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Ten retreats for the Christmas break

by Dinah Hatch (November 2013)

Who wants to spend Christmas making beds up, cremating turkeys and following complicated Jamie Oliver recipes? If you think you have been taken for a yule fool too long, let someone else do all the hard work this year...

Showing below are all 5 records in "Ten retreats for the Christmas break"

Lainston House, an Exclusive Hotel

Woodman Lane, Sparsholt, Winchester

Lainston House, an Exclusive Hotel, Woodman Lane, Winchester, Hampshire

Forget the overdone devils on horseback and soggy sprouts, let new head chef at Hampshire’s Lainston House Olly Rouse cater for your every whim this Christmas. Olly’s pedigree involves being head chef at Michelin-starred Coworth Park and a spell as sous chef at Petrus under Gordon Ramsey so he knows a thing or two about laying on a festive feast. Fab food aside, stunning 17th century country house Lainston is pretty much the perfect place to celebrate Yule, with its blazing lobby fire, drawing room afternoon teas, Christmas Eve church choir carols and four-course meal plus minibus to Winchester Cathedral for Midnight Mass all laid on.

Great Fosters

Stroude Road, Egham

Great Fosters, Stroude Road, Egham, Surrey

Let me set the scene of a Christmas at the former royal hunting lodge Great Fosters Hotel in Egham, Surrey. Think four poster beds, mullioned windows, classic wood-panelling, heavy Flemish tapestries, portraits and paintings, moulded ceilings, damask furnishings and blazing log fires in Jacobean fireplaces. Then add fairy lights strung artfully across beams, champagne and caviar to whet your appetite and then a whopping great meal at a stunningly decorated table (we love the giant red bows on the chair backs). The wonderful gardens with their elegant Japanese Bridge make for the perfect Christmas Day afternoon stroll too or head into smart Windsor to take in a panto at the Theatre Royal or raise a toast to her Majesty’s Speech in a traditional old pub a stone’s throw from the famous castle.

Rudding Park Hotel, Spa & Golf

Follifoot, Harrogate

Rudding Park Hotel, Spa & Golf, Follifoot, Harrogate, North Yorkshire

Sometimes it’s just blissful to sit back and let someone else take care of your whole Christmas agenda. If this takes your fancy, nose the motor Yorkshire bound and head for grade I listed country house Rudding Park, Harrogate, where they’re currently fine-tuning your festive extravaganza. Here’s what’s in store (deep breath): welcome Christmas Eve afternoon tea, family treasure hunt, evening champers reception followed by black tie dinner (or a family night with entertainment). Next up is a carol service in the hotel chapel, then mulled wine and mince pies. Get your beauty sleep while Santa does his deliveries then wake up to breakfast and a six-hole golf competition. Then it’s more champagne, Christmas lunch, a turn around the grounds before games and cards in front of the fire. There’s also a private cinema for the screening of Christmas classics. Sorted.

The Royal Horseguards

2 Whitehall Court, London

The Royal Horseguards, 2 Whitehall Court, London, London

London can be rather magical at Christmas time, especially when you are nicely tucked away in a five star hotel right in its beating heart. And the Royal Horseguards, standing majestically over the Thames looking onto the London Eye, does festive cheer with real class. The lobby, festooned in decorations with an always super tasteful tree, sets the festive tone which continues throughout the hotel and on into neighbouring historic One Whitehall Place, a superb entertaining space whose Victorian splendour makes eating your Norfolk bronzed turkey with glazed carrots seem pretty special. Round off your Christmas evening in the gentleman’s club setting of the Equus Bar with a Lord Kitchener cocktail. Come Boxing Day, strap on your skates and go gliding across the ice on the rink below the Eye followed by a hot chocolate. Now that’s festive.

Cwm Broadwell Barn

Mutton Dingle, New Radnor

Cwm Broadwell Barn, Mutton Dingle, New Radnor, Powys

The brooding Welsh countryside comes into its own at Christmas time when fabulous old pubs, stunning frosty walks and quaint villages and market towns make for perfect places to escape the rat race. If you want a change of scenery (and some tidy scenery it is too), book a few days over Christmas at Cwm Broadwell House in the Radnor Hills in the beautiful Welsh Marches. The house sleeps eight people, is really spacious, has a winter-beating log burner and a patio leading onto the garden. Where ever you turn there are simply lovely views and there is even a little two-person sauna. This neck of the woods offers great walks, waterfalls, a forest to explore, pony trekking and fishing for when the Christmas cabin fever hits plus there are some great local restaurants (one Michelin starred) to experience. Oh, and do try the real ales created right on site at the Radnorshire Ales Microbrewery. Bottoms up.

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