The arrival of severe winter weather across the British Isles could be a big saver for families chasing UK breaks over Christmas and New Year, with last-minute hotel offers and holiday homes likely to get a bit cheaper.
Hotels still have places to fill for their action-packed Christmas house parties, while thousands of holiday home owners want to get their properties heated in harsh weather.
Prices were sliding even before snow arrived. With motorists nervy, prices could go lower, particularly during ‘Twixmas’ - the period between Christmas and New Year when few go to work.
English Heritage, looking after some of the grandest and most historic addresses in Britain, has 20% discounts on three, four or seven-day breaks at selected holiday cottages, saving up to £230. Cottages start at £498.40 (three days), £507.20 (four) and £927 (seven).
Over the festive season, English Heritage guests largely get the place to themselves. The choice includes Prior’s Lodge (sleeping four, plus a cot) at Mount Grace Priory in North Yorkshire, overlooking the ruins of the Carthusian monastery and ideal for long walks over the Yorkshire Moors.
Sally Williams at the National Trust says: “Of 62 cottages available for special Christmas breaks across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, some 60 have reduced prices by 15% and the other two by a massive 20%.”
In Snowdonia, North Wales, National Trust lists Dyffryn Mymbyr Cottage, a restored 16th-century listed cottage with incredible views including the Snowdon Horseshoe and Moel Siabod.
Crammed with original features, including an inglenook fireplace and wood-burning stove, low beams and wooden panelling, the cottage is located on a working upland farm and costs £516 for five nights from December 22.
Choristers’ House, at Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Deer Park in Yorkshire, was built in 1873 and designed to house a music school. The Gothic interior, with all existing original features maintained, is stunning and this unusual holiday home for 10 costs £1,472 (a 20% discount) for five nights from December 28.
Hoseasons deals include four nights in a caravan on a 100-acre park sleeping six outside Lymington, starting at £345 (saving £114) with the New Forest, plus Paultons Park and Peppa Pig, all on your doorstep.
Close to York’s splendid city centre, a Hoseasons two-bed apartment sleeping seven costs £324 (saving £36) from December 24: the UK’s largest Advent Wreath, the Star of the East outside York Minster and the Three Wise Men’s journey from the East to the Nativity Crib in the Minster are a walk away.
Specialist hotel website Great Little Breaks has a wide choice, with rooms from around £40 per person per night. A Twixmas break in Worcestershire, at the Tudor-style Stone Manor in Kidderminster, set in 25 acres of landscaped gardens, starts at £45 per person - four-poster beds cost a bit more - while the four-star Best Western Yew Lodge Hotel, Derbyshire, starts at £40 per night on December 27/28, with health club and spa on the premises.
For unusual holiday homes, the Canopy & Stars website run by travel book publisher Alastair Sawday takes some beating.
It offers some quirky and special places to stay in the great outdoors – treehouses, yurts, horsetrucks converted to cabins, gypsy caravans, a hayloft, even an Iron Age roundhouse.
With 11 friends, you could try a magical temporary Gypsy encampment in the wilds of Cumbria for festive shenanigans: four caravans offer snug beds and a toasty wood burning stove while a giant fire will blaze outside for the whole of your stay.
You can hitch a ride to the pub on horse-drawn transport or order a spit roast to enjoy under the covered banquet area while drinking in the amazing (hopefully snow-covered) views. For minimum four-night stays, the rental is £250 per night.
Canopy & Stars also offers an alternative New Year party at The Wheat Silo, near Abergavenny, Monmouthshire: near the Brecon Beacons, this corrugated exterior hides a stylish apartment sleeping four with retro touches.