Soak up the fairytale atmosphere at one of the UK’s most charming Christmas markets, then keep the magic going in a cosy cabin nearby. Buoyed by a day of festive cheer, twinkling lights and steaming hot chocolate, stagger back with your haul of seasonal goodies for a feast in front of the wood burner. Cuddle up in blankets, open the mulled wine, stick on your favourite Christmas movie and throw yourselves with childlike abandon into the most wonderful time of the year. A secluded cabin break is a chance to rest and refuel before the present wrapping and hosting begin in earnest.
Perched among the historic buildings and picturesque cobbled streets, Bath’s Christmas Market is a winter wonderland, with ice skating, a Santa’s grotto and chalets selling everything from traditional decorations to local ceramics, organic gin and artisan foodie gifts. Stay just twenty minutes away from the centre of Bath, at The Oak House, a cabin swaddled in the trees, where you can overlook the Cotswold escarpment from the stunning deck behind the space. You can stretch out in front the wood burner after a day exploring the markets, and when you can’t keep your eyes open any longer, the romantic bed with views into the tree canopy is perfectly designed for a long winter’s nap (visions of dancing sugar-plums, optional).
Hereford hosts a series of Christmas markets during the three weeks leading up to 25th December, with stalls selling local crafts, accessories and quirky gifts. As you wander the streets clutching a mulled cider and a mince pie, it’s worth stopping at the spectacular cathedral to see Mappa Mundi, the world’s largest medieval map. Stay nearby at the appropriately-named Holly Cabin, a curvaceous wooden pod with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over frosty fields towards the Welsh borders. Thanks to the area’s dark sky status, it’s the ideal spot for winter stargazing from the hot tub – you might even see the big man in red doing a practice run. If you’ve still got people to buy for (hopefully book lovers), the independent shops of Hay-on-Wye are only three miles away and the town puts on a Christmas Fayre in early December.
The Cotswolds and Christmas go together like roast turkey and cranberry sauce. Throughout November and December, the ancient streets of Cirencester are home to a series of festive events, starting with the Advent Market in late November. It’s a chance to get a head start on your shopping while the twinkling lights, carol singing, light projections and falling snow get you in the mood for Christmas. Stay fifteen-minutes away at Arcadia, a beautiful cabin in the woods, so picturesque it could be made out of gingerbread. There’s oodles of space to unpack your goodies before deciding whether to unwind in the hot tub, or grab sheepskin rugs and toast marshmallows over the firepit. Totally removed from the buzzy streets of Cirencester, you can forest bathe here to your heart's content alongside the deer, buzzards and bats that call this beautiful place home.
Chester’s pretty Christmas market is a comfortingly traditional affair that pops up each year in the town hall square, near the city’s huge, sparkling tree. You’ll find every variety of spiced, mulled and warming treats, along with artisan crafts and gifts. If you wander away from the wooden chalets, the rest of the city is worth exploring for its timber-framed buildings, roman walls and huge array of boutique shops, cosy pubs and stylish restaurants. When your arms can’t carry any more baubles, candles and stollen, hop over the border to stay forty-minutes away at Caban Eric in Wales. It’s set up for wild living outdoors and cosy comfort inside so you can alternate between the chilly plunge pools, hammock and fire pit, and the large comfy bed, piping hot shower and cosy seating area indoors.
Against the dramatic backdrop of Exeter cathedral, Devon’s biggest Christmas market conjures up festive cheer for a whole month. There are over a hundred twinkling chalets with traders selling mouthwatering West Country produce and artisan gifts, as well as pop-up bars and global street food. Visitors also get entry into Exeter Cathedral, where you can see a stunning steel and neon star installation by artist Peter Walker. If your travelling companion is part-grinch, stay nearby in rural simplicity at Gosling Lodge and counteract the bustle of the market with peaceful board games, hot toddies in front of the fire and chilly rows across the lake. On a crisp December day, walks in the Blackdown Hills will blow away the cobwebs. Bring the Devon fudge and award-winning cider that you picked up at the markets to keep you going.