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Dinah Hatch

Back to Inspirations
The rain has arrived, the leaves have definitely fallen and we've all but forgotten even where we went on our summer holidays here at Britain's Finest Towers. Surely it's time to start thinking about a winter break, yes? The good news is that there are tonnes of hotels on the site offering some cracking deals at the moment with prices that should warm your heart and your wallet in equal measure. We're thinking bracing woodland walks or coastal romps, roaring log fires to come back to and awesome meals in elegant restaurants followed by late night armchair chats in cosy lounges. And then, to bed…
Crieff Hydro

Crieff Hydro has a long history of giving parents the break they deserve. Nestling in glorious Perthshire countryside just an hour from Glasgow and Edinburgh, this hotel is all about making sure everyone gets a holiday, with six hours of free childcare a day thrown into the deal. So while the kids are haring about (there's a selection of 60 indoor and outdoor activities across 900 rolling acres), there's time to luxuriate at Crieff's spa where there is a special deal running until January 31, 2013. For £60 per person you'll receive a tailor-made facial and back massage using either Temple Spa or Clarins products after which you can saunter in a blissful state off to the Brasserie where they will lay on a three-course meal. Then spend the afternoon in the adults-only Victorian Spa, feeling utterly spoilt (and loving it). The hotel is also running a golfing deal until the end of January, giving you 50 balls on the driving range, 18 holes then a warming soup and a sandwich lunch in the clubhouse all for £20.

Hambleton Hall

It's almost impossible to spend any time at all at Hambleton Hall on the banks of Rutland Water without starting to imagine you are part of late 19th century aristocratic life. This is the epitome of country house living and it's all one can do not to shout “Release the hounds!” as you wander through the grounds, whacking things with a long stick and discussing the hunt. Except there is one big difference – there are no draughty bedrooms and cold kedgeree for breakfast here. Instead owner Tim Hart has created a luxurious getaway with a reputation for high quality food, a great cellar and tip top staff. It would seem rude, then, not to take up Mr Hart's special offer of a night's accommodation in a standard double plus three-course a la carte dinner and breakfast the next day for £172.50 per person (based on two sharing), valid from now until December 20. Add a second night for the same price and a crack at the gourmet tasting menu too. Tally ho.

The Black Swan Hotel

Whether you are looking down over the pretty walled gardens of this 15th century coach house turned luxury hotel or onto the bustling market square of Helmsley, one of the prettiest villages in the North York Moors, the views from The Black Swan are pretty special. Another reason to check into this black-and-white timbered historic little hostelry is its excellent tearoom which has won awards for its typical English afternoon tea and acts as a hub for locals who meet for a chat and a pick me up. The hotel's restaurant has also collected a following for its menus offering fresh local dishes. Outside the hotel, browse the second hand book shops and boutiques in the village or head out to the brooding dramatic ruins of Helmsley Castle. I like their Great Yorkshire Escape offer running from now until the end of November, where you'll pay £199 per couple for a glass of champers on arrival and a miniature strawberry afternoon tea served in the lounge or garden, a six-course dinner in the restaurant, accommodation in a Classic bedroom and full english the next day.

Pen-y-Dyffryn Country Hotel

When was the last time you heard no passing traffic at all? Pen-y-Dyffryn country house hotel sits amidst five acres of silent waving blooms, its silver-stone edifice offering up a winter retreat to make the bad weather worth it. The hotel is a former Georgian rectory and its hillside position close to the Welsh border near Shrewsbury makes for perfect strolling in any conditions (there are some great hill-walks in this area). Anything but pretentious, staff treat you like respected old friends when you bowl back in after a brisk game of golf, a bout of boutique shopping in Oswestry or a browse around the extraordinary Powis Castle. If spa's your bag, they also lay on a range of treatments. Treat yourself to the hotel's current Autumn Wallet Warmer until December 22 which offers 20% off when you book two or more nights' dinner, bed and breakfast. You'll also get a tenner off drinks, wine or a spa treatment.

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