10 beautiful UK holiday rentals for multi-generation Christmas getaways

After last year’s cancelled Christmas plans, a family gathering this year will feel all the sweeter. But you’re not the only ones planning a big festive get-together: UK holiday rental bookings for the Christmas week are already five times higher than they were last year, says accommodation company Guesty, with the likes of Cornwall, Devon and Pembrokeshire – the summer honeypots – proving most popular once again.

Prices, too, are increasing: the average nightly rent is some 47 per cent higher than it was pre-pandemic, and rising. 

The moral of this festive fable? Be quick: because the quest to find a property that’s Christmas-worthy – with log fires, a beautiful location and space for large families – will only get tougher. The timing of Christmas makes things trickier too, with the 25th and 26th falling squarely on a weekend – not to mention the arrival of international tourists, as the UK’s border rules look set to ease further.

Whether you’ve set your sights on the UK’s countryside, coast or city, the following properties all have availability for the Christmas period – with plenty of room for large families. 

For unspoilt countryside

Cromwell House, West Sussex 

Though Oliver Cromwell was no fan of Christmas, his West Sussex hunting lodge – Cromwell House – makes a fine festive retreat. The property accommodates 10-12 guests across six bedrooms, with a large sitting room, games room and separate dining parlour (seats 12). If the weather holds, swap that annual charades game for the grass tennis court and croquet lawn; if it doesn’t, the hot tub and sauna/steam room beckon. (Dec 24-31: £9,495; thewowhousecompany.com)

Thursford Castle, Norfolk

Combining the winsome ruins of a Gothic chapel with a luxurious, expansive new-build, Thursford Castle looks like it’s been plucked from an episode of Grand Designs. It sleeps eight across four bedrooms – each with their own bathroom – and includes an extra-large dining room, double-sided woodburning stove and private catering available on request. The Norfolk countryside is right on your doorstep, as are the villages of Thursford and Great Snoring. (Dec 23-27: £5,684; big-cottages.com)

Thursford Castle looks like it’s been plucked from an episode of Grand Designs

Credit: Big Cottages

The Strand, Cornwall

In the Cornish hilltop village of Tywardreath, The Strand features a large range cooker, pizza oven and five bedrooms – sleeping 10, though with dining space for eight. The master suite sits at the top of the house, a welcome hideaway from the festive hubbub downstairs – while the close proximity of The Eden Project, village restaurants and Par Beach offer plenty of opportunities to explore en famille. (Dec 24-31: £1,827; luxurycoastal.co.uk)

The Strand is situated in the Cornish hilltop village of Tywardreath

Credit: Luxury Coastal

Enderley, Wiltshire

Set over three floors and sleeping up to eight guests, Enderley is a restored Grade II-listed cottage in the small Wiltshire village of Teffont Evias – sleeping eight people in four bedrooms, including a super-king-sized master suite. It’s surrounded by the sylvan meadows and valleys of Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), replete with walking and cycling routes, and plenty of pubs for Boxing Day lunch. Inside, the property combines period charm with indulgent mod cons: think open log fire, original beams and freestanding roll-top bath. (Dec 22-29: £3,256; sykescottages.co.uk)

Enderley Holiday Cottage is surrounded by the sylvan meadows and valleys of Cranborne Chase AONB

Credit: Mark Bolton Photography

Devizes Castle, Wilshire

Also in Wiltshire, with a history dating back to 1080, Devizes Castle has served as a royal retreat, a political prison and a Civil War stronghold… and is now a richly-storied private rental for groups of up to 10 people (across seven bedrooms). Surrounded by private landscaped grounds, it feels more rural than it actually is, while the antique accoutrements – including a suit of armour and four-poster beds – bring its history to life. (Dec 23-29: £11,319; vrbo.com)

Loch View, Scottish Highlands

Exactly as its name promises, Loch View overlooks the River Enrick and Loch Ness – as well as the mountains and countryside near the village of Drumnadrochit, in the Scottish Highlands. With its huge sofas and floor-to-ceiling windows, the living room is ideal for festive gatherings, and there are three generous bedrooms with space for nine guests. Shake up this year’s Boxing Day walk with a monster-spotting jaunt to Loch Ness. (Dec 23-30: £3,748; holidu.co.uk)

Credit: Holidu, Interhome

Winnow Mill, Scottish Borders

It may be up in the Scottish Borders, but Winnow Mill is incredibly cosy – with an open fire (and vast log store), underfloor heating and private sauna. It’s set in a 100-acre estate, which is open to guests, and features tennis courts and stirring valley views. The house itself is a 19th-century stone-built mill, sleeping 10 guests in four bedrooms (each with its own bathroom), and features both a snug and a vast living room, as well as a cosy shepherd’s hut in the garden. (Dec 24-31: £2,507.50; luxurycottages.com)

By the sea

Laburnum House, Somerset

If your Christmas isn’t complete without a long, bracing family walk, Laburnum House in Somerset has a wealth of options nearby – with woodland rambles through Hawthorn Dene Nature Reserve, coastal jaunts on the National Trust coastal footpath, or simply a two-minute yomp to the nearest village pub. Inside, you can gather round the inglenook fireplace on leather Chesterfield armchairs, and soak in the wood-fired hot tub. Sleeps 10. (Dec 21-28: £3,199; big-cottages.com)

Gather round the inglenook fireplace and soak in the wood-fired hot tub at Laburnum House

Credit: Big Cottages

Quarry House, Devon

Overlooking the Salcombe-Kingsbridge estuary, Quarry House sits in the South Devon AONB – putting seaside strolls within easy reach, on the likes of Slapton Sands (10 minutes’ drive), Salcombe (15 minutes) and Bantham Beach (20 minutes). With four bedrooms, a large terrace and open-plan living room with woodburner fire, the house sleeps eight guests – and has a shepherd’s hut (with log burner) and hot tub in the garden. (Dec 22-29: £3,050; salcombefinest.com)

Quarry House sleeps eight guests and has a shepherd’s hut (with log burner) and hot tub in the garden

Credit: Salcombe Finest

The Tower, Devon

Also in Salcombe, The Tower is a local landmark that dates back to 1795 – now with a sleek new-build addition, sleeping 12 guests across six bedrooms. In the manor of a mini fortress, its stone turrets loom over the harbour and yacht club: a stirring rooftop setting for festive bubbly, with views of the sandy beaches, rolling hills and wide estuary waters beyond. Optional extras include local yacht charters, private catering and VIP concierge service. (Dec 20-27: £4,000; salcombefinest.com)

Enjoy views of the sandy beaches, rolling hills and wide estuary waters at The Tower

Credit: Salcombe Finest

Old Pear Tree Barn, Cornwall

Ideal for smaller families, Old Pear Tree Barn is set in a quiet hamlet on the north coast of Cornwall, within walking distance of Newquay’s best beaches. The renovated two-bedroom cottage sleeps four guests (plus up to three pets), with original features including exposed timber beams and a vaulted ceiling – plus underfloor heating, Sky TV and a Bose sound system. It’s just a short walk through the orchard garden to Cubert, and its thatched 16th-century pub – The Smugglers Den Inn. (Dec 23-30: £2,450; luxurycoastal.co.uk)

Rye Bay House, East Sussex

If you want easy beach access, but without the biting December winds of an exposed seafront location, Rye Bay House in Camber Sands offers a happy compromise. It’s a five-minute walk from the soft dunes and flats of the East Sussex shore, set back from the sea in a neighbourhood with restaurants, shops and hotels nearby. The house has four bedrooms, including a master suite on the top floor – and dogs are welcome, too. Romney Marsh and the pretty village of Rye are located nearby. Sleeps eight. (Dec 23-30: £2,712.50; besidetheseaholidays.com

Ryebay House has four bedrooms and dogs are welcome

Credit: Beside the Sea Holidays

The Hollies, Argyll and Bute

A beautiful property with a real sense of fun, The Hollies has everything from a seven-foot pool table and Xbox, to indoor boulodrome (for petanque games) and table tennis. The wine fridge will no doubt get a lot of use this Christmas, too. The house accommodates 18 people, and is set on the shore of the Kyles of Bute, in Argyll: you can see the sailing boats from the dining room, and walk straight to the water from the house. (Dec 24-31: £7,958; theholliesargyll.co.uk)

The Hollies is a beautiful property with a real sense of fun

Credit: The Hollies, Argyll

Shipwrights Cottage, Pembrokeshire

Just a few metres from the beach at Tenby, Shipwrights Cottage gives you no excuse for skipping the Boxing Day Swim – the town’s fearsomely chilly charity dip, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Luckily there’s a log burner in the four-bedroom cottage, and a freestanding bathtub to defrost in. As well as having the restaurants and pubs of Tenby close by, this is a great base for exploring the wider Pembrokeshire National Park and coast. Sleeps eight. (Dec 23-27: £1,391; snaptrip.com)

In the city

Calton Hill apartment, Edinburgh

Arriving in Edinburgh on December 23, you’ll find the city’s Christmas markets and festivities in full swing, and this Calton Hill apartment puts you a short walk from the action. It sleeps up to eight people across three bedrooms (all en-suite), with rich claret-coloured interiors and plush leather Chesterfields – plus a huge kitchen, featuring two fridge-freezers for all your festive grub. (Dec 23-30: £3,572; holidu.co.uk)

Holidu’s Calton Hill apartment puts you a short walk from Edinburgh’s Christmas markets and festivities

Credit: Holidu, VRBO

Sunshine Central House, Brighton

Those braving Brighton’s famous sea swim on December 25 will be hoping that Sunshine Central House lives up to its name this Christmas. A few minutes’ stroll from the seafront, it has space for up to 22 guests, across five huge bedrooms and living room pull-outs. It’s a tight squeeze at max capacity, but for large families it’s perfect. The Brighton Christmas Festival and Market runs until December 31, while the pubs and restaurants nearby will have yuletide merriment aplenty. (Dec 23-30: £6,052; holidu.co.uk)

The Admiral’s House, Bath

In true Bath style, The Admiral’s House is an elegant Georgian mansion – decorated with oil paintings and open fires, and featuring high-ceilinged parlours for your lofty festive trees. Of course, the city centre dazzles at Christmas, with its pretty market and carol concerts (all within walking distance). There are seven bedrooms, all sleeping two guests – with a 12-seater dining table for Christmas lunch. (Dec 23-29: £7,057; vrbo.com)