Have yourself a stress-free little Christmas…
I don’t know about you, but after two lockdowns I feel like I’ve had hundreds of Christmas days already – shops closed, panic buying, overeating and general ennui. This Christmas, I plan to escape. I can’t see my relatives – the mix of uni-returned teens and vulnerable parents is too daunting. We can’t travel so it will have to be somewhere in the UK.
Inspired by binge watching series four of The Crown, I quite fancy a Christmas in a stately home, with charming staff doing all the boring prep – buying and decorating trees, stoking the fires, making dinner, pouring drinks and, of course, doing the washing up. The family can bicker all they want, as long as I can be queen for a day. Naturally, my Christmas escape must feature a luxurious spa so one can drift off and restore one’s equilibrium. Now it’s just a case of choosing which one...
Grantley Hall, Ripon
Roaring log fires and mulled wine, staff taking care of your every desire – ding dong, yes please! A three-night Christmas break in this charming Yorkshire pile (above) includes staggering amounts of gorgeous food, which you can (if you wish) work off in the Elite gym. Grantley Hall has hosted royalty, MPs and celebrities in the past, so who knows who you might bump into. If things go a little Partridge in a Pear Tree shaped, one can escape to the luxurious tranquillity of The Three Graces Spa: swim beneath the vaulted ceiling out to the bracing spa garden and gift yourself some Natura Bissé diamond and gold treatments.
Lucknam Park, Wiltshire
Christmas at Lucknam is magical for young families, especially as Santa is set to arrive on Christmas Day in a horse drawn carriage, which will be available for rides around the 500-acre estate all day. The traditional Christmas lunch is accompanied by a harpist and there’s a Brunch and Black Tie Dinner on Boxing Day. You and your family can stay in your own cottage, go for brisk country walks, explore the grounds on bikes or horseback, swim in the spa pool with its inlaid flickering fire and indulge in an ESPA treatment. Or simply sip mulled wine by a cosy fire (above). Merrily indeed.
Rudding Park, Harrogate
Roaring fires, mince pies, carols by candlelight in the Rudding Park Chapel, a visit from Santa and Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. The Christmas Escape offers everything fun as well as plenty of opportunities to wallow in festive inertia, depending on your enthusiasm for activities. There's a 6-hole golf, a visit to Santa’s Grotto or an escape to the Roof Top Spa (pictured above, in the snow) on Christmas morning? We love the idea of Christmas afternoon movies: snuggle up with a glass of mulled wine sinking into a slouchy sofa and watch a classic: a home from home.
Polish your tiara to join the glittering history of beau monde guests at Beaverbrook, the perfect setting for an elegant family Christmas. There’s a skating rink in the winter wonderland grounds with a rink-side cabin serving hot chocolate and mulled cider, plus unlimited access to the delightful Coach House Spa. Browse the leather-bound books in the library or enjoy the home cinema where Lord Beaverbrook and Winston Churchill spent many an evening together. Christmas drinks can be taken on the terrace so you can admire views across finely manicured estates to the Surrey Hills, or in the opulent Sir Frank’s Bar. Chin-chin.
The Swan at Lavenham, Suffolk
Dickensian-much? This deliciously slouchy, wooden beamed coaching inn (above) with its huge log fires, squidgy sofas and cosy nooks is a Christmas card waiting for you to step inside. You can almost smell the old beams and wood smoke. Begin your three-day stay with mulled wine, dinner and a traditional Midnight Mass in Lavenham Church. On return, you’ll find mulled wine and mince pies by your bed. On Christmas Day and Boxing Day, you’ll be spoiled rotten with mounds of food and drink. Tip-toe out through the walled garden to Weavers’ House Spa for some secret Yuletide pampering.
Mottram Hall, Cheshire
Now a Champneys Health Spa, this is Christmas with a huge sprinkle of pampering. But don’t worry, the food is pure festive indulgence, with traditional lunches, dinners, buffets and cream teas plus lashings of mulled wine, Champagne and mince pies. Top of our wish list is a visit to the brand-new health spa, with its spruced-up pool area (above), 20-metre indoor swimming pool and spa garden. Come to think of it, is there a better way to spend Christmas – or any – Day than lounging on a poolside cabana admiring your freshly painted toes?
Note from the editor: most of the spas featured were subject to Tier 2 restrictions on publication, which means you won't be able to mix households.
11th December 2020
Clever, inspiring design, sublime views, a vast, clean and empty pool, solitary relaxation areas to read, write or commune with my muse.
Small talk, discussions about spirituality or astrology, any products containing tea tree oil or aloe (sadly am allergic), busy pools where you can’t do laps.
Behind the scenes