawing room and indulge in Lucknam’s Michelin-star restaurant. The hotel is perfectly bedecked during the holiday season and with horse riding stables on site and frost-encrusted gardens and woodland to explore, it’s a divine festive getaway. Doubles B&B with spa access from £320.
Head to the Regency town of Cheltenham where pretty wooden chalets take over The Promenade offering a wide range of Christmas goodies, crafts, food and drink. The Christmas Market runs until 14 December, then, from 17-24 December, it is followed by the Christmas Arts & Crafts Market. You can also visit the Holst Museum decorated in a traditional Victorian style. Where to stay: Relax in rolling countryside before exploring the town. Set on the original Cheltenham racecourse estate, Ellenborough Park dates back over 500 years and boasts a tranquil spa, horse riding and decadent dining. There’s lots to do for families, plus wreath-making masterclasses and festive afternoon teas in the grand drawing rooms. Doubles B&B with spa access from £189
With its dreaming spires, Oxford tops many wishlists for Christmas staycations. Located in the heart of the city, on the historic Broad Street, the Oxford Christmas Market offers unusual and handmade gifts and delicious street food. Performances from carol singers and brass bands, along with the aroma of mulled wine, will see Oxford transform with Christmas charm aplenty. The market runs from 5-21 December. On your way home, you can stop off at Bicester Village for some last-minute shopping, too. Where to stay: The Old Bank Hotel is five-star luxury in the city centre, with many of the rooms overlooking famous landmarks. It’s chic and sleek, and the perfect spot for a festive get-together with friends. Small doubles from £170.
During the festive period, the Scottish capital transforms into a magical wonderland with numerous activities and markets for all the family to enjoy. The market (16 November 2019-4 January 2020) has hundreds of stalls and bars across the East Princes Street Gardens area, and parents can keep their family entertained at the festive fairground which includes rides, A Christmas tree maze and Santa Train. Oh, and that’s before we even mention Hogmanay… Where to stay: The Witchery by the Castle is one of the most atmospheric spots possible, and ideal for couples who can stay in opulent suites with roll-top baths. The restaurant is all gothic splendour and showcases Scottish produce. Prices from £395.