Christmas is calling…
With three months on the clock, it’s officially time to start finalising your festive family escape. With Christmas day falling on a Monday this year, you can get ten, blissful days off work, just by booking three days of annual leave (27, 28 and 29 December). Just the excuse we need to book that dream family trip! Think it’s too late to book for the holidays? According to Skyscanner, the best time to buy flights for Christmas is actually during the week of October 22nd. You’re sorted.
That’s why we’ve asked travel expert, Claire, from Mr & Mrs Smith to put together this list of unique hotels – all with seriously impressive Instagram credentials – that are just perfect for Christmas. Whether you’re after a ski adventure in a snow-covered wonderland or a sun-kissed beach retreat in 35-degree heat, here are the family locations we’d love to tick off before 2018 hits!
The recently-renovated, ultra-photogenic Grove Narberth glows with country charm. Think roaring fireplaces, cosy wood panelling and floorboards, and tasteful tartan furnishings. The hotel is surrounded by forests and castles, too: perfect for post-presents, pre-dinner strolls, and is just a stone’s throw away from the beach (which is just as gorgeous in winter). For next-level Christmas indulgence, check into the John Pollard Seddon room – this regal space boasts a vast four-poster bed and a dreamy cast-iron bathtub.
A bellini each on arrival! Plus, GoldSmith members get a half-bottle of Billcarte-Salmon Reserve champagne.
How to get there: Direct flights to London are available with British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Virgin Atlantic, taking roughly 13 hours. Once you’ve landed in London, head west to Wales either by road, or, if you’re feeling tired after your flight, hop on a train from Paddington and nap en route (although this will take slightly longer).
Family attractions in the area: Crisp, winter walks on the beach are ideal for clearing board game or port-weary heads. Alternatively, spend the day roaming the labyrinth of passageways and towers at history-steeped Pembroke Castle – the birthplace of Henry VII.
Kids will love: A trip to Folly Farm. The funfair, outdoor play area, zoo and child-friendly woods are a delight.
Parents will love: Making the most of in-room spa treatments.
Built upon the ruins of a Roman villa, Bellevue Syrene is dripping with Italian glamour. Book one of the Superior Sea Rooms for endless family photoshoot opportunities – from the sparkling crystal chandeliers and fresh-cut flowers, to the unobstructed balcony views over the Gulf of Naples. The hotel’s eye-catching interiors are inspired by the dazzling town of Sorrento, with grass greens, sugar-sweet pastels and vibrant flashes of colour.
Book here and get a bottle of sparkling white wine or regional red during your stay. Because, let’s be honest, we never need an excuse to sip our way through our holiday.
How to get there: The closest airport to the Amalfi Coast is Naples. Whilst there are no direct flights from Hong Kong, you can connect via a number of European cities, with total flight times starting at 15 hours. From Naples, catch a train to Sorrento station, which is less than 1km from the hotel, or enjoy the incredible views of pristine beaches on the 30-minute drive. We know it can be tricky with kids in tow so we’d recommend booking a transfer in advance.
Family attractions in the area: Discover the mysteries of Pompeii, the once thriving Roman city buried under a ash after Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 AD.
Kids will love: Sampling every flavour of ice cream at nearby gelaterias. Okay, this is one for the mamas too.
Parents will love: Wandering around Sorrento taking in the art and architecture, including Roman ruins, the 15th-century Duomo and 14th-century Church of St. Francis.
Washington School House is a Utah ski chalet, decked out in retro-Paris décor, with antique French furnishings. Picture crystal chandeliers and white marble bathrooms guaranteed to accrue plenty of ‘likes’. The hotel is set within the winter wonderland-esque Park City in Utah’s Wasatch Range, meaning you won’t have to travel far for awe-inspiring mountain vistas. Spend evenings relaxing in the hotel’s heated outdoor pool and hot tub, set amid towering blue spruce and aspen, or by the fire pit, which is actually a steel Olympic torch from the 2002 Winter Games.
As an extra bonus, we’ve lined up US$70 credit for you to put towards a private dining experience! The ideal way to celebrate a special occasion.
How to get there: Salt Lake City International Airport is a 45-minute drive from the hotel. From Hong Kong, the easiest option is to connect via either Seattle or San Francisco, with options available from Cathay Pacific, Delta and United.
Family attractions in the area: Enjoy a soak in Homestead Crater; the geothermal heated pool set inside a limestone dome is piping hotel all year round. And don’t worry, life jackets are included in the cost!
Kids will love: Being able to swim in the heated outdoor pool, even when it’s snowing!
Parents will love: Relaxing in the hot tub and enjoying in-room massages. We can’t forget to mention that cocktails are included in the hotel’s 24-hour beverage service.
Make sure you’ve got your camera prepped at Sweden’s Treehotel. The UFO, Mirrorcube and Dragonfly rooms defy gravity (and disbelief), whilst potential sightings of the Northern Lights will keep you up at night. This novel treetop hideout has Scandi-chic interiors and rustic Nordic cuisine. Book a campfire feast in advance for a truly memorable Christmas meal, and for further festive action shots, trek through lush boreal forest or enjoy a husky-drawn sled ride – just remember to pack your cosiest clothes.
As a unique perk, you’ve got a chance to feel roasty-toasty at a free two-hour session in the tree sauna. And yes, this includes snacks!
How to get there: The closest airport to Treehotel is Luleå, a one-hour drive away. To reach Luleå, your best bet is travelling via Stockholm with Scandinavian airlines – the total flight time is just over 14 hours, including the connection. Once you’ve touched down in Sweden, you can reach the hotel either by prearranging a transfer or hiring your own car and following Route 97 – that way, you’ll have the freedom to explore for the duration of your trip.
Family attractions in the area: If you’re set on spying the Aurora Borealis, head to Abisko National Park for the Northern Lights tour. Winter is the best time for seeing them, something that no family member is likely to forget.
Kids will love: Staying in the treehouse-style rooms and competing in snowman-building competitions.
Parents will love: The tree sauna and the open-air hot tub, which is satisfyingly brisk in the winter and surrounded by lavish greenery in summer.
Top off your beach outfit with a Santa hat this year at Anantara Bophut Resort and Spa in Koh Samui. The blissful beach and vibrant, manicured gardens offer picture-perfect surroundings, complemented by Moroccan-inspired details. Swim up to the semi-submerged pool bar for your daily Samui Sling, or enjoy the weekly catamaran journey for a cocktail cruise to Orange Island. The hotel is known for being family-friendly, so it’s the perfect near-by destination to enjoy Christmas in the sun.
To get you started, expect a welcome drink and fruit basket! You also get 10% off all restaurants, bars, and (wait for it…) the spa. Mr & Mrs Smith have even thrown in a free 15-minute head and shoulder massage to get you going.
How to get there: Bangkok Airways flies twice daily, and the flight time is just under three and a half hours. A tempting travel option.
Family attractions in the area: There are several water parks in Koh Samui, but for something a little different, enjoy a day of adventure and exploration at Ang Thong Marine National Park, where you can swim, kayak and snorkel among the shoals of beautiful tropical fish.
Kids will love: The huge swimming pool, excellent kids’ club and safe, sandy beach.
Parents will love: The traditional Thai massage. Need we say more?
Christmas comes early at Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives. It might not be your typical snow-dusted Christmas scene but here, nestled between beach and jungle, is a luxury hotel like no other. The rooms here offer stunning views of either the lagoon or the ocean, some including their own private pools. The novel, glass-bottomed bathtub means you can spy on the underwater world while taking a soak, and if still haven’t satisfied your camera roll, the hotel offers sunset dhoni cruises and dining out on the sand dunes.
Perfect for some parents-only pampering, we’ve lined up a 30-minute foot massage or full body scrub for two. Now all that’s left to do? Relax.
How to get there: Cathay Pacific fly to Malé four times a week. From here, you can catch a domestic flight with Maldivian to Kadhdhoo Airport where you will be met by a member of the Six Senses staff and transported by speedboat to the hotel.
Family attractions in the area: Spend the evening lapping up the sunset and searching for dolphins on a speedboat, or enjoy a daytime snorkelling trip where a resident marine biologist will help you and the kids spot turtles.
Kids will love: The free, all-day ice cream parlour. Oops.
Parents will love: The bar that mixes 14 signature cocktails and the wine cellar housing more than 400 wines.
With a nod to Japanese tradition, Aman Tokyo mirrors the layout of a local home, with a meditation garden and backlit shoji paper serving as a giant skylight. For more metropolitan views, head up to the 33-metre-long indoor swimming pool, where you’ll be rewarded with panoramas of Tokyo, plus patterns of festive lights. Put the littles to bed early and head up to the Lounge bar, which has views over the impressive Imperial Palace Gardens.
You know what they say about the most important meal of the day? It tastes better free. You get a daily American or Japanese breakfast for two on the house, for every day during your stay.
How to get there: The total flight time from Hong Kong to Narita is just over four hours, and there are plenty of options every day. Once you’ve landed in Narita, the hotel is just a 90-minute drive away – transfers range from JPY47,000 to 63,000 each way.
Family attractions in the area: KidZania and Tokyo Dome City theme park are both easily accessible from the hotel. Adrenaline rushes abound here, or you could watch your children role-play as the leaders of tomorrow in the fantastically realised City for Kids.
Kids will love: Swimming in the family-friendly 33-metre pool.
Parents will love: The wide range of Aman spa treatments – two of the treatment rooms are for couples.
With Mr & Mrs Smith you’ll enjoy our best-price guarantee, as well as a little something extra on arrival at every hotel. To book, call toll free at 800 905 326 or visit mrandmrssmith.com.
All images via Mr & Mrs Smith