• If you’re thinking of a White Christmas, we suggest Tallinn, in Estonia, which lays claim to the first recorded celebrations of the festival with a tree, back in the middle ages. At the Schlössle Hotel (www.schloesslehotel.com), in the heart of Tallinn’s Old Town, you could find yourself stepping back in time through thick stone walls and ancient tapestries. Roaring fireplaces, high-ceilinged rooms, antique furniture somehow integrate seamlessly with the latest in technology (did you know Skype was invented in Tallinn?). Schlössle’s Christmas in Tallinn package is priced at €617 (around Rs36,830) for double occupancy, including round-trip transfers, two nights in a deluxe room, a private guided tour of the Old Town, a four-course dinner in an award-winning restaurant and a Christmas present too! Valid till 30 December.
• England, though, is celebrating Christmas the Russian way. At The Grove in Hertfordshire —what they call London’s country estate—you could find yourself back in Romanovian times, with all its signature luxury and opulence. A five-star hotel, a grand country house, a luxury golf resort and a health spa rolled into one, The Grove (www.thegrove.co.uk) offers all kinds of activities over Christmas, from ballet classes to KGB bodyguard training. Join a candle-light Christmas eve service at the local church, and dig into a 50-dish spread for Christmas Day lunch. Two-night packages start from £415 (around Rs29,299) per person per night, including breakfast, all Christmas Day meals and entertainment.
(clockwise from left) The Ek Chidiya resort in Kumaon; The Grove in Hertfordshire; and New York’s The Greenwich Hotel.
• Or head to New York City, where Robert de Niro’s Greenwich Hotel (www.thegreenwichhotel.com) in TriBeCa is pulling out the stops to ensure a holiday season you won’t forget in a hurry. No two rooms of the 88 are alike, but each breathes a sense of old world luxury that seems miles away from the frenetic shoppers on Fifth Avenue. The Ultimate Christmas in New York package is priced at $8,500 (around Rs3.8 lakh) for single or double occupancy, and includes three nights’ accommodation, stockings by the fireplace, a Christmas tree that you can decorate yourself (or just ask for service), a five-hour chauffered drive to see some of NYC’s classic Christmas destinations—from Rockefeller Center to ice-skating in Central Park—and a dinner for four at Locanda Verde (www.locandaverdenyc.com). Valid till 9 January.
• If what it takes to make the holiday season even more memorable for you is a discount, look no further than the World Heritage City of Bruges, in West Flanders, Belgium, where scores of boutique hotels are offering a three-night deal for the price of two nights for arrivals on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday till 17 March. Book online on www.bruges.be/winterAnd if you’re there, don’t forget to visit the Christmas Market (till 2 January), which comes up around the Bruges market square. Remember to try the Glühwein, a delicious mulled wine.
• If you want to stay in India, head to Ek Chidiya, a resort with a difference promoted by two jaded urban souls who headed to Nathuakhan in the Kumaon hills. For the Christmas and New Year weekends, their package includes accommodation for two nights with all meals—including festive dinners on 24 December and 31 December—bonfires, welcome beverages and fruit baskets and lots more, all for Rs4,900 per person. For details, call Anurag Tomer on 09810169522 or 07500974466, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
• For a New Year’s eve that’s even further off the beaten track, sign up for Getoffurass’s annual secret getaway. While they will not divulge the name of the destination just yet, they do promise that it’s in the Western Ghats, in a private sanctuary set amid gorgeous forests and grasslands. No dedicated rooms though, but you’re assured the company of like-minded people—and also lots of space, should you feel like it. This is no “tour party”, the Getoff guys encourage you to do your own thing, be it a day-long picnic by a shallow stream, or an arduous hike up a four-wheel trail. Ex-Bangalore, the trip costs Rs5,500 per person, inclusive of travel, food (except meals en route), camping and equipment, guide and accommodation. For more information, log on to www.getoffurass.com, or call Sandhya on 09916192000, or Santosh on 09845442224.
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