Nine last-minute Christmas destinations for a winter staycation
Sometimes staying at home for Christmas can get a bit samey. So why not shake up your festive season by going on a staycation? Staying in a self-catering holiday cottage for Christmas will still give you that home-from-home feeling but with cosy added extras that you may not have in your house. We’ve chosen some of the best Christmas destinations here in the UK, where you can go all out for the holidays.
Best for: Christmas lights
Mousehole is a tiny fishing village in Cornwall. On the face of it, the quiet coastal village may seem unassuming, but it really comes alive during December. In fact, Mousehole hosts one of the most famous Christmas light displays in the UK, with illuminations covering the entire harbour, both off-shore and on. Outside of the village, you have the entire Cornish coast at your disposal, with great seafood restaurants, coastal walks and quiet beaches to enjoy.
Place to stay: Mousehole View is ideal for panoramic views of the coast, including the famous Christmas lights. Sleeping four people, it’s a lovely family bolthole.
2. Chipping Campden
Best for: Charming Christmas scenery
The Cotswolds is full of delightful villages and market towns, of which Chipping Campden is one of the most charming. Known for its array of stone cottages and traditional high street, the crisp winter air gives it an even more picturesque glow. Tuck up in a country pub with a glass of mulled wine or peruse the local Christmas market for some last-minute Christmas present ideas.
Place to stay: With garden views and a wonderful location just outside Chipping Campden, 1 Homepiece has all the creature comforts you’ll need for Christmas.
Best for: Cream tea and Christmas shopping
Yorkshire has many Christmas towns that are full of good people and good cheer - but Harrogate gets our vote. Famous for Betty’s Tea Room and its healing spa baths, the town is even more lively at Christmas when fairs and markets take over the high street. On the outskirts of the Yorkshire Dales, there are hundreds of options for chilly winter walks nearby, as well as World Heritage Sites such as the medieval Fountains Abbey.
Place to stay: The one-bedroom The Limes is just a 15-minute walk from Harrogate town centre, with free parking so that you can explore further afield too.
Best for: The annual Christmas Tree festival
The Peak District is fairly central within the UK, making it an ideal place to gather for a big family Christmas. You have a pick of pretty towns here, each one surrounded by snow-capped peaks. We’ve chosen Castleton; not only does this village have one of the most beautiful situations in Derbyshire, but its annual Christmas Tree festival takes over the high street each year, making it an ideal spot for festive cheer.
Place to stay: Close to country walks, caverns, castles and all of Castleton’s shops and restaurants, Eastry Cottage is a great pick for a small family Christmas.
Best for: Spotting reindeer in the Cairngorms National Park
Nothing says Christmas more than the sight of reindeer tracks in the snow and the promise of Santa Claus. Christmas in the Cairngorms delivers this in spades, where reindeer not only roam wild in the national park, but can also be found at the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre in Aviemore. Are those sleigh bells we can hear?
Place to stay: The six-sleeper Macdonald Woodland Lodge is a gorgeous wooden chalet that has access to an indoor swimming pool and sauna on site.
Best for: A chilly Boxing Day swim
Over on the Welsh coast of Pembrokeshire, Tenby is a pastel-coloured dream of a town that will make holiday memories at any time of year. Known for its fantastic coastal views, large golden sandy beach and historic walled town, the centre buzzes with lively restaurants and cafes. Visit over Christmas and take part in the annual Boxing Day swim - this freezing charity event will get the blood flowing!
Place to stay: Apartment in West Wales is fantastically located in central Tenby, just a stone’s throw away from the festive restaurants, cafes and shops.
Location: Lake District
Best for: Magical snow-covered mountain views
Stunning at any time of year, Christmas in the Lake District conjures up images of frosty mountain paths, snow-covered trees and icy lakes. When the weather is clear and crisp, it’s the ideal spot for romantic winter walks or even opting for a challenging hike up one of the iconic fells. Ambleside is a peaceful town, full of twinkling lights and warm, cosy cafes, that is ideally situated for exploring the national park.
Place to stay: The stone-built Grade II-listed Betamere has loads of character, perfect for cosying up under the wooden beams, fire roaring, waiting for Christmas Day.
Best for: A historical Christmas
A Christmas spent in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, means a Shakespearean celebration, so throw your Yule log on the fire and prepare your Tudor feast. Shakespeare’s family homes often have Christmas events to keep you entertained, while the town is alive with colourful lights (many Shakespeare-themed) and tempting shops selling tasty treats and Christmas delights.
Place to stay: If you’re looking for a traditional feel, Thatched Cottage in Shottery has everything and more. The wooden beams and thatched roof are straight from a Shakespeare play, while the duck-foot bath adds a modern feel.
Best for: A great combination of city and countryside
City breaks are wonderful at Christmas, giving you the hustle and bustle of festive preparations, but also the opportunity to escape and explore the surroundings. Bath is a perfect option for those who want the best of both worlds; the city is all lit up, and there are lots of festive events to take part in, such as the enormous ice rink that takes over the town centre. In the surroundings of Somerset, partake in rural celebrations at Wells or Glastonbury.
Place to stay: For an unusual and romantic Christmas experience, choose The Roundhouse. Cosy up in the four-poster bed or take a walk in the nearby Mendip Hills.