Last year was a write-off, so the only thing left for it is to make this Christmas one to remember. And what can be better than a gallivant to the countryside to rediscover what it means to be festive with family, friends or — frankly — anyone game enough to join you.
From the snowy Highlands (white Christmas, anyone?) to the coasts of Snowdonia and Devon, here is our pick of Christmas cottages to book to help you end the year with a bang.
Tucked away in the tranquil Cotswolds village of Bourton on the Water, this 16th century limestone cottage, with three bedrooms and three bathrooms) is the Christmas retreat for all the family. With original features dating to the 1500s (think beamed ceilings, mullion windows and quaint crooked walls), this cottage is bursting with character. If you look close enough, you can still spot the ‘witches marks’, which were made to protect the house from witches coming down chimneys – hopefully these won’t slow Santa on his task. The south-facing courtyard is an idyllic spot for sharing the complimentary bubbly before walking down to the local pub. For a quiet night in, whip up a meal befitting a king in a kitchen that has all the mod cons and original stone floors.
From £2,840 for a seven-night stay, sleeps 6; boutique-retreats.co.uk
Luxury Lodges, Yorkshire Dales
Nestled between the sloping dales, these log cabins - with floor-to-ceiling windows - offer spectacular views of the Swaledale landscape. Visit the Richmond Town Christmas Market for last-minute trinkets or Georgian Theatre Royal for a show. Curl up by the wood-burning stove come Christmas eve – or better yet, sit with the family and dog in your private outdoor seating for some stargazing. On Christmas day, enjoy your lie-in tucked away in Egyptian cotton sheets, while peeking at the local wildlife through porthole windows. And if you still need some waking up, that’s nothing a brisk frolic down the many trails can’t cure.
From £1,849 for a five-night stay, sleeps 6, pet-friendly; togethertravel.co.uk
The Maker’s House, Essex
Set in stunning Saffron Walden countryside, this is a home of two halves – one showcases the rustic lime walls of the straw bale cottage and the other is an eco-friendly area. The exposed red brick interior offsets against the soft leather sofas to give an intimate, warm aura. Traipse through the gardens, venture through the maze and visit the swans in the lake or entertain using the outdoor kitchen to cook up a Christmas feast to remember before sinking into the hot tub. Cooking sounds like too much effort? Book an in-house chef and enjoy a visit from an at-home spa therapist. To get rid of the Christmas hangover, take a sobering dip in the outdoor pool followed by an evening of comfort around the grand piano.
From £11,500 for a seven-night stay, sleeps 14; uniquehomestays.com; +44(0) 1637 881183
Home Farm, Cornwall
This Georgian home in an ancient, wooded valley only minutes away from the Cornish coast is the place for a Christmas celebration. If you want to step out of the warm hug of this homestay, enjoy dinner at the outdoor dining area beneath the twinkling stars and fairy lights to make the night more magical. Or hop straight into the steaming hot tub that will take away the bite of any chills. The snug has the perfect mantel (and wood burner) to hang your personal stockings from home on – and will go nicely with the festive decorations already up. For Christmas eve, gather around the piano for Christmas carolling. Rest up before Christmas day in the dreamy king-size four poster bed – or start it later after a bubble bath for two with a view of the luscious front garden.
From £4,703 for a seven-night stay, sleeps 10, pet-friendly; boutique-retreats.co.uk
Fancy an intimate Christmas staycation for two? Look no further than this handcrafted home. This romantic retreat in the peaceful corner of the north Cornwall coast is perfect for the whimsical couple seeking time to themselves. Fire up the barbecue on the lower deck for an al fresco Christmas dinner as you sit nestled in the wildflower gardens brimming with pink foxgloves, succulents, grass and native butterflies. The French doors leading from the bedroom suntrap patio open out to the Cornish countryside and, beyond it, the coast. Spend a sunset curled up on the sunbeds with a warming drink in hand, watching the evening skies colours dance across the pond, but if the weather is stormy, then hunker down and listen to the rain pattering on the glass-covered veranda.
From £1,850 for a seven-night stay, sleeps 2, pet-friendly; uniquehomestays.com; +44(0) 1637 881183
The Farmhouse, Nether Hall Estate, Suffolk
Had to cancel last year’s Christmas party because of the pandemic? Make up for it this year with a stay in this spectacular Grade II listed farmhouse settled in a natural treasure. If you’re too lazy to venture far, enjoy an al-fresco lunch on the Vinehouse patio – a pergola covered terrace courtesy of the welcome hamper. And when the weather takes a turn, hide in The Retreat, the undercover seating with an open fire, or head down to the cinema room with its 75-inch smart TV and Netflix. For the more active lot, The Pit Stop will keep you busy with its foosball table and gym equipment.
From £7,560 for a seven-night stay, sleeps 14; ruralretreats.co.uk
Thursford Castle, Norfolk
If you want to make Christmas fancy this year, stop right here. For a little quiet time, there is a snug furnished with a flatscreen Smart TV, surround sound and Sky. For a breath of fresh air, step out to the inner garden for a whimsical feast on the wine and cheese set aside for you in the complimentary hamper. And if anyone is still feeling energetic after a visit to the Thursford Christmas Spectacular – the largest pre-Christmas show in the world – have a game of foosball. If you wish, you can even book private catering as an add-on, so the Christmas cooking is left to someone else while you kick back in front of the tree. Bliss.
From £5,684 for a seven-night stay, sleeps 8; norfolkhideaways.co.uk
This thatch and red-brick cottage against a backdrop of the picturesque Dorset countryside is the perfect marriage of vintage luxury and contemporary comforts. Enjoy the festive decorations while you sit around the warm red brick fireplace you could hang stockings from or watch Christmas favourites on the 42-inch Smart TV after an al fresco barbecue on the back patio. For chillier evenings, step into the warm, bubbling cedar wood hot tub to loosen those knots and enjoy the stars – and maybe Santa’s sleigh – with a flute of champagne in hand. On the big day, enjoy waking up and seeing the stunning country views from your bed, offset seamlessly against the original beams and fireplace.
From £4,425 for a seven-night stay, sleeps 8; boutique-retreats.co.uk
Luxury Sea-View Lodges, John O’Groats
A throwaway from mainland Britain’s most northerly point, these sea-view lodges sit against the wild unrestrained beauty of the Pentland firth. Switch off your phones and enjoy hiding from civilisation in a tiny hamlet boastful of its beaches, spectacular coastal stacks and cliffs dramatic enough for Heathcliffe. The glass frontage offers a view of the Caithness coast and your personal deck is the perfect location to set up base with a pair of binoculars for birdwatching. Bookable extras include a Christmas tree and locally sourced Butcher’s hamper.
From £1,599 for a five-night stay, sleeps 6, pet-friendly; togethertravel.co.uk
Cradled in the bucolic jewel that is north Wales, this homely cottage boasts 17 acres of surrounding natural beauty and a stunning, rustic brickwork interior that is the definition of a country chic Christmas. After a day of exploring the blissful vales and a picnic made of local goodies overlooking the private lake with its floating jetty, cuddle around by the log fire with a few drinks. For a livelier evening, head into the entertainment barn attached that has a 50-inch TV or battle it out on the PS4 or pool table. To relax, the barn also has a hot tub with a view to die for.
From £3,395 for a seven-night stay, sleeps 4, pet-friendly on request; uniquehomestays.com; +44(0) 1637 88118
Capel Cottage, Snowdonia
In the charming village of Capelulo, Capel Cottage is perfect for a family looking for a jaunt in the Welsh outdoors. After an exploration of the iconic Snowdonia National Park’s, return to base and watch the snow fall - there may be hope for a white Christmas yet! Warm up by the woodburning stove nestled in an inglenook fireplace perfect for hanging Christmas stockings. No snow? Step out onto the patio and enjoy a nightcap while the kids are dreaming between the sheets. The next morning, head into the sunroom on the first floor to see if you can catch the sunrise.
From £999 for an eight-night stay, sleeps 4; lastminute-cottages.co.uk