By Lottie Gross
For those who have it all, the only thing left to have is an amazing experience. Be it a spa day or a foodie-focused afternoon, these experience days and overnight stays are brilliant Christmas gifts.
We all know someone who is impossible to buy for. When material things won't do, book an awesome experience for your loved ones this Christmas.
From approx £200
Forget the Orient Express. Book onto the Northern Belle for an unforgettable ride through the British countryside. Departing from various stations around the UK, this luxury train offers an exquisite dining experience on rails. Its carriages evoke the opulence of the 1930s, with carriages that have been expertly restored by some of the country's top crafts people, and the on-board fine-dining is sublime. You can choose from day trips to a simple afternoon tea.
If a night of thrills and and chills is up your loved one's street, book a murder mystery dinner with Virgin Experiences. Over three courses, surrounded by actors and other guests, you'll be tasked with finding out who the killer is as the drama unfolds before your eyes. This promises to be the most exciting dinner party you've ever attended!
Know someone with a head for heights? Help them get high this Christmas with a hot air balloon ride. With locations all over the UK, you could send them soaring above the countryside on one of the coolest ways to fly. You can choose from special packages including chocolates and prosecco. Opt for a sunrise flight for the best views.
From £100 for meal for two
The London Shell Company is one of London’s finest restaurants. It also happens to be on a barge in the centre of London. Cruising from Paddington Station through to Camden and back, the floating restaurant takes in some of London’s prettiest neighbourhoods and canal-side sights. As you travel you’ll be served an incredible, ultra-fresh, five-course seafood meal, made on board in the tiny kitchen by expert chefs.
The gorgeous 15th-century Borthwick Castle is a stunning venue. Not everyone can afford to stay here, or hire it out for fancy events, but there are a few one-off experiences happening in 2019, and they’re now offering gift vouchers in time for Christmas. Whether you want an intimate dining experience with the head chef, Derek Johnstone, or a medieval banquet and sleepover in the castle’s sumptuous suites, there’s something for the high-flyer in your life.
Finally there’s a way to give the gift of travel without just handing over cash. The FlightGiftCard is a new way to give someone credit towards a flight to the destination of their choice. The card covers departures from over 70 countries and flights from 300 different airlines. Whether your loved one wants to visit Malta or the Maldives, you can help them achieve their travel dream.
Fancy learning how to cook haute cuisine from a pro? Nick Galer, formerly head chef at Heston’s The Fat Duck, runs monthly demonstrations at The Miller of Mansfield, ending in a two-course lunch with the man himself. Lucky attendees will walk away armed with recipes to blow all other dinner parties off the table, and you can opt for an overnight stay in one of the kooky rooms (£299 based on two sharing).
£485 (with cheaper, non-overnight options)
No London hotel exudes luxury as much as The Goring in Wesminster. It’s where the Duchess of Cambridge spent the night before her wedding to Prince William, and has won awards for its impeccable service and luxurious interiors. You can purchase vouchers for a stay here from £485, but if your budget doesn’t stretch that far, try an afternoon tea (£111) or dinner in their Michelin-star restaurant (£233).
If you know someone who needs some downtime, treat them to a spa day. SpaSeekers offer vouchers from £25 which apply for any spa day, treatment or experience booked on thei site. The spa days can be as little as £22, and there are multiple locations across the UK from Cardiff to Glasgow.
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