Christmas spent in the UK means cosy nights in, lively pub evenings out and plenty of traditional markets as towns and cities across the country get in the festive mood.
Many hotels provide packages that cover a Christmas stay, taking care of all the cooking, cleaning and organising while you relax and enjoy yourself.
Perennial favourites like Cornwall and Norfolk are quieter than ever, with empty beaches and charming towns to see between four-course Christmas dinners and hearty breakfast buffets.
Cities such as Edinburgh contain even more things to do when not in your hotel, or at the other end of the spectrum, head to the shores of Northern Ireland to enjoy coastal tranquility and traditional activities like horse and carriage rides.
Read on for a selection of the best December getaways by the sea.
A visit to Newquay in Cornwall is ideal for combining festive fun with a striking coastal setting. The UK’s most famous surfing destination, Fistral Beach, becomes a haven for walkers in the winter, when crowds return home and locals opt for cosy pubs rather than the wind-battered coast. There are still plenty of winter water sports if you’re daring enough, though you might prefer to try out the hotel spa.
The Fistral Beach Hotel and Spa allows just that, offering 10 per cent off spa packages when you book a Christmas stay. Their adults-only three-night package begins on 24 December, with a four-course dinner and live music, before you’re woken up with a buffet breakfast on the big day. Christmas lunch is served with all the trimmings at 1pm, before a festive buffet to round off the day. Boxing Day starts and ends in the same vein, with the addition of a dip in the Atlantic for those brave enough.
From £1,065 for two people, including three nights’ accommodation, all meals and drinks.
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The Scottish capital may be more famed for its raucous Hogmanay celebrations, but this ever-atmospheric city is also an excellent place to spend Christmas. Areas such as Grassmarket and the Royal Mile are decked in lights and decorations, Edinburgh Castle is festively illuminated and the Christmas markets at East Princes Street Gardens are in full swing, with plenty of attractions to explore in your spare time. To be on the seafront, head for Leith; the sunshine may have made way for rain or snow, but this reinvigorated port area has become one of the city’s cultural hubs.
The Malmaison Edinburgh delivers a comfortable Christmas stay with a three-night package on the Leith waterfront. You’ll be just 10 minutes away from the centre while experiencing a lesser-visited area of the capital; just make sure you’re back in time for the buffet meals and four-course dinners.
From £688 per room, including three nights’ accommodation, all meals and drinks.
The Pembrokeshire coast is one of the UK’s most beautiful landscapes, and a Christmas spent in this part of Wales is one filled with cosy nights in, walks on the beach in the crisp winter air and time spent exploring places such as St David’s, the smallest city in the UK. The scenery remains just as striking in winter, with walks along the rugged coastlines and golden sands.
For a truly memorable Christmas trip, opt for the ‘Exclusive Self-Catering Christmas’ package at the magnificent Roch Castle. It sits on a hill in Rock overlooking the coast, just 20 minutes from St Davids and just over five minutes away from the beach by car. It sleeps 12 people, so there’s enough space for all the family, and you’ll have the entire castle to yourself, free to enjoy the amazing views from the lounge or terrace, the comfort of the log-burning stoves and a relaxed, drawn-out lunch – all at your convenience.
From £1,100 per night with a minimum three-night stay between 23 December and 3 January.
Kent is blessed with an array of pretty seaside and market towns, and historic Hythe is a typically charming offering. It sits on the English Channel, featuring a pleasant pebble beach, long promenade and a bustling high street that are ideal for relaxed walks, long cycle rides and a spot of last-minute gift buying. If you fancy seeing somewhere a little more lively, Folkestone is just 15 minutes away by car too.
The Hythe Imperial Hotel and Spa is the premier hotel in Hythe, situated a stone’s throw from the beach and equipped with extensive spa and pool facilities. While they don’t offer specific Christmas packages including meals, a three-night stay in a double room comes in at an affordable £504 per room, with options to book Christmas and Boxing Day lunches for £115pp and £37pp respectively.
From £153 per room per night.
West Runton, Norfolk
West Runton is a small, peaceful village in Norfolk, around 45 minutes north of Norwich. With its own stretch of rugged, sandy coast and just a few pubs and shops, it’s a good choice if you want to remain largely undisturbed in a tranquil setting during your Christmas break. Larger towns nearby, including Holt, Sheringham and Blakeney, provide more to do, ranging from seal-watching excursions to a trip on the North Norfolk heritage steam railway.
The Links Country Park Hotel lies just five minutes away from the town’s beach and offers an especially laid-back package for three or four nights over the festive period. There’s time to explore the area or head into town for last-minute shopping and some Christmas lights viewing, before traditional lunches and buffet dinners along with optional evening activities like a Christmas quiz or board game night.
From £995 per room, including all meals and mentioned activities.
Newcastle, Northern Ireland
The lesser-known Newcastle is found on the southeast coast of Northern Ireland, directly west of the Isle of Man. It sits at the foot of Slieve Donard, the highest peak in the country, and is known for its striking natural surroundings, including the rest of the Mourne Mountains, the Donard Forest, Tollymore Forest Park and a popular beach. Walkers, hikers and cyclists will be in their element here, though you can also explore the quaint centre of this former fishing village and sites such as Dundrum Castle.
Slieve Donard hotel puts on a real show over Christmas with its residential package. Arriving on Christmas Eve, guests will begin with afternoon tea and wine tasting before dinner. The big day starts with breakfast before a range of activities to choose from, including a horse and carriage ride, gin tasting and live entertainment (with a Christmas buffet included). Boxing Day is much the same, with plenty of time for relaxation between the cheese tasting, quiz, bingo and firework show.
From £750pp for a two-night stay including all meals, drinks and mentioned activities.
Cooden Beach, East Sussex
Bexhill is a quintessential English seaside town, known for both its motor racing history and its long pebble beach and wide, two-mile promenade. The De La Warr Pavilion is the focal point of the town – known for hosting everything from theatre events to art exhibitions – while the Georgian Old Town is a popular place to wander during the afternoon. if the beach isn’t enough, there’s plenty of green space too, including Egerton Park and the Combe Valley Countryside.
The residential package from The Relais Cooden Beach starts with a candlelit dinner on Christmas Eve and a full breakfast on Christmas morning, leaving just enough time to gain an appetite before a five-course traditional lunch (and if you can eat anymore, there’s a light evening buffet too). Boxing Day begins in the same way, ending with another candlelit dinner and some evening entertainment. The rest of your time is free to use as you wish, with no planned activities.
From £700pp, including three nights’ accommodation, all meals and drinks and listed entertainment.
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