Escape Christmas or embrace Christmas?
Whether you want to embrace Christmas, complete with tinsel and all the trimmings, or escape the melee entirely, here’s our pick of top winter breaks
Embrace Christmas at a Celtic castle
What says Christmas more than a castle? A vision of towers and turrets, Glenapp is a 17-bedroom Scottish castle tucked away on the breath-taking Ayrshire coast with views across to Ailsa Craig and Arran. Set in 36 acres of gardens and woodland, Glenapp exudes baronial splendour with looks lifted straight from a fairy tale. Christmas comes with all the trimmings at Glenapp, plus a spot of clay pigeon shooting, Scottish dancing, pipers, ceilidhs, fine dining and black tie banquets. After a wee dram, guests can retire to their four-poster beds. The local Galloway Forest Park is one of only four ‘dark sky parks’ in Europe, where a lack of light pollution means visitors can enjoy spectacular stargazing.
Embrace Christmas in Devon
For a castle a little closer to home, head to five-star Bovey Castle for cosy Christmas markets – Exeter is one of the largest in Devon and boasts hundreds of festive chalets. Set in 5,000 acres of Dartmoor countryside, Bovey is bedecked in festive fancies in December. Alongside luxurious castle bedrooms, guests can book one of 22 three-storey self-catering country lodges, hewn from local granite and dotted around the estate – perfect for family gatherings. The kids can get outdoors and enjoy muddy den building, kids clubs and try their hand at falconry and deer and fawn feeding. Meanwhile, the double-height minstrel gallery, oak panelled drawing rooms, open fires and sensational Elan spa will send adults weak at the knees. Bovey’s 18-hole championship golf course is another big pull and was initially set up as a southern rival to Gleneagles.
Embrace Christmas with market magic
Grab your bobble hat and take a twinkle-lit wander around a Christmas market. Prague, Munich and Bruges offer easy weekends lightly dusted in snow and merriment, while lesser known Wiesbaden’s twinkling star Christmas market is ideal for history buffs.
Escape Christmas in the Maldives
Want to miss all the Christmas stress entirely? Escape to the tropics – Soneva Fushi is one of the Maldives’ most iconic island retreats and its wooden beach villas, private pools and eco ethos feel a million miles away from all the Christmas madness. Dine in the treetops, go turtle spotting in the Indian Ocean, stargaze at the island observatory, swing in hammocks, and watch glass blowers at the on-site studio. The eco resort regularly hosts Michelin-star chefs and iconic health and wellbeing practitioners, with retreats and wellness programmes running across the holiday season. The island’s private villas are nestled in dense foliage for added seclusion, meaning you can go for days without seeing a soul. A fantastic kids’ playhouse complete with art area, toys, cinema room, and Lego room is staffed every day and has a pool, waterslide and games area – though non-family guests are never disturbed thanks to the clever design of the island.
Escape Christmas in Dubai
Swap festivities for fashion at the Armani Hotel Dubai. Set in the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, the iconic hotel offers a luxurious holiday and partners with the city’s Nikki Beach. While there will be festive lights and fireworks in the metropolis, there’s enough shopping, spas, rooftop bars, souks and swimming pools to feel a million miles away from Christmas.