By Rose Shepherd
After two very challenging years, in which the hospitality industry has shown astonishing enterprise and resilience, despite looming uncertainties, hoteliers have been making plans for a fun Christmas and (we have to hope) a healthy and prosperous New Year.
In the same spirit of optimism, our readers have been booking their festive-season getaways, and many places are sold out, but others still have availability, so here is the Guide’s pick of some of the opportunities on offer for places to stay for New Year, from a two-night stay with black-tie dinner and dancing in a mansion in parkland, to a hard boppin’, hot rockin’ hooley in North Norfolk.
Country house luxury
You sweep through an 18th-century landscape to reach Hartwell House, a glorious Jacobean mansion near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, once home to the unruly court of the exiled Louis XVIII of France, now a luxury spa hotel. A two-night house party is set to begin with a cream tea on December 30, and to end with brunch for the New Year’s morning after the night before. On New Year’s Eve they will be laying on a champagne reception, a four-course, black-tie dinner, a DJ and dancing.
Palm court opulence
Then, where better for a festive afternoon tea than The Grand Hotel in Eastbourne, Sussex, a great, white wedding-cake confection, fondly known as ‘The White Palace? On December 30 you can relax in an opulent lounge, to music by Shelley von Leon and the Palm Court strings. One-night packages for New Year’s Eve include a four-course gala dinner in the Devonshire Ballroom, with dancing to the Famous Five Band, from £292 per person, based on two adults sharing. Non-residents are also welcome.
Move fast if you’d like to secure one of the remaining small rooms at family-friendly Moonfleet Manor in Fleet, on the cliffs above Chesil Beach on Dorset’s Jurassic coast. Sister hotels Woolley Grange and Fowey Hall have no room at the inn. Small guests at Moonfleet will party in the Den, with fireworks and toasted marshmallows before bedtime. For adults and older children there will be canapés and a gala dinner with music.
Arrive in good time for a cream tea at 17th-century Bodysgallen Hall, in parkland and Arts-and-Crafts gardens, near Llandudno, Conwy, with views to Conwy Castle and the Snowdonia mountains – but save room for a five-course dinner (dress code: black tie or lounge suit). Welcome in 2022, then wake up to brunch, with full use of the spa, swimming pool, sauna and steam room. Doubles from £900.
Meanwhile, Edinburgh, as always, will be going the whole Hogmanay, with fireworks, torchlight procession, ceilidh and Snow Ball. The wildly atmospheric and theatrical Prestonfield House, a 17th-century mansion under Arthur’s Seat, is taking bookings for a black-tie/tartan champagne reception, dinner, cabaret and ceilidh in the Stables Ballroom, tickets £143 per head, three-night package £1,275 based on two adults sharing. In the morning you can wander 20 acres of parkland, or don fancy dress and join the annual Loony Dook for a freezing dip in the Firth of Forth – that should sober you up.
Wild in Norfolk
Of course, first-footing doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. The Gunton Arms at Thorpe Market, in a thousand-acre deer-park near Cromer, throws a hugely popular annual shindig, billed as ‘the wildest Norfolk NYE party’. The celebrations kick off at 7pm in the Elk Room, hung with a pair of antlers worthy of Megaloceros giganteus, with canapés from 8.30 till 10pm, music from the Cromer Soul DJs and Sure Delight, and a live performance from the Black Kat Boppers. Tickets are just £27.50. Then, whether you splurge at the cava and champagne bar, or just take a cup of kindness for auld lang syne, will be up to you.