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Honestly. The pressure. As if it wasn’t bad enough cooking turkey and sprouts, now the whole world has an opinion on food preparation, ingredients and, of course, baking. Add family, exhaustion, the wrong presents, too much alcohol and New Year’s Eve on top – and it’s time to head for the hills. The good news is the hills – and the dales, fells, downs, uplands, country towns, villages and cities – are ready for you. Hotels across the land are geared up to entertain you or not, as you wish. All you have to do is pack, go, and do exactly what you want: read, walk, sleep, eat.
Isle of Eriska Hotel, Spa & Island, Argyll, Scotland
This 300-acre private island, joined to the coast by a bridge, not only sits amongst some gorgeous landscape, home to otters and dolphins among other wildlife, it also has a five-star hotel and restaurant with a Michelin star. Guests can use the heated pool, Stables ESPA Spa and nine-hole golf course, and breakfast, coffee and afternoon tea are included every day. There’s a Hogmanay Dinner and fireworks on New Year’s Eve and a black tie dinner dance on New Year’s Night.
The Corran Resort & Spa, Laugharne, Wales
This 21-room hotel is tucked in the marshlands of the Towy Estuary – the same watery landscape Dylan Thomas saw from his boathouse overlooking the nearby Taf – where it has been since the 16th century. Put your walking boots on to use the new Wales Coastal Path or explore the cheery village with its great bookshop, or put your feet up by the fire and enjoy lovely festive food from the hotel.
The Grove, Narberth, Pembrokeshire, Wales
This pretty little hotel with four cottages and a cosy, panelled interior is tucked between the Preseli Mountains (source of some of the Stonehenge stones) and the Bristol Channel, some miles north of Tenby. Its 26 acres include a well-stocked kitchen garden, so expect homegrown seasonal treats from the chef, Duncan Barham.
Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian, Edinburgh, Scotland
The rechristened Caledonian Hotel has the perfect position for festivities in Edinburgh. It’s in a former railway station at one end of Princes Street, near the winter ice-rink and within easy reach of the Hogmanay Torchlight Procession and street party. There’s a Guerlain Spa (oh yes) and The Pompadour by Galvin restaurant to enjoy.
One Aldwych, London
Enjoy Christmas and New Year in London’s hectic Covent Garden, amidst some of the best shopping and theatres in the world. The hotel is five minutes’ walk from the Piazza and always pushes the boat out for Christmas: expect a huge, super-stylish Christmas tree, chic decorations, seasonal cocktail list and a festive buzz.
Linthwaite House, Windermere, Lake District
A gabled Edwardian house with staggering views over Windermere, Linthwaite was originally a family home. It has warm, contemporary rooms, a relaxed atmosphere and its own tarn, and you can walk in almost any direction for hours. Or potter down to the eastern shore of the long, thin mere, the largest natural lake in England, go shopping in Kendal or Ambleside, or explore the National Park.
Hotel du Vin, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire
Stay in a suite in this handsome Georgian building, once a brewery (always a good sign) with your own Christmas tree, Heal’s baubles, and all the trimmings. The hotel is a couple of minutes’ walk from the River Thames and the town is full of pubs, bars, restaurants and great shopping. It’s a short drive into the beechwoods of the Chiltern Hills.
Horn of Plenty, Tamar Valley, Devon
A handsome stone house that once belonged to the Duke of Bedford’s Captain of Mines, the Horn of Plenty has been a hotel for 40 years and has cosy rooms with Vi-Spring beds, delicious food and five acres of lush West Country garden. You can nip off to Dartmoor to shed the excesses of the season. Or go and buy more food in Tavistock.
The Feathers, Woodstock, Oxfordshire
The pretty Cotswold market town of Woodstock used to house a royal palace and is still practically next door to one of the biggest stately homes in Britain, Blenheim Palace, where you can walk in the park every day except Christmas Day. The Feathers has 16 rooms and five suites, and it’s easy to tour the Cotswolds or get to Bicester Village on Christmas Eve or Boxing Day for some sneaky shopping.
The Macdonald Portal Hotel, Golf & Spa, Tarporley, Cheshire
The perfect combination of seasonal indulgence and activity, this New Year’s Eve package includes a Black Tie Gala Dinner, fabulous fireworks and bacon rolls at midnight. The modern hotel is light and airy, set in rolling hills in the Cheshire countryside, with a golf course, spa and attractively decorated bedrooms.