Travel

A Christmas Escape/Escape Christmas?

For the last couple of years, my husband and I haven’t given each other a present as such, but instead used the money we’ve ‘saved’ on a weekend away. And with hotels like these, who wouldn’t want a night in one as a present?

If I want or need something, I tend to buy it and the only things I’d really love for Christmas are prohibitively expensive, so this ‘hotel presen t’s proven to be a brilliant idea. I love hotels, really love hotels, I love them so much I’ve spent most of my career writing about them or writing for them, so a weekend away in a luxury hotel is my idea of heaven. Although, let’s face it, I can’t think of many people who’d turn down a weekend away. If you are stuck for presents, then how about a weekend away before Christmas, over Christmas – or after Christmas, when the thought of something fun coming up is just the tonic January needs…

The Principal Edinburgh, George Street, Edinburgh

Oh, Edinburgh, be still my beating heart. If there’s one city I’d like to return to time and time again, it’s Edinburgh. I went to university there, so there are memories and friends who draw me back, but even without that backstory, the city itself is just glorious? Absolutely stunningly beautiful with architecture to knock your socks off, it is also a cooler place these days than when I lived there. There is lots of shopping, loads of bars and some really great restaurants to keep you entertained. The Principal on George Street may be Edinburgh’s oldest hotel, but the interiors are bang up to date with soft Farrow & Ball style tones and sumptuous fabrics. Located in the heart of the city’s smartest shopping street, it’s a brilliant location, whilst the brasserie and coffee shop are great touches.

Ockenden Manor, Cuckfield, West Sussex

Squirrelled away in the West Sussex countryside, Ockenden Manor is a lovely destination for a weekend away. An old Elizabethan manor house with just 28 rooms, a highly-regarded restaurant and an incredible spa, it lies on the edge of Cuckfield, a ridiculously pretty village with a number of brilliant fashion and interiors boutiques. Whereas the main hotel (pictured covered in snow at the top) has a gorgeous old school charm (think roaring fires, roll top baths and a wood-panelled bar), the spa is a contemporary, glass walled beauty of a place with in and outdoor pools, an Isopod flotation tank and hot tubs, The treatment list is both effective and interesting – there’s nothing bog standard about the choices here with everything from Age Support facials to Lava Shell Massages and restorative flotation treatments on offer. Can I move in please?

Dukes, London

Staying at a hotel in London makes for a brilliant grown-up weekend away – even perhaps if you live in the city. There’s just so much to see and do, and so much that’s different from your day-to-day life, you can’t help but return feeling invigorated. Dukes in Mayfair is a true old-school hotel in an utterly fabulous old-school location close to Green Park. Elegant, refined and utterly discreet, it’s the kind of place you can imagine drinking a martini or 3 in its cosy bar, before heading out around the corner for dinner or the theatre or a night on the town. Natasha and I popped by this week and were utterly blown away by the Christmas decorations outside. If you’re looking for somewhere to make you feel festive, grown-up and fabulous in one fell swoop, Dukes is it.

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