Christmas is, of course, a time for giving. And yet… if ever there was a year for tipping the balance of the festive season slightly more towards “receiving”, this might be the one.
Last year’s mercurial Covid restrictions kept us higher on our toes than 10 lords a-leaping and nine ladies dancing combined. So if, this year, the gift you really want from your true love (and Boris), is a chance to put your feet up and focus on the good stuff, then you are not alone. More food. More family. Less faff.
We spend 13 whole days preparing for the typical Christmas (including 4.27 hours preparing and then 4.38 hours cooking a meal that the family then spends just two hours consuming). Book into a hotel, however, and Christmas lunch or New Year’s Eve cocktails arrive by magic. Perhaps more pertinent still, the glasses are also washed up through wizardry. A self-catering cottage has less obvious but no less enchanting benefits. It comes pre-cleaned after all and, since nobody knows which drawer the can opener is in or where the towels are kept, the cooking and housekeeping rarely falls on the shoulders of one harried host.
Beginning to see the appeal but haven’t booked anything yet? Don’t panic. Some of the UK’s most captivating luxury hotels and self-catering havens still have availability left for both big days – it is, truly, a Christmas miracle.
Honeybridge Estate, Sussex
The 17-acre Honeybridge Estate is perfect for multi-generational family holidays. Three self-catering properties share tennis courts, a games room, treehouse, zip wire and more. Staff can also arrange treatments, private catering and fishing lessons on the lake. The cottage is the cosiest of the three properties – think Tudor beams, an inglenook fireplace and views over the rose garden and orchard. It also has brand-new fittings and facilities, from a Sonos sound system to Nespresso pods.
How to do it: The three-bedroom cottage is available from £5,000 for a week from Dec 23 to Jan 1; sleeps eight (01403 597097; honeybridgeestate.co.uk).