Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week: Christmas gifts from hotels we’ve missed in 2020.
Country house hotels don’t come much prettier than celebrity favourite The Newt In Somerset. The honey-coloured stone walls of the Georgian mansion sit in the heart of a revived country estate and there are delicious, edible gifts galore in its online Christmas Pantry.
As well as Christmas puddings and cakes, there’s a new windfall chutney (made of fruit collected from beneath local trees) and Christmas gingerbread biscuits. Or give a hamper with a difference: the Christmas Breakfast with fruit juices, smoked trout, streaky bacon, country eggs, natural yogurts, a sourdough loaf and more. Biscuits from £3, hampers from £60 at thenewtinsomerset.com.
Celebrity haunt: The Newt in Somerset has an online Christmas pantry with delicious, edible gifts galore
The Christmas Breakfast hamper, available to buy from The Newt for £60, which includes fruit juices, smoked trout, streaky bacon, country eggs, natural yogurts and a sourdough loaf
Adare Manor’s Dreaming Of Adare Manor hamper, which contains fluffy bathrobes, hotel slippers and scented candles. It costs £225
The architecture is even more grand at Adare Manor in County Limerick, a five-star hotel and golf resort rebuilt 150 years ago as a calendar house (with 365 windows, 52 chimneys and 12 staircases). Christmas gifts for hotel-lovers include the Dreaming Of Adare Manor hamper containing fluffy bathrobes, hotel slippers and scented candles.
Or order an Until We Meet Again cream tea box with a blend of hotel tea, a jar of strawberry and champagne jam, a recipe for the hotel’s scones and a gift card for tea for two that’s valid for five years. From £175 at adaremanor.com.
Fashionistas flock to Paris and to Le Bristol hotel, flanked by the boutiques of the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honore. Give the gift of glamour (and the joy of a good night’s sleep) with the hotel’s pillow mist. The heady mix of lavender, freesia, sandalwood and white musk fills suites that can cost up to £22,000 a night. Buy a bottle from £17 at oetkercollection.com.
On the left is the pillow mist used at Le Bristol Hotel in Paris, which is a heady mix of lavender, freesia, sandalwood and white musk, and available to buy for £17. Pictured right is the gin created by the 108 Bar at the Marylebone Hotel, which you can buy for £35
Connaught-designed cocktail shakers and champagne and martini glasses (£84 for a set of two, pictured) can be sent as gifts
London’s hotels are as famous for their bars as for their rooms. Cross cobbled streets in the heart of Marylebone to the 108 Bar at the Marylebone Hotel, where a traditional copper still (nicknamed Isabella by staff) creates the hotel’s signature gin. Treat someone to a bottle from £35 at 108brasserie.com.
A short stroll away in Mayfair, champagne and martinis take centre stage at perhaps the capital’s most star-studded hotel bar.
The Connaught Hotel once hosted Cary Grant and Princess Grace of Monaco. Today it’s said to be Jack Nicholson’s favourite place to stay in the capital. This year its bar was declared the best in the world and the bar staff mix award-winning concoctions while the hotel-designed cocktail shakers and champagne and martini glasses can be sent as gifts. From £84 at the-connaught.co.uk.
Pictured is one of the London Edition hotel’s crisp white bone china teapots that are used during afternoon tea. They are available to buy for £118
The chateaubriand takeaway dinner (£45 for two people) from the Hand Picked Hotels Group. Over a dozen of its hotels offer new ‘takeaway experiences’ from a Sunday roast to a full English breakfast, which make perfect gifts
Afternoon tea is always a big draw at hotels, and it can be particularly memorable when Studio 54 co-founder Ian Schrager is in charge. At his London Edition hotel on the edge of Soho, tea is served in crisp white bone china pots – proudly made in England. On the side is a design based on the plasterwork of the hotel lobby’s 18ft-high ceiling. Send one to a fan for £118 via shopedition.com.
If it’s fine dining or hotel breakfasts you’ve missed tucking into in 2020, then Hand Picked Hotels Group has found a brilliant way to get the ‘just cooked’ experience at home. More than a dozen of its hotels offer new ‘takeaway experiences’ that make perfect gifts.
Order chateaubriand, Sunday roast or a full English breakfast and everything you need to enjoy the perfect meal at home will be waiting to be collected from chefs at hotels such as elegant Audleys Wood in rural Hampshire, Norton House in Edinburgh and more (handpickedhotels.co.uk).
Source: Dailymail Travels
House Of Arras E.J. Carr Late Disgorged 2004 named world’s BEST in Decanter Magazine Top 100 wines
A bottle of sparkling wine from Australia has been crowned the best in the world, beating drops from all around the globe.
The House Of Arras E.J. Carr Late Disgorged 2004 has won the ‘Top Sparkling Wine in Decanter’s Wine of the Year 2020 Tasting’ – a tasting panel managed by one of the world’s leading and most influential wine publications.
The bottle, made in Tasmania, took out the top spot in the Decanter Magazine Top 100 wines of the year after earning a stellar 96 points.
A bottle of sparkling wine from Australia has been crowned the best in the world, beating drops from all around the globe
The House Of Arras E.J. Carr Late Disgorged 2004 has won the ‘Top Sparkling Wine in Decanter’s Wine of the Year 2020 Tasting’ – a tasting panel managed by one of the world’s leading wine publications
The wines that make the prestigious list every year are subject to a rigorous tasting process in order to crown the winners.
‘It’s an absolute honour to have the E.J. Carr Late Disgorged 2004 judged alongside some of the best sparkling wines from across the globe,’ House of Arras chief winemaker Ed Carr said.
‘House of Arras was born from a vision to create an Australian sparkling wine on parity with the world’s finest champagnes and sparkling wines.
‘Today’s Decanter Magazine announcement reinforces this vision and is proof that the world’s best sparkling can be found right here in Tasmania.’
The bottle, made in Tasmania, took out the top spot in the Decanter Magazine Top 100 wines of the year after earning a stellar 96 points
Made from the noble grape varieties of prestige sparkling wine, sourced from the cold climate Tasmanian vineyards, the wine offers all the ‘elegance, power and vibrancy’ that are the ‘hallmarks of world class premium sparkling wine’.
A mix of 69 per cent Chardonnay and 31 per cent Pinot Noir, the drop has spent an incredible 13 years on tirage, taking Australian sparkling to a level of texture and complexity that other producers rarely achieve.
Wine aficionados have shared glowing reviews about the wine online, with many declaring it’s the best sparking on the market.
‘This is a spectacular drop and right up there with the French bottles that cost two to three times more,’ one wrote.
And another added: ‘While above my normal price range… I finally succumbed and bought a couple of bottles for a special occasion. It is without doubt the best Aussie sparkling that we had ever tasted: simply elegant in all respects.’
A bottle of the House of Arras E.J. Carr Late Disgorged 2004 costs $265.95.
Source: Dailymail Travels
One in three UK restaurants say they won’t survive until Christmas
Over a third of UK restaurants (34 per cent) fear that they won’t survive until Christmas.
That’s according to a new survey of 200 restaurant and decision-makers that also found that a similar number (32 per cent) believe that government support for the industry is inadequate.
Tanisha Broady, owner of the Rock of Virtue Café in Cambridge, told MailOnline Travel that for her business to stay afloat for the next three months, she needs £10,000 from the government to cover rent.
Over a third of UK restaurants (34 per cent) fear that they won’t survive until Christmas
Rahul Sharma, Director at The Regency Club in London, also voiced concern about government support for the sector.
He told MailOnline Travel that he received £3,000 for each lockdown in the form of government grants and ‘the Furlough scheme helped a lot’.
But he added: ‘The biggest expense for us is our rent – our business model is designed to operate as a restaurant, but now we are operating as a takeaway. So, we are still paying the overheads of a restaurant. There needs to be something done for people who pay high rent. There has not been any agreement done on a wider commercial basis.’
Chris Jones, owner of the Naked Deli in Newcastle, said: ‘This year has been all about survival. We’ve been looking from week to week hoping we can keep the lights on and staff employed.’
Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality, wants to see a recovery fund established.
She said: ‘The sector’s preference is to trade itself back to recovery but, with restrictions denying us the chance, many venues will fail unless the government provides much more substantial support.
‘The restrictions of the new tiers mean that 94 per cent of our members are nonviable or trading at a loss. That’s a £7.8billion hit which will see businesses go under and jobs lost.
‘For any chance of survival, we need replacement of the Job Retention Bonus, extension of the rent debt moratoria and compensation for business losses. Tesco has just refunded nearly £600million in support to the government, with other supermarkets rumoured to be following suit. That can be used to establish a Hospitality and Tourism Recovery Fund to keep the sector alive.’
Tanisha Broady, pictured, owner of the Rock of Virtue Café in Cambridge, told MailOnline Travel that for her business to stay afloat for the next three months, she needs £10,000 from the government to cover rent
Peter Backman, a UK-based independent restaurant analyst, also issued a warning: ‘Restaurant owners have not faced any years tougher than this. Sadly, just making it to 2021 will be an achievement for many. We’re not out of the woods yet. The pandemic is still not over and the economic conditions in January and February could be even harsher for restaurants, not least if we remain in restrictive tiers.’
During the pandemic, many restaurants were quick to pivot to online delivery, with the average restaurant taking just two and a half weeks to implement a takeaway service once lockdown was announced, according to online food delivery platform Flipdish, which commissioned the survey, by Censuswide.
With restrictions in place, it says, these restaurants lost an average of 40 per cent of their revenue during lockdown, but were able to make up the remaining 60 per cent of their average revenue through online ordering.
In fact, over half (56 per cent) say they would have closed down permanently without online ordering and takeaway. According to restaurant owners and managers, the pivot saved an average of 15 jobs.
Rahul Sharma, pictured, Director at The Regency Club in London, said ‘there needs to be something done for people who pay high rent’
As lockdown restrictions ease, 79 per cent of restaurants plan to continue with online delivery, but the long-term picture is fragile.
According to the survey, 78 per cent of restaurants signed up to ‘aggregators’ like Just Eat, Uber Eats or Deliveroo, so-called because they collate restaurants on the same platform.
Over 12,000 new restaurants have joined Deliveroo in recent months and many would have benefitted from Just Eat’s 30-day support package in March when more than £11million of support was funnelled into independent restaurants.
However, while signing up to aggregators works for many businesses, for some, it’s not a long-term solution.
The commission charged – up to 35 per cent – can be one of the issues, though individual deals can be hammered out, as the aggregators explain.
Criticism of the cut taken by the likes of Just Eat, Deliveroo and UberEats was first reported by the Mail in June – and it’s still bubbling away.
In the survey – which it should be pointed out was commissioned by a rival to aggregators – only one in three (33 per cent) restaurants felt aggregators set fair commissions and offered a financially sustainable option.
Tanisha pointed out, for example, that for a £41 order she took recently, £17 went to Deliveroo.
Rahul, meanwhile, revealed what his restaurant would end up with after using Uber.
For the end consumer who orders a £20 meal, £3.50 goes on delivery and £2.00 on Uber service charge, leaving a bill for the customer of £25.50.
Uber collects £11.50 from the customer and the restaurant gets £14 revenue from Uber.
On top of this are costs – £.3.40 VAT for the whole order, and £8 operating and fixed costs (ingredients, labour, restaurant rent and utilities and so on), leaving £2.60 gross profit.
Chris Jones, who runs The Naked Deli, said that 2020 has been all about survival for his outlet
Ryan Lynch, who runs Dough restaurant in Liverpool said that with Just Eat the commission is 14 per cent, plus VAT, without using their delivery service, and 33 per cent plus VAT if you use their drivers.
These case studies were put forward by Flipdish. But MailOnline spoke separately to one buyer, who wished to remain anonymous, working for a London restaurant who echoed the anguish regarding fees expressed above.
He said that his business does use Deliveroo and admitted it had been a lifeline during the lockdown – ‘we relied on its customer base’ – but added that the 32 per cent commission his business is charged is ‘pretty crippling’.
Flipdish points out that it has a much lower commission rate – typically around seven to nine per cent – and is also involved in the ‘Go Direct Coalition’, a group that’s encouraging the nation to order directly from restaurants, cafes, pubs and takeaways, so they can keep as much of their revenue as possible.
Members include royal chef Damien Wawrzyniak, Manicomio executive chef Tom Salt and Tanisha.
Another example of a restaurant business that’s ploughing its own online furrow is London’s Shop Cuvee.
Co-owner Max Venning told MailOnline: ‘We handle our own deliveries. With our own couriers we can ensure a better service. We’re employing people from restaurants and bars who are out of work, which was important to us.’
Flipdish is involved in the ‘Go Direct Coalition’, a group that’s encouraging the nation to order directly from restaurants
Fionn Hart, UK Country Manager at Flipdish, said: ‘Nearly half of restaurants that pivoted created their own apps and websites. By doing so, they have created a sustainable business model that will enable UK restaurants to recover, then revitalise.’
Deliveroo said in a statement: ‘Deliveroo is a company founded on a love for small, independent restaurants and our absolute priority is supporting their businesses, especially during Covid-19. We are proud that we help them reach new customers and boost their sales through delivery. Over 12,000 new restaurants have joined Deliveroo in recent months, 9,000 of which are small restaurants and since March our smaller restaurant partners have recorded record growth.
‘Throughout the Covid crisis we have invested millions in our restaurant partners, helping them increase their sales and creating new products and campaigns to support both their dine-in and delivery businesses.
‘Deliveroo charges different levels of commission depending on each individual arrangement with a restaurant partner. This is then reinvested back into our business, paying for riders’ fees, customer services and upgrading our services for restaurants.’
Just Eat said: ‘Just Eat is only successful if our restaurant partners are successful. We believe our commission rates are aligned with the value we provide to our partners and we have a track record of helping restaurants prosper.
‘Since the start of the pandemic, we have given well over £11million worth of support to the many thousands of independent restaurants we work with through a number of support measures including commission rebates on delivery and removal of commission on collection orders. We continue to look at measures to support our restaurant partners through further periods of closures and restrictions.
‘We’re committed to adding value to our partners’ businesses on a daily basis, and many grow and flourish through working with Just Eat.’
Uber Eats said: ‘We are committed to supporting restaurants and the thousands of people who rely on them for work and as an essential service during this difficult time. At the beginning of the crisis, we put in place a range of initiatives to help restaurant partners, particularly small business owners, as they keep their kitchens firing to feed people across the country.’
MailOnline approached the Treasury for a comment, but none was forthcoming.
Source: Dailymail Travels
Best Christmas cottages in the UK: You’ve got five days… so head for the hills!
Families can reunite over Christmas — no matter what tier you’re in. For five days from December 23 (December 22 in Northern Ireland) three households can get together and the rule of six won’t apply.
Traditionally, many of us would choose to celebrate in the comfort of our own homes, but, with the best part of this year spent staring at the same four walls, we may be looking for a change of scene.
And, luckily, there are plenty of self-catering properties with availability during the tier-free period. From seaside cottages to stately piles, here are the most charming properties for a festive family fiesta.
SETTLE INTO SOMERSET
Boheme is a 16th-century cider press turned boho farmhouse in Somerset that can sleep up to 20 guests
Inside Boheme’s entertainment room, which has a giant projector and a roaring fire
The stunning kitchen at Boheme. Seven nights from December 22 costs £15,495
Guests can kick-start their Christmas morning with a dip in the indoor heated pool, pictured
Kick-start Christmas morning with a swim in the indoor heated pool at Boheme, a 16th-century cider press turned boho farmhouse in Somerset. Nine bedrooms, arranged in a horseshoe sleeping up to 20, sit across from the vast living area, meaning some can snooze while others stay up into the small hours chatting.
The large farmhouse table is perfectly set up for a family games night and Christmas dinner.
CROWD PLEASERS: The entertainment room’s gigantic projector and open fire.
BOOK IT: Seven nights from December 22 for £15,495 (uniquehomestays.com).
A CORNISH CHARMER
Rosewall Cottage, near St Ives, which is available for seven nights from December 21 from £2,520
Inside the living area at Rosewall Cottage. It also has a well-equipped kitchen and three bedrooms, which sleep six
Fancy Christmas on the coast? Rosewall Cottage is just a short distance from the turquoise bays surrounding St Ives, recently voted the happiest place in Britain.
Prepare Christmas lunch in the well-equipped kitchen, before tucking in on the dining room’s French bistro table. One of the three bedrooms, which sleep six, has bunk beds.
CROWD PLEASERS: The trickling stream and pretty reservoir — which can be fished with a permit.
BOOK IT: Seven nights from December 21 from £2,520 (boutique-retreats.co.uk)
ALL SET FOR SUFFOLK
The pretty wisteria-clad Flora and Fauna cottage in Worlingham, Suffolk, which is set on 448 acres of private land
One of the property’s five bedrooms. They come with heavy curtains, Tibetan furniture and original artwork
In the kitchen at Flora and Fauna there is a cream Aga, where a homely Christmas lunch can be rustled up
Properties don’t get much prettier (or quintessentially British) than wisteria-clad Flora and Fauna in Worlingham, Suffolk.
Set on 448 acres of private land (yes, you read that right), the property’s five bedrooms, sleeping nine, come with heavy curtains, Tibetan furniture and original artwork. A homely Christmas lunch can be made in the traditional cream Aga.
CROWD PLEASERS: Those grounds, including the wild meadows and trees, some hundreds of years old.
BOOK IT: Five nights from December 23 for £13,829 (plumguide.com).
HISTORY IN YORKSHIRE
High Hall, a Grade II-listed property in the Yorkshire Dales, has seven bedrooms (sleeping 14), featuring mullioned windows and oak beams
High Hall is a 16th-century country house bursting with history and character. Set on the edge of the delightful village of Appletreewick in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the Grade II-listed property has seven bedrooms (sleeping 14), featuring mullioned windows and oak beams.
CROWD PLEASERS: The Minstrels’ Gallery, a great place to sit and read.
BOOK IT: Five nights from December 23 for £5,693 (sykescottages.co.uk).
STARRY SKIES IN SCOTLAND
Cleughbrae Cottage in Dumfries and Galloway, which is available for seven nights from December 23 for £899
Inside the cottage, which can sleep up to six people. It is close to the Dark Sky Park and Scotland’s Southern Upland Way
Spend Christmas Eve watching the sun dip behind the mountains and the stars appear from Cleughbrae Cottage in Dumfries and Galloway. The pretty property, which sleeps six, is close to the Dark Sky Park, as well as the Southern Upland Way, Scotland’s 214 mile coast-to-coast walk.
CROWD PLEASERS: The star-gazing.
BOOK IT: Seven nights from December 23 for £899 (cottages.com).
A DORSET DELIGHT
Meadow Cottage in the delightful Dorset town of Wimborne Minster is a lovingly-restored 18th-century cottage
The living area at Meadow Cottage. There are unlimited logs for guests to use on the stove in this room
This lovingly restored 18th-century cottage looks like it’s come straight from the front of a Christmas card.
In the delightful Dorset town of Wimborne Minster, Meadow Cottage sleeps four in the main property, and a further two in the shepherd’s hut in the walled garden — perfect for adventurous children.
CROWD PLEASERS: The nearby Jurassic Coast, as well as unlimited logs for the stoves in the shepherd’s hut and living room.
BOOK IT: Seven nights from December 21 from £2,042 (oliverstravels.com).
COSY IN THE COTSWOLDS
Guests at Norton Hall in Mickleton, a Georgian manor house, get spectacular views over Meon Hill, pictured, in the Cotswolds
Norton Hall, Mickleton, is a magnificent Georgian manor house, with spectacular views over the Cotswolds’ Meon Hill. It sleeps up to 18 in four ensuite bedrooms and a further five bedrooms sharing two bathrooms.
With tennis courts, an outdoor heated swimming pool, arboretum, snooker room, cinema room and large drawing room with grand piano, there’s not much Norton Hall doesn’t have.
Open fireplaces feature in many of the rooms — perfect for Father Christmas to squeeze through.
CROWD PLEASERS: The 12 acres of private gardens, bursting with seasonal fruit and vegetables which can be picked for Christmas cooking and crumbles.
BOOK IT: Seven nights from December 21 for £15,000 (luxurycotswoldrentals.co.uk)
SLIDE INTO THE BEACONS
The Beautiful Bunkhouse is a converted church in Wales’s Brecon Beacons that sleeps up to 14 people
One of the crowd-pleasing features inside the Beautiful Bunkhouse is its indoor slide, pictured
Watch Auntie Julie slither down for breakfast via the slide between floors at the Beautiful Bunkhouse, a converted church in Wales’s Brecon Beacons.
Great for outdoorsy teens, it feels like a souped-up youth hostel, with 12 pod-style bunks (and a large bedroom) sleeping 14.
CROWD PLEASERS: The slide. The ice-cream van at nearby beauty spot Hay Bluff.
TIER: No tiers in Wales yet.
BOOK IT: Seven nights from December 21 from £2,444 (holidaycottages.co.uk).
The pretty converted stable of Bwthyn Stabal can be found on the peaceful and wildlife rich Llyn Peninsula, pictured
Just a ten-minute walk from the beach, Bwthyn Stabal on the peaceful, wildlife-rich Llyn Peninsula is ideally placed for a family of nature lovers.
The pretty converted stable has three bedrooms, some with sea views, and is surrounded by private woods and walled gardens.
CROWD PLEASERS: Two of the bedrooms have Victorian open fireplaces.
TIER: No tiers in Wales yet.
BOOK IT: Seven nights from December 22 for £949 (qualitycottages.co.uk).
Source: Dailymail Travels
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