Christmas crackers

All blog posts

5 minutes

By Rose Shepherd

After two years of uncertainty, hotels are making exciting plans for a bumper Christmas, and rooms are selling like hot mince pies, which does mean that you may find no room at your favourite inn. But not everywhere is yet booked solid. Here are some crackers with availability at the time of writing. Just be aware, you will need to move fast.

Thornbury Castle, Thornbury, Gloucestershire

For a truly historic Christmas, book a three-night stay at one of the few rooms still on offer at this authentic castle where Henry VIII stayed with Anne Boleyn. Arrive on Christmas Eve for a cream tea, before music, champagne and canapés in the Tudor Hall, then dinner. Awake to breakfast in your bedchamber before Christmas lunch and a buffet dinner. On Boxing Day there will be breakfast in the dining room, afternoon tea, a tour of the castle and a gala dinner with live acoustic guitar (sadly, not ‘Greensleeves’ on the lute).

Thornbury Castle

The Captain’s Club, Christchurch, Dorset

This contemporary hotel and spa on the banks of the Stour is family friendly and always on the side of fun and relaxation. Take your pick of river-facing doubles, a junior suite or family suite, some with a kitchenette for self-catering, one with its own cinema room. From £975 for three nights, including a hearty breakfast and evening buffet. Book separately to dine – and don’t delay.

Captain’s Club

Seaham Hall, Seaham, Co. Durham

A three-night stay at this luxury spa hotel a stroll from the cliffs, promises the perfect winter getaway. Available rooms include a sea-view junior suite, garden suites with private hot tub and (at this moment) the fabulous, split-level Ada Lovelace suite with two slipper baths overlooking gardens and grounds. Arrive to a champagne reception and a five-course dinner. Christmas day brings a full breakfast, Christmas lunch, a supper of cheese and charcuterie delivered to your suite. You’ll need that free spa treatment on Boxing Day.

Seaham Hall

Bingham Riverhouse, Richmond-upon-Thames, Surrey

The Thames provides the backdrop to a winter garden transformed with dining domes for up to ten guests, and a firepit for toasting marshmallows, at this hotel and members’ club. Or dine more conventionally in Steven Edwards Restaurant. They have a few rooms not so far taken, including some with a river view. On Christmas Day there will be drinks by the fire in the drawing room, and a tasting menu with optional wine pairings, while the Garden Rooms menu includes roast turkey (or veggie Wellington). Work up an appetite with a walk in Richmond Park. In the run-up to the festivities, on selected dates, you can stay overnight on a Christmas at Kew package, including cocktails and breakfast.

Bingham Riverhouse

The Atlantic Hotel, St Brelade, Jersey

You can opt for a view over St Ouen’s Bay or La Moye golf course,or perhaps a garden studio for parents and one child, at this purpose-built 1930s hotel where the relatively mild island climate is just one of the joys. Arrive for a Christmas Eve dinner. After breakfast take a coastal walk or attend church before Christmas lunch with all the trimmings. There’ll be a casual light supper, while Boxing Day ends with a gourmet dinner.

The Atlantic Hotel

The Bell at Skenfrith, Skenfrith, Monmouthshire

If you fancy something simpler (and more affordable), choose from one of four rooms not so far reserved, at this 17th-century former coaching inn by a stone bridge over the River Monnow. A two-night Christmas package includes bed and breakfast and a light Christmas Day buffet supper. Christmas lunch is booked separately, so you have flexibility. Expect oak beams, warming log fires, friendly staff and bonhomie. Bring your dog and enjoy some winter walkies.

The Bell at Skenfrith

Shieldaig Lodge, Gairloch, Highland

You’ll be welcomed with a wee dram and Christmas cake, before a three-course dinner, when you arrive for a three-night break at this Victorian hunting lodge on a wooded estate on the shores of Loch Gairloch. They are promising a lovely, traditional Christmas, with roaring fires,
big breakfasts, afternoon teas and hot toddies, as well as the full Christmas lunch. Rooms from cosy to family and deluxe are still available – for now.

Shieldaig Lodge

Prestonfield, Edinburgh

Built as a grand home and place of entertainment for the Lord Provost, this sumptuously furnished hotel is never less than theatrical, but at Christmas it basks in the extra glow, with candles and twinkling tree lights. All through December, until January 4, they’ll be offering a set-price festive menu at lunch and dinner in Rhubarb restaurant. Rooms are fully booked for Christmas Day, but you might get one on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day. Or take a break from shopping and look in for tea by the fire. On selected dates there will be Winter Wonderland party nights in the ballroom, with food, drink and entertainment.


The Double Red Duke, Clanfield, Oxfordshire

Our inspectors were so impressed by this 17th-century coaching inn between the Chilterns and the Cotswolds, run as a pub with rooms by the Country Creatures group. It’s a great place for a celebratory lunch or dinner, with feasting menus for groups of eight, from November 21, at a week’s notice. On Christmas Day, a five-course menu begins with a glass of mulled wine and rounds off with port and Stilton. If you want to stay over, the bedrooms are terrific, and they sell hampers of seasonal delights.

Double Red Duke

Augill Castle, Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria

It might mean you bring your own turkey, but what could be more magical than to stay in a Victorian fantasy castle? For the five days from December 23, this castellated, turreted hotel can be booked for an extended, self-catering house party. Before that it will be Christmas as usual for overnight guests. From December 1 the interiors will be decorated, December 4 will be comedy night, and from December 7 the Christmas menus will be available, including a Christmas afternoon tea, which includes cranberry and brie panini, pigs in blankets, and a mini, iced Christmas pudding.

Augill Castle

See more of our favourite hotels for Christmas