Is the prospect of Christmas shopping bringing out your inner Scrooge? Instead of tramping through high-street crowds, book a luxury hotel and drop in on one of the UK’s best festive markets...
Now in its 11th year, Oxford’s Christmas market brings the sound of carols and the aroma of mulled wine to Broad Street, in the midst of the city’s historic colleges. It’s a great place to pick up an unusual gift – how about a candle made from an antique teacup or a mason jar of moonshine whiskey, made to an authentic Prohibition-era recipe? (December 5-21)
Victoria Square’s Frankfurt Christmas Market bills itself as the biggest German market outside of Austria or Germany. Take in the atmosphere and enjoy pretzels and glühwein. Between this and the Christmas Craft Market, there are more than 80 stalls; it’s a great place to pick up decorations, crafts and wooden toys. (November 7-December 23)
Stay at: Hyatt Regency Birmingham is the first choice for businesspeople, but it’s great for leisure travellers, too. The pool, Amala spa and Aria restaurant add to the appeal. (hyatt.com; doubles from around £136)
For the Weihnachtsmarkt experience, head to St Enoch Square – around a miniature German windmill are more than 50 stalls, with bratwurst and Bavarian beer available. George Square Christmas Market also has German bars, plus stallholders selling artisan products and handicrafts. (St Enoch Square: November 9-December 23; George Square: November 25-Dec 31, closed 25)
Stay at: Kimpton Blythswood Square Hotel is notable for its Georgian architecture and luxurious bedrooms. During its nightly social hour from 5-6pm, guests are invited to to enjoy a glass of wine and mingle. (kimptonblythswoodsquare.com; doubles from around £152)
Bath’s Christmas market has chalets rather than stalls – around 150 in all, selling everything from jewellery, homeware and plants to clothing, artisan ciders and preserves. An impressive 99 per cent of all products are either handmade in the UK or made overseas with Fairtrade certification (November 28-December 15).