I would head to Swedish Lapland for a Scandinavian Christmas beneath the Northern Lights at Arctic Bath, one of our newest and coolest additions to the SLH portfolio – think floating cabins, star-gazing decks and real life reindeer with a traditional Sámi herder.
The romantic in me likes a cold and perhaps also snowy Christmas. Carol and I spent a few days in the Cotswolds in late November last year at Dormy House and whilst there was no snow, the Christmas trees were up, the smell of open log fires pervaded the air and hot chocolate or hot toddies were the order of the day. It would be lovely to go back there.
My other choices would be El Lodge Ski and Spa as I have never skied in Spain before; Hotel Rangá in Iceland for the Northern Lights and hot tub under the stars; Storfjord Hotel in Norway for those views of the fjord by the patio fire pan…and perhaps some Storfjordbrygg – an ale produced for the hotel and served nowhere else – what’s not to like; Dorsia Hotel & Restaurant in Gothenburg – I have only been to Stockholm in Sweden and I loved that, so I would love to give Gothenburg a try; and finally Hotel Lilla Roberts in Finland – I love the Art deco style and for some reason I am strangely drawn to the concept of a traditional Finnish sauna followed by ice swimming!
I’d love to spend Christmas at Terelj Hotel, just outside of Ulaanbaatar. Mongolia has always fascinated me and as a proper Grinch I’d like to spend Christmas in a non-Christmassy location, social distancing from the world. It combines all the wild beauty and serenity of the steppe with comfort and services of a luxury hotel – what’s not to like? Plus, winter is also the season for eagle hunting which is one of the coolest things in the world I’d like to experience.
I am a big lover of a cold, snowy Christmas. I have only ever been abroad somewhere hot over Christmas once in Vietnam, and it was pretty miserable to be honest – for me, Christmas just isn’t the same in the heat, and away from family! Therefore, I would love to spend Christmas with my family at one of the SLH ski hotels. Miramonti Boutique Hotel has been on my list for a while, purely for the photos of the swimming pool and the ‘relaxation room’ but it looks even cosier in the winter, and the perfect place to spend the holiday season!
My travel plans have been thin on the ground this year, like everyone else, and I have longed for a hot weather holiday! However, I just can’t tear myself away from mountains, snow and open fires in the winter! So it would have to be Storfjord Hotel in Norway or any one of our beautiful ski hotels.
Although I am almost certainly Vitamin-D deprived after this year, I would always still opt for a white Christmas on the slopes – it’s hard to beat a Christmas Day ski! Le Coucou Méribel looks incredibly stylish as well as cosy, and the French really know how to celebrate when it comes to festive food. Thinking closer to home, retreating to Inverlochy Castle in the wilderness of the Scottish Highlands for the holiday season would be top of my list, for both Christmas and Hogmanay.
I would like to spend the holiday season at Le Grand Bellevue, Gstaad – you have pretty much everything you want on your doorstep. Apart from being surrounded by hundreds of kilometres of ski pistes, the location offers you everything from restaurants to shops, to events for all ages. I would also enjoy the hotel’s own spa after skiing all day and in case you’re too tired or lazy, you can dine in at the hotel, where you can choose from their Michelin-starred menu, featuring amazing sushi or traditional Swiss cuisine.
I would love to stay at Crossbasket Castle in Scotland. I have never been yet unfortunately, and love the idea of staying in a traditional Scottish castle. Their rooms look so spacious, warm and full of character. It has lovely grounds and a river just by it, with a little terrace where I would love to have my tea. I can imagine it all “Christmassy” with their special festive package – this would make me feel it is Christmas at its best.
I would like to spend Christmas at Eichardt’s Private Hotel in Queenstown, New Zealand. The hotel is located right in front of Lake Wakatipu, the longest lake in New Zealand which is 380m deep. The water temperature is about 15 degrees even in summer, it is so deep that it never gets warmed up! Christmas is rather hot in Australia where I live, so it would be the perfect place to escape the heat.
The hotel main building has mountain and lake view suites, and the Penthouse is on the top floor with the most amazing bathtub overlooking the lake. The hotel has a fine dining restaurant, a recently opened spa, and is in a superb location, with many shops, high end and casual dining options available within walking distance.
The amount of activities I would be able to do nearby the hotel is impressive. Many water sports and sky diving can be arranged, along with the longest bungy jump (134m) in New Zealand which also happens to be in Queenstown. If you are not so extreme, walking by the lake is just lovely. The hotel also has a luxury yacht, Pacific Jemm, which takes you out for a day tour or sunset cruise – a nice way to spend Christmas with family and friends. You can be very active or relaxed during your stay, I highly recommend it.
I would love to experience a European Christmas market and doing so amidst the medieval walls of Tallinn would be a double treat. Returning to the lovely Hotel St. Petersbourg for a sauna and cocktail by a fireplace would be magical.
I would love to spend Christmas anywhere where there is snow – Stein Eriksen Residences in Utah, Le Grand Bellevue in Gstaad or Le Coucou Méribel. I don’t really ski but would love to do other activities, explore the towns nearby and get cosy in front of a fire place at night. I live in Florida so it’s quite hard to get into the Christmas spirit when it’s warm!
Please put me down for Storfjord Hotel in Norway (happy to share it with any of my colleagues!) I love the Nordic design and décor, I will feel even closer to Santa Claus, and the idea of long hikes through the snow and forests with an open fire and cosy blankets waiting on my return, a good book and a glass of wine or hot chocolate (or both!) – what could be better for a Christmas break?
I would stay at the Stein Eriksen Residences in the USA. The mountainous snow and wooded exterior give it an old school American Christmas movie feel. I can just imagine spending a few days here with the family.
I shall be joining the sun seekers amongst us – and my choice would be The Plettenberg by The Liz McGrath Collection. I’ve been lucky enough to have visited ‘The Plett’ once in June 2019 – a stay too short. My heart beats for the stellar beauty that is South Africa.
Situated along one of the country’s many incredible sights – the Garden Route – the hotel enjoys a prime position right on one of the many beautiful white sandy beaches around the small town of Plettenberg. Watch the Indian and the Atlantic Ocean meet – including whales (seasonally) and dolphins if you’re lucky from the hotel’s beautiful terrace or from one of their delightful Corner Suites.
The property’s feel good vibes coupled with a genuine friendliness of a wonderful team invite instant relaxation in a picture-perfect beachfront setting.
Whilst all of our SLH hotels would make a wonderful home-from-home during the holiday season, given the opportunity there is one hotel in our portfolio where I would spend my annual leave – at Baros Maldives. Despite the isolation in the middle of the Indian Ocean they have very strong Wi-Fi so one could even stay there to WFM – ‘work from Maldives!’
The property opened in 1973 – it is a grand dame that has stood the test of time and aged truly gracefully by renovating, adding new facilities and staying on trend with the latest features in modern hospitality. Their facilities are second to none and the service, provided by their long-standing staff, is unforgettable. Our best senior inspectors left Baros Maldives in awe: awarded the 2017 Resort Hotel of the Year by SLH, I came to Baros with pretty high expectations. My experience at this hotel sets the benchmark of what an SLH experience should be – it was nothing short of amazing. Very proper, traditional hospitality in paradise, a well-oiled operation that I can’t wait to experience again one day.
I would like to spend Christmas at The Sandpiper, after a year of feeling trapped inside and seeing very little sun, Barbados would provide a welcome respite from the gloomy UK winter. The smell and sound of the Caribbean Sea, a Rum Sour from Harold’s Bar and the sunshine on my skin are what I need.
I would love to spend the holiday season on Petit St. Vincent Island with my family. I grew up in the West Indies on the island of Grenada and Christmas for me was always a huge family occasion – my favourite part was always Boxing Day on the beach with all of our family and friends. You’d often see Santa whizzing past on water skis!
This year has been really hard not being able to see my family because of COVID-19 and it has me craving the beautiful white beaches, warm sunshine and the scent of spices in the air.
I have never spent Christmas somewhere hot and having missed out on all my holidays this year a tropical Christmas is definitely on the cards. I would love to go to Calala Island in NiCaribbean and completely switch off in one of the four suites at this ultra all-inclusive hideaway while my kids are entertained by pirate treasure hunts. Maybe I’d take over the whole island for the ultimate festive reunion!
A usual Christmas for me is always a big family occasion, so it would need to be at a UK country house with beautiful grounds for walking off all the turkey and trimmings. However, as with everyone else this year, I am seriously craving some holiday sunshine. I would love to do something a bit different and escape the UK, travelling far, far away to the Cook Islands – staying at the Pacific Resort Aitutaki, swapping mulled wine for beach cocktails!
Huvafen Fushi Maldives – because we have just been speaking about where we’d love to be right now! Maldives is on my hit-list anyway, but after the past year – the lockdowns, the current gloomy UK weather – I’d love to take isolation to a whole new level by lounging in my lagoon bungalow with 360-degree views of the ocean, basking in all of the sunshine I am so yearning for.
I would love to spend the holidays at The Norman Tel Aviv because it is pure luxury but not pretentious, small but with all the ‘essential’ services (a rooftop terrace with swimming pool, restaurant in an elegant outdoor terrace), just a stroll away from the lovely Neve Tzedek neighbourhood. Not my typical Christmas because normally it would be in the cold mountains of northern Italy but I think that we all need a change to our routine after this year.
During the Christmas time I dream of being in one of the suites at Le Barthélemy Hotel and Spa, ideally in the beautiful La Suite Plage with walk-out access to the beach. There is nowhere I’d rather be!
I would like to enjoy some winter sun at La Sultana Marrakech, and experience their one-of-a-kind festive programme, which includes a 50-minute massage and lots of other treats. They also offer bespoke experiences during the holidays like hiking or e-biking in the Atlas mountains or discovering the Agafay desert. Apparently you can also book to have a Christmas tree in your room!
I would like to stay in one of our Maldives hotels, for example Milaidhoo Island Maldives, just purely to enjoy the sunshine, blue skies, and white sandy beaches. I would also like to stay in one of our hotels with a cosy fireplace like Hotel Haven or Ariana Sustainable Luxury Lodge, with a simple blanket and a book close being warmed by the fire.