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 continue to ease.
Whether you’ve set your sights on the UK’s countryside, coast or city, the following properties still have availability for the Christmas period – with plenty of room for large families.
Devizes Castle, Wilshire
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 20-26: £10,804; vrbo.com)
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: contact for price; luxurycottages.com)
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: £1,999; big-cottages.com)