Let The Festivities Commence: Our Top Picks for a Seasonal Getaway

With Christmas just weeks away, we’ve rounded up our top picks for a luxurious, stress-free December. From wintry walks in the Cairngorms to roaring fires in the Cotswolds and a wellness escape on the Cornish coast, make this festive season one to remember.

City Celebrations

ONE ALDWYCH

London comes alive at Christmas and this year will be no different. Experience the magic of the holiday season with the chance to shop at the capital’s flagship stores and independent boutiques. From the beautifully decked out Covent Garden market with its 60-foot Christmas tree, adorned with over 30,000 lights to the Choose Love charity-inspired lights of Carnaby Street, it simply is the most wonderful time of the year.

Equally as dazzling, One Aldwych’s Lobby Bar has been transformed with a glittering tree and the elegant, golden-edged entrance warmly welcomes visitors. The exclusive Love London Christmas package includes a delicious Christmas cocktail or warming glass of mulled wine with a homemade mince pie, as well as a luxurious gift from local perfumery, Floral Street, to take home. Festive stays are made even better with an indulgent full English breakfast, a guaranteed upgrade, early check-in, leisurely late check-out, use of the Health Club with 18-metre swimming pool and 24-hour gym, and complimentary car parking.

Countryside Traditions

THE FIFE ARMS

This winter, The Fife Arms is bringing the swiss Alps to Braemar, transforming into an alpine inspired winter wonderland with a Scottish twist. For the ultimate alpine experience, guests can head to Glenshee, a 3,540ft mountain that beckons skiers and snowboarders alike. The Fife Arms Courtyard will be beautifully decorated with Christmas garlands and lit with firepits, for guests to sit cosily and enjoy festive gluhwein with roasted chestnuts. Traditional fondue’s will be served in The Fog House, The Clunie Dining Room will be transformed into a festive tearoom, serving a Swiss inspired afternoon tea featuring Christmas Stollen and gingerbread ‘Ghillies’, (we are in Scotland after all) and in The Library, delicious Sprungli chocolate will be paired with a dram of whisky. Overflowing with festive cheer, the pop-up Beer Tent on Invercauld Green will be illuminated by fire torches and dressed with tartan blankets and sheepskin throws, where guests can share stories with the locals over a warm mug of gluhwein or pint of beer.

On New Year’s Eve, guests can indulge in champagne and canapes, followed by a four course dinner in The Clunie Dining Room and a New Year’s Eve piping performance in the garden, all rounded off with fireworks at midnight.

SOPWELL HOUSE

Deep in the rolling Hertfordshire hills, with crackling open fires, twinkling lights and trees laden with glittering baubles, Sopwell House is offering guests a luxurious home-away-from-home for the holidays. Capturing the true magic of Christmas, the Traditional Residential Package ensures guests never go hungry, from delicious treats prepared by the talented pastry chefs to gastronomic delights served in the restaurants, and entertainment to amuse the whole family. Ring in the New Year in style with the Traditional New Year’s Package, a spectacular 7-course feast with wine pairing, Champagne, and a live DJ in the St Albans Suite. For an extra special celebration, the Indulgent New Year’s Package invites guests to a formal 7-course dinner in the elegant Restaurant, accompanied by a live duet performing throughout the evening and full access to The Club at Cottonmill’s state-of-the-art facilities.

CALCOT HOTEL & SPA

For a family-friendly Christmas, Calcot Hotel & Spa is the ideal Cotswold getaway. Offering three days packed full of festivities including champagne and mince pies on arrival, a champagne breakfast on Christmas morning, traditional Christmas lunch and walks around the 220 acres of beautiful green fields and rewilded meadowlands. At Calcot, New Year is a relaxed country house party with fine food, champagne and excellent wines. Relax at the Spa, curl up by the fire, or explore the countryside. On arrival, indulge in a delicious Afternoon Tea before taking a brisk walk in the grounds or hunker down with a good book. On New Year’s Eve, usher in a hopeful and happier 2021 with a delicious feast created by Executive Chef Richard Davies and his team and a glass or two of something bubbly. Spend New Year’s Day relaxing in the Spa or head out for a walk and dose of fresh air.

THE PAINSWICK

A picture-perfect 18th century Palladian pile in the Cotswolds, The Painswick is the perfect place for a snug countryside escape. Its 16 sweet and stylish bedrooms enjoy stunning valley views and the buzzing bar serves creative cocktails and a bold restaurant menu packed with local produce. This Christmas, guests are invited to stay for a three-night break, with freshly baked cakes, a cup of tea and glass of Champagne on arrival. Waking up bright and early on Christmas morning, breakfast will be served with a glass of Bucks Fizz to start the day in style. Following an indulgent five-course Christmas Day feast, the Queen’s Speech will be shown in the Games room, to honour tradition. Spend the afternoon playing family-favourite board games or relax in the lounge with a G&T. On Boxing Day, enjoy a leisurely lie in and devour a delicious brunch. Later that evening, dine like royalty with a three-course dinner and glass of Champagne, with Chef’s specialities in abundance. Happily bid farewell to 2020 with an unforgettable night at The Painswick. Begin the evening with Champagne and canapes followed by a palate pleasing five-course feast with live entertainment from a jazz trio – toe tapping is encouraged but no dancing on tables this year. On New Year’s Day, indulge in a hearty hangover curing breakfast, go for a stroll to take advantage of the fresh Cotswold air and kick back and relax in one of the cosy lounges.

ST MICHAELS RESORT

Escape to the coast this winter for a blissful seaside break. St Michaels Resort, Falmouth is a luxurious spa resort with the South West’s largest hydrothermal pool and the world’s only Cornish sea-salt steam room. Beyond the pool, the south-facing Spa Gardens are complete with a red cedar hot tub and Finnish barrel sauna. Burn off the Christmas treats with a bracing walk from Gyllyngvase to Maenporth Beach, take a revitalising sea-swim (something of a yuletide tradition in Cornwall!), enjoy a spot of shopping on Falmouth’s historic harbourside streets or kick back, relax and unwind in the luxury Cornish spa.

For those looking to recharge after the Holiday excitement, a Twixmas Break is the perfect opportunity to unwind for a night or two before the New Year, as well as an excuse to keep feasting, relaxing and enjoying all things merry and bright. The generous and cosy breaks include accommodation, complimentary swim and Health Club access, a full Cornish breakfast and 3-course dinner each day with views of Falmouth Bay in Brasserie on the Bay.

Ring in the New Year with a fabulous five-course tasting menu and copious amounts of fizz on New Year’s Eve before relaxing into the luxurious surroundings of the resort on New Year’s Day. Banish the cobwebs with a stroll along one of Falmouth’s beautiful beaches or rejuvenating trip to the spa before indulging in a legendary Roast Lunch with seaside views.

BLACK FRIDAY HOLIDAY DEALS

From luxurious spa days and countryside retreats to European getaways and bucket-list trips, we’ve rounded up our favourite Black Friday travel offers.

50% OFF THE RESIDENCE MALDIVES AT DHIGURAH

For those craving a haven of unparalleled peace and relaxation, The Residence Maldives at Dhigurah are offering up to 50% off best available rates in their Black Friday sale.

Book between 21st November and 4th December for stays valid until 31st December 2021. This offer starts from $588 USD per night (approx. £446) and includes complimentary domestic flight & speedboat return transfers, complimentary room upgrade and an all-inclusive meal plan.

For more information, visit www.cenizaro.com 

25% OFF WITH THE CALCOT COLLECTION

Boutique hotel group, The Calcot Collection, are offering 25% off overnight vouchers (excluding spa breaks) for all four of their countryside properties – Calcot & Spa, Barnsley House, The Painswick and The Lord Crewe Arms . The perfect excuse to treat a loved one to a night away or indulge in 24hrs of self-care.

For more information, visit www.calcotcollection.co.uk

25% OFF AT SOPWELL HOUSE

Just a short 20-minute train from central London, Sopwell House in Hertfordshire is the ultimate luxurious post lockdown destination for couples, friends or those needing some alone time, focusing on indulgence and seclusion.

The Club at Cottonmill Spa Day Offer’ starts from £171.38 and is available Monday – Thursday or Sunday. It includes use of the exclusive The Club at Cottonmill facilities from 9am – 6pm, a 60 minute Classic treatment and a delicious three course lunch in the Pantry, accompanies with a glass of wine or prosecco. The voucher is valid for 4 months from purchase date.

For more information, visit www.sopwellhouse.co.uk

UP TO 60% OFF SPANISH ESCAPES WITH THE BARCELÓ HOTEL GROUP

Guests heading to Barcelo’s Santa Catalina, a Royal Hideaway Hotel and Royal Hideaway Corales Resort’s can enjoy up to 50% off, with up to an extra 10% discount for the My Barcelo customers, early check-in and a discount on services at the hotel. Offer is valid for booking made from the 16th-29th November 2020 and for stays from 16th November 2020 to the end of 2021.

For more information, visit www.barcelo.com

20% OFF 7 WONDERS IN 7 DAYS WITH ANDBEYOND

For Cyber Monday 2020, andBeyond is offering a 20% discount on a selection of private and immersive 7 Wonders in 7 Days itineraries that promise to take you on a journey to some of the world’s most iconic wild places. These itineraries have been specially created to ensure you won’t lose time travelling between multiple destinations. A longer stay, in one destination, means that you can enjoy more time reconnecting with yourself, your loved ones, and the natural world.

andBeyond’s Cyber Monday deal includes 20% discount on  the following journeys: 7 Wonders in 7 Days at Phinda Private Game Reserve, South Africa, 7 Wonders in 7 Days on Mnemba Island, Zanzibar, 7 Wonders in 7 Days at Sossusvlei Private Desert Reserve, Namibia and 7 Wonders in 7 Days at Vira Vira, Patagonia, Chile. The offer is valid for travel on any dates up until 15 December 2021 and the booking enquiry must be received on Cyber Monday, 30 November 2020.

For more information and full terms and conditions, visit www.andbeyond.com

Christmas Gift Guide 2020

Gifts to Whet the Appetite

For the Hard-to-Please Foodie: A Fife Arms Hamper

The Fife Arms Clunie hamper offers a delectable selection of Fife Arms signature products. Curated for gourmet lovers, including a Staffordshire fine bone china tea set made exclusively for the hotel, the Fife Arms tartan lambswool blanket, and a selection of Scottish delicacies including local heather honey, Dundee cake, and a tin of Royal Scottish tea.

For the Culinary Curious: andBeyond’s Food Fundis

The vibrant flavours and influences of Africa and South America come alive with andBeyond’s cooking demonstrations, hosted by their famous chefs and lodge managers. Cook along or simply feel inspired as you watch these culinary creations being made knowing that all profits are helping fund local community initiatives.

For the Kids and Kids at Heart: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea

One Aldwych’s scrumdiddlyumptious Charlie and The Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea is the perfect treat for all the family. The indulgent tea features a mixture of splendid savouries, scrumptious sweets and fizz-lifting drinks.

Gifts to Heal Body, Mind and Soul

For the Person who Needs a Moment of Peace: andBeyond’s WildWellness Virtual Experience

Move your body, reconnect and enjoy a session of mindfulness, with a selection of WILDwellness therapies set across Africa and South America. Choose from a virtual session of Yoga, Forest Therapy or Tango.

For Those Who Love to be Pampered: A Spa Day at Sopwell House

The Elements spa day gives guests exclusive access to The Club at Cottonmill. The state-of-the-art members spa day includes two 60-minute premium treatments and a delicious three course buffet lunch in the pantry, use of the Cottonmill facilities and a robe, towel and slippers.

For the Gift that Keeps on Giving: A Bulldog Yoga Subscription

Perfect for those who want to practice yoga, but don’t like the traditional yogi vibes, Bulldog’s varied online classes feature upbeat playlists motivate users to get active in the comfort of their own home. With its website and group of Apps you can practice anywhere, anytime.

For the Person Who’s Always Busy: Calcot Sundown Spa

An evening visit to the newly refurbished award-winning spa at Calcot will ensure that even the most stressed guest leaves feeling refreshed and recharged. The Sundown Spa experience starts from 5:30pm and includes use of the facilities and a 55-minute treatment chosen from a select menu. Afterwards, enjoy a delicious two course supper at The Gumstool Inn. Membership runs on a monthly, no contract basis and is just £10.45 per month. Gift cards are available here.

Gifts to Pack Your Bags For

For the Romantics: A Weekend Escape to Sopwell House

Treat  loved one to The Club Two Night Rendezvous for Two. This luxury break includes two night’s accommodation, two 60-minute treatments per person, full access to The Club at Cottonmill facilities and a robe, towel and slippers. Dine in style and enjoy a three-course dinner in The Restaurant on the day of arrival, followed by a three-course dinner in The Brasserie on the second night, a three-course buffet lunch in The Pantry on day of arrival or departure and a full and hearty breakfast buffet each morning. 

For the Workaholic: A Midweek Stay at The Painswick

There’s no better way to switch off than by escaping to the countryside for a night or two. Tucked away in the picturesque village of Painswick, surrounded by rolling hills, acres of woodland and boasting only 16 stylish rooms,The Painswick is a truly peaceful spot to fully unwind.

To Live Life Like the Rich and Famous: A Luxury Break with Monte Carlo Société Bains de Mer

A perfect gift for a world-weary traveller is the Take Monaco Home With You package from Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer which shares some of the secrets behind the magic of Monaco, so that guests can literally take a slice of Monaco home with them.

For An English Country Gardener: A Weekend at Barnsley House

With its storybook architecture, award-winning spa and famous gardens, Barnsley House is the perfect weekend break. Located in a quaint Cotswold village, Barnsley House focuses on seclusion and indulgence. With plenty of space to hide away, terraces to cosy up on and a tranquil spa inspired by nature, guests can truly enjoy uninterrupted quality time.

Gifts for the Explorer In Your Life

For the Wild Ones: andBeyond Wild Watch Online

Sit in on a virtual session with an expert andBeyond guide who will interpret the sightings from a recorded WILDwatch Live drive with you. This interpretive experience allows a deeper insight into recorded sightings as well as the opportunity to discuss topics of special interest.

For Budding David Attenborough’s: Meet andBeyond’s Conservation Experts

Learn more about the conservation and sustainability practices that are helping to leave our world a better place. andBeyond’s ‘Protect our Planet’ episodes are hosted by experts in each category, who you will have the chance to meet and engage with.

Stocking Fillers

For the Eco-Conscious: A Gill Mask

Gill Mask, the reusable respirator mask that is safe, breathable and skin-friendly. Gill Mask allows users the flexibility to choose the types of filter and level of protection needed, from standard surgical mask to higher level of N95, all with the comfort, security and cost efficiency of a reusable respirator but extending the life of a single-use mask by six times and can last up to two years.

Superior Stocking Fillers: The Fife Arms Curated Collection

A collection of local luxuries, the Albamhor’s botanical body care range is a unique blend of oil-infused Scottish Highland herbs and plants, made in Britain. Choose from hand & body wash, shampoo, conditioner and body & hand lotion. 

Isolation Vacation: Private Island Holidays

According to recent research, the demand for a private island escapes have increased by more than 320% in the UK. With private island buy outs in demand within certain circles, we have picked some of our favourite locations around the world for experiencing splendid isolation:

Cheval Blanc Randheli Private Island Villa, The Maldives

Situated in the tranquil Noonu Atoll Cheval Blanc Randheli is part of LVMH Hotel Management renowned for its exclusivity. Cheval Blanc Randheli Private Island Villa is the most elegant of escapes for seclusion-seekers. Sprawled across 1-ha of dedicated island, this four-bedroom villa, designed by Jean-Michel Gathy, is the epitome of lush, modern island living with exceptional indoor and outdoor spaces and a dedicated team of Ambassadors who are on call 24/7.

In the main house, three light-filled successive reception rooms border a 25-metre-long swimming pool surrounded by a piano, bar and lounge areas. Outside, various terraces, tropical gardens, private beaches, an al-fresco dining pergola, and meditation pavilions bring relaxation to the tropical setting. A private spa treatment room, fitness centre and screening room complete this ultimate island stay.

Necker Island, British Virgin Islands

It is safe to say that Necker Island is certainly the most well-known private island in the British Virgin Islands and its easy to understand why. At 74 acres, the island sits in turquoise waters surrounded by coral reefs and fringed with beautiful white sandy beaches. With 20 bedrooms (and the possibility to host 40 guests), made up of 11 in the Great House, inclusive of the Master Suite, as well as various other villas and houses dotted around the island, this is the ultimate, great escape, reunion celebration.

Every activity guests could possibly want is on offer – kite-surfing, wakeboarding, paddle boarding, sailing, snorkelling and even SCUBA diving – yet even a simple stroll around the island on a nature walk will give guests the opportunity to spot Necker’s very own flamingos and lemurs!

Wa Ale, Myanmar

Wa Ale is the culmination of owner Chris and Farina Kingsley’s vision to create the first luxury eco-resort that provides access to Myanmar’s untouched Myeik Archipelago. This 5,000 acre island can be taking privately, hosting up to 28 guests at one time. Not only will guests enjoy the incredible remoteness and luxurious accommodation, but each guest will be giving back to the local community in the Myeik Archipelago through their contribution to social welfare and wildlife conservation charity, the Lampi Foundation. Set up by the owners of Wa Ale (Chris & Farina Kingsley), the Lampi Foundation gives 20% of net profits and 2% of all room revenue from Wa Ale to the foundation.

New for 2021 is one four-bedroom Beach House and three Beach Bungalows with three bedrooms each. Located on the island’s beautiful 1km long ‘Honeymoon Beach,’ Beach House and Beach Bungalows will be serviced by a maid, chef and butler with use of a jungle gym, new trekking routes starting from the beach and a brand-new beach bar, with exclusive use of paddle-boards, a speedboat, kayaks and snorkelling excursions by boat, right off the beach. These join the island’s new Ayurvedic Jungle Spa.

andBeyond Benguerra Island, Mozambique

andBeyond Benguerra Island is an exquisite piece of Indian Ocean paradise situated off the coast of Mozambique. In the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park, the island retreat is set on a protected lagoon. Guests can hideaway a variety of luxurious thatched accommodation complete with private wooden deck and pools. Guests can enjoy castaway picnics on secluded untouched islands, sunset cruises, swimming with horses as they ride bareback into the warm ocean or even spot a rare Dugong as Benguerra is home to one of the last remaining viable population. Guests are bound to see more wildlife than people!

Downward Dogs Go Up: The Mango Agency welcomes Bulldog Online

With lockdown forcing us all to work from home and with gyms and studios closed, the Mangoes have turned to at-home workouts to help us stay healthy, both physically and mentally. Following suit with much of the UK, at home yoga has been the go-to exercise of choice, which is why we are delighted to be working with Bulldog Online.

Bulldog Online is a completely new type of yoga platform whose founder, the businessman and co-owner of Bankside Hotel Jon Cummins, describes it being “yoga for non-yogis.” Created out of his own love of the physical benefits of yoga but dislike of the traditional yogi vibes, Jon was inspired to create an online platform that would make yoga more approachable, affordable, accessible and fun.

Offering varied and dynamic online classes with upbeat playlists, Bulldog’s online classes are recorded live – offering a virtual feeling of being in the studio, but with the reality of being in your own judgement-free home. No sanskrit, no chanting, no intimidation. Bulldog’s mission is for people to do what they can and not worry about “being good at yoga.”

How to reduce ‘Zoom fatigue’

For the past three months we’ve had our fair share of Zoom calls and webinars. Although these have been vital in keeping us connected, they are tiring. Being on video call requires more than face-to-face chat – we need to work harder to process non-verbal cues like facial expressions, tone of voice and body language. We are also hyper-aware of what we look like and how we come across as we are forced to view ourselves on camera; paying close attention to all this can really zap our energy.

As well as helping to keep our bodies strong and our minds sane, Bulldog’s training director Tessa Jenkins has shown the us the poses we need to do at our desk to relieve the dreaded ‘Zoom fatigue.’

Here are three poses that can be done at your desk to improve posture and help us stay awake and most importantly for these times, stay calm!

Pose 1 – Seated cat cow

We often slump forward when we are seated for a long time and if our computers are too low, which is often the case at home. As you sit at your desk place your hands on the desk and round your back like a “halloween cat” and let all the air out of your lungs then pull your chest forward and squeeze your shoulder blades together and take a big breath and fill up your lungs. Do several sets of these, it allows flexion and extension of your spine but also allows some rhythmic breath to bring in some fresh air and wake you up!

Pose 2 – Seated / Chair Pigeon

Sit tall in your chair and cross one ankle over the opposite thigh. Take a deep breath in and as you exhale hinge at the hips and lower your chest as close to your lower leg as possible.  Hands can rest on your chair or on the desk.  When we sit for a long time our hamstrings and pelvic muscles can get tight this pigeon can relieve some of that tightness and create a little more ease while you sit.

Pose 3 – Seated meditation

Sit resting back on the chair and close your eyes. This can give a rest to tired eyes after staring at a computer during the day.  Do a body scan mediation to check in with each part of your body from your toes to the crown of your head. Checking in with your body along with focusing on breath work can give your mind and eyes a break so you can be ready for the next meeting in a matter of minutes!