The season of goodwill to all men has passed, so how about a few days of goodwill to you? Here’s some suggestions for a few days away, whether you fancy chilling out, the call of the wild, or a gin-fuelled bonanza!
Congratulations! You did it… you survived Christmas and the new year with your sanity, health and bank balance relatively intact. No-one bought the kids a drum kit or a trumpet, no-one contracted food poisoning from your cold buffet on Boxing Day, grannie’s sherry intake bordered on the acceptable, there was no need to involve ACAS during charades, and you didn’t disgrace yourself on New Year’s Eve!
Here we are in January and, let’s face it, it’s all gone a bit flat. It’s grey and miserable, Easter and the promise of spring aren’t even on the horizon, and even Netflix can’t provide inspiration.
So, if you didn’t use all your Christmas budget, what about a cheeky break? Some ‘you’ time? A bit of R and R with the emphasis on aaaahhh rather than aaarrgghh…
It’s cold outside, but the best place to properly chill is a spa break, and there are plenty from which to choose, whether you’re after a day’s pampering, a blissful overnight stop or a couple of days to totally unwind.
For example, the Macdonald Hill Valley Hotel Golf & Spa in Whitchurch, Shropshire offers The Ultimate Spa-cation, three nights bed and breakfast, two 55 minute treatments, dinner on the first day, afternoon tea on the second, bottle of Prosecco, and full use of the facilities for £244.50 per person.
For one night, how about the Blue Harbour Health Club and Spa at The Chelsea Harbour Hotel in south-west London, where £109 gets you bed and breakfast in a suite, robe, towel etc and full use of the spa facilities. Plus, a smoothie don’t forget the smoothie!
Spa Days are widely available and prices vary, although the Morning Roof Top Spa Experience at Rudding Park, Harrogate – an Elysium Collection spa – which includes robe etc, use of the indoor swimming pool, juniper log sauna, bucket shower, thermal experiences and a drink and snack voucher, looks intriguing at £64. Further spa breaks are listed on spabreaks.com
If the weather isn’t an issue and The Great Outdoors is your thing, head out to the forest to take in the sharp, fresh woodland air and bed down in your own cosy, log cabin. Forest Holidays (forestholidays.co.uk) operate at 11 sites in Britain and offer six types of accommodation from tree-houses to self-catering; all featuring log-burner and hot tubs, for weekend breaks or longer. For example, a Golden Oak cabin in Keldy Forest, north Yorkshire costs £405 for a family of four on a midweek break (Monday to Friday) and £445 in Sherwood Forest.
Forest Holiday have sites at Ardgartan Argyll and Strathyre (Scotland), Beddgelert (Snowdonia), Blackwood Forest (Hampshire), Cropton (north Yorkshire), Deepark (Cornwall), Forest of Dean (Gloucestershire), Keldy (north Yorkshire), Sherwood Forest (Nottinghamshire) and Thorpe Forest (Norfolk).
Of course, the best breaks are those centred around an event: a show, a one-off event or… a gin-tasting extravaganza!
The Gin To My Tonic Festivals bring together 100 different gins – as well as selected vodkas and rums – from across the world, promising “a voyage of gin discovery” with tastings, premium mixers and live entertainment.
In February, they are being staged at the town hall in Stoke (February 1) and the Guildhall in Winchester(February 29), while the Gin Tasting Bristol takes place onboard Brunel’s steam ship, the SS Great Britain, on February 14. For this Valentine’s Day treat, the Gin To My Tonic team will introduce specially selected gins in a five-course tasting menu, with ‘courses’ coming every 30 minutes with their own back-story, appropriate tonic and garnish.
Alternatively, there is a straightforward gin festival at Manchester Cathedral on February 21-22 where, again, more than 100 selected gins are available to taste and, with tickets only £12.50 and two nights in a Manchester hotel from £120 at the ibis Styles Manchester Portland, you’ll probably only get an alcohol-induced headache, rather than a financial one.
If gin’s not your thing, there’s always Winchester’s Cocktails Week (February 3-9), the Yorkshire Pudding Festival (February 1) in Leeds, or back to Bristol on February 22 for the Prosecco Festival at The Passenger Shed.
Alternatively, there’s the family-friendly Lightopia Festival (January 22 -March 1) in Chiswick House and Gardens, London or the London Classic Car Show at Olympia (February 22) if you fancy a breather in the capital. Failing that, York holds the annual Ice Trail (February 1-2), when the streets of the historic city are filled with ice sculptures and, two weeks later, the city pays homage to its past with the 36th Jorvik Viking Festival – a week-long celebration (February 15-23) of the Scandinavian invaders who settled in the area.
Expect living history encampments, markets, tours. Two nights at the Staycity Aparthotel starts from £155 for a family of four (expedia.co.uk).
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