The run-up to Christmas can be such a busy time of year and sometimes I just can’t bear the thought of braving the crowds in London on my time off.
So, I lived out my ‘The Holiday’ fantasy and headed to Alnwick for a festive, long-weekend.
Alnwick is a beautiful market town in Northumberland most famous for being one of the filming locations for Harry Potter.
When we drove into Alnwick, it was obvious we were in the right place because there is a huge, light-up sign saying “welcome to Alnwick” as you drive in.
There are Christmas lights across the town adorning the theatre, pubs and trees, really making me feel like I had left reality and entered a Christmas romcom.
We were staying in The Craftman’s Cottage, which can be found right next to the main street running through the town and is easily identified by its adorable, yellow front door.
When I saw the outside of the cottage I was so excited, it is exactly what I had pictured for a getaway from the city to somewhere miles away from my poky, London flat.
But, when I stepped inside my breath was well and truly taken away.
The Craftman’s Cottage is a beautiful, four-bed house with everything you could want for a cosy staycation.
Each bedroom has unique features to make them all different, my favourite was what I can only assume was the master bedroom, which has a huge bed, an ensuite, a sofa and chairs and a dressing table.
Next-door, was a room with twin, single beds which I can imagine would be perfect for any families visiting the cottage with children.
Downstairs was another ensuite bedroom right next to the outdoor patio which, despite being in the Christmas spirit during my stay, I could imagine would be lovely in the summer months – I could picture being able to roll out of bed and step straight outside for some sun while drinking my morning coffee.
My favourite feature had to be the log burner which we lit the evening we got there.
Having an actual fire roasting away as we cooked dinner made me feel so cosy and at home.
The cottage is split across two floors with a beautiful, wooden spiral staircase at the centre of the building.
There was a huge living room to cosy up in throughout the evenings with an electric fireplace to light it up and keep it warm.
While the town is stunning and we were dying to explore, after the long drive to Alnwick on our first night we could not resist snuggling up on the sofa with a glass of wine, the fire on playing cards.
After an incredible night’s sleep, we decided to spend our Friday exploring Alnwick – starting with the bookshop over the street from the cottage.
The sign on an archway above the path directed us to Barter Books and as a lover of quirky book shops I was very intrigued.
My expectations were exceeded when I stepped inside to see a roasting fireplace with sofas around it where people were sat, tucking into their books.
While the bookshop may seem small when you step inside, I quickly realised that it was an endless labyrinth with shelves upon shelves of all the books you could want.
My guilty (and expensive) pleasure is collecting antique books, so I was thrilled to see numerous cabinets lined with more antique books than I think I have ever seen in one place before.
There was even a small café for anyone who needs a caffeine break from their perusing.
After this, we headed wandered around the cobbled streets in Alnwick, admiring the many independent shops and decided which local pubs we’d like to try while we were there.
The Craftman’s Cottage has its own kitchen, so while there are plenty of places to eat in Alnwick, we also had the option to cook for ourselves.
Since the cottage is so beautiful and homey, we decided we would much rather make the most of it and cook our own dinners while we stayed.
In Alnwick, there is a big Morrison’s just a five-minute walk from Craftman’s Cottage which made our food shops very easy.
The kitchen is equipped with everything you could want – you name it and they have it – which meant that we had limitless options for what we could make each evening.
That evening, after the sun went down we headed to the famous Alnwick gardens to see the Christmas light trail.
I’ll admit, with it being November I wasn’t quite feeling in the Christmas spirit just yet, but this light trail catapulted me into the full, festive swing.
It was much longer than I expected it to be, giving you a full hour or two of incredible lights to admire.
There was Christmas music playing as we made our way through, fully immersing me in the experience.
And this was no ordinary light trail, there was so much more than just a few Christmas trees decorated with lights.
For one thing, there were lots of very child-friendly sections where we saw kids having the time of their lives – there were dancing reindeer lights, snow machines and a singing snowman.
I absolutely loved the tunnel of stars taller than I am, lined with rainbow-coloured lights and also the poison garden, with tunnels filled with Christmas lights and an enormous present with lights reflected onto it at the end.
Just when you think it’s over, there is a light show projected onto the fountains at the end with dramatic music booming through the gardens as you watch – an epic finale to Alnwick’s light trail.
The next day, I was keen to head to the coast, so we drove a short ten minutes to the seaside town of Alnmouth.
It was well worth making the short drive, there is just nothing like standing in front of the waves and breathing in the sea air.
In the true style of living scenes in some of my favourite films this trip, I couldn’t help but feel like I was at Tim’s family home in About Time being by the sea despite the anything-but-tropical weather conditions.
My boyfriend managed to drag me away from the shore to grab some lunch from the town, and we were drawn to a tearoom that seemed to be popular with the locals.
I was transported back to my childhood when I ordered the most delicious bowl of soup and a bacon sandwich, the perfect comfort food to keep me warm in the winter weather.
When we were refuelled, we went for a walk along the coastal path which I 100 per cent recommend to anyone paying a visit to the area - the views were stunning.
That evening, we knew we had to try one of the local pubs and the one that had caught our eye was the Tanners Arms just around the corner from The Craftman’s Cottage.
We were lucky enough to pop in on an evening where live music was playing and I had a blast jiving in my seat to the two talented performers playing all sorts of cheesy hits.
On our final evening, we decided that we just had to make the most of the incredible kitchen and make a roast dinner.
As someone who loves cooking, I really appreciated how big the kitchen was at The Craftman’s Cottage, even having an island in the centre – my dream!
It felt like Christmas day in the cottage as we sat down at the dining table to tuck into our feast.
My heart ached when we had to leave the next morning, the weekend had just flown by.
I can see now why Cameron Diaz fell in love with her cottage in ‘The Holiday’ after getting away from the frantic hustle and bustle of her life.
My stay in the cottage was so peaceful, while there is a lot to do in Alnwick it’s a very serene place to visit and I really felt like I had switched off from my life whilst I was staying.
The cobbled streets, old buildings and traditional charm definitely matches what you see in Christmas romcoms and I would say it’s a must-stay for anyone in search of a break at Christmas time.
I can see myself returning to Alnwick and The Craftman’s Cottage next year and bringing my family or a group of friends along with me to fill the other bedrooms.
If you are looking for a festive stay before Christmas, Crabtree and Crabtree are running a ten per cent discount on stays at the cottage between now and December 22.