We’ve hunted high and low for the hotels with all the ingredients for the perfect Christmas shopping weekend: cocktails, spas and squidgy beds. Here are four corkers...
The Westbury Hotel, Dublin
Best for… a touch of grandeur
Hidden on a quiet street, a stone's throw from Brown Thomas department store and buzzy Grafton Street, this opulent hotel is the ultimate base for a Christmas-shopping minibreak. Suites are sumptuous - from the spongy cream carpet to the gorgeous claret-coloured George Smith velvet armchairs and footstools - with thoughtful touches like the teeny macarons and chocolate-covered toffees. After a hard day hitting the stores, refuel with a Gunpowder Irish Gin in the hotel’s 1930s-style cocktail bar, The Sidecar, followed by dinner at the stylish Wilde restaurant - try the Valrhona dark chocolate bar with raspberry sorbet. Heaven on a plate.
Stella loves: The superlative concierge who goes out of his way to recommend great places to shop, the quickest ways to get there, and arms you with maps, directions and a bottle of water to boot.
Out and about: Slap bang in shopping mecca - Ireland’s answer to Harvey Nichols (Brown Thomas) is a three-minute walk from the hotel and Grafton Street - with jewellers, independent shops and high-street chains like Marks & Spencer - is immediately outside. The Westbury Mall, an upmarket shopping centre, is also nearby. For a beautiful independent bookshop with a discerning selection of editions and new titles, head to Books Upstairs (17 D'Olier Street). The Gaiety Theatre and Trinity College are both walking distance from the hotel, too.
Read the full expert review: The Westbury Hotel
The Lanesborough, London
Best for… spa connoisseurs
Shoppers will love the location of this grand, neoclassical mansion hotel, planted right opposite Hyde Park and within easy reach of both Harrods and Oxford Street. The hotel is so majestic it literally dazzles (gold, frosting, chandeliers), there’s a Michelin-starred restaurant and all rooms come with butlers. But the real draw is the fitness club and spa, palatial in both its size (18,000 sq ft) and grandeur. Voted the best spa in England, it’s the ideal place to soothe weary muscles after a hard day of shopping. We chose the 60-minute deeper connections body massage (£155) which unknotted our aching muscles beautifully, then unwound further in the smart sauna, steam room and hydra pool. The spa lounge is something to behold; dimly lit and fragrant, with reclining leather chairs surrounded by gold curtains for privacy, and with herbal teas and honey and platters of dried cranberries, bananas, apricots and almonds to graze on. Squeeze in a reformer Pilates class or better still, book a personal training session with Irfan, a former strength coach to boxer Amir Kahn - his 60-minute workout left us exhausted and invigorated (one of the best training sessions we’ve done). Perfect to reboot after a day of Christmas shopping - or better still, send your other half off with a shopping list and hole up here for the day instead.
Stella loves: The exquisite spa changing room - the private shower-rooms were the size of a bedroom, a butler padded around handing out fresh towels, water and keeping it spotlessly clean, and the pretty mirrored vanity units had hair straighteners, mousse, dry shampoo and just about every product we could ever wish for.
Out and about: Slap bang next to Hyde Park, this hotel is in prime position for your shopping trip. Knightsbridge is a 10-minute walk, and a further 10 minutes away is the V&A and Natural History Museum, which have great exhibitions plus gift shops for quirky presents or novelty stocking fillers. Hyde Park Corner Tube station is right outside the hotel, which can whisk you on the Piccadilly Line to Covent Garden in minutes for yet more shops and its world-famous market.
Rooms from £590 a night, b&b; oetkercollection.com
Read the full expert review: The Lanesborough
No. 38 The Park, Cheltenham
Best for… dog lovers (all rooms are pooch-friendly)
Just across the road from Cheltenham’s leafy Pittville Park, this stylish Georgian townhouse is the best place in town for dog lovers. Inside, 13 rooms feature striking green prints, stylish mustard armchairs and tall windows overlooking the gardens and quiet streets. After browsing the nearby Christmas market, warm up in the his-and-hers showers, kitted out with Acqua Di Parma toiletries, then tuck up in the uber-cosy bed for a movie - there’s a double-sided TV built into the end of the bed.
Stella loves: The mint-coloured roll-top bath in our bathroom - perfect for a cheeky soak after a hard day of tramping around the shops.
Out and about: Walk into central Cheltenham and peruse the shops at your leisure. As well as high-street regulars (Anthropologie, The White Company, Toast), there’s a festive Christmas Market with gifts and crafts located on The Promenade, 15 minutes from the hotel. It runs from 21 November to 14 December when it’s replaced with a Christmas arts and crafts market (17-24 December) - potter around and enjoy a mulled wine and bratwurst sausage. For a stylish dinner, the restaurant at hotel No.131 is worth heading to (it’s a 15-minute walk from the hotel). Or toast a weekend well spent in its cocktail bar, Gin & Juice.
Rooms from £120 a night, b&b; no38thepark.com
Read the full expert review: No. 38 The Park
Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Mile, Edinburgh
Best for… post-shopping cocktails
This contemporary hotel is perfectly situated at the corner of George IV Bridge and the Royal Mile, near the photogenic Victoria Street with its colourful shop fronts. Inside, interiors are bright and vibrant, with striking patterns from modern Scottish designers, including Glasgow-based duo Timorous Beasties. Bedrooms are well stocked with Nespresso machines and full-size ironing sets, and the walls have stencilled drawings of the Edinburgh skyline, but peer out of the window and you can see it for real, right over to Arthur’s Seat and as far as the Firth of Forth estuary. After some hardcore shopping, unwind in the hotel’s neon-lit cocktail bar.
Stella loves: The deliciously comfortable - and enormous - beds.
Out and about: From almost anywhere in the city you can see Edinburgh Castle looming high. It’s only five minutes from the hotel, but be prepared for the hike. Listen out for the One O'Clock Gun before heading back down the Royal Mile to the imposing St Giles’ Cathedral with its crown spire. Victoria Street is a must, and don’t miss the architecturally magnificent Scottish Parliament building, winner of the Stirling prize. For food, The Outsider, a few doors down from the hotel, should hit the spot. Have a giggle at their wine menu, with amusing write-ups.
Rooms from £160 a night, b&b; radissoncollection.com
Read the full expert review: Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Mile
Edited by Laura Powell. Shopping by Krissy Turner. Reviews by Rachel Ward, Laura Powell and Jessica Carpani