Soul-warming, old-world Yuletides – wandering Christmas markets in a smokey fog of mulled wine – are even more magical when you have an enchanting property to sleep it all off it. Follow your heart this winter and nest up in a historic home-from-home – our hotels are shining examples of delivering luxuriously modern experiences while retaining a building’s personality and past. Explore the best of both worlds…
1. As Janelas Verdes: Lisbon, Portugal
Can you imagine a cosy December break in an 18th-century townhouse? In the beating heart of Lisbon’s mulled-wine-filled city, As Janelas Verdes is a dream Christmas base to explore the Portuguese capital. With its cast iron spiral staircase, traditionally furnished rooms and serene atmosphere, it’s small wonder the boutique hotel has inspired famous writers. Follow the scent of roasted chestnuts and custardy pastéis to find the markets – Rossio and Praça do Município in the Baixa area are our favourites.
2. Schloss Wartegg: Bodensee, Switzerland
Christmas at Schloss Wartegg is magic. Snowy strolls through the quiet hotel park, with its pretty garden monument and castle’s sheep, will have you fantasising about life here in 1575, when Empress Zita enjoyed the very same surroundings. Your hosts pay attention to every detail during the festive season, creating a regal atmosphere with a 1920’s turquoise bath, artful Christmas dinner, and beautiful bedrooms with Hüsler Nest sleeping systems.
3. The Hand at Llanarmon: Denbighshire, Wales
If you crave those old-beam, open-fire Christmas vibes of yesteryear, with candlelight carols round a piano and traditional dinners, The Hand at Llanarmon delivers. This historic hostelry has all the attributes you’d expect and plenty of extras to delight – warm welcomes, award-winning food, calming guest rooms and country pursuits galore.
4. Sierakow Manor: Krakow, Poland
Krakow is the Wrocław for travellers craving less crowds over the festive season. With markets full of artisanal sellers, dazzling Christmas trees and belly-filling soul-food, you can confidently plump for this ancient city and its UNESCO-awarded Old Town. Get the best of both worlds by blending your city break with a Christmassy country retreat. Just 20km south of Krakow – all roaring fires, English-style rooms and award-winning cuisine – is Sierakow Manor.
5. The Fourth: Leuven, Belgium
While Brussels features on every list of top Christmas breaks, Leuven is drastically underrated. The Belgian city brightens up dark December nights in a way that’s lighter on crowds and stronger on the local aspect. In the quaint city centre, The Fourth is a charming festive haven to sleep off winter adventures. Its name reflects the building’s four-stage history (it’s been The Guilds, a theatre, a bank, and now a hotel), so you can expect plenty of characterful charm with contemporary updates at this 15th-century stay. If you can pull yourself from the cosy bedrooms, you’ll adore Leuven’s Christmas market – one of the oldest in Belgium and certainly one of the loveliest.