This year we are spending Christmas in a motorhome and my husband is horrified

Fiona Duncan – Catherine Harbor

Far from being a question of peace and good will, we all know that Christmas divides; a time for disagreements and stubbornness. Where you go and what you do on the day is a major topic of debate, especially if there are multiple groups of parents involved.

A radical idea for those who can afford it: spend Christmas at a hotel. For one of our experts, it was a festive favorite that she would do again without hesitation – while another couldn’t imagine worse…

“How I would like to spend Christmas in a sparkling and joyful bubble of good living without lifting my fingers”

–Fiona Duncan

Fiona Duncan - Catherine Harbor

Fiona Duncan – Catherine Harbor

I phoned my sister. “What’s been your best Christmas so far?” »

“Oh,” she replied without wasting time, “the wonderful time we all stayed at this hotel.”

“Me too” I replied.

Christmas has always been a very important event in our family, whipped into a frenzy by our irrepressible mother. From the end of the summer, we received The Call. “What now, what about Christmas?” asked our mother.

“When are you arriving, where are we going to put the children, who are bringing the biscuits, pies and branded butter and should we have a little aperitif for the vicar?”

Goodness. Christmas at home is beautiful, of course, especially when there are children, but it’s always such an obstacle course, at least it’s in my world, and I still haven’t found a way to do it. make it easy, except it’s , the year of dream and total relaxation we escaped to this hotel.

Lobby of an upscale hotel - Getty

Lobby of an upscale hotel – Getty

How I would love to spend Christmas in a hotel again, to exist for a few days in a sparkling, joyful bubble of good living without lifting my fingers and avoiding the stress and hard work of Christmas at home. We all become our mothers in the end and these days, just like her, I’m guilty of making a big deal out of it.

I even started, like her, cooking turkey in new and unlikely ways, although I never got as far as she did a year, camping next to the Aga so she could baste it as it slowly cooked through the night.

The year we spent Christmas in a hotel was magical. Granted, the hotel in question was in the Alps, where the glittering, snowy scene was as pretty as an old-fashioned advent calendar, but what really made it special was the ambiance, full of warmth and good humor, and the fact that we could all be together.

After my parents’ spacious house sold, my sister and her family, me and my family, never got to spend Christmas together because our houses were just too small. For a large gathering, reunion or party, a hotel is heaven.

Fiona's mother

Fiona’s mother

What’s not to like? This fucking turkey is cooked for you, right? And no one needs to bring the shortbread toppings or forget the nuts. If you pick the right hotel – and there are plenty of hotels in Britain that do Christmas just fine – you’ll be looked after like a king, wrapped in kindness and brought champagne whenever you want. All you have to do is open the presents…. happiness.

And hotels aren’t just great for large gatherings—they’re even better for smaller ones. This year, for example, is a sabbatical year for us, when our married son goes with his family to his in-laws, and we find ourselves alone.

If we had saved up and booked a hotel for Christmas, we would have had company and comfort in equal measure: Christmas carols around the piano, minced pies and mulled wine by the fire, and a divine room for retire at night and wake up in the morning lazy and lying down.

Unfortunately a hotel is a bit of a stretch for us at the moment. Instead, I came up with another plan to keep us from feeling deprived: we’re spending Christmas in an RV. My husband is horrified, but I assured him it’s going to be fun and at least we’re not home alone. However, we agree on one thing. We prefer to be in a hotel this Christmas.

‘Room service at Christmas? Absolutely, definitely not’

–Hattie Garlick

Hattie Garlick - Tony Buckingham

Hattie Garlick – Tony Buckingham

No one loves hotels more than I do, and their special hold on my heart began with Christmas. Specifically, the New York Plaza in 1992, when I was eight years old. Imagine a family, in the biggest suite imaginable, in the middle of which sits the biggest Christmas tree, surrounded by a frankly grotesque pile of perfectly wrapped presents.

Not mine (although I wished and prayed), but Kevin McCallister is in the movie Home Alone Two. I love hotels since that first viewing with glasses. And the decadent delegation of responsibility that comes with checking in has only grown over time.

I, as an adult, would spend 364 days of the year ordering room service if she could. But at Christmas? Absolutely, definitely not. Why? Four reasons.

1. Cost

Listen, I understand. The prospect of absolving yourself from making the bed and basting the turkey seems… tempting. Stop for a moment, however, and think.

Hotels will likely operate with reduced staff on the big day. And unless you’re Scrooge reincarnated, you’ll feel compelled to tip extravagantly to those who have been torn from their families, in order to wait for yours. Essentially, you run the risk of getting a lesser experience, at a higher price. It’s like choosing Valentine’s Day to visit a fabulous restaurant.

And what happens in the days and hours after the big meal, when you know you really shouldn’t, but you’re feeling peckish? You are linked to the menu. Paying through the nose for delicately crafted dishes when what you really crave – in fact, the real Christmas culinary attraction – is beyond your reach. Leftovers from the fridge.

Christmas hotel table - Getty

Christmas hotel table – Getty

2. The comforts of home

The anonymity offered by hotels is heavenly. Once you check in, you leave your everyday self behind. You are glamorous, mysterious. You sure didn’t need to wash your hair last Tuesday.

But Christmas is about being with people who know you inside out: they remember (and will remember with grim reliability) that you were still wetting the bed at six o’clock. They cry with joy (every year without fail) about the time you drank too much brandy at 14.

No need to put on airs with this lot. And so at home, you can undo the button on the top of your pants and fall asleep in front of Gavin and Stacey after lunch, without fear of snoring (they already know that, and will relish laughing at you).

Even if you bring the extended family to the hotel, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to fit everyone into someone’s hotel room. Instead, you hang out in one of the hotel’s common rooms. It will be much more elegantly decorated than your own living room.

The Grove, Hertfordshire

The Grove, Hertfordshire

But… won’t you miss the wobbly angel Uncle Richard made in elementary school? Or the annual fight for Quality Street’s last purple street? In the company of strangers, even staff, this must be done with decency, in a low voice. Top button securely fastened.

3. Discomfort at home

In fact, I would dare say that these are equally essential ingredients at Christmas. Someone should sleep on an old cot, wedged between the washing machine and the dog’s bed. Or in the attic, haunted by the moaning antique boiler.

While the brilliance of the best hotels revolves around the illusion of perfection, the hilarity and humanity of Christmas Day revolves around those imperfections. Need more conviction? The Christmas story is – literally – NOT to stay in a hotel. There was no room in the inn, remember.

4. Fill time

Finally, practical considerations. For example: how on earth can one fill the day if one is freed from having to peel the potatoes, set the table, put the turkey in the oven, baste it, and swear it? In a hotel, no one has to roll up their sleeves, which leaves too much time for everyone to disappear behind the screens.

At home, some of the best bonds happen during those chores, disasters, and, uh, heated discussions. Love them or hate them, they bring us together. That’s why Chris Rea sang about going home for Christmas. Not in a hotel.

Would you spend Christmas at the hotel? Please let us know in the comments.

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