November 14, 2019 | The Travel Chapter
Anyone who’s experienced a proper Christmas market knows it can take you from bah humbug to couldn’t-be-more-excited-about-Christmas in under 60 seconds. Even the most cynical festive shopper can’t fail to be inspired by the sight of thousands of lights glittering, hearing voices young and old singing carols, soaking up the intoxicating aromas of cinnamon, ginger and clementine, and tucking into delicious mince pies washed down with a warming mug of mulled wine.
Christmas Market – East Princes Street Gardens is a super-size event in the heart of the city, set against a dramatic backdrop that includes the iconic sites of Edinburgh Castle and the Scott Monument. The Mac Shack will be serving its legendary, luxury mac and cheese, while feel-good vegan food such as vegan pigs in blankets can be picked up at The Caravan of Courage. Don’t miss out on a Johnnie Walker Hot Apple Toddy, which could well segue nicely into trying out the silent disco experience, joining other festive fun-seekers on a musical tour accompanied by Christmas classics. Stay at The Firkin (sleeps four), a fabulous third-floor apartment situated on the sought after ‘Leith Shore’. Converted from an original late 18th century cooperage, this modern-day property has exposed wooden beams, a spacious kitchen and cosy underfloor heating, as well as beautiful river views. A three-night stay costs from £76 pp (£302 total). Call Cottages & Castles on 01738 503601 (www.cottages-and-castles.co.uk).
Bath Christmas Market is all atmospheric merriment, making a pleasure of present buying from its 150 twinkling chalets, spread out across the city’s glorious Georgian streets. Armed with an aromatic mulled wine and a bag of tasty warm caramelised nuts, browse an array of artisan gifts to the sounds of community choirs and brass bands. Even Bath Abbey will be opening its doors for Shoppers’ Carols. Stay at Pond Close Farm (sleeps 12, plus two dogs), a stylish country house set within 12 acres, just ten miles from Bath. The bespoke kitchen/diner has a refectory style table and an AGA; it’s the perfect place for friends or family to gather whilst a meal is being prepared. There is a heated indoor pool, a football pitch, a detached indoor games room and a covered barn with full-size table tennis. A three-night stay costs £274 pp (£3,278 total – was £3,637). Call Holidays in the Cotswolds on 01608 692575 (www.holidaysinthecotswolds.co.uk).
Cornwall’s largest food festival, Padstow Christmas Festival, is an annual celebration of food, drink and all things Christmas. There’s a huge Christmas market, dozens of chef demos, a wine theatre, a lantern parade, a fun run, a firework display, live music, food stalls and more. Food heroes Rick Stein, Paul Ainsworth and Nathan Outlaw will be flying the flag for Cornwall at this year’s festival. Stay just two miles from the town at Padstow – The Linhay (sleeps four, plus two dogs), an attractive and cosy cottage in a tranquil location with beautiful beaches close by. A three-night stay costs £112 pp (£447 total). Call Stay in Cornwall on 01237 426710 (www.stayincornwall.co.uk). £20 supplement per dog.
The City of Dreaming Spires is filled with festive joy as Oxford Christmas Market illuminates historic Broad Street. A diverse range of exhibitors takes centre stage – from candle makers to street food specialists, and from handmade, eco-friendly clothing to vegan products, all interests and age groups are covered. The market has a German feel, and traditional bratwurst (German sausage) is available to enhance the experience, accompanied by the poignant sound of choirs singing Christmas carols, and the aroma of mulled wine and cloves drifting in the air. Stay at Oxford Batch (sleeps five, plus one dog), a shabby chic-style single-storey cottage only a mile – as the crow flies – from the centre of Oxford. There’s a treehouse in the garden that kids will enjoy, plus a charming bunk room. A three-night stay costs from £72 pp (£360 total – was £396). Call holidaycottages.co.uk on 01237 459 888 (www.holidaycottages.co.uk).
At the award-winning St Nicholas Christmas Fair in York, you can discover fine Yorkshire produce from crafters and makers showcased at the Made in Yorkshire Yuletide Village. Take the opportunity to slide down a good old-fashioned helter-skelter slide at the festive fun fair in Kings Square. Sample festive food and drink at the St Sampson’s Square rustic Yorkshire Barn with delectable treats including hot chestnuts. Stay in central York with Minster views at Chez Mannion (sleeps four), a stylishly refurbished apartment which has retained its 16th century features. Play a tune on the piano whilst others snuggle by the open fire in the spacious lounge, before heading for a restorative night’s sleep in a handcrafted king-size bed. A three-night stay costs from £155 pp (£618 total – was £682). Call Gorgeous Cottages on 01642 030 850 (www.gorgeouscottages.com).
Stuck for the perfect present? A Travel Chapter gift voucher gives loved ones the choice of over 5,000 hand-picked properties across the UK. Available in any value from £50, the vouchers are valid for two years from the date of purchase and can be redeemed against the cost of a stay at any time of the year, subject to availability.
For a festive break away from home this year, the Travel Chapter offers a range of properties, from cosy cottages à deux – or for a solo stay – to large houses guaranteed to charm even the hardest-to-please collection of friends or family. Visit these links for the latest Christmas and New Year availability.
The Travel Chapter’s collection of self-catering brands also includes: Hide & Sleep, Sugar & Loaf (Wales), The Lakeland Cottage Company (Lake District), Cottages in Northumberland, Stay In (South West), Holidays in the Cotswolds, Peak Cottages (Peak District), Island Cottage Holidays (Isle of Wight and Purbeck), New Forest Living, Bramley & Teal (Kent & Sussex), Kett Country Cottages (Norfolk), Brixham Cottages (English Riviera), Lakeland Hideaways (Lake District), The Whitstable Cottage Company, Eastbourne Holiday Cottages, Harrogate Holidays, Polruan & Fowey Cottages (Cornwall), The Norfolk Cottage Company, Cottages in Seahouses (Northumberland), Farm Holidays, Dorset Coastal Cottages, Gorgeous Cottages (Yorkshire), Cottages and Castles (Scotland) and Wedding Venues.