Experience the magic of Christmas in Europe

25 September 2009

Christmas is one time of the year when we all allow ourselves to indulge just a bit. So, if kisses under the mistletoe, or wearing a snowflake sweater fail to get you in the Christmas spirit, why not head to some of Europe’s finest festive markets, and spoil yourself with one of these irresistible deals, without breaking the bank.

Enjoy the bewitching Baltic festivities in Saint Petersbourg; marvel at the glamorous 50ft Swarovski decorated tree in Zurich or wave at Santa from the Ponte Vecchio as he journeys down Florence’s charming River Arno. Go ahead, treat yourself to one of these quintessential winter getaways and celebrate the magic of Christmas.

Here are five special value added packages from some of Preferred Hotel Group’s finest properties designed to warm the hearts of even the most avowed Scrooges.

Hotel Brunelleschi Firenze, Florence, Italy

Dating back to the 14th century, Hotel Brunelleschi Firenze exudes character and charm. Nestled among Florence’s finest tourist attractions, this restored medieval church and tower sits opposite the city’s Duomo. Florence comes to life at Christmas with its three markets: Florence Noel, Santo Spirito Square and Heidelberg – offering visitors a mix of traditional Italian and German delicacies.

The Christmas package, ‘Special Christmas 2009’ includes two nights in a superior double room, buffet breakfast, daily newspaper, tempting aperitif and a culinary Italian gift. A font of knowledge, the concierge provides guests with the best restaurants, bars, museums and exhibitions – a must in this celebrated Renaissance city.

Must see: Father Christmas spreading Christmas wishes as he sails down the Arno River.

Prices: From £160 per person, based on a two night stay and sharing a superior double room. Children under 12 years old stay for free when sharing a room with two adults. Offer valid from December 1st to December 29th 2009.

Hotel St. Petersbourg, Tallinn, Estonia

For a truly white Christmas visit the Hotel St. Petersbourg in Tallinn. Tucked away behind cobbled streets, this intimate hotel provides a picturesque setting. The “Christmas package” includes a three-night stay in a deluxe room, airport transfers, daily breakfast, seasonal gift and use of the traditional Estonian sauna. For an extra indulgent break, you could enjoy a three-hour chauffeur-driven city tour or, for the more active, a private guided walking tour in the medieval Old Town.

Later, with free entry into the city’s many museums and galleries included in the package, explore Tallinn’s rich and diverse history before treating yourself to a glass of hot mulled wine and gingerbread either at the hotel’s Estonian Kuldse Notsu Kõrts Restaurant or at its Old Town Square’s Christmas market stall. And in the evening, settle back with a four course feast at the hotel’s Russian restaurant, Nevskij.

Must see: Breathtaking views from the top of Toompea Hill – part of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. Well worth the trek up the city’s icy streets.

Prices: From £400 for two people, based on sharing a deluxe double room. Booking period 24th November 2009 – 11th January 2010.

Hotel Zum Storchen, Zurich, Switzerland

The largest Christmas market in Switzerland, Zurich’s indoor winter wonderland guarantees to keep you warm and dry while you meander through the traditional crafts and foods on offer. Hotel Zum Storchen, situated in the heart of the Old Town, has created an enticing break including champagne on arrival; a Christmas gift, fruit plate and flowers in your room and Swiss buffet breakfast. Make the most of the city and your stay with a “ZürichCard” which entitles guests to 48 hours of free public transport and free entrance into 30 museums. After a long day of shopping, don’t forget to refuel with Glühwein and sweet chestnuts.

Must see: The market centrepiece is a 50-foot tall Christmas tree glittering with more than 5,000 Swarovski crystal ornaments. Dazzling!

Prices: From £300 per night for an elegant double room with bath. Valid throughout December 2009, based on a minimum two night stay.

42 The Calls, Leeds, UK

In addition to being known as the Knightsbridge of the North, Leeds is home to Christkindlmarkt, one of the UK’s largest German Christmas markets. Which means, you’ll be able to savour delicious German Bratwurst and a large frothy beer – after picking up designer Christmas gifts in the city’s famous Victoria Quarter.

Leeds’ renowned boutique hotel 42 The Calls, a converted corn mill overlooking the River Aire, has an ‘Abfab’ shopping package to help you make the most of your stay. Including an ice cold bottle of champagne in your room upon arrival and £50 of Harvey Nichols shopping vouchers to put towards your Christmas spending, you will also receive a Harvey Nichols gift bag to take home all your loot.

Must see: Stock up on Christmas supplies at Leeds Farmers Market – held at Kirkgate Market on the first and third Sunday each month. Sample home-made cakes, jams and other festive treats.

Prices: From £170 per night in a deluxe double room.

And if you’ve been really good, there’s the blow out option....

The Mandeville Hotel, London, UK

Within Louboutin-friendly strolling distance of London’s retail mecca, The Mandeville Hotel’s ‘Luxury Christmas Shopping Package’ is perfect a weekend gift splurge. Including two nights’ accommodation, an energy booster breakfast, a shopping map, gift wrapping service, a voucher for an indulgent 30 minute ladies massage or gentleman’s retreat facial at the Cobella spa in Selfridges and afternoon tea for two in the drawing room.

For those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the high street, head to the German Christmas market at the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. Feast on nuts, gingerbread hearts and other sweet treats while you saunter through the wooden chalets displaying unusual hand crafted gifts.

Must see: The ice rink at Somerset House: one of the best sights of a London winter.

Prices: From £630 based on two people sharing a double room.

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