Tempted to skip town for the holidays? Here are a few places Town & Country Magazine recommends:
From Christmas to Chanukah to Kwanza, the month of December is a jumble of holidays. Pair that with the kids being off from school, and many will be looking—and planning now—to get out of town to celebrate Christmas. But where to go? London for the Winter wonderland in Hyde Park? Washington, Connecticut for the chance of a white Christmas? A week relaxing on a beach on the Big Island of Hawaii? Or perhaps the newest ski-in and ski-out hotel in Aspen? We’ve got lots of ideas, including where to stay, to make this time of year what it should be: festive and fun for Christmas 2019.
London gets a lot of things right, including the holidays. With special markets, lights galore, and hearty English fare—think warm scones—and world-class shopping, the city screams really festive. To soak it all in, stay at the newly reopened Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park in the posh Knightsbridge area—it’s the only hotel to actually sit on Hyde Park—that has floor to ceiling windows looking out onto the park and is a stone’s throw from Harvey Nichols and Harrods, arguably some of the best shopping in the world. Added bonus of being across the street from Hyde Park is that it turns into a winter wonderland with ice skating, performances, and rides and games—all just outside your door.
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London
A temperate California climate, vineyards, hiking galore, top-notch spa treatments. and a world class golf course, Carmel Valley Ranch, located in the chic Monterey area (this is where Big Little Lies is filmed) is a great destination for a not-so-freezing holiday jaunt. Carmel Valley Ranch, a sprawling resort, puts on a Hanukkah party, nightly menorah lighting, a holiday Nutcracker tea, Christmas caroling, and a family friendly New Years Eve party. And if you want a break from all the holiday cheer, Carmel Valley Ranch has a beekeeping program, chicken coop, goat barn, hatchet throwing, and cheese making class at the property’s recently opened creamery.
Carmel Valley Ranch
For a destination that can take well over 12 hours to get to, a long holiday break is the perfect time to go to the Maldives. So head for Vakkaru Island, located within the Unesco Biosphere Reserve of Baa Atoll, lies a reef island composed entirely of sediment produced on the surrounding coral reefs. In addition to all the aquatic activities—snorkeling, diving, whale watching—Vakkaru Island offers a Christmas Market with a multitude of stalls selling boutique items spa, products, and food and beverage. On New Years Eve the hotel puts on a beach carnival with live acts, music, a gourmet menu, cocktails, and fireworks.
World-class skiing, cuisine, retail, and a great nightlife scene—Aspen hits all the right notes for a holiday getaway, whether you want to relax by the fire or go out every evening. The only hitch may be finding a place to stay during this busy time of year. Problem solved. The W Aspen, which opened in August, is the first new luxury hotel opening in Aspen in 25 years and is located on the creme da la creme real-estate at the base of Aspen Mountain. W Aspen will have ski-in/ski-out access to some of the world’s most coveted slopes. Whether you stay there or not, the hotel’s WET Deck, Aspen’s only year-round, all weather public rooftop bar, is poised to become this 2019’s apres ski hot spot.
This tony corner of northwest Connecticut in Litchfield County is where many of New York City’s see and be seen crowd retreats for the holidays. If you don’t have your own estate, head to the Mayflower Inn, which was recently taken over by Auberge resorts, and has all the trappings for a perfect long weekend—or week—stay over the holidays. The now kid and pet friendly property hosts a Christmas Eve and cocktail party and dinner in their parlor followed by eggnog made by Arethusa Farms (which is owned by Manolo Blahnik owners). There’s also acres and acres to explore on snow shoes or cross country skis, not to mention one of the area’s best spas.
The Mayflower Inn, Auberge Resorts Collection
A holy city for Jews, Muslims, and Christians Jerusalem will promise an enriching and historical holiday break–from exploring the Western Wall, Holy Sepulcher, Tower of David, Bethlehem (look for a Christmas Eve tour), and the Mount of Olives. But Jerusalem has also become home to a cluster of swanky, five-star hotels, including the Mamilla Hotel Jerusalem. A short distance from Old City Jerusalem and the Jaffa Gate, the property offers luxurious accommodations in the heart of Jerusalem. With minimal design by Italian born Piero Lissoni, travelers can enjoy the old and preserved by day and return to new and sophisticated rooms by night. Other ways to indulge between the sightseeing: there’s a rooftop lounge restaurant and much buzzed about spa.
Mamilla Hotel Jerusalem
In Northwest Ireland on the wild, ragged coastline sits Donegal, Ireland, filled with rolling hills and seaside views. This is definitely an off-the-beaten path holiday destination, but well worth it for Lough Eske Castle—the only five-star hotel in the area. The sprawling property is nestled at the base of Bluestack Mountain, where you can go hike off all those mince pies. For the holidays, the castle is decorated in lights and holly and offers a Christmas Eve buffet and baking activities for kids. And if you’re lucky, you might catch some rainbows, since the hotel is nestled in the perfect vantage spot—over the mountains—for spotting them.
Lough Eske Castle
There is really no bad time of year to go to Hawaii, but for a 12-hour flight from the East Coast it makes sense to go over a long holiday break. The Big Island, with its rustic, untamed feel, and amazing marine life is a truly unique place to spend the holidays. The Four Season Resort Hualalai, one of the best hotels in Hawaii, pulls out all the stops for the festive season. They do a New Years Eve gala dinner with a different theme every year, provide eight hours of kid programming every day, and offer a special spa and wellness experiences. Then there are the private helicopter tours over volcanoes, snorkeling with sea turtles, and one of a kind sea to dining—think: catching your own dinner—experiences the hotel offers.
The Four Season Resort Hualalai
Is there anything more authentic than spending Christmas in the Article Circle? Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland in Northern Scandinavia, is known as the “Official Hometown of Santa Claus”—and it looks exactly like the Santa Claus’ village you grew up fantasizing about. Kids will encounter elves, play with Rudolf and his reindeer, and decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus; for adults, there’s snowmobile safaris, husky rides, and Northern Light hunting.
While you may think of Nantucket, the small island off of Massachusetts, as a winter ghost town, think again. The annual Christmas Stroll, which this year will take place from December 6th to 8th, is an event that rivals just about anything in the high season. The streets are straight out of a holiday story book and the whole town turns into a block party. You’ll feel like you are stepping into Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol. Imagine carolers wandering through cobblestone streets, 80 uniquely decorated trees, and shop windows that give New York City department stores a run for their money. Stay in the center of the action at the Jared Coffin House, where Santa holds court, and you are just steps away from all the festive fun.
The Jared Coffin House
Article and opinions by: https://www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/travel-guide/g12919081/places-to-go-for-christmas/