Throughout December, Stylist is inviting you to revel in the simple joy of cosiness. From finding the perfect scarf (and effectively swathing yourself in it), to planning a weekend getaway at a rustic country pub, our content over the next month will endeavor to give you that warm, snuggly feeling inside. Welcome, dear friends, to the Institute of Cosiness.
Yes, the evenings may be getting colder, shorter and darker but… would you like to hear the good news? This all makes for the perfect excuse to stay indoors and snuggle up. Of course, we’re not suggesting you hole up in any old place, or that the chillier months mean you should become a social hermit. In fact, quite the opposite.
It is potentially the loveliest time of the year to treat yourself to a staycation, and there are oodles of gorgeously atmospheric, luxuriously festive places to visit around the UK that are ideal for winding down around some of the busiest months of the year.
From 13th century country houses to luxury inner city suites, this is the time of year when curling up in a cosy hotel feels most delicious, especially those with a spa, if cold winds have left you feeling like you’ve lost your glow. Valuing open fireplaces, four poster beds and festive decor, we’ve picked out some of our top recommendations for places to have a cosy staycation this winter. Treat yourself!
Inner-city cosiness can be a tricky thing to achieve. But the Devonshire Club, in its peaceful spot tucked away in Devonshire Square just seconds from Liverpool Street (not that you’d know it) has efficiently nailed sophisticated festiveness. Which yes, does exist.
The club’s lounge and Champagne bar’s usual warm colour palette of chocolaty browns, rich reds and gold accents lends itself perfectly to the jolliest time of year, which is amplified spectacularly by the reams of glistening decorations strung up for December. Mixed with low-lighting, incredible service and a glass of delicious bubbles, it truly feels like one of the chicest places to feel cosy in the city.
Of course while you’re there you’ll be spending at least some time in your room (more on that later), but you also must pay a visit to the outside terrace which has been transformed into a festive cinema. Cuddly sofas are ladened with blankets and furry throws, and viewers are given adorable hot water bottles, flasks of Baileys hot chocolate to sip on while watching one of the Christmassy titles available.
As far as the rooms go, minimalist luxury is the order of the day here. Vast beds with impossibly soft bed sheets, simple yet beautiful creamy bathrooms (with an impressive free standing bath if you’re lucky) and well-designed furniture all come together to present a look that feels effortless and yet considered. If relaxing away from the stress of one of the busiest months of the year is your aim, this is a wonderful way to do it.
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Crossbasket Castle, Glasgow
If you’re looking for somewhere impressively cosy, does it really get better than an actual castle? We think not. So, let us introduce you to Crossbasket Castle in Blantyre, a 17th century castle with period features like gold leaf-detailed ceilings and roaring fires that feel historic.
Despite being a solid structure, the castle only has nine rooms which is why each one has been given it’s own unique theme with antique furnishings and decor that reflects the history of the building. Personally we can’t get over the bridal suite, which is in a fairytale-like four storey turret room.
During your stay you can feast in the Albert & Michel Roux Jr Restaurant which is overseen by the well-known French chef Albert Roux and promises to offer “an experience of a bygone era.” Stand-out dishes on the menu include: loin of Highland venison and wild Scottish fillet of halibut.
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The London EDITION, London
The heart of Oxford Street isn’t traditionally considered the cosiest of places. But just a stone’s throw from the capital’s most chaotic street is a golden-hued, richly decorated oasis.
Even if you don’t stay at The London EDITION Hotel, just stepping through the door into the impressive lobby and Berner’s Tavern restaurant will make you feel festive. With walls decorated in imposing oil paintings and an open fire, you might be in a swanky London hotel but if you closed your eyes for a moment, you might mistake your surroundings for a (very stylish) castle. It also helps that in the air hangs the most darkly delicious scent of oud, peppered with rose, adding to the atmosphere.
Upstairs the rooms of the hotel take on a chic ski lodge feel, with wood-panelled walls and huge, chocolate-coloured fur throws. Choose from a selection of room and suite sizes to suit your tastes and budget – starting with the cosy guest room and ending with the penthouse suite which offers a walk-in wardrobe, pantry and three large outdoor terraces.
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Burley Manor, New Forest
If you’re a city-dweller hoping to leave behind work emails and hectic commutes to soak up the spirit of the most wholesome holiday, Burley Manor is the perfect home away from home. Nestled in the New Forest, even the drive through the tiny village of Burley feels like forewarning for the full-scale adorableness of the hotel and spa.
The Grade II listed building was built in 1852 (although there’s history surrounding the grounds and old manor building dating back to the 13th century) and the owners of the restaurant and rooms have worked hard to capture its history by keeping original features – like a charming fireplace in the lobby and historical documents on the walls. All of the rooms hold a truly boutique-like feel with touches like free standing baths, rich colour palettes and gorgeous homely touches like freshly made cookies and antique furniture.
Everything about the experience at Burley Manor feels warm and hearty, and the restaurant is no different. Not only does it boast views across Burley Park where you’ll see many a deer, but the chefs serve up some absolutely delicious fare, too. We recommend opting for a sharing dish and giving the Moroccan spiced lamb a try, for something that will truly warm your cockles.
And of course, no relaxing weekend away would be complete without a little ‘me time’ so make sure to book yourself into the spa for a facial or massage to truly forget all of those work-related stresses.
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Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Oxford
It would be natural to expect big things of the Michelin-starred restaurant and luxury hotel of Raymond Blanc, a chef who’s known for rubbing shoulders with celebrities. But we’re not sure you’re prepared for just how heavenly his Oxfordshire manor actually is.
Not only is the main building a picture of magnificence, but the surrounding gardens, orchards and herb gardens are simply magical. Tucked just behind the manor, guests can explore pumpkin patches, a beautiful herb-filled greenhouse, colourful vegetable gardens as well as a Japanese garden.
Whether you stay in a room in the hotel, or opt for one of the stand-alone dwellings dotted around the outskirts of the gardens, the attention to detail is outstanding. From the personal inspirations behind every suite (Blanc decorated L’Orangerie for example, in the style of his grandparents house when he was a boy) and attentive service, to personal touches like a shoe shining service, a selection of music gently playing in your room on arrival, a wake-up call with juice and coffee – and even calming pillow spray left on your bed after turn down service.
If you choose to stay at Le Manoir it’s presumed you will, of course, sample the delights of Blanc’s restaurant, too. From the pre-dinner lounge, where you’re invited to enjoy a drink while you browse the menu, to the spacious restaurant where the (mainly French) staff will talk you through every course, it’s a level of service that goes above and beyond. We recommend trying the taster menu so you can sample a bit of everything, and the smoked haddock soup and seared scallop.
Get yourself a special offer on your stay. Call Belmond Le Manoir 01844 27881 before the 14 December for a special price, with 20% off Bed and Breakfast prices, quote Stylist (available on selected dates throughout December, Sunday to Thursday night inclusive). Discount is subject to availability.
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The Bloomsbury, London
The Bloomsbury perfectly lends itself to winter. The clue might be in the name when it comes to the establishment’s primary focus, but its token selection of restaurants and bars are not. In fact, come party season and The Bloomsbury’s The Coral Room and Dalloway Terrace are the places to be for festive cocktails and an excuse to don some sparkle.
Themed in the kind of deep pink, with glamorous Art Deco touches, The Coral Room is a simply gorgeous place to taste oysters, sample the menu’s delicious array of champagne and pick out a cocktail – served up expertly by the hotel’s dedicated bartenders. While the Dalloway Terrace’s seasonally changing flower wall makes an apt background for a Christmassy get together.
Upstairs, every inch of the boutique-style bedrooms have been designed to feel both luxurious and cosy. From the Italian marble bathrooms flaunting stand alone baths and walk-in showers to velvet furniture, wooden parquet flooring and elaborate wallpaper, once you stay for one night we guarantee you’ll never want to leave. We recommend choosing the Luxury Studio Suite for your stay for touches like the deep crimson leather headboard and deliciously thick floor skimming curtains.
Londoners will adore staying here as the pure luxury of the hotel and warmth of the staff will make you feel like you’re on holiday, but this is also the perfect spot for those visiting from out of town because of its central location.
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Down Hall Hotel & Spa, Hertfordshire
Down Hall Hotel & Spa makes an exceptional first impression. Undeniably striking, the historic building and 110 acres of woodland and parkland ooze a sense of grandeur.
Once inside, the mansion’s 14th century origins become wonderfully clear. Features like ornate ceilings, dazzling chandeliers and marble finished fireplaces come coloured in gold and red, a sense that is carried into the boutique bedrooms upstairs. Think: features like extravagant four poster beds, a copper free standing roll top bath, separate dressing areas and balcony suites looking out over the grounds.
Wrap up in layers and take a walk around the landscaped gardens, indulging in the warmth of the hotel once you’ve worked up an appetite, which can be quenched with Down Hall’s famous festive afternoon tea or the hearty Sunday lunch.
If there’s one thing you can’t miss while staying at Down Hall, though, it’s visiting the Eden Spa – it’s a real showstopper. The circular wet spa is designed to be the optimum place for relaxing, offering a hydrotherapy pool which is maintained at 36 degrees to soothe aches and pains, while the steam room helps detoxify the whole body by opening up pores. There’s also a selection of treatment rooms to consider, where you can enjoy luxury facials and body treatments by natural skincare brand ESPA.
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Duchray Castle, Aberfoyle
Although we love being pampered, there’s also a lot to be said for getting away from it all by opting for a self-catered option to truly get some peace and quiet.
Duchray Castle has been standing since the 14th century, with a fascinating 500 years of history evident in its gorgeous old features. After recently being renovated it now also has all the modern day luxuries to go along with its ancient charms, including sleigh beds, heaps of space, free-standing baths and gorgeous furniture.
The castle’s surroundings are pretty unique, too. Venture out of the castle grounds and there’s plenty of sights to see, like the clear waters of Loch Lomond and the best star gazing spots, thanks to the lack of light pollution in such a remote area.
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Lime Treehouse, Worcestershire
Sitting on the edge of the charming village of Little Comberton, this adorable treehouse is more than a little cosy. From the statement ceiling beams to the wooden bed and mini log burner, it’s getting back to nature at its chicest.
It might be chilly outside, but one way of warming yourself up during your stay would be to take a dip in the private hot tub, which you’ll find just outside the front door of the cabin. Jump in as the sun starts to go down and you can watch a gorgeous sunset over Bredon Hill – with a glass of wine in hand.
Surrounded by such beautiful countryside, it would be a shame not to do at least a little bit of exploring, but the good news is that there’s plenty of cosy pubs nearby so you won’t have to walk too far before your cockles are warmed.
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The Grove, Hertfordshire
If you’re a believer in bigger equaling better, let us introduce you to The Grove. From the moment you begin to wind your way up the impossibly long drive that cuts through the 300 acres of rolling Hertfordshire countryside, the sheer size of this drop-dead-gorgeous country house will astound you.
The house was originally founded in the 15th century and has racked up its fair share of stories since then. From frequent visits by Captain Cook and Queen Victoria, The Grove was known by socialites of the 19th century as a heady escape for lavish parties. Although history is a huge part of the hotel, its sights are very much set on the future. The team behind it have opted for modern furnishings and decor (keeping original features in place) and maximised on a tranquil, state-of-the-art spa. Treat yourself to a luxury package and try out the heat experience rooms for some well deserved down time. Oh, and not forgetting to reward yourself with one of the spa’s signature treatments - the Mindful Touch Facial. This innovative new treatment includes a virtual reality session, which helps ground your mind and practice mindfulness before the facial begins to ensure you get the absolute most out of it.
Both rooms and suites are available to book. Taking advantage of the fabulous location, all of the suites have plenty of huge windows so that they benefit from loads of natural light and views of the grounds. We particularly like the positioning of the presidential suite’s bed, which is cocooned by bay windows meaning instead of watching TV, you’ll be watching the turn of twilight to send you to sleep. We can’t think of much better viewing, can you?
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Images: Courtesy of venues