From carol singing and country crafts to exceptional Christmas dinners and special visits from Santa, discover the best country house hotels to get away to this year
Words: Charlotte McManus
In the (ad-libbed) words of Jane Austen, it is a truth universally acknowledged that Christmas is a time for indulgence. While some may choose to interpret that truism by enjoying mince pies for breakfast, quaffing a few glasses of fizz at a party, or tucking into tables groaning with seasonal fare, sometimes indulgence can simply mean some well-deserved R&R. This year, why not give yourself the gift of a festive stay in a luxurious country hotel? Whether you’re wanting to get away for the big weekend or simply enjoy a little festive indulgence in December, we’ve got Christmas escapes all wrapped up.
Down Hall Hotel, Spa & Estate, Essex
With Victorian architecture, roaring log fires and gorgeous views of the Essex countryside, Down Hall makes for a truly special experience over the Christmas period. Choose between a full Residential Break (taking place over the three-day Christmas Weekend) and an overnight Twixmas Break, available between 27 – 30 December. The Residential Break includes performances from carol singers, festive canapés and a seafood buffet on Christmas Eve, as well as a five-course Christmas Day lunch accompanied by tunes from the resident pianist, plus a Christmas quiz, movie screenings and all manner of seasonal treats besides, plus the option to enjoy falconry and clay pigeon shooting on the grounds. Alternatively, a Twixmas stay features afternoon tea, a three-course supper plus a hearty pre-checkout breakfast.
From £1,950 per room (based on double occupancy in a Classic Room) for the three-night Residential Break, and from £320 per room for an overnight Twixmas Break (with a 20% discount applied to each consecutive night booked), downhall.co.uk
Bovey Castle, Devon
Renowned as one of Devon’s most beautiful hotels and grounds, Bovey Castle’s three-night Christmas Experience (available from 24 – 26 December) is sure to create magical memories. Upon arriving on Christmas Eve, guests can take part in a range of seasonal activities, ranging from cider and sloe gin-making, to carol singing and story-telling. Children are offered a special high tea, whilst adults can enjoy welcome drinks and a five-course supper with live music. On Christmas Day, Father Christmas will be making the rounds with gifts after breakfast, though there’ll still be time to try out the estate’s brass-rubbing trail before the main event, lunch. A festive golf tournament will be available come Boxing Day, in addition to ferret racing, festive movies and a black-tie dinner. A full English breakfast will also be served on the morning of the 27th before check-out.
From £900 per night, based on two adults sharing (no charge for children under 4), boveycastle.com
For a true country house estate experience, you’ll be hard pushed to find a better location than Beaverbrook, located in the heart of Surrey. This Christmas, the hotel’s Winter Warmer offer is full of seasonal fun, not least with the launch of its famous outdoor ice rink. Each guest will be given a 45-minute ice-skating session in addition to a glass of bubbles at the rink plus full access to the excellent on-site Coach House spa. Other highlights include a Full English each morning (it is Christmas, after all) and a delicious Anglo-Italian-themed dinner at The Garden House restaurant. Each room also comes with a selection of cocktails – the perfect thing for a cosy winter nightcap.
From £966 per room per night, based on two adults sharing. Available Sundays – Thursdays from 1 December 2021 till 28 February 2022, beaverbrook.co.uk
Rockliffe Hall, County Durham
Situated near the rolling Yorkshire Dales, this five-star golf and spa hotel – housed in an 18th century redbrick mansion – makes for an agreeably grand treat. Its three-night Christmas Break package kicks off with a festive afternoon tea upon arrival on December 24th, complete with mulled wine and carol singers. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is also included – the star of the show being Christmas Day lunch, which features no fewer than five courses plus a welcome glass of sparkling wine. Children are also well catered for with free festive activities plus a special visit from Father Christmas on Christmas Day, including gifts. Guests will also have two hours’ use of the spa every day during their trip.
From £845 per adult for three nights, and £423 for children, rockliffehall.com
Bingham Riverhouse, London
All right, Richmond isn’t quite the “country country”, but it’s pretty and leafy enough for Londoners to feel as though they’ve escaped the Big Smoke. Not only is the Bingham Riverhouse is ideally located on the scenic waterfront of the River Thames, but its culinary offering – helmed by MasterChef: The Professionals winner Steven Edwards – is some of the best in the business. Enjoy one of the hotel’s Festive Sleepovers, available for a single night on Christmas Day or for two nights over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Packages include breakfast, a bottle of champers and parking, as well as Christmas Day lunch (plus Christmas Eve dinner if staying for two nights), in addition a stay in a River Room, with views of the Thames.
Additionally, this winter, the hotel’s riverside space has been transformed into a Winter Garden, complete with cosy igloos that can seat parties of up to 10 people each. Enjoy views over the water with canapés and Champagne before tucking into one of Steven’s (wonderfully indulgent) tasting menus. Before toddling off to bed, take advantage of the opportunity to snuggle up in blankets and toast marshmallows over the roaring fire pit, or sip on a Baileys hot chocolate under the stars.
Festive Sleepovers from £649 per person, based on two people sharing, binghamriverhouse.com