Are you looking for a spot of winter sun to escape the chill of the season? Or are you dreaming of an actual white Christmas this year? Many of us dream of jetting away over the hectic holidays, whether to leave behind family arguments and cooking stress, or just to spend some quality time together in a different setting. But where in the world should you jet off to for the Christmas season? Whether you are looking to escape to a snowy wonderland or laze on a beach on the big day, we have rounded up our five favorite destinations to spend a Christmas away from home…
If you Want a Festive Snowy Retreat...
No matter where you are in the world thanks to films, TV and the endless supply of Christmas songs, the holidays usually conjure a very wintry image in the mind. But very few of us are lucky enough to experience white Christmases where we live. If you, like us, have been dreaming of a Christmas morning with snowy peaks, sparkling fresh powder and crisp alpine air as a backdrop since you were little, then now might just be the time to take a trip to one of the world’s best ski resorts.
The town of Zermatt is nestled under the watchful eye of the Matterhorn which couldn’t look any more like your picture perfect mountain if it tried. A car free zone, it has maintained a traditional ski resort feel but with a distinctly opulent edge. With top notch skiing, out of this world restaurants, a thriving night life and classic alpine activities all rolled into one, it’s the ultimate snowy retreat.
First opening its doors in 1879, the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof is the grand dame of traditional alpine skiing hotels. Built for living not just sleeping, it has long been the epitome of old world luxury within the Zermatt resort and is a picture perfect base for your snowy Christmas retreat. Located on Bahnhofstrasse which runs through the heart of Zermatt village, it is surrounded by high end shops, mouth-watering restaurants and just a stone’s throw from the Gornergrat mountain railway.
With 77 rooms each with panoramic views of the mountains, it also includes a spa, three restaurants and even a cigar lounge to recover in style from a hard day on the slopes. If you fancy an opulent chalet experience rather than a hotel, explore Sno’s luxury ski holidays website for the pinnacle in skiing excellence.
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If you want a Busy City Christmas...
New York City, US
When you think of a Christmas city break, there is no destination more iconic than New York. The location of many a Christmas film over the years, the twinkling skyline, Central Park covered in snow and the colossal Christmas trees outside all the key hotels and shops have long been synonymous with Christmas cheer. And if it’s good enough for Kevin McCallister and Buddy the Elf, it’s good enough for us. Ok, so it will be busy, it will be expensive, but it should be on everyone’s bucket list to do just once.
A city that does Christmas in a big way each and every year, there are so many things to see and do that whether you are visiting with just your other half, your whole family or even on your own, you’ll never run out of entertainment. See the city in all its winter glory from one of the highest points like the Empire State or Top of the Rock, go ice skating at Central Park and explore all of the Christmas displays dotted around the city. Most of New York’s attractions are also even open of Christmas day itself so it’s a great day to go to miss the queues.
If you are staying in one of New York’s top hotels over Christmas (lucky you), chances are they will have a full festive programme laid out for you for the big day and the days surrounding it. New York’s largest luxury hotel, the Lotte New York Palace is a fabulous choice as your base for Christmas in New York. Based in Midtown Manhattan, this Madison Avenue jewel will forever be woven into the fabric of the city.
Exquisitely refurbished in 2013, the hotel comes into its own during the holiday season where it is exceptionally decorated inside and out. Offering festive readings and a mailbox directly to Santa for little ones, seasonal spa packages for grownups and much more, it is also home to an exclusive Christmas Spectacular Staring the Radio City Rockettes ™. The offer gives you 25% off the luxurious rooms, 25% off tickets for the show and branded in room gifts. A rockin’ Christmas treat.
If you want a Chocolate Box Christmas...
The Cotswolds, UK
Another key image synonymous with the season which instantly conjures winter warmth and cosy Christmases, is that of the traditional chocolate box cottage with a dusting of snow (think Kate Winslet’s charming Surrey home in The Holiday). We can’t guarantee you’ll get snow but if you are looking for a picture perfect English country village escape this Christmas, the Cotswolds should be first on your list.
Filled with beautiful cottages to rent and indulgent country hotels all built from the instantly recognizable Cotswold stone, this part of the UK is loved by locals and tourists alike. Perfect for wintry walks and hikes, afternoons spent in cozy pubs and Christmas nights spent by a roaring fire, the Cotswolds are the perfect traditional festive break.
As previously mentioned, self-catered cottages are abundant in the Cotswolds, but if you want a stress-free Christmas without the cooking, one of the best hotels in the area is Dormy House & Spa. Perched high above the village of Broadway (in the main image above) this hotel feels a little bit like home, only better. Filled with cozy corners, log fires and sumptuous interiors, it won Hotel of the Year in 2017 in the Small Luxury Hotels of the World awards making it an excellent choice for Christmas away from home.
Each sumptuously decorated, the rooms and suites range between traditional, super stylish and rustic to meet every taste, with some even including hot tubs. A Christmas spent here will include feasts fit for a king in the two restaurants made from locally sourced produce and lazy days spent in the on-site spa. With three dog friendly rooms also available you can make sure the whole family is with you at Christmas.
If you want some Winter Sun For Christmas...
Koh Samui, Thailand
When thinking about spending Christmas away from home, many want to leave all of the drama of the festive season completely behind, hit the beach and simply relax. Or a long winter season has many of us dreaming of a sunny respite in the middle to break up the cold months. Whatever the reason you’re looking for winter sun, Thailand is a fabulous option for December as it’s the start of the country’s cooler, drier season. Still more than hot enough for a beach escape, it is on average a balmy 29°C but not as humid as the sweltering summer months making it a fabulous time to bask in the sun and still enjoy any activities you want to take part in.
The island of Koh Samui is the perfect spot for a stress-free Christmas, it’s a bit cooler than the mainland (25°C-27°C on average) and as it’s not an official holiday in Thailand everything runs right through the holiday period. You will still see lots of decorations throughout the resorts, but Christmas on the island is a more low-key affair than many festive destinations. The perfect place to escape it all for a week or two.
The Four Seasons Koh Samui resort is laidback island living at its finest. Offering every comfort you would expect from a top hotel, it lets you relax in luxury amongst traditionally Thai decor. Spend your days exploring white sand beaches, luscious tropical forests or just spend a day chilling by the infinity pool overlooking the Gulf of Siam.
You can spend your days at the Secret Garden spa to help you leave the busy normal world behind, or you can explore nearby islands on the hotel’s yacht. In the evenings you can head to Asia’s only rum library where you can sample flights of rum from around the world, before enjoying a world-class meal at one of the resort’s restaurants or bars.
If you want a Christmas that’s a Little Bit Different...
Kruger National Park, South Africa
If lazing on a beach or snuggling up in a cosy chalet isn’t for you, how about something completely different? An activity holiday for Christmas is something to try at least once and what better activity than spotting Africa’s Big 5 (lion, leopard, rhino, African elephant, African buffalo) in their natural habitat? South Africa is one of the best places in Africa to see game and you can’t get much better than Kruger National Park. We also named South Africa as one of the top destinations to visit in 2018, so if you haven’t managed to get there yet, here’s your chance.
Whilst December is rainy season, the rains are usually predictable with just afternoon showers. The park is at its most luscious during this time with verdant greenery everywhere. This can make animals slightly harder to spot but with good guides who know the best wildlife spots like the back of the hands, you can still see everything you set out to. It can be exceedingly hot this time of year so opt for air conditioned accommodation and safari trucks when you can.
Voted as one of the top 20 lodges in the whole of Africa in the Conde Nast 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards, the Lion Sands Game Reserve offers a plethora of unique lodges and secluded tree houses in distinctly different landscapes. Nestled amongst Kruger National Park and the private Sabi Sands reserve, Lion Sands is the only private reserve to have a foot in both of the famous parks.
As it’s privately owned safaris are not restricted to specific times (although the classic sunrise and sunset safaris are still the norm) or routes, which means the vehicles are able to traverse off road into the dense bush. With the reserve’s expert guides, you can track the animals in their natural habitat giving you the best chance to see all there is to offer even in the summer months.
If you can’t make it away for Christmas this year, make sure you have a festive season to remember in your own home with the help of the Amara Christmas Shop.