Make Christmas come early by tapping into these festive bookings, reports Isobel Finbow
It is one of life’s ironies that Christmas, a celebration of peace and joy, is often the most stressful time of the year.
Cramming an entire family into a single house, feeding the five thousand, and arranging presents and activities for all can bring some close to the edge. But for others in our society, Christmas can also be a difficult and lonely time.
This is why – no matter which category your clients fall into – the festive period is a great time to get away from home.
Whether it’s a hotel, holiday cottage or an escorted tour with like-minded people, a short break might be the remedy to your client’s yuletide nightmare. And they needn’t go too far afield as within the UK, trade-friendly operators and hotels have exciting opportunities to cash in on the Christmas celebrations.
In fact, a festive break on British shores can strike the perfect balance between merrymaking, tradition and relaxation, and doesn’t have to cost the earth.
THE GREAT ESCAPE
The no-fuss informality of having space to spread out is essential to families with young children, so renting self-catering accommodation makes for a special treat.
It’s also a great way to fit a holiday into the busy school break, while larger properties make extended family get-togethers much easier to accommodate.
A cosy cottage in a quintessential market town will make for a fairytale Christmas. Cottages4you has properties for rent near Bath, which has its own Christmas market featuring more than 150 traditional wooden chalets selling gifts, decorations and food.
Two-bedroom Rose Cottage, in Cold Ashton near Bath, sleeps four people and starts at £26.58 per person per night, based on three nights starting on December 13.
Alternatively, for an authentic rural Christmas, Cottages4you’s Garden Cottage in Alresford, near Winchester, offers good value countryside accommodation for £37.50 per person per night. Take a day trip to the city where the grounds of the world famous cathedral are transformed into an ice rink from November 21 to January 5, and a German-style Christmas market serves festive food and drink and seasonal gifts, until December 22.
For a touch of extravagance that you couldn’t get at home, Hoseasons has a selection of lodges with hot tubs. It’s not just for couples – youngsters will love cramming in to a hot tub on a frosty winter’s day. A seven-night stay starts from £605 based on a four-person lodge with hot tub, starting December 21.
On the upper end of the scale are St Mawes Retreats in Cornwall. Each property comes with a Christmas hamper and champagne, as well as the option to pre-order all the Christmas dinner ingredients, and even a private chef to do the hard graft. Prices begin at £599 per week for a house sleeping four, during the festive season from December 20 to January 14.
If all your customer wants for Christmas is a hassle-free Noel, a holiday park might appeal. The attraction lies in having the space to bring the extended family, on-site activities and wide-ranging facilities, but with the privacy of individual accommodation.
Butlins transforms its Bognor Regis, Minehead and Skegness resorts into winter wonderlands with fairy lights, Christmas trees, real reindeer and for the first time this year, ice rinks.
Four-night Christmas breaks start from £100 based on a family of four sharing a self-catering apartment at Butlins Skegness from December 23. Don’t forget to add a five-course Christmas dinner to their booking for extra festive feel.
SANTA AND THE CITY
Imagine waking up on Christmas morning in a gloriously comfortable bed, your stocking at your feet.
Then go downstairs where staff wish you a merry Christmas and serve up a hearty breakfast, before the festivities of games, lunch and present-opening begin. This may sound like a Downton Abbey holiday special, but it’s an idyll well within the reach of anyone spending Christmas in a hotel.
Increase your chances of a white Christmas with a break in Edinburgh. Hotel Missoni has a range of luxury festive packages, starting from £225 per room, and £60 per head for a three-course traditional Christmas Day lunch. The hip hotel is famed for its style and 1960s-inspired prints, and would make a great first Christmas away for a young couple who fancy escaping the in-laws for a bit of time to themselves.
Holidaymakers looking for an extra-special getaway could head to London. Famous for its Christmas lights, ice rinks and department stores, it embodies the magic of Christmas.
Stay just opposite Buckingham Palace itself – even if the Queen has escaped to Sandringham for the season – in The Rubens at the Palace hotel. Red Carnation Hotels’ Christmas package includes a mulled wine welcome, Christmas-themed afternoon tea, a stocking full of surprises and a decorated tree in each room. Late check-out at 6pm means guests have plenty of time to make the most of the package, starting from £258 per room.
Alternatively, bag the best seats in the house at Puss in Boots at the Hackney Empire, plus two nights at the Royal National Hotel for £380 for a family of four with Superbreak.
For some original present ideas, why not hop across the Irish Sea to Dublin? The city’s Christmas markets offer everything from decorations and Irish crafts to hot food and drink with a Victorian carousel, Santa’s grotto, ice rink, carol singing and live music, and Dublin’s world-famous pubs are the perfect place to sink a pint after a hard day’s shopping.
Irish Ferries Holidays has a self-drive Dublin break from £168 based on two sharing for three nights’ B&B, before December 23, at the Sandymount Hotel, which is a perfect base from which to visit the city’s Christmas markets.
For those who can’t wait for the big day, Warner Leisure Hotels has four-night Turkey and Tinsel or Dickensian Christmas breaks throughout November and December that allow guests to celebrate Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve whatever the day.
For many, going away is about escaping the Christmas chaos, but for older travellers and those on their own, escorted tours and singles holidays can offer companionship.
Specialist singles operators go to great lengths to ensure guests have a memorable celebration with a traditional Christmas lunch, festive entertainment and activities as standard.
Shakespeare devotees can retrace the footsteps of the playwright in Stratford with Just You’s four-night Shakespearean Stratford at Christmas, costing from £649 for December 23 departures, which also includes a guided tour of Warwick Castle.
Solos also has a themed package in Northampton; the 1940s Nostalgic Christmas.
Guests are transported back in time with the help of bunting, posters, tribute acts and even an air raid warden as compere (three nights, £499).
Grand UK Holidays caters for the over-55s and its Thursford Christmas Spectacular is a great value option whether guests are going alone or with a companion. The package includes excursions to the Norfolk Broads, Norwich and Holt (£229 for four days).
Alternatively, head north with Titan for a Chester Christmas, which also includes a walking tour of the charming Italian-inspired village of Portmeirion (from £795 for five days).
As an added incentive, Titan is giving away a Fortnum & Mason hamper for every Christmas booking made. Email the booking reference, Abta number and agency details to firstname.lastname@example.org within seven days to claim your gift.
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