We’re lucky enough to have Juliet Kinsman, Mr & Mrs Smith’s editor in chief, as a Handpicked Collection expert panel member. Mr & Mrs Smith, the boutique hotel experts, have picked 10 of the best Christmas packages on offer this year (with a few New Year specials too). There are opulent country houses for all the family, and stylish city stays for couples keen to escape together. Each one is only available by phone, so if you fancy a Christmas to remember this year, be sure to give the Smith Travel Team a ring on 0845 034 0700. Or to book any of the 900 boutique hotels in their handpicked collection visit www.mrandmrssmith.com.
As befits a dwelling that is over 500 years old, Fawsley Hall is a mix of architectural styles, with Tudor, Georgian and Victorian aspects all present and correct. This should, by rights, look like a design nightmare but all the work has been sensitively done and the hotel looks comfortable in its skin, guarding, no doubt, dramatic tales from its varied history.
FESTIVE TREATS Includes champagne reception, carols, three-course dinner and midnight mass on Christmas Eve; champagne breakfast, Santa visit, church service, traditional lunch, children’s film, storytime and magic show, archery for adults, evening buffet and cinema showing on Christmas Day; breakfast, walk to village pub, lunch, family quiz, champagne reception, gala dinner and casino on Boxing Day
Number of rooms: 58
From £233 a night for three nights
Don’t forget to pack: Ultimate Cashmere Long Gloves for a cosy Midnight Mass, £24.95.
The brainchild of Loungelover London co-founder Marchella De Angelis, Cotswolds88 Hotel is a temple to Italian design. Gloriously over-the-top touches such as PVC-backed chairs and chrome mannequins vie for attention with the hotel’s own Palladian backdrop, and the result is a space that’s luxurious and super-stylish, with a cheeky sense of humour.
FESTIVE TREATS Afternoon tea service and three-course dinner on Christmas Eve; champagne breakfast, full Christmas lunch and evening carved buffet on Christmas Day; breakfast on Boxing Day
Number of rooms: 17
From £299 a night for two nights
Don’t forget to pack: Lingerie Bag, £12.95. Somewhere this chic you’ll want to wear your best pieces of lace.
Lucknam Park is the hotel that has it all: award-winning spa, Michelin-starred restaurant, 500-acre estate and even an equestrian centre, home to 35 glossy-flanked horses. Tennis courts, croquet lawn, football pitch and a cooking school are further feathers in this handsome hotel’s hat.
FESTIVE TREATS Includes afternoon tea, champagne reception with choir, and trip to midnight mass on Christmas Eve; breakfast, visit from Santa, lunch, afternoon tea and buffet supper on Christmas Day; breakfast, lunch, kids’ treasure hunt, afternoon tea and black-tie dinner and dance with champagne reception on Boxing Day
Number of rooms: 42
From £835 a night for three nights
Don’t forget to pack: Snowball Blaster, £21.95. With 500 acres to run around, you’ll want to be prepared if there’s a white Christmas.
The launch of the country cousin of media hangout Soho House kick-started the march of metropolitan cool into the countryside. At this impressive manor house in the rolling Somerset countryside, hip staff greet you at the door, not a uniform in sight. The truly relaxing do-what-you-want atmosphere is Babington House’s real feat; others can imitate, but it’s the service that makes the difference.
FESTIVE TREATS Includes dinner on 30 December; breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Orangery, followed by DJ, champagne and canapés on New Year’s Eve; breakfast, lunch, optional activity (such as clay-pigeon shooting, archery or pony riding) and dinner on New Year’s Day
Number of rooms: 32
From £756 a night for three nights
Don’t forget to pack: Glitter Ball Necklace, £49.95. The party is always on at Babington, so wear this to sparkle like a diva!
THE GREEN HOUSE
A five-minute meander from the city centre and the sands, The Green House is a smart seaside hotel that’s been given an eco-friendly overhaul. Sustainability informs everything from the furnishings (white, woody and, of course, green) to the food – the restaurant’s modern British dishes are among the best in Bournemouth.
CHRISTMAS INCLUDES Four-course tasting dinner on Christmas Eve; breakfast, six-course festive tasting lunch and buffet supper on Christmas Day; breakfast on Boxing Day
Number of rooms: 32
From £202 a night for three nights
Don’t forget to pack: Grandma’s Secret Wrinkle Remover, £6.95. After a blustery walk on the beach, your clothes will need smoothing down!
THE NEW WHITE LION
The Pritchards opened the New White Lion hotel in Llandovery to introduce guests to the local rural splendour they adore so passionately, creating a luxurious base from which country-lovers can explore Carmarthenshire and the Brecon Beacons national park. Beautiful antique furniture is offset by rich pickings related to the area’s heritage; old books, miners’ boots and local maps blend into a domain where every modern comfort is provided.
CHRISTMAS INCLUDES: Afternoon tea on arrival and three-course dinner on Christmas Eve; breakfast, festive lunch and buffet supper on Christmas Day; breakfast, Grandstand tickets for Ffos Las Races and three-course dinner on Boxing Day.
Number of rooms: 6
From £216 a night for three nights
Don’t forget to pack: Ultra Cosy Tippet Scarf, £29.95 so you can cut a warm and stylish dash at the Races.
Channelling Italian glamour amid Edinburgh’s grey grandeur, Hotel Missoni is a resplendent rainbow-coloured retreat, with a restaurant and bar styled with catwalk cool. This bold and beautiful boutique hotel is close to the castle; its yellow stone façade dotted with windows, so guests can soak up the scenic city sights.
CHRISTMAS INCLUDES: A bottle of prosecco on arrival and two tickets to the Missoni Street Party on New Year’s Eve; breakfast on New Year’s Day; free minibar drinks and on-demand movies
Number of rooms: 136
From £370 a night for two nights
Don’t forget to pack: Silver Life-Long Champagne Chalices, £49.95 a pair. Toast in the New Year with panache.
TOWN HALL HOTEL
Town Hall Hotel & Apartments are housed in Bethnal Green’s old council building: modern fixtures such as floor-to-ceiling glass have been added to the grand design of the Edwardian building; the marble floors, high ceilings, stately staircases remain in charge. Fine-dining lovers are attracted by its superstar restaurant, Viajante, and you won’t spot a magistrate anywhere.
FESTIVE TREATS Includes champagne dinner for two in the Corner Room on New Year’s Eve; breakfast and late check-out on New Year’s Day
Number of rooms: 98
From £350 a night for one night
Don’t forget to pack: This Works Pillow Spray, £14.95. A restful night’s sleep even if you don’t get to bed until dawn!
As well as being a celebrated haunt for politicos and literati, this majestic neoclassical manor, with its air of faded grandeur, is the proud birthplace of the £100 club sandwich – worth every penny, we’re relieved to add.
FESTIVE TREATS: Includes carols and mince pies, champagne reception, four-course dinner and midnight mass on Christmas Eve; breakfast, four-course lunch and supper on Christmas Day; breakfast, treasure hunt, afternoon tea and three-course black-tie dinner with live jazz on Boxing Day
Number of rooms: 38
From £900 a night for three nights
Don’t forget to pack: Wilbur & Gussie Coco Glitter Bag, £249.95. The ultimate hotel requires a divine handbag.
Luxurious country manors within easy access of London don’t come more glamorous than Coworth Park, just outside Ascot. The 17th-century mansion and polo estate has been treated to an intelligent and eco-friendly modern makeover that’s given it three restaurants, a spectacular spa, and an air of quietly confident grandeur.
FESTIVE TREATS: Includes afternoon tea, champagne reception and three-course dinner on Christmas Eve; breakfast, tea and cake, festive lunch and buffet dinner on Christmas Day; brunch, afternoon tea and three-course dinner on Boxing Day
Number of rooms: 70
From £780 a night for three nights
Don’t forget to pack: Berlin Leather Weekender Bag, £174.95. Transports enough gear for a night or two away without you feeling as though you’re moving in for a month.