Don’t be run ragged by the demands of the festive season. Book a hotel break for Christmas or New Year and let others take care of you from morning to night, while you relax in a house-party atmosphere.
Here are 10 favourites chosen by the editors of The Good Hotel Guide, offering everything from family fun and games to a sophisticated adults-only escape.
Woolley Grange, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire
There is Christmas fun for all the family (not forgetting Fido) at this rambling Jacobean manor house in glorious grounds, with spa and Ofsted-registered crèche. Expect roaring fires, ladies dancing, geese a-laying, mocktails and cocktails, quad bikes and carols, a children’s buffet and black-tie dinner, cinema club, fancy dress party and much more. The New Year will be ushered in with family dining or gourmet candlelight dinner, a bonfire, marshmallow toasting, fireworks and fizz.
Christmas from £2,160 for 4-night package; New Year, three nights from £1,015, Based on two adults sharing a small double (includes children’s club, family activities, use of spa and pool). 01225 864705, woolleygrangehotel.co.uk
The Grand Hotel, Eastbourne, Sussex
Seasonal lunches and tea with a festive twist are on offer throughout December in this palatial white seafront hotel. Grand in style, it is nonetheless family-friendly. There will be ‘Winter Wonderland’ Christmas parties in the Ice Palace themed ballroom on December 6, 19 and 21, a gala dinner dance on December 13, and special overnight rates for those attending events. The four-night Christmas Experience includes a champagne reception, children’s entertainments, a visit from Santa with gifts for the little ones, jazz in the Great Hall, and tickets can be reserved for Jack and the Beanstalk at the Devonshire Park Theatre. Oh, yes they can!
Per person, party nights from £59, dinner dance from £47. Four-night stay (Dec 23-26) from £1,165, based on 2 adults sharing. Children up to 2 stay free; aged 3-12, £380 when sharing adults’ room. 01323 412345, grandeastbourne.com
Moonfleet Manor, Fleet, Dorset
‘People said that it was Magistrate Maskew of Moofleet Manor who had put the Revenue men on the track…’ How exciting for children to stay in this 17th-century manor house above Chesil beach, the setting for Moonfleet, John Meade Falkner’s 1898 tale of smuggling!Exciting, too, the annual Gingerbread House Competition, a carol concert, a balloon artist, the hunt for Father Christmas and the gifts he’s brought. With a kids’ club and nannies to supervise, parents can take time out to relax, to enjoy a bit of pampering in the spa or to raise a glass of champagne. A games room, two pools, festive films, guided fossil and nature walks all make for plenty of communal fun.
Per room, 4 nights (Dec 23-26) from £1,780, 3 nights from £1,410 (Dec 24-26), £1,290 (New Year), based on two adults with one child sharing small double. 01305 786948, moonfleetmanorhotel.co.uk
The Scarlet, Mawgan Porth, Cornwall
For those seeking a more serene seasonal break, its adults only at this chic, sleek, modern cliff-top hotel. Demand is high – New Year it is currently sold out, with a waiting list – but you might still be able to join the Christmas house party for sophisticated fun and games, spa treatments, fine dining, champagne, cakes, canapés, live music, perhaps a Christmas-day dip (wetsuit provided). They’ll bring you breakfast in bed if you choose. All rooms have a sea view, private garden, terrace or balcony. If they can’t squeeze you in this year, you might go for a pre-Christmas Winter Warmer two-night break, or three-night ‘Twixmas Hideaway’ break.
Christmas, 4 nights from £2,380, 5 nights from £2,630; pre-Christmas, 2 nights (until Dec 21), from £685; Twixmas 3 nights from £1,245, based on 2 adults sharing. 01637 861800, scarlethotel.co.uk
The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa, Bath, Somerset
In a splendid Grade 1 listed Georgian terrace at the heart of beautiful Bath, these twin mansions are run as an elegant hotel and spa. Plans for this year’s Christmas house party include mulled wine in the library, carols by candlelight, champagne and canapés, Midnight Mass at Bath Abbey, then cocktails and mince pies, a traditional Christmas lunch, a treasure hunt, a harpist, a Boxing Day five-course farewell dinner, before a casino with ‘fun money’ and prizes. You can indulge in spa treatments, take a stroll around town, skate on the ice rink in Victoria Park.
Per person, 3 nights from £1,514, based on 2 adults sharing. Single occupancy from £2,121. Children under 2 stay free; aged 2-12 in extra bed, £394. Children’s deluxe twin, £1,051 per child. 01225 823333, royalcrescent.co.uk
Lygon Arms, Broadway, Worcestershire
A three-night Christmas house party at this family-friendly Elizabethan coaching inn begins with Christmas Eve tea and mulled wine. There will be cocktails and canapés, a four-course Christmas lunch and buffet dinner, a Boxing Day cream tea, and the spectacle of the North Cotswold Hunt setting off from the door, if that’s your sort of thing (tally ho – or no?). The former Great Hall, now the Bar and Grill, has a minstrels’ gallery, barrel ceiling and cavernous fireplace. Past guests have included both Charles I and Oliver Cromwell, though not at the same time, or in the spirit of seasonal goodwill.
Per room, 3 nights from £2,580, based on 2 sharing. Children aged 5 and under sharing parents’ room stay free. 01386 852255, lygonarmshotel.co.uk
Seaham Hall, Seaham, Co. Durham
William Pye’s acrylic-encased Charybdis Fountain water sculpture stands at the centre of a turning circle before the Tuscan portico of this classical Georgian mansion where Lord Byron married Anne Isabella Milbanke. Within is a luxury hotel proud of its heritage yet unashamedly contemporary. Arrive on Christmas Eve for tea in the lounge and a three-course dinner. Christmas Day brings champagne and canapés, a blow-out lunch, dinner and a visit from Santa. Boxing Day can be spent recharging with a facial or massage in the Serenity Spa before lunch in Ozone Restaurant. After that, perhaps a walk in the grounds with view of the North Sea, then a decadent dinner. Or see in the New Year with dinner in the ballroom, dancing to the Philippa King Band, and fireworks at midnight. Byron was inspired to write The Hebrew Melodieswhile at Seaham, and everything today is on song.
Christmas, 3-night packages from £649 a night, New Year D,B&B with ball, from £699, based on 2 adults sharing. 0191 516 1400, seaham-hall.co.uk
Bodysgallen Hall and Spa, Llandudno, Conwy
‘Christmas with a Welsh flavour’ is the promise at this Elizabethan mansion turned hotel and spa, cared for by the National Trust. Arrive to a champagne reception on Christmas Eve. Later you might attend Midnight Mass and return to port and mince pies. There will be a traditional Christmas lunch and evening buffet, a Boxing Day champagne reception with Welsh harp music and formal dinner. Work up an appetite with a stroll around parkland and Arts & Crafts gardens, taking in the views of Snowdonia.
3 nights (Dec 24-26) from £1,620. Children over age 6 welcome. 3 nights (Dec 24-26) from £1,620. 01492 584466, bodysgallen.com
Glenapp Castle, Ballantrae, Ayrshire
Winter time is pure magic at this fairy-tale castle surrounded by forests, gardens and parkland, overlooking the Ayrshire coast. They promise roaring fires, pipers piping, falconry displays, ceilidhs, stargazing, banqueting and black-tie dinners, carriage rides, clay-pigeon shoots and curling, mince pies and a visit from Santa. Hogmanay brings fun ‘frae morning sun till dine’, with Scottish dancing, champagne and Auld Lang Syne.
Per room from £2,775 for 3 nights. 01465 831212, glenappcastle.com
Kinloch Lodge, Sleat, Isle of Skye
Christmas is a traditional and more affordable affair at Lord and Lady Macdonald’s former hunting lodge on the shores of Loch Na Dal, which retains the welcoming feel of a family home, with photographs, portraits and antiques in three drawing rooms. Mince pies and mulled wine, roaring fires and candlelight, decked fir trees and a visit from Father Christmas are all laid on, along with a winter picnic, a forest ramble, seasonal cocktails and Whisky Macs. At Hogmanay, guests will sit down to chef Marcello Tulley’s seven-course tasting menu, before fireworks and bagpipes on the lawn and a bar that stays open into the wee small hours.
Per person, based on 2 sharing, 3 nights from £660. 01471 833333, kinloch-lodge.co.uk