Christmas shopping can so easily turn into a chore, but it doesn’t have to be that way. By combining gift-buying duties with a couple of days away, staying somewhere with plush suites, a good restaurant and (most important) a well-stocked bar, the whole experience becomes a pleasure.
So, whether you’re preparing for a retail marathon in London’s West End, stock up on a weekend in Edinburgh, or potter about among the bay-windowed boutiques of Bath, we have a hotel recommendation that will guarantee a delicious cocktail and a good night’s sleep to round off the day.
The Bloomsbury Hotel, London
Best for: Jazz Age vibes
This historic hotel, which was a hub for the intelligentsia of the 1930s, has undergone a refurbishment and now combines fascinating local history with up-to-the-minute design. Housed in a grand building, moments from Tottenham Court Road, it feels a world apart from the hustle thanks to its decadently decorated bars and sleek, minimalist rooms. Pull up a bar stool in the richly saturated Coral Room or nab a table at one of London’s most Instagrammable spots: the fast-becoming-iconic Dalloway Terrace. It’s themed according to the season; with lemons and bougainvillea in summer and russet foliage in autumn, and, this time of year, cosy white throws and twinkling lights. The menu is all classic fare, very well done – steaks, salads and moreish truffle fries.
Stella loves: Afternoon tea in the secret garden-like Dalloway Terrace – a cut above your average, with poached-salmon sandwiches, delicate rose and almond sponges and 13 varieties of tea.
Out and about: Brave the masses in Oxford Street for all of the high-street shops, from Marks & Spencer to John Lewis & Partners. For independent stores and boutiques and the market, Covent Garden is a 15-minute stroll. Finish the weekend with a trip to the ballet at the Royal Opera House, which is utterly magical and festive – The Nutcracker is showing until 8 January (tickets £1-£135; roh.org.uk). If you’re taking the children, Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park has fairground rides, a skating rink and street food – book tickets in advance (hydeparkwinterwonderland.com).
Rooms from £300 a night; thedoylecollection.com. Read the full expert review here