Inns across the country set to be packed to their historic rafters with guests looking for festive cheer are filling up fast. But take heart – there are still some Christmas crackers left out there.
What’s more, many inns have surprisingly reasonable prices, with rates for B&B from as little as £150 a night.
Although some places might put you out in the stables, they’ll be the kind of stables the shepherds of ancient Bethlehem wouldn’t recognise. You can expect cosy rooms, a crackling fire in the bar and a slap-up festive feast you won’t have to cook yourself. So go on, give yourself the gift of a pub stay this Christmas.
Build up an appetite with a stroll in the Lakes and Dales
B&B doubles at the Crown Inn (pictured) in Pooley Bridge cost from £188 per night, checking in on Christmas Eve for a minimum two-night stay
The Crown Inn has rustic rooms with wooden headboards and cosy throws
If Christmas isn’t complete without a scenic walk or six, the brewery Daniel Thwaites has availability in a handful of dog-friendly pubs with rooms in the Lake District and Yorkshire.
In the lakes, the Crown Inn in Pooley Bridge is surrounded by epic scenery ready for exploring. Walk as much of the 20-mile Ullswater Way as you need to work off the four-course traditional Christmas dinner, then retire to rustic rooms with wooden headboards and cosy throws.
B&B doubles cost from £188 per night, checking in on Christmas Eve for a minimum two-night stay, while the Christmas Day meal costs £85pp (crownpooleybridge.co.uk).
B&B doubles at The Red Lion in Burnsall (pictured) cost from £175 per night and a four-course Christmas lunch costs £85pp
In Yorkshire, stay at the Red Lion in the sleepy village of Burnsall and you can walk out of the door and into the dales, with hikes along the River Wharfe or up into the hills. The Dales Way passes through Burnsall – follow it to Grassington on a four-hour circular walk.
Back at the 16th Century inn, you’re not just confined to a turkey roast for dinner, as options include venison, goose or nut roast.
B&B doubles cost from £175 per night and a four-course Christmas lunch costs £85pp (redlion.co.uk).
The Lister Arms in Malham has B&B doubles from £203 a night based on a three-night stay
Dreamy: Above is one of the ‘contemporary chic’ rooms at The Lister Arms
Harry Potter film fans can explore Malham Cove, a star location in Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, when they stay at the Lister Arms in the heart of Malham.
Scenic Gordale Scar is also among a number of walks on the doorstep of this pub with contemporary chic rooms which mix wood furniture with tartan furnishings.
B&B doubles cost from £203 a night based on a three-night stay (listerarms.co.uk).
The Owl in Hawnby (above) is offering a two-night break for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with meals for £390pp
Snuggle up: Rooms at The Owl in Hawnby are ‘done out in Farrow & Ball colours’
The Owl in Hawnby is a former drovers’ inn
If you prefer Christmas with a few more trimmings, head to The Owl in Hawnby, an old drovers’ inn in the North York Moors National Park. A two-night break includes afternoon tea in front of the fire on Christmas Eve followed by mulled wine and a four-course dinner. Christmas Day starts as it should do, with bucks fizz, before Christmas dinner and a two-course evening buffet to round off the day.
A hike to Rievaulx Abbey, about seven miles away, should keep you in shape between all the feasting. Cosy rooms you’ll want to snuggle up in are done out in Farrow & Ball colours, there’s a snug bar, and guests can eat with their dog in the restaurant.
The two-night break with meals costs £390pp, or you can stay on Boxing Day night too, with an additional three-course dinner, for £495pp (theowlhawnby.co.uk).
Southern hospitality with wine and emergency snacks
The Rock Point Inn in Lyme Regis (pictured) is located on the water’s edge
Two nights’ B&B at The Rock Point Inn with a Christmas Eve drink, Christmas Day lunch and supper costs from £496 for two
Bargains in the South and West include a night at the Hare & Hounds in Newbury from just £150. All rooms, including those in the stables, are a cut above average at this beautiful pub with hunting-themed fabrics and wallpaper and antlers crafted as lights.
Rooms also come with extras, from fresh milk and complimentary gin to Bramley toiletries in the swish bathrooms.
Splash out on the £125pp slap-up lunch which starts with canapes and ends with coffee and mince pies.
Christmas Day last orders are at 4pm but there is a wine- dispensing machine and guests receive festive hampers in case the need for snacks arises (hareandhounds.co.uk). If you hurry, you can also book a performance of Rapunzel at the nearby Watermill Theatre on December 24 (watermill.org.uk).
You can stay at the Hare & Hounds in Newbury (pictured) from just £150 a night
All rooms at the Hare & Hounds (above) are a cut above average
You can also stay from £150 a night at the thatched Bottle & Glass Inn in the Chilterns, just ten minutes from Henley.
The rustic-chic rooms have a separate entrance from the pub. Downstairs, the dining room will be the scene for a superb feast costing £125pp, from canapes to coffee, although its reputation as a gastro pub means it’s filling up fast. Alternatively, the pub’s sister restaurant, The Hart Street Tavern, has plenty of space on Christmas Day (thebottleandglassinn.com).
Or stay on the edge of the New Forest at The Mortimer Arms in Ower. A three-night B&B break costs from £440 per room. Dogs are welcome. Lunch on Christmas Day costs £89.99pp (mortimerarms.co.uk).
Meanwhile, Butcombe Pubs & Inns has decent-value Christmas escapes at the newly refurbish King’s Arms in Melksham, Wiltshire. Its two-night Christmas Escape costs from £408.50 and includes dinner on Christmas Eve with a glass of mulled wine, an evening hamper on Christmas Day with a bottle of prosecco and late breakfast on Boxing Day. Christmas Day lunch costs extra (kingsarmsmelksham.co.uk).
Above is the Old Success Inn, which overlooks the golden sands of Sennen Cove in Cornwall
A two-night B&B package at the Old Success Inn with Christmas lunch and supper costs from £286 for two
A three-night B&B break at The Mortimer Arms in Ower (pictured) costs from £440 per room. Dogs are welcome
If you want to stay in the midst of a village that could double as a Christmas card, Branscombe in south Devon is the place, with a picturesque dovecote, church and streets with pretty thatched cottages sweeping down the valley to the sea. The thatched 14th Century Masons Arms comes with low-beamed ceilings, whitewashed walls and a roaring fire.
Newly-refurbished rooms have stylish fabrics and wood or exposed stone walls. Two nights’ B&B with a festive drink on Christmas Eve, a slap-up Christmas Day lunch and a light supper costs from £286 for two (masonsarms.co.uk).
Or head to the Jurassic Coast in Dorset for scenic seaside walks and to hunt for dinosaur fossils.
The Rock Point Inn in Lyme Regis is bang on the water’s edge beside the harbour, and its characterful rooms in breezy colours make a great base from which to explore.
Two nights’ B&B with a Christmas Eve drink, Christmas Day lunch and supper costs from £496 for two (rockpointinn.co.uk).
Further west, in Cornwall, the Old Success Inn overlooks the golden sands of pretty Sennen Cove.
Fall asleep listening to the sound of waves rather than to Santa’s sleigh, then awake in the beautifully designed bedrooms decked out in coastal colours. After a Christmas walk, make yourself cosy in front of the fire with one of the pub’s award-winning beers.
A two-night B&B package with Christmas lunch and supper costs from £286 for two (oldsuccess.co.uk).
A treat for foodies with some very fine dining
Two nights’ B&B in a ‘snug’ double at The Riverside At Aymestrey costs from £325
A dish at The Riverside, which lies in rural Herefordshire
Foodies are in for a treat at The Riverside At Aymestrey, on the edge of the Mortimer forest in rural Herefordshire.
The pub dedicates its two-acre smallholding to its bees, pigs, chickens, heritage orchard and kitchen gardens, which supply head chef and owner Andy Link with fresh seasonal produce. The Christmas lunch menu, at £95pp, features both traditional and more unusual offerings, such as smoked partridge with parsnip emulsion and kale crisps and lemon sabayon tart with lemon verbena ice cream.
Outside, there are winter walks through the River Lugg Valley, while the 30-mile Mortimer Trail runs right past the pub.
If you’re hungry in the evening, you can order cheese or meat boards. Two nights’ B&B in a snug double costs from £325 (riversideaymestrey.co.uk).
Also in Herefordshire, The Greenman in the village of Fownhope has a bucolic setting next to the River Wye, but is just 15 minutes from Hereford with its cathedral for Christmas services.
Its beamed bar comes with wooden tables and window seats, while the contemporary bedrooms boast oversize fabric headboards. Dogs are welcome. Two nights’ B&B costs from £325. A four-course Christmas lunch costs £85pp; cold platters are available in the evening (thegreenman.co).
The Greenman in the village of Fownhope has a bucolic setting next to the River Wye. Pictured is its beamed bar
Two nights’ B&B at The Greenman costs from £325. A four-course Christmas lunch costs £85pp
In Perthshire, the Meikleour Arms’s cottages on the Marquess of Lansdowne’s Meikleour estate offer the perfect combination of a festive escape, with meals on tap and your own self-catering space.
The beautifully furnished cottages in the Victorian stables have private gardens ideal for dog owners, and there are plenty of walks nearby amid the woodland and along the Tay, where the pub has fishing rights. The estate-to-plate dining features vegetables from the walled garden as well as local venison. The menu for Christmas lunch has yet to be announced.
Two nights’ B&B in a one-bedroom cottage costs from £420 (meikleourarms.co.uk).
Blow the budget on a Christmas like no other
Wild Thyme & Honey in the Cotswolds (pictured) is offering a four-day Christmas package with ‘all the bells and whistles’
The Wild Thyme & Honey package, which costs from £1,580 per room, includes all meals from dinner on December 23 to breakfast on December 27
For Christmas in the Cotswolds with all the bells and whistles and a price tag to match, check out the four-day package at Wild Thyme & Honey in the village of Ampney Crucis, near Cirencester.
It might cost from £1,580 per room but it includes all meals from dinner on December 23, ending many thousands of calories later with breakfast on December 27 (book via MrandMrsSmith.com).
Food is a real highlight here, so expect waistlines to expand. The fun kicks off with cocktails and canapes on Christmas Eve and an a la carte candlelit dinner, followed by a Christmas film and s’mores in the Secret Garden, and a late church service.
If you’re still going after that, there’s a midnight feast.
The Old Church House in Devon (pictured) can be hired for a week from December 23 for £5,116
The Old Church House has 11 ‘comfy’ bedrooms, which all come with en suites
Christmas Day features a six-course lunch and evening feasting platters, interspersed with popcorn and a movie or board games (wildthymeandhoney.co.uk).
Or how about gathering the clans and hiring a converted pub for a big Christmas bash?
The Old Church House in Devon still has its oak bar – which you can arrange to have stocked – wooden settles and wood-burning stove. Pub games are on hand with a darts alley and snooker table, and there’s a split-level dining room with seating for 24 people plus a modern kitchen to rustle up some fantastic food.
The 11 comfy bedrooms all come with en suites. A week for 24 from December 23 now costs £5,116, down from £7,975 (sykescottages.co.uk).
A trip down to London is often on many people’s Christmas Lists. It’s a time to finish off the shopping, take in the bright lights and Christmas trees. And after a long day of pounding the streets in search of those last few items, what could be better than afternoon tea. The Hilton on Park Lane is serving up a seasonal menu until January 3 at more reasonable prices than many.
The Winter Wonderland Afternoon Tea is served daily from 12.30pm until 6.30pm with prices from £39pp (podiumrestaurant.com/afternoontea.php).
- All pubs had rooms available for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at the time of going to press.