FOR… COSSETING AND CANDLELIGHT
1. The Airds Hotel, Appin, Scottish Highlands
In a tiny hamlet near Oban on the west coast of Scotland, hides the secluded refuge Airds Hotel, comprising 11 guest rooms and two self-catering cottages. Inside the converted ferry inn the feel is intimate and cosy, with log fires roaring in the two guest lounges and a whisky bar to warm the cockles of the heart. Views from the candlelit restaurant are spectacular and overlook the serpentine Loch Linnhe and the moody Morvern Mountains, a fitting backdrop to the yummy seafood dishes cooked up by head chef Chris Stanley. Book at prideofbritainhotels.com and for more information browse airds-hotel.com.
FOR….. SOMETHING OUT OF THE ORDINARY
2. Amelie, near Falmouth, Cornwall
Looking for somewhere out of the box to spend Christmas? Amelie is a houseboat moored on the Penryn River, a short hop from Falmouth on Cornwall’s south coast. She sleeps up to six in three cabins on the lower deck, including spacious bathroom with composting toilet, shower and double ended bath. The top deck is given over to living space, with sofas and a wood burner, a dining table, and a small kitchen with views over the river. From two outdoor decks you can watch birds or practice some yoga en plein air. Amelie’s owners have installed biomass heating and a rainwater gathering system to keep their berth as environmentally friendly as possible. To book, call 0117 204 7830 or go to canopyandstars.co.uk.
FOR… BIG FAMILY REUNION
3. Seamist, Watergate Bay, Cornwall
Located in the peaceful village of Tregurrian above expansive Watergate Bay, with its top foodie spots and sea sports, Seamist is so spacious that it can sleep 16 people in its eight bedrooms and seven bathrooms – plus pets are welcome. Highlights of the recently furnished property include a cinema room with a 50 inch TV and squashy sofas to watch from; a generous dining room that opens out onto the terrace via sliding glass doors; and a first floor living room equipped with cosy wood burner and sea view from a Juliette balcony. To book, call 01637 861005 or go to beachretreats.co.uk.
FOR… HOGMANAY AND HOOTS
4. Glenapp Castle, Ballantrae, Ayrshire
Dine and dance the night away in grand style at Glenapp Castle’s annual black tie bash on New Year’s Eve, featuring Scottish dancing and traditional pipers. Built in 1870, in Scottish Baronial style, the castle is now a five star hotel and staying there is an unrivalled treat. Guests enjoy a choice of 17 spacious bedrooms and suites decorated in country house style, halls, bars and lounges, plus walks in 36 acres of garden and woodland. All this comes with sea views too, from Ballantrae over to the volcanic outcrop of Ailsa Craig and the Isle of Arran. Book by calling 01465 831212 or browse glenappcastle.com.
FOR… A DIGITAL DETOX
5. Chesil Cottage, West Bexington, Dorset
If you’re looking to escape the digital world over the holiday, pretty Chesil Cottage is wifi-free and has stunning blow-the-cobwebs-away views over Chesil beach. For bracing holiday walks, the South West Coast Path runs close to the traditional stone property, while a few minutes stroll away is the spectacular pebble finger of 18-mile long Chesil. The cottage is dog-friendly too, so ideal if you like to saunter out with your pooch and warm up next to the inglenook fire afterwards. With a master bedroom and an attic bedroom, the cottage sleeps four and is ideal for a couple or young family. Book at nationaltrust.org.uk/holidays.
FOR… A LOVERS’ RETREAT
6. St Ives Bay Penthouse, St Ives, Cornwall
High up, private and with spectacular views across St Ives Bay and Porthminster beach below, this special penthouse has romance written all over it. The open plan living space, which comprises decked balcony, kitchen, cocktail bar and dining table, also has a perfect cuddle perch in the shape of a bespoke curving sofa facing out to sea. Upstairs in the master bedroom, the ocean views are floor to ceiling, best taken in from a boat-shaped bed with porthole bedside lamps. In between snuggles, the boutique shops, cafes and restaurants of St Ives await, or you could just hunker down and live off pizza, wine and chocolate. Call 01872 241241 to book, or go to cornishgems.com.
FOR… AN INDULGENT CHRISTMAS
7. The Swan, Southwold, Suffolk
if you want to treat yourself and your partner this Christmas, consider The Swan. Arrive on Christmas Eve in time to snaffle last minute stocking fillers at Southwold Books or the Adnams Store perhaps, then relax over afternoon tea in The Swan’s drawing room. After a nap, it’s time to enjoy a three-course meal paired with wines, followed by a film in the Reading Room. Christmas Day is all about the feasting – breakfast, then a four-course lunch, finishing with an evening buffet served with Champagne. The highlight of Boxing Day is an evening of jazz and £40 per guest to spend in one of The Swan’s two restaurants before departing the following morning. Call 01502 722186 to book, or browse theswansouthwold.co.uk.
FOR… GREAT VALUE
8. Woolacombe Bay Hotel, Devon
Twice awarded Britain’s Best Beach in Trip Advisor’s Travellers’ Choice Awards, Woolacombe Bay is three miles of sweeping sandy bay, surrounded by unspoilt National Trust land. The surf is great and even in winter you’re likely to see some hardy surfers seeking out waves. Look on from the comfort of Woolacombe Bay Hotel with its two restaurants and cosy seating areas or simply batten down the hatches and book a massage or aromatherapy treat at The Haven spa. Call 01271 870388 to book or go to woolacombe-bay-hotel.co.uk.
FOR… A HEALTHY BODY AND MIND BOOST
9. Yoga for Happiness Retreat, Seaford, Sussex
Want to make the most of your time off over New Year? Joining a yoga and meditation retreat can reboot your thinking and your energy, such as the three-day workshop run by experienced teachers, Patricia Cronin and Joanne Sumner, from comfortable Florence House on the South Downs. Each day begins with meditation before breakfast, followed by a workshop. Lunch is next, with time for a massage or walk out on the clifftops afterwards, then more yoga practice before sitting down to a hearty vegetarian dinner. Special celebrations include a candlelit ‘sound bath’ using gongs for deep relaxation, and, on New Year’s Day, the lighting of a bonfire and a walking meditation by the sea. Book at theyogaroot.com.
FOR…. A FOODIE ESCAPE
10. The Gallivant, Rye, East Sussex
Camber Sands is beautiful all year round and restaurant with rooms, The Gallivant, is conveniently located just three minutes walk away for blustery holiday walks and ozone therapy. With a focus on great food, the hotel’s two-night foodie escape from 30 December includes an arrival cocktail, afternoon tea and cake on both days, a three course dinner on the first evening and a five-course dinner on New Year’s Eve, comprising goose, lobster, beef, local cheese and chocolate fondant. If you have room for your full English breakfast the following day, it’s served with Buck’s fizz. Health and beauty treatments in the beach hut mini spa are also available as an extra. Call 01797 225057 to make a reservation, or go to thegallivant.co.uk.