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)