From stylish seaside house parties to gourmet Christmas experiences, a seasonal stay by the coast makes for a memorable end to the year. Words: Alex Reece
1. FOR… FESTIVE GRANDEUR
South Lodge, Holkham Estate, Norfolk
A seasonal stay at South Lodge – a restored outbuilding on the Holkham Estate – allows you to dip into the packed programme of events at Holkham Hall in the run-up to Christmas. Take your pick from guided candlelight tours of the Hall’s state rooms in their festive finery, to a family-friendly audience with Old St Nick (book events at holkham.co.uk). Or delight in the 25,000 acres of surrounding parkland, populated by deer, where bikes are available to hire. The broad expanse of Holkham Beach is also close by. The lodge itself dates back to 1847 and is decorated in a modern country style. Sleeps 2; from £510 for a three-night break in December (01328 887600, saltnorfolk.co.uk).
2. FOR… MULTI-GENERATIONAL HOLIDAYS
Rockhaven Manor, Rock, Cornwall
Perfect for a family get-together is this Georgian-style manor house in Rock on the North Cornish coast, where the sweeping mahogany staircase is festooned with garlands at this time of year. A large, panelled dining room with open fireplace lends itself well to winter celebrations, while the six bedrooms and four bathrooms should give every generation a feeling of space and indulgence. Rockhaven Manor overlooks its own large, landscaped garden and from here, a footpath leads down to Porthilly Cove and on to sandy Rock Beach. Take the ferry to nearby Padstow to dine on fresh local fish at Rick Stein’s The Seafood Restaurant or courtesy of Paul Ainsworth At No.6. Sleeps 12, a seven-night break over New Year costs £3,199 (01208 869090, latitude50.co.uk).
3. FOR… A LIGHTHOUSE
Veronica Cottage, Anvil Point Lighthouse, Swanage, Dorset
For a memorable way to mark the season or bring in the New Year, take up residence in a Victorian lighthouse, commanding panoramic views of the Jurassic Coast. Veronica Cottage is one of a pair of holiday homes at the foot of Anvil Point Lighthouse, set in a country park just outside Swanage. It’s an exhilarating place for storm-watching in winter, and guests staying over Christmas will find a tree and decorations in the snug accommodation. Take a day trip on the heritage Swanage Railway, which runs a Santa Special steam train for youngsters until Christmas Eve. While a Boxing Day walk along the vast stretch of Studland Bay should blast away any post-indulgence blues. Sleeps 6; a six-night break from 21 December costs £1,899 (01386 897191, ruralretreats.co.uk).
4. FOR… A BIG GATHERING
The Habit, Ilfracombe, Devon
Newly opened for 2019, The Habit is a striking seafront hotel building in Ilfracombe, now transformed into a generous, boutique-style party house offering self-catering. Ideal for large-scale gatherings of family and friends, it sleeps up to 35 in 14 bedrooms. Along with a vast entertaining space – a former ballroom complete with bar – there is a games room housing
table tennis and a climbing wall, plus a sea-view conservatory in which to unwind. And if you don’t fancy cooking for a crowd, you can treat yourself at Michelin-starred Thomas Carr at The Olive Room in the town. Seven-night Christmas stay (20-27 December), £6,000. Winter three-night Fri-Mon breaks (Jan/Feb), £3,000 (habitilfracombe.co.uk).
5. FOR… A CHRISTMAS COMMUNITY
Glas Mor, Mousehole, Cornwall
The traditional Cornish village of Mousehole takes on a magical aspect during the festive season, thanks to its much-loved Harbour Lights, which illuminate the seafront from mid-December to early January. Book into Glas Mor cottage – newly available through Cornish Gems – which stands rght on the harbour and soak up the infectious atmosphere. Recently refurbished in a rustic Scandi style, the property has exposed stone walls, a charcoal-grey kitchen and a woodburning stove – ideal for cosy nights in listening to the vinyl collection provided. And you can bring your dog as well. Enjoy uplifting walks along the cliff-tops, or as far as Land’s End, returning to Mousehole’s Ship Inn for a well-earned pint. Sleeps 4; from £548 for a three-night break in December (01872 241241, cornishgems.com).
6. FOR… WHISKY BY THE FIRE
Kinloch Lodge, Sleat, Isle of Skye
On the shores of Loch na Dal to the south of the Isle of Skye is this 17th-century former hunting lodge – a perfect spot to sip whisky by a roaring fire over the Yuletide season. Previously the family home of Lord and Lady Macdonald, and now run by their daughter Isabella, Kinloch Lodge offers high-end Scottish fare, courtesy of chef-director Marcello Tully. Their three-night Christmas break includes a seven-course tasting menu on Christmas Eve (expect a visit from Father Christmas), a traditional lunch on 25 December and a Boxing Day walk with picnic, accompanied by the Macdonalds. If you’re staying over Hogmanay, a New Year’s Eve feast is followed by fireworks, Champagne cocktails and a piper on the lawn at midnight. Three-night festive getaway from £600 per person, including dinner and B&B (01471 833333, kinloch-lodge.co.uk).
7. FOR… A GOURMET EXPERIENCE
L’Enclume, Cartmel, Cumbria
Just inland from Grange-over-Sands, the medieval village of Cartmel is home to Simon Rogan’s Michelin-starred restaurant with rooms, L’Enclume. In the setting of a 13th-century former blacksmith’s workshop, diners can expect innovative dishes based on seasonal Cumbrian and home-grown produce. (The chef has his own 12-acre organic farm in the Cartmel Valley.) Book a two-night Christmas stay and you will be treated to mince pies and sustainable British rosé on your arrival on Christmas Eve, before a multiple-course tasting menu at L’Enclume. Christmas lunch is served at its more casual sister restaurant Rogan & Co. An artisan hamper in your room should round off the day nicely. Two-night Christmas package, from £1,295 for two sharing a double room (01539 536362, lenclume.co.uk).
8. FOR… A DIGITAL DETOX
Shore Cottage, Saddell, Kintyre, Argyll & Bute
Offering a welcome escape from technology is this handsome Victorian villa, perched atop a rocky promontory on the east coast of Kintyre, whose sitting room door opens almost directly on to the beach. As with all Landmark Trust properties, there is no TV or Wifi, so you and your companions can connect fully with the natural surroundings (and each other). On Saddell Bay, there are rockpools to peer into at low tide, a bothy to seek out and abbey ruins to explore. Meanwhile seals, seabirds and even otters can be spotted from the shore, where the views extend across Kilbrannan Sound to the Isle of Arran. Sleeps 6; from £342 for a three-night break in December (01628 825925, landmarktrust.org.uk).
9. FOR… KIDS OF ALL AGES
Bluestone, Narberth, Pembrokeshire
A luxury lodge resort near the Welsh coast, Bluestone adopts a ‘Christmasland’ theme every winter, with an interactive ‘Kingdom of the Elves’ experience, and an enchanted Santa’s Workshop. Choose from the three-, four- or seven-night packages (Nov-Jan), including access to the all-weather Blue Lagoon waterpark and Serendome, with indoor play areas. As Bluestone is set in 500 acres of National Park land, there are free-range nature trails and outdoor activities for all ages. The on-site Well Spa Retreat gives exhausted grown-ups a chance to recharge, too. From £589 for a weekend Christmasland break in a Caldey or Ramsey Lodge sleeping four, including free tickets to Kingdom of the Elves 2019 (01834 862400, bluestonewales.com).
10. FOR… A HOUSE PARTY
Cary Arms & Spa, Babbacombe Bay, Devon
This stylish spa hotel on the South Devon coast is hosting a three-night Christmas House Party in December. Guests can choose from a range of seaside-chic accommodation, from quirky beach huts to holiday cottages, all of which overlook the water. The fun starts on Christmas Eve with a cocktail party and supper, followed by games. And the day itself is kicked off by a Champagne English Breakfast, after which comes a five-course lunch and Quiz Night. Boxing Day is free for people to explore Babbacombe Bay or enjoy a marine treatment in the spa, where you’ll also find a waterfall hydrotherapy pool. The fun concludes with breakfast prior to departure on 27 Dec. From £1,815 for two sharing a double (01803 327110, caryarms.co.uk).