If the thought of Christmas shopping in crowded city centres leaves you cold, but you don’t want to order everything online, how about an alternative Christmas shopping experience? How about combining Christmas shopping with a short break? Cunning, eh?
I’m working with LateRooms.com to inspire you to make the most of Christmas shopping. Here’s a guide to some of the UK’s lesser known shopping havens – which also happen to be perfect for a pre-Christmas break.
I absolutely love London at Christmas – but it can get pretty crowded in some of the main shopping areas. If you’d like to find some unusual gifts, head for the festive winter markets which pop up around the capital at this time of year. From November 30th – January 3rd 2016, London Bridge City hosts Christmas By The River, with more than 40 traders selling handmade products. Over at the Southbank Centre, the Winter Market (November 11th – January 8th 2016) offers affordable gifts and quirky crafts. Or stroll along to famous Borough Market to stock up on foodie treats
Stay: Bermondsey Square Hotel, 4* A short walk from the river and London Bridge, this modern hotel is in the heart of Bermondsey with its design studios, independent shops and Bermondsey Antiques Market, which is open on Friday mornings. The lounge serves delicious gourmet homemade cakes as a perfect post-shopping treat. Rooms from £116.10.
Stow on the Wold, Cotswolds
Rolling hills, honey-coloured stone buildings and historic market towns – the Cotswolds provide some picture-perfect locations for a festive shopping break. Stow-on-The-Wold is one of the area’s best-known towns and is a great place for shopping. Its townhouses and cottages host a wide range of independent boutiques, galleries and antiques shops – particularly around Market Square.
Stay: Wyck Hill House Hotel & Spa 4* A grand country house just outside Stow-on-The-Wold, this hotel was refurbished in 2010. With log fires, cosy drawing rooms and sweeping views, this is a great place to relax after a hard day’s shopping. Rooms from £95.
The medieval market town of Ludlow in Shropshire is one of the UK’s foodie hotspots. Its annual Medieval Christmas Fayre, hosted at the Castle (26th – 27th November), features more than 80 stalls selling an impressive range of locally produced gifts, food and drinks. With entertainment including jesters, archery and historical re-enactments, there’s plenty to do apart from shopping. Ludlow’s town centre offers side streets filled with independent boutiques, as well as many great places to eat.
Stay: Old Downton Lodge 5* Six miles from Ludlow, this historic lodge is cosy and welcoming. The converted farm buildings are set around a courtyard garden, and the restaurant serves excellent food. The beamed bedrooms contain four poster beds and luxurious fabrics. Rooms from £175.
There are around 350 stalls over 10 different sites at Manchester’s famous Christmas Markets (10th November – 20th December 2016), but if you’re looking for something a little off the beaten track, head to the city’s Northern Quarter. The area is known for its independent shops, bars and restaurants, and you’ll find plenty of gift inspiration there. On Sunday 11th December 2016, the monthly Northern Quarter Makers Market offers stalls with artisan gifts, food and drink. From November 11th, the city’s London Road Fire Station, a Grade II listed building, is a winter shopping and socialising space, complete with courtyard ice rink, art gallery, street food stalls and an arts and crafts market.
Stay: King Street Townhouse, 4* A quirky boutique hotel, the King Street Town House’s infinity pool and terrace look out over the city’s clock tower and Town Hall. Grab a spot in one of the mezzanine lounge’s armchairs to warm up by the fireplace, or relax in the luxury of your room. Rooms from £216.
How about a coastal Christmas shopping trip? Head to Truro’s Made in Cornwall Christmas Fair from 30th November – 4th December 2016, to find the best local products. 90 artisans are at the fair and it’s a great place to find unique gifts. The annual Padstow Christmas Festival, 1st – 4th December 2016, is an ideal place to go for foodies. Showcasing the best of Padstow, there are cookery demonstrations, festive entertainment and more than 100 local producers selling gifts and products.
Stay: The Old Custom House 4* This boutique Padstow B&B offers stylish rooms with views over the estuary. The Old Custom House is famous for its excellent food and award-winning ales. Rooms from £115.
The Scottish capital is one of the UK’s most atmospheric Christmas shopping destinations. You’ll find well-known stores around Princes Street, but for something different, head to the Old Town and Grassmarket areas. Set underneath Edinburgh Castle, this area is made up of winding, narrow streets which are home to a wide range of boutiques and independent shops. Look out for Victoria Street – it’s said to have inspired J K Rowling’s Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter books.
Stay: G&V Royal Mile Hotel, 5* In the heart of the city’s beautiful old town and just a few minutes away from Edinburgh Castle, this hotel is in an ideal location. Interiors are flamboyant, colourful and modern. Rooms from £143.20.
Over to you
Where do you like to go for your Christmas shopping? Do you have any tips for unusual destinations which you’d like to share?
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by LateRooms.