November 1, 2018
Whether looking for a cosy Christmas getaway in the UK, or venturing further afield for snowy mountain scenery or balmy winter sun, here are some festive holiday ideas from Travel PR:
Embrace the festive ambience of the Eternal City on this five-night escorted holiday, based at the five-star Grand Hotel Minerve, close to the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona and the Spanish Steps. As well as classic sightseeing opportunities, the Kirker Tour Leader, Gerald Deslandes, will also offer optional walks to some of his favourite, lesser-known, places during free time in the itinerary. Departing 22 December, Christmas in Rome costs from £2,096 pp (two sharing), including flights (Heathrow), five nights’ accommodation with breakfast, Christmas Day lunch, four dinners, and all entrance fees and gratuities. Call AITO* member Kirker on 020 7593 2283 (www.kirkerholidays.com).
Imagine a Christmas where you’re looked after in luxury from start to finish, including a champagne afternoon tea, an indulgent breakfast in your suite each morning, a five-course Christmas Day lunch, every other meal creatively cooked for you, and tranquil relaxation sessions in the 44,000 sq ft spa. Five-star all-suite boutique hotel, Seaham Hall, on Durham’s stunning Heritage Coast, is under three hours by train from London, less than three hours from Manchester and 90 minutes from Edinburgh. The Two-Night Christmas Stay costs from £699 pp (two sharing) and includes all the above, breakfast daily and use of the spa. Call Seaham Hall on 0191 516 1400 (www.seaham-hall.co.uk).
Enjoy Christmas in the mountainous, rugged countryside of Extremadura, where crystal-clear light and mild winter temperatures make for excellent bird-watching. Staying near the medieval town of Trujillo, take daily ornithologist-guided excursions in the Monfragüe National Park to spy Black Kite, Golden Eagles, huge flocks of Cranes and Great Bustards, and more. Retire to the open fire of a delightful country house hotel and enjoy a special noche buena (Christmas Eve) meal. Departing 22 December, Extremadura at Christmas costs from £1,795 pp (two sharing) including flights (Heathrow), six nights’ full board and the services of an expert ornithologist. Call AITO* member Naturetrek on 01962 733051 (www.naturetrek.co.uk).
If you need an excuse to get yourself the most elegant of winter coats (plus matching hat and fluffy scarf to toss over your shoulder), no trip demands it more than this. Festooned with festive lights, Moscow’s Red Square and St Petersburg’s palaces are wondrous. Glide across Gorky Park on ice skates, enjoy borscht and Crimean wines while chattering with locals, and take a tasty tour through the food market. The ten-day Christmas in Russia trip costs from £1,980 pp (two sharing) including B&B, all excursions and the services of a local guide. Flights extra. Call TravelLocal on 0117 3257898 (www.travellocal.com).
These are the on-trend Christmas colours: green season in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley, with baby animals being born and a watery world opening up for exploration by boat; and blue in Malawi, for lakeside lounging and infinity pool pleasure. Robin Pope Safaris’ eight-night Safari and Beach Trip takes you away from the dank and drudgery of a UK Christmas played out in conventional green and red, and delivers you to a lush land of wildlife and luxe lodgings. The trip costs from £3,950 pp (two sharing), including full-board accommodation, most drinks, safari activities and transfers in Africa. Flights not included. Visit www.robinpopesafaris.net.
Spend the festive period in the lap of luxury at La Champenoise, a stylishly spacious five-bedroom villa on the Côte d’Azur, once owned by the Dom Perignon family. Just 4 km from Grasse and set within a private estate of olive and orange groves, the villa’s immaculate gardens encompass a heatable salt-water pool and pergola, as well as a sundowner table with sweeping panoramic views of the countryside and coastline beyond. Interiors are coolly earth-toned, with ample seating and dining areas ideally arranged for family get-togethers and entertaining. A week’s stay, from 22 Dec., is priced from £603 pp (£6,034 total), including a turkey, Christmas tree & maid service. Flights extra. Call CV Villas on 0207 261 5403 (www.cvvillas.com).
Arriving to a warming fire, settle into a relaxing festive stay on the Jurassic Coast. Step into the candlelit Georgian chapel for Christmas Eve carols, poems and prose, and wake to a Christmas Day morning of breakfasting on smoked salmon and Buck’s Fizz in bed, before fireside board games or a coastal stroll and a traditional five-course Christmas lunch. On Boxing Day, explore Lyme Regis ahead of a five-course black-tie dinner. The three-night Christmas stay (arriving 24 Dec.) is priced from £698 pp (two sharing), including three nights’ accommodation with breakfast, Champagne and canapé reception, traditional five-course Christmas lunch & three dinners. Contact the Alexandra on 01297 442 010 (www.hotelalexandra.co.uk).
The earth’s second largest wildebeest migration takes place in Zambia at Christmas time. It’s a less obvious and less overrun option than the East African alternative, and still involves hundreds of thousands of wildebeest. Liuwa Plain, an extremely remote region in far west Zambia, and one of the only parks in the country open at this time, is busy with herds of wildebeest dropping their young, much to the delight of the resident cheetah, lion and hyena. Expert Africa’s six-day Liuwa Plain Safari costs from £5,798 pp (two sharing), including flights from London, accommodation at a spectacular camp, all meals, safari activities and transfers. Call AITO* member Expert Africa on 0203 405 6666 (www.expertafrica.com).
Spend an unforgettable Christmas in the charming arctic town of Longyearbyen, on Norway’s Svalbard archipelago. Enjoy a range of thrilling activities from dog sledding and snowmobile excursions to Northern Light hunts, all in the midst of the ‘Polar Night’, a phenomenon where the sun doesn’t rise for more than 24 hours. Be treated to festive meals on December 24th and 25th at local restaurants, including the legendary Huset Restaurant, serving traditional Nordic dishes. Departing 21 December, this five-night break costs from £1,758 pp (two sharing), including flights (London via Oslo Gardermoen), B&B accommodation, transfers and all excursions and meals as detailed. Call AITO* member Sunvil on 020 8758 4722 (www.sunvil.co.uk).
A White Christmas is guaranteed on this 14-day holiday to the Swiss Alps. Beginning in Interlaken, use the first-class Swiss Travel Pass included to explore the beautiful Bernese Oberland region, before moving on to the pretty lakeside town of Lucerne for further independent exploration during a four-night stay that includes a New Year’s Dinner, with optional escorted excursions (no additional cost) available throughout. Departing 21 December, the price is from £2,415 pp (two sharing), including standard class travel to/from Switzerland, first-class Swiss Travel Pass, B&B, eight dinners and tour leader. Call AITO* member Ffestiniog Travel on 01766 512400 (www.ffestiniogtravel.com).
For total immersion in a world away from tinsel, turkey and Boxing Day sofa ads on the TV, an escape to southern India ticks all the boxes. This small group escorted takes in majestic temples, friendly villages and verdant hills, travelling from eastern Chennai (formerly Madras) to the lush Kerala region, where highlights include a night on board a houseboat on the picturesque backwaters. Departing 23 December, Splendours of Southern India costs from £2,795 pp (two sharing) including flights (London), transfers, 12 nights’ B&B, three lunches, six dinners, excursions, and the services of local guides and representatives. Call Jules Verne on 020 3553 3722 (www.vjv.com).
Swap Jacuzzis and cheese fondue in the French Alps for hot springs and Yuki-nabe in Japan’s Hakuba Valley this festive season. KAI Alps is a luxurious boutique hot spring ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) just a three-hour bullet train from Tokyo. After a day in the powder, take a restorative soak in the outdoor onsen with views of the Japanese Alps and a larch tree forest blanketed in snow, before dining on a traditional Japanese meal and enjoying sake and games around the rural sunken hearth (irori). Stay from £156 per room per night (two sharing; room only). Flights to Tokyo cost from £679 pp approx. (Skyscanner). A six-day lift pass costs £216 pp. Contact KAI Alps (www.kai-ryokan.jp/en/alps/).
Ring in the New Year at altitude during the captivating ‘Red Pompom Night’, a free event in the resort town of Plagne Bellecôte. This year’s theme is ‘in the tropics’ so, kitted out in fancy dress (with a red pompom hat atop, of course), dance the night away surrounded by costumed characters, light displays, incredible fireworks and more. The event starts at 10:30pm and free inter-village buses run until late. One week’s self-catering in Plagne Bellecôte, costs from €411 pp / £361 pp (four sharing) including six-day lift pass. Return flights (London to Geneva) cost from £166 pp. Call La Plagne on +33 (0)4 79 09 79 79 (la-plagne.com).
Celebrate the New Year in traditional Finnish style before crossing the border to Norway, which is one hour behind, to count down to midnight all over again. This cultural adventure in Utsjoki includes a day with an authentic Sámi reindeer herder, husky-sledding, cross-country skiing and Aurora hunting, while staying at a family run hotel overlooking the Teno river and Norwegian fells. The seven-night trip is priced from £2,295 pp (two sharing), including flights (Heathrow), transfers, seven nights’ full board, guided activities and cold weather clothing. Departs 27 December. Call AITO* member Artisan Travel on 01670 785 085 (www.artisantravel.co.uk).
*AITO is The Specialist Travel Association: more than 120 specialist travel companies providing an unrivalled collection of holiday ideas that cover every corner of the world. Consumers booking with AITO can be assured of high-quality holidays and excellent personal service. Visit www.aito.com for further information.
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