Instead of sweating over last minute spuds and sprouts this Christmas Eve, imagine arriving at Hayfield Manor to a welcome of hot port and mince pies. Yes, it’s five-star, and yes, it will cost you the best part of a grand. But three-night festive packages include most meals, a tree in your bedroom, Santa for younger guests, carol-singing, afternoon tea, and a late check-out on December 27.
Details: 021-4845900; hayfieldmanor.ie; €945pp.
Not only can you escape the Christmas madness with a holiday in Malta, you can escape potential winter gridlock too. Average temperatures in December hover in the high teens, and Concorde Travel is one of the operators dedicated to getting you there, with three-star packages from €489pp, and a week at the five-star Le Meridien in St Julian’s Bay from €599pp.
Details: 01-7759300; concordetravel.ie; flights depart on December 19.
Kilkenny is having a right festive flutter this year, with a Christmas Fair running from December 10-12 and 15-23 on Parade Plaza. Residential packages over Christmas itself include three nights at the Springhill Court Hotel from €399pp, or two nights at Mount Juliet for €573pp.
Details: 056-7721122; springhillcourt.com and 056-7773030; mountjuliet.ie.
Instead of wakening up in mulled wine-induced coma on Christmas morning, imaging hiking into Everest Base Camp. Adventure travel outfit Explore has a 17-day expedition setting off on December 16, including stops at Kathmandu and the Sherpa capital of Namche Bazaar. The trekking is tough at over seven hours a day, but it’s certainly a healthier alternative to turkey.
Details: 1890-747747; explore.co.uk; from €1,320pp excluding flights.
If you fancy a festive retreat on the doorstep of the big city sales, look no further than the Imperial Hotel on Cork’s South Mall. Guests are greeted with a glass of spiced mulled wine on arrival, before sitting down to a five course dinner in the Ballroom Suite. Santa Claus is set to swing his sleigh by, and the post-Christmas sales are just a short walk away.
Details: 021-4274040; flynnhotels.com; B&B from €119 per room, dinner €85/€49pp.
England’s rural idyll is Grand Central Station for celebs these days, with everyone from Lily Allen to Jeremy Clarkson calling the Cotswolds home. Winter walks, honey-coloured hamlets and quaint old tea rooms are the selling points, and the Tudor-style Burford House adds four-poster beds, cosy fires and several meals on its three-night Christmas package.
Details: 0845-0121834; bestloved.com; £640/€750pps (excluding flights).
Christmas packages at Dublin’s Fitzwilliam come with a firm family focus this year. A three-night stay includes breakfast, a stocking hung outside the door for children, and a special festive dinner from a menu by new head chef, Matt Fuller. The price includes car parking, wi-fi and service charges, and if you book three nights from December 24, you get a free upgrade.
Details: 01-4787000; fitzwilliamhoteldublin.com; €600 per room.
Fancy swapping snow for sunshine on the Costa del Sol? Cassidy Travel has six nights in a three-star in Torremolinos, departing on December 21, at €385pp. John Galligan Travel has a week half-board at the four-star Hotel Amaragua in the same resort from €659pp — including a gala dinner on Christmas day and a full-day coach tour to Ronda. The price excludes a €35 booking fee.
Details: 0818-332500, cassidytravel.ie; and 01-2076555, jgt.ie.
If self-catering is on your radar this Christmas, the Irish Landmark Trust has five nights in a range of restored heritage properties that varies from gate lodges in Castletownroche to a townhouse in Temple Bar. The Galley Head Lightkeepers’ cottages on the Dun Dide headland outside Clonakilty are perched 130 feet over the Atlantic, giving stunning views to match the seasonal setting.
Details: 01-6704733; irishlandmark.com; €980 plus €32.50 for light and heat.
Imagine spending Christmas in an Alpine chalet festooned with sparkling decorations, a real pine tree and your own personal chef to prepare a turkey with all the trimmings. That’s what ski operator Highlife is offering in a range of packages based in Morzine, Meribel and Val d’Isère, with log fires and saunas to boot. Oh, and you’ll have the pick of the ski slopes too.
Details: 01-6771100; highlife.ie; five-night packages from €795/€650.
You can ward off the washing up this Christmas with a three-night break at the Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa in Sligo. Breakfasts, buffet evening meals and Christmas Day lunch are included, and Saint Nicholas himself will pay a visit on Christmas morning. Family packages are also available.
Details: 071-9140008; radissonblu.ie/hotel-sligo; €300pps.
Rather than being landlocked in your housing estate this Christmas, what about getting away from land entirely with a winter cruise? Tour America has a four-night Bahamas cruise with Royal Caribbean departing December 23, including three nights in Miami from €1,589pp. Joe Walsh has seven nights cruising Dubai, Oman and Abu Dhabi from €1163pp. Both prices include flights.
Details: 021-2429222; touramerica.ie and 01-2410800; joewalshtours.ie