Now that we're easing out of our second national lockdown, we think there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the most magical time of the year, even if that means staying close to home. It’s admittedly been some time since we last packed our bags, so we asked our friends over at Small Luxury Hotels of the World for some inspiration. Small Luxury Hotels of the World is a global community of independently minded travellers and independently spirited hotels specialising in boutique destinations and bespoke experiences, and they've rounded up five of the best boltholes in the UK for a winter weekend escape.
The Fish Hotel, Cotswolds
This village-style collection of houses, huts and hideaways is made for laid-back luxury breaks, whether you’re planning to bring your other half, the whole family, or your four-legged friends along. Set within the picturesque 400-acre Farncombe Estate, The Fish Hotel enjoys postcard-worthy views of rolling Cotswolds hills and towards the honey-hued village of Broadway. Inside, classic country styling meets pared-back, Scandi chic design.
Cosy up in a room or suite in one of the farmhouse lodgings. Seek the seclusion of a luxury shepherd’s hut with its own hot tub, or wander the woods from a contemporary treehouse. With an on-site dog agility course, children’s playground, and endless countryside walks which are thoughtfully detailed on hand-illustrated maps in the hotel’s boot room, foodies can easily burn off the weekend’s indulgence courtesy of the hotel’s seafood serving Hook Restaurant.
The Gainsborough Bath Spa, Bath
If this year has left you in desperate need of some pampering, look no further than The Gainsborough Bath Spa. Tapping into Georgian era elegance, its Spa Village is exclusively shaped around the Roman’s thermal pools, while Bath Spa Bedrooms combine period details with contemporary comfort – think two-poster beds, roll top bathtubs, and signature scented candles.
Immerse yourself in a world of wellness and relaxation, from tatami treatment rooms, infrared saunas, and crystal sound bath sessions, to aquatic therapies, all surrounded by classical columns and mosaic floors. Live out your period drama fantasies by taking afternoon tea in the Canvas Room, taking a turn around the Royal Crescent, or dipping into Roman Britain at the Baths and Pump Room – The Gainsborough puts the best of Bath at your feet for a suitably stylish city break.
Inverlochy Castle, Fort William
With a backdrop of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the UK, the views from Inverlochy Castle are second to none. Its picture-perfect setting of secret gardens, wildly beautiful woodland, and its own private loch, feels straight from a Scottish storybook. From the dove grey stone walls and romantic turrets, through to the sumptuously furnished rooms with deep canopied beds, you’ll feel as though you’re stepping into a by-gone time with all the contemporary comforts of Highland hospitality. Feast on a menu of the finest locally-sourced produce by legendary father and son Albert and Michel Roux Jr, in all the splendour of three dining rooms decorated with gifted furniture from the King of Norway. Snow seekers should make the most of the winter sports on Aonach Mor, and with the Nevis Range right on your doorstep, there’s no shortage of ways to explore the great outdoors.
The Nare, Cornwall
A heavenly slice of seaside charm, The Nare’s beachside position puts Cornwall’s captivating coast at your feet. Overlooking the white sands and gentle waves of Gerrans Bay, it has all the exclusivity of a private island, while the Roseland Peninsula is at its quietest during the winter months for socially distanced strolls in the fresh sea air.
Water lovers will be spoilt for choice at The Nare, with a heated indoor pool, a sea-facing hot tub sheltered by beach huts, and two boats – the Alice Rose, an elegant 38ft motor launch, and Maggie O’Nare, a 22ft Cornish Crabber – dedicated to exclusive guest use for exploring the nearby Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Indoors, you’ll find plenty of cosy corners to while away a winter’s day, from cream tea in the charming drawing room to curling up with a good book in front of the log fire.
Vintry & Mercer, London
Home to the largest holiday lights display in the UK, visiting London while it’s all dressed up for Christmas is a guaranteed dose of festive cheer – not to mention an opportunity for some last-minute gift shopping. The neighbourhood around Vintry & Mercer is overflowing with traditional markets, high-street favourites and designer shops, with some of the capital’s prettiest window displays.
This sleek city retreat with interiors featuring bespoke fabrics, boasts some of the best views over the London skyline from its Mercer Roof Terrace, which can be enjoyed from two winter igloos by groups of up to six this holiday season. The menu celebrates the best of British cooking, using sustainably sourced meat and fish from the British Isles, while wine takes centre stage at the Asian tapas eatery on the ground floor, tapped straight from large barrels that line the gantry.