By Lottie Gross
Cure the winter blues with an escape to one of these incredible destinations...
Forget the hassle, stay out of the kitchen and simply relax. Next year, treat yourself to one of these Christmas or New Year getaways.
Gstaad Palace Hotel, Switzerland
Best for: luxurious indulgence
Picture yourself snuggled under a blanket on a horse-drawn carriage, clip-clopping through the snow. It beats running yourself ragged trying to prepare dinner for your extended family, doesn’t it? This is just one of the delightful festive experiences you can enjoy when you stay at the Gstaad Palace Hotel, in Switzerland’s breathtaking Bernese Oberland region.
With designer boutiques and snowy beauty, Gstaad is just made for family or romantic indulgence. If you’re not a skier, you can ice-skate, try tobogganing or take a ride in a husky-sleigh. And when dusk falls and all the twinkling lights illuminate the valley, you’ll feel like you’re on the cover of a Christmas card…
There are 104 beautifully designed rooms, four restaurants and a modern spa, pool and gym. The staff can arrange anything from helicopter expeditions around the Matterhorn, complete with Champagne and lunch on Glacier 3000.
Book it:Double rooms start from £395 per night half-board.
Arctic Light Hotel, Finnish Lapland
Best for: seeing the northern lights
What could be more Christmassy than being pulled by reindeer in a sleigh on your way to see Santa Claus’s workshop? A trip to Rovaniemi in the Arctic Circle has Christmas written all over it. Stay at the cosy Arctic Light Hotel, where the opportunities for winter pursuits are endless – visit an outdoor Jacuzzi, try ice-swimming or take a husky-sled safari.
One of the most magical experiences has to be a snowmobile ride in search of the northern lights, the incredible natural phenomenon that lights up the sky with flickering colours of green, violet, blue and yellow. This is a trip that will create unbeatable Christmas memories.
Book it: A luxury winter adventure, including accommodation, private experiences, transfers and flights starts from £3,000pp with Black Tomato.
Inn On The Beach, Florida, USA
Best for: a sunny Christmas escape
Escaping the freezing British winter weather has to be the ultimate dream, and Florida, with temperatures of around 24°C and near-constant sunshine, fits the bill. St Pete and Clearwater, just two hours from Orlando, sits on beautiful Tampa Bay, with 35 miles of pristine white sand to choose from.
The region pulls out all the stops during the festive season; there’s an annual Christmas market and Santa parade on St Pete’s Beach, while the Holiday Lights in the Gardens is a twinkly wonderland of illuminations at the Florida Botanical Gardens. Or catch a Christmas movie screening at Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach (perfect for watching the sunset too).
Of course, you might just want to head straight for the beach, and with dozens to choose from, you can also go boating, jet-skiing, snorkelling and more. Base yourself at Inn on the Beach, a newly renovated boutique hotel right by the sea at the tip of St Pete’s Beach. Its 14 rooms are brightly decorated with a stylish, retro marine theme, and it’s right next to the historic beach community of Pass-a-grille. There’s no better place to spend a sandy Christmas!
Drei Zinnen, Dolomites, Italy
Best for: a chilly mountain wonderland
Tucked in the northeastern corner of Italy, the Sesto Dolomites rise up to over 3,000m, and are perfect for skiers, from pros to beginners.
The tiny town of Moso sits at the base of the mountains and is well-placed for a host of winter activities. The nearest slopes are a short walk away, but Moso really comes into its own with opportunities for cross-country skiing over 120 miles of trails. Hikers and walkers are well served too, with plenty of paths cutting through the spectacular scenery and thick pine forests.
Base yourself in the Drei Zinnen Hotel, an impressive, chalet-style building designed by Austrian architect Clemens Holzmeister (whose works include Salzburg’s iconic Festival Hall). The country-house style interior has 35 comfortable rooms, some facing the mountains. There’s a day lounge and a spa, with Turkish bath and sauna, perfect for unwinding after a day out in the snow.
Book it: Seven nights half-board at Drei Zinnen, including flights, costs from £1,545pp; visit inntravel.co.uk or call 01653 617001.
Les Airelles, Courchevel, France
Best for: snowy adventures
In Les Trois Vallées, the largest ski area in the world, you really need it to snow. And thankfully it does so regularly, carpeting this collection of picture-perfect ski-resort villages in a fluffy white blanket every winter. Courchevel, established in 1946, is one of the oldest resorts, and from here, you have access to 370 miles of slopes, and with a single pass you can ski all three valleys.
But there’s a whole world of après-ski. As a French resort, Courchevel prides itself on its cuisine, with a range of options from reasonably priced to blow the budget, with a few Michelin stars scattered around too, such as the two-starred Pierre Gagnaire Pour Les Airelles, situated in the glamorous Les Airelles hotel (at 1,850m).
Staying here is the ultimate festive treat – it’s rumoured to be where Kate and William spent their first ski holiday. A beautiful, candy-pink confection of a building, it has all the trimmings of a traditional but luxurious chalet inside. There are 52 rooms and suites, an indulgent Crème de la Mer spa, an outdoor terrace with Jacuzzi, an ice rink, and the hotel’s own horse-drawn carriage to whisk you around the village.
Book it: Double rooms on a half-board basis at Les Airelles start from around £900 per night.
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