The 17th-century coaching inn the Bell at Skenfrith is now an award-winning restaurant with 11 boutique rooms. It’s not cheap, but if you want to splash out for a special celebration, its two-night New Year package includes champagne, cocktails and canapes on arrival; dinner, music and dancing; fireworks and fizz at midnight; and full Welsh breakfasts. The three-course New Year’s Eve menu (£85pp for non-guests) features lobster ravioli, guinea fowl, and white chocolate and raspberry creme brulee. The pub provides pamphlets for six circular walks that will blow away the cobwebs on New Year’s Day; its bar is designed for muddy walkers (and pets), and serves ale from the Wye Vallery Brewery and cider from nearby Whitehouse Farm.• Two-night New Year package for two from £570 DB&B (low season from £150), 01600 750235, skenfrith.co.uk
The Rashleigh Arms. Photograph: James Ram/Chetwode Ram Associate
The Rashleigh Arms, a 150-year-old pub in the coastal village of Charlestown, has 18 airy bedrooms upstairs and in an adjacent Georgian townhouse. The inn is owned by St Austell brewery, so there is a good selection of beers and a gin menu, and pub classics (fish and chips, ham and eggs) with a nod to local suppliers. Charlestown has a Grade II-listed harbour and a shipwreck centre, was a filming location for Poldark, and is close to the Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan, so there’s lots to do in the area. On New Year’s Eve there’s a special three-course menu – options include confit duck leg, and prawn, cod and crab bouillabaisse with samphire.
• Doubles from £270 for two nights, 31 Dec and 1 Jan (low season room rates from £89 a night), pre-booked NYE dinner £50pp, 01726 73635, rashleigharms.co.uk
The Cross Keys Inn
The Cross Keys Inn opened in 1703 and is still a proper pub, with wood panelling and log fires, but now there are three modern bedrooms upstairs, too. Cask ales come from the village brewery, Fallen of Kippen, and meat – slow-cooked oxtail, braised pig cheeks – is from the local butcher. Kippen is between Stirling and Loch Lomond & the Trossachs national park, well placed for country walks and city sights. There is an informal Hogmanay house party on 31 December, with the regular menu served until 9pm and fireworks at midnight.
• Doubles £150 B&B (low season from £79), 01786 870 293, kippencrosskeys.com
Harrogate, North Yorkshire
Inn at South Stainley. Photograph: Pavel Szylobryt
The Inn at South Stainley (formerly the Red Lion) reopened this summer after a £1.5m renovation by the Seafood Pub Company. The bar/restaurant, between Harrogate and Ripon, has 12 contemporary rooms in shades of grey. The regular menu is unsurprisingly seafood-heavy – tikka-spiced monkfish, crab pizza – and the cocktail list imaginative (the 90s cosmopolitan gets a rhubarb and blood orange twist). Its inaugural New Year’s Eve party features a “fruits de mer spectacle” and “roast meat stations”, and entertainment including magicians and DJs.
• Doubles from £150 (low season from £75), £44.95pp for the NYE party, 01423 779060, seafoodpubcompany.com
The skittle alley at The King’s Head. Photograph: John Goode
In the historic village of Hursley, just 10 minutes south of Winchester, the King’s Head is a Georgian coaching inn, surrounded by the pretty Hampshire Downs and not far from the New Forest. It’s cosy and comfy, with original fireplaces and antique furniture in the cottage-style rooms. The food here (locally sourced and seasonal) is a key draw, and the on-site skittles alley adds to the fun. New Year’s Eve promises to be a relaxed celebration, with a festive a la carte menu (no pre-payment necessary, but booking advised). After 9.30pm, the Jukebox Party kicks off – pack your dancing shoes.
• B&B for two from £160 (low season from £100), 01962 775 208, kingsheadhursley.co.uk
The Masons Arms. Photograph: James Ram/Chetwode Ram Associate
A traditional thatched inn just 10 minutes’ walk from the beach, the Masons Arms has rooms above the pub and in cottages behind. Dating back to 1350, it’s cosy inside, with an open fire, low, beamed ceilings and pine cladding – and there’s a separate restaurant as well as lively bar. The menu is pub classics and more refined fare (from River Exe mussels to Devon rump streak). On New Year’s Eve there’s a special menu.
• Doubles on NYE from £135 (low season from £69), 01297 680300 masonsarms.co.uk
HOTELS and B&Bs
Near Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire
Brooks Country House
For a lord (or lady) of the manor experience, hole up in Brooks Country House, set in 13 acres of grounds on the Pengethley estate in the stunning Wye Valley. There are great walks on the doorstep, and the valley’s main attractions, like pretty Symonds Yat village, are close by. The 22 rooms are sleek and elegant (some with four-posters), while the manor house has lounges, a games room and swimming pool. The smart restaurant is in the former library, serving the likes of sticky (Hereford) beef bourguignon. On New Year’s Eve there’s a special five-course meal.
• Two-night package from 30 or 31 December, with dinner, bed and breakfast each day and arrival drinks, from £212pp (low-season B&B from £89), 01989 730211, brookscountryhouse.co.uk
Holmes Chapel, Cheshire
The Vicarage. Photograph: Jake Eastham
Owned by the family-run Flat Cap Hotels, The Vicarage in sleepy Holmes Chapel is a restaurant, pub and hotel rolled into one. Less than an hour south of Manchester, the 17th-century building has 26 bedrooms (the new Signature rooms are extra special, the Comfy rooms comfy but functional). The rest is a mix of wood-panelled rooms with log burners and funky flourishes. The five-course tasting menu gala dinner on New Year’s Eve (with pre-dinner fizz and canapes) costs £75 per person – live Motown will get the party started.
• Doubles from £152.50 B&B (low-season from £75), 01477 533393, thevicaragecheshire.com
Langbank, near Glasgow
The Gleddoch Hotel. Photograph: Simon Nieborak
Scotland is the home of Hogmanay, and at the Gleddoch Hotel, set in the countryside overlooking the River Clyde, just 20 minutes from Glasgow, celebrations promise to continue long into the night. Set in 360 acres of grounds, the hotel has undergone a multi-million-pound refurb – the grand rooms have been spruced up and a spa added, complete with indoor pool and indoor and outdoor hot tubs. A two-night New Year’s package includes breakfast, dinner both nights (black tie on NYE), a prosecco reception, masquerade ball, fireworks, a piper and entertainment. There’s a golf course here too, if that’s your bag.
• Two-night New Year package £215pp; extra night with dinner £65pp (low-season from £90), 01475 540711, gleddoch.com
Shanklin, Isle of Wight
You might recognise Keats Cottage from Channel 4’s Four in a Bed show, where B&B owners vie to be crowned best-value establishment (it fared well, but didn’t win). The five-room B&B and restaurant, just five minutes from the sea, is a true labour of love for owners David and Ewa (and with young son Jack entertaining guests and David’s mum Susy behind much of the decor, it’s a true family affair). Named after Romantic poet John Keats, who stayed and even penned poems at the property, guests rave about the generous organic breakfasts. The restaurant combines British with Polish and Swiss cuisines (the couple have worked for the likes of Terence Conran and spent time in Switzerland). Produce is local and the atmosphere laidback and fun. There’s a special four-course meal on New Year’s Eve featuring the likes of Polish pierogi with feta and Brownrigg’s duck breast.
• Doubles on 31 Dec from £125 B&B, as part of a minimum two-night stay – extra night from £85 (low-season from £85); dinner £49.50pp with a glass of bubbly. Enquire about discounts for Redfunnel ferries, 01983 639661, keatscottage.co.uk
The Talbot. Photograph: Nick Smith
The 500-year-old The Talbot hotel in the village of Ripley, half an hour from London, is said to be where frequent visitor Lord Nelson began his love affair with Lady Hamilton. The building retains many original features, though its recent refurbishment has given the 43 bedrooms a smart new lease of life. The bar area is all beams and roaring fires, while the restaurant is bright and stylish, with a copper ceiling and views across the garden and countryside beyond. Nearby attractions include Wisley Gardens and Box Hill for a bracing winter walk. There are plenty of good pubs on the doorstep, like the 16th-century Anchor (known for its food).
• Doubles from £80 on New Year’s Eve, dinner-dance £65pp (low-season from £71), 01483 225188, thetalbotripley.com
Cilmery, Brecon Beacons
Rhedyn Guesthouse Photograph: PR
Surrounded by countryside, between the Irfon Valley and River Wye on the northern edge of the Brecon Beacons, former forester’s cottage Rhedyn Guesthouse is a beautiful spot, with ample opportunity to stretch your legs. Welcoming hosts Ciaran and Muiread are holding a special dinner, with prosecco and canapes by the fire followed by a three-course meal, for £35pp. There are three bedrooms here, so expect an intimate, laidback affair.
• £120 per night (two-night minimum stay, low-season B&B £95), 01982 551944,
Ballygally, County Antrim
Ballygally Castle. Photograph: Colin Bailie
A 17th-century castle transformed into a striking 54-bedroom hotel, Ballygally Castle overlooks the sea on the scenic Antrim Coast. Just 35 minutes north of Belfast, on the Causeway Coastal route, it’s a great base for exploring a landscape steeped in folklore (and one of the stars of Game of Thrones), with famous sights like Giant’s Causeway and Bushmills, the oldest operating whisky distillery in the world. On New Year’s Eve there’s a table d’hote menu in the pretty Garden restaurant, with fireworks over the grounds (£60 a head), plus special five-course lunches on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day (£35 adults, £20 children).
• Doubles from £120 (low-season from £117), 028 9047 1066, hastingshotels.com
The Bull Hotel. Photograph: Ben Nicholson
Reopened this spring after a full refurb, Grade II-listed coaching inn the Bull Hotel is gearing up to celebrate the festive season. It also has new tenants – multi-award-winning chef and restaurateur Sebastian Snow and his wife, Lana. Their two sister pubs, The Five Alls at Filkins and The Plough Inn at Kelmscott, are fully booked for New Year’s Eve, but (for now, at least!) there’s still availability at the Bull, where they’re offering a festive dinner for £75pp. It’s a great base for exploring the Cotswolds.
• £150 per night for an en suite double (low-season rates same price), 01285 712535, thebullhotelfairford.co.uk
Brockenhurst, New Forest
A charming low-rise, whitewashed building just five minutes’ walk from Brockenhurst station, Cottage Lodge has 15 pretty rooms named after local woodland beauty spots, several with Tolkienesque four-posters. The restaurant, White Tails, has a six-course NYE gala dinner for £65 a head, including a glass of prosecco and a “surprise tipple”. The waiting staff will include an actress recreating Julie Walters’ role in Victoria Wood’s Two Soups sketch. There is a range of forest walks from the door to blow away the hangover.
• Two-night break for two over New Year from £260 B&B (low-season “cosy doubles” £60), 01590 622296, cottagelodge.co.uk
Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage. Photograph: Roger Coulam
High above the limestone cliffs and North Sea, Souter Lighthouse was built in 1871 to warn ships away from the rocky shoreline. The whitewashed Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage 1 is now a lovely two-bedroom holiday home (one twin and one double), owned by the National Trust. With beautiful sea views, it’s a perfect base for exploring the wild coastline over New Year – and Newcastle is just 15 miles away, too.
• Four nights over New Year from £668, or a week is £879 (low-season from £295 for three nights); two dogs are welcome, 0344 800 2070, nationaltrust.org
Near Lewes, East Sussex
YHA South Downs
For large groups looking for value rather than luxury, the Youth Hostel Association has several hostels which can be rented in their entirety, and some still have availability over New Year. YHA South Downs is a 13th-century farmhouse and barns close to Lewes, and not far from Brighton. It’s one of the YHA’s plusher properties (opened by the Queen four years ago after a £3m renovation), with open fires, comfy living areas and a well-equipped kitchen. It’s right on the South Downs Way, so good for walkers.
Cheaper options include the lovely Pwll Deri in Wales (sleeps 28, £599 a night) and London Lee Valley Lodge 4 (sleeps 20, £529 a night).
• YHA South Downs costs £999 for the whole place, minimum booking over New Year is four nights (low-season beds from £12.99), 0345 371 9574, yha.org.uk
Mount’s Bay, Cornwall
Watch fireworks from your private rooftop terrace at Grade II-listed The Tower, a large, three-bedroom apartment over the top two floors of turreted Acton Castle, an 18th-century house on cliffs overlooking Mount’s Bay and St Michael’s Mount. A path leads down to the beach and dramatic coastal walks along Prussia Cove. Inside it’s modern and bright, with a big open-plan living area that’s great for parties and has beautiful views.
• Seven nights from 29 December for £1,625 (low-season rate from £875), 01637 861 005, beachretreats.co.uk
The pretty Captain’s Quarters flat is on the second floor of an apartment block in the lively seaside town of Margate, right on the water’s edge and not far from the old town centre. Its decor is bright and modern, and large sash windows give plenty of light and dramatic sea views. Walk on the miles of sandy beaches, or hole up with the stash of board games on rainy days. There are two bedrooms (a double and twin), but a decent sofa bed means that six can be accommodated comfortably.
• Three nights from 29 December £788 (low-season from £353), 01227 464958, mulberrycottages.com
Eades Mill. Photograph: Steven Flanagan
With open fires, beamed ceilings, squishy sofas and plenty of space, 200-year-old Eades Mill is an ideal place for a festive celebration. Built over a stream and surrounded by pretty countryside, just outside the small market town of Reepham, the three-bedroom property has a lived-in, home-from-home feel. The nearest pub is a mile away, the north Norfolk coast, Norwich and the Broads are all close by, and the location is great for walking and cycling – the 26-mile Marriott’s Way runs along the outskirts of the town.
• Three nights over New Year from 30 December for £677, a week costs £893 (low-season rates from £482 a week), 01263 715779, norfolkcottages.co.uk
Kirk Yetholm, Scottish Borders
Pigeon Loft. Photograph: Tracey Bloxham
Dating to the early 18th century, Pigeon Loft is a restored cottage just off a village green, and makes a cosy romantic hideaway for two. The owners (who live nearby) have paid attention to detail – duck down bedding, vintage pillow cases, properly sumptuous sofas – and the lovely Border Hotel is on the doorstep for a celebratory drink or two. This is a good spot for walkers, on the edge of the Cheviot Hills; and Yetholm Loch, a nature reserve with great birdwatching, is a mile away. It’s seven miles from the busy market town of Kelso, and the bright lights of Edinburgh are just an hour’s drive away.
• A week from 29 December costs £575 (low-season rates from £360 per week), 01573 226711, crabtreeandcrabtree.com
Near Carew, Pembrokeshire
Set in its own garden on the Upton Castle estate, the pretty, three-bedroom Creek Cottage is a peaceful hideaway deep in the Pembrokeshire countryside. The estate has beautiful woodlands and formal gardens, which are usually closed to the public from October to May – but guests at the cottage have access, so there are walks on the doorstep. The Pembrokeshire Coastal Path is close by, as well as the harbour town of Tenby and the seaside village of Manorbier, with its medieval castle. Solar panels provide hot water, there’s a wood-burning stove, and electricity from renewable sources.
• A week from 29 December is £1,054 (low-season from £515), 01348 837 871, qualitycottages.co.uk
Litton, Peak District
Combining rustic charm with all mod cons, Dale House in Derbyshire is a party pad. There’s a modern kitchen, dining room for 30, two large living rooms and 12 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms, across two properties. Litton village is a short walk away and the market town of Bakewell is nearby, as is Buxton; but it’s the rural location – surrounded by five dales, with great walks on the doorstep – that makes this place such a treat.
• Due to a cancellation, four nights for up to 30 people at New Year is £6,000, or £50pp per night (low season £6,500 a week), coolstays.com
Near Keswick, Lake District
Looking across to England’s highest summit, Scafell Pike, from Blencathra summit. Photograph: Terry Abraham
The Blencathra Centre, five miles from Keswick, has four stone cottages in a stunning location at the foot of Blencathra mountain. The largest, Latrigg View, sleeps six, and three more (two of which are brand new) sleep two, and they can be rented individually or together. Heat and power is supplied by onsite hydro and biomass systems. Walks start from the doorstep and there are two pubs in nearby Threlkeld village for refuelling.
• A week from 27 December costs £610 in Latrigg or £475 for the other cottages (low season from £370 and £265 a week, short breaks also available), 017687 79601, no website
Near Barnstaple, Devon
Dimmet is a two-bedroom seaside bungalow with floor-to-ceiling 1970s decor and original furniture. Film set designer Marina Morris has turned the place into a hip and comfy time capsule – so put on some disco tunes and party into 2018. There are views over Braunton Burrows and the beach at Saunton Sands beyond, and the South West Coast Path is nearby.
• From 31 December three nights is £450, a week £950 (low season from £400 for three nights), hostunsual.com
All availability and prices correct at time of going to press