Whisk yourself off to a luxury hotel for Christmas, if only via Instagram.

Nobody does Christmas quite like these out-and-out luxury stalwarts. And though we may not have relinquished turkey duty to instead be enveloped in their cashmere-soft Christmassy embrace (one day, one day), we can still take inspiration from the just-so way they do festivities.

How? Well, thanks to the wonders of Instagram of course. Here are our top ten feeds to lose yourself in extreme luxury, via the lovely little squares.

Claridge’s


Rob Van Helden Floral Design is the man behind this beauty of a mantelpiece which, frankly, casts our own fairy-lit boughs over the fireplace in the shade. But then what else would you expect from Claridge’s, that by-word for sublime, unadulterated luxury in Mayfair? Known sometimes as an ‘annexe to Buckingham Palace’, on so intimate terms with royalty is it, the hotel began life as Mivart’s in 1812, only changing its name in 1854 when it was sold to one Mr and Mrs Claridge. Each year its Christmas tree is decorated by a fashion luminary as towering as the spruce itself; this year, it is the turn of shoemaker to the stars, Christian Louboutin. It is joined, somewhat marvellously, by the ‘Loubi Express’, a four-table dining carriage serving food and champagne cocktails. We’re on board with that.

The Zetter Towhouse


The stellar and brilliantly named florist, Petal To The Metal, is responsible for the Zetter Townhouses’ (in Clerkenwell and Marylebone) festive makeover this year, and both are as achingly beautiful as it gets. But then it’s no less than one would expect from The Zetter Group, which specialises in boutique hotels that both throw back to the best bits of historic tradition and architecture (both are housed within Georgian buildings) yet manage to hit the nail on the contemporary head. Both hotels are wholly sumptuous, slightly eccentric and serve up peerless cocktails: in other words, everything anyone could ever want at Christmas. If you love Dennis Severs’ House, then you will love these boutique beauties. Even if you’re not staying, do follow them on Instagram for a hit of inspiration.

The Langham


When The Langham opened it 1865, it laid claim to being the most modern hotel in the land, with its hundred water closets, thirty-six bathrooms and boasting the first hydraulic lifts in England. The great and good flocked to this new beacon of modernity; Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde stayed (separately, we should add), and Arthur Conan Doyle even partly set A Scandal in Bohemia and The Sign of Four within its grand walls. Whilst today it can no longer lay claim to being the most state-of-the-art place to stay in the capital, it certainly remains – with its luxurious spa and its Michel Roux restaurant – one of the most luxe. At no time is that lavishness and magnificence more in evidence than at Christmas. This year, The Langham has teamed up with luggage brand, Globe-Trotter, to deliver A Langham Christmas Journey. Magic.

Gleneagles


Gleneagles in Perthshire feels like the ultimate winter retreat for most of the year, even before the Christmas decorations arrive. Originally a railway hotel, its building was commenced in 1924 by the Caledonian Railway Company and even has its own branch line railway. It is, then, already suitably Harry Potter-reminiscent, before you even take in its vast and extraordinary grounds outside, and the proliferation of open fireplaces inside. It is, in short, a hotel made for Christmas (and golf too, for which it’s famous, if you’re into that kind of thing). But if you can’t get there yourself, do while away some wistful moments scrolling through its inspiring Insta feed. Lucky folk who have booked in may even get snow. Here’s hoping.

The Pig


The Pig Hotels, owned by the former proprietor of the Hotel Du Vin boutique chain, Robin Hutson along with David Elton, have been busy redefining luxury in the 21st-century since opening. Instead of tinkling pianos and hushed wood-panelled dining rooms, you get entrance halls flanked by an array of wellies, people dressed like they’ve just returned from a country ramble (they probably have), and wonderfully lived-in décor. The joy of each The Pig hotel lies in their recreation of relaxed country houses; you’re encouraged to lounge in a selection of comfy mismatched armchairs by log fires, while munching on ‘piggy’ bites, safe in the knowledge that everything on the menu hails from within a 25-mile radius. It’s the kind of place that encourages you to accompany a bacon sandwich with a truly fine wine; in short, in the same vein as Champagne in our PJs, it’s what Christmas is all about (yeah, it’s about some other stuff too – good will to all mankind etc – but c’mon, booze in pyjamas). We don’t mind admitting we’re nursing an unbecoming envy of anyone who had the foresight to book ahead here. Meanwhile we’ll console ourselves with the pretty tiles and resolve to book early next time.

Babington House


Do you ever come across an Instagram feed so outrageously beautiful that you’re compelled to shout, ‘stop it’ upon sight? Just us then? If ever there was one such, it’s that of Babington House in Somerset, the country house and members club run by the estimable Soho House Group. A Grade II-listed manor house set between Radstock and the beautiful Frome, a quick glance at its Instagram feed tells you everything you need to know about why so many celebrities have chosen it for the weddings (Eddie Redmayne and Sam Taylor-Wood among their number). It comes as scant surprise that it does Christmas just as beautifully as it does everything else. Just gaze upon this enormous fire place, and then scroll over to images of tables laid in readiness for a feast and lightly dusted mince pies for a slice of Christmas heaven.

The Connaught


This uber-luxe Mayfair stalwart knows how to do Christmas. It stands to reason that when, in 1935, it was bought by Swiss hotelier Rudolph Richard, he ran it as an extremely comfortable private house which just happened to offer the highest level of service. Today, post a £70m refurbishment in 2007, it continues to set the gold standard for service, but the personal touch remains. And it is that which makes this such a special place at Christmas. Plus, this snowy pair of trees is pure magic.

Milestone Hotel


The Milestone, which opened in Kensington in 1920, is a relic of the old school in the best possible way. Interiors are traditional, as is the food (do try the afternoon tea). It is also our festive barometer; as soon as its signature silvery twigs are clamped to its railings, we are officially allowed to feel Christmassy. Inside, it’s just as sumptuous – there are no cool Scandi touches here; just traditional reds and golds and sublime comfort, as evidenced by its Instagram feed.

Lucknam Park


Warning: if you harbour any Scrooge-like sympathies at all, stay well away from Lucknam Park over Christmas. If, on the other hand, you adore everything about the whole festive affair, you’ll love this Insta feed (not as much being there, but y’know, it’s a start). Father Christmas drives a horse-drawn carriage through the sensationally beautiful estate; plus, there are treasure hunts and black tie dinners, as well as mince pies and mulled wine in the library after Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. Unadulterated yuletide joy.

Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons


Rayond Blanc’s fantastia of Michelin-starred food and sumptuous luxury has been winning awards and acclaim for more than 30 years. It’s a dream all year round, but at Christmas it outdoes even itself. The little pathways are lit by twinkling lights, the grounds are dotted with Christmas trees, and the hotel hosts a series of Christmas carol services. Is there anywhere more inviting than this over Yule? Instagram says a resounding no.

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By Nancy Alsop
December 2019