Best of British: Christmas dinners

Anna Walker

'Tis the season to be jolly—and tuck into copious portions of sprouts and spuds…

The Clink, Cardiff

Why not enter the spirit of generosity as you enjoy Christmas dinner this year by dining at The Clink? Staffed by prisoners working towards qualifications in food preparation and customer service, The Clink has shown a 49 per cent reduction in reoffending since it opened.

For Christmas, the prisoner cooks-in-training have worked closely with the chefs to create a special traditional menu with several modern twists, including pulled pork rillettes with apple gel, julienne of apple, crackling and homemade sage focaccia and pan-fried fillet of Scottish salmon served on champ mash and rustic ratatouille.

Not only will you come away with a belly full of good food, but a full heart too.

 

Alma de Cuba, Liverpool

If you’re looking to escape from the cold weather outside, this unique Cuban restaurant—located in a spectacular conversion of the former St Peter's Catholic Church—is just the ticket. Friendly staff and a warm, buzzing atmosphere mean plans for that traditional post-Christmas-lunch nap might just go straight out the window.

The first church in Liverpool to be turned into a social venue, enjoy the festive surroundings of beautiful stained-glass windows, high ceilings and classical artwork, without the midnight mass.

When it comes to food, Alma de Cuba don’t do things by halves, with a Christmas Day menu that includes lobster roulade, turkey with all the trimmings and a delicious winter berry crème brûlée alongside a host of other options.

 

Ye Olde Bell, Retford

The picture-perfect setting for a traditional Christmas, Retford’s Ye Olde Bell boasts roaring fires, deep rich wood panelling, sparkling decorations and a relaxing, five-star Alpine spa to take its guests through the festive season.

Dating back to the 17th century, this historic hotel straddles the border between Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, leaving it perfectly positioned to welcome guests from far and wide.

On Christmas Day, you can expect Father Christmas himself to make an appearance, with staff serving up dishes including seared scallops, pheasant terrine and Christmas pudding with Baileys ice cream and brandy sauce.

If you’re feeling a little bloated after your Christmas dinner, why not book in for a spa treatment, or enjoy some fresh air at the outdoor Alpine-inspired firepits.

 

The Balmoral, Edinburgh

Opt for a classy Christmas by dining like royalty at Scotland’s most prestigious hotel: The Balmoral.

Fans of Harry Potter will delight to know that this is the hotel where JK Rowling finished the last book in the series, and the suite in which she penned the final word has since been renamed the “JK Rowling Suite”. Other famous guests have included Laurel and Hardy, Michael Palin, Oprah and the Top Gear team.

Settle in for a Michelin-quality Christmas dinner as you admire the views of Edinburgh castle. The traditional Balmoral Christmas pudding with brandy crème Anglaise is a must try and the historical surroundings would make for a picturesque after-dinner walk.

 

The Crazy Bear, Oxfordshire

For a real taste of Christmas luxury, look no further than The Crazy Bear in Oxfordshire.

Their five-course Christmas dinner menu includes a flute of champagne upon arrival and such delectable delights as Jerusalem artichoke arancini, mulled wine poached pears, white peach Bellini sorbet, dark Valrhona chocolate tart and—of course—Cotswold, orchard-reared turkey with all the trimmings.

Don’t be fooled by the quaint ivy-covered exterior—these hotel interiors are anything but traditional. Since opening in 1993, The Crazy Bear has carved a reputation for its eclectic interior design.

And if you’re in need of fresh air after chowing down at lunch, why not explore the hotel’s extensive gardens or pay a visit to the chickens in the 80-acres of working farmland.

 

Rosewood Hotel, London

If you prefer to enjoy Christmas day at home, London’s Rosewood Hotel offers a delightful afternoon treat every other day of the festive season. If you can find space after the onslaught of turkey and sprouts, make your way down for a charming afternoon tea on Boxing Day, complete with a visit from Father Christmas himself.

Set just away from Covent Garden’s cobbled streets, the Grand Edwardian Courtyard of the Rosewood will take your breath away with its homely Christmas spirit. Designed by executive pastry chef Mark Perkins, the afternoon tea includes freshly baked scones, mince pies and delicate finger sandwiches.

With the smell of freshly baked mince pies filling the hotel and decorations on every corner, you’re sure to leave full of good will to all men.

 

Bovey Castle, Dartmoor

There are few locations more festive for the best meal of the year than a bona fide castle. Book in with Bovey Castle this Christmas and enjoy all the traditional trimmings in some of the grandest surroundings Dartmoor has to offer.

With sparkly, elegant decorations turning every room into a winter wonderland and stunning views over 275 rolling acres of natural beauty, Bovey Castle offers the sort of Christmas usually saved for film sets.

The festive activities on offer include a scavenger hunt and fresh guided walks—guests who choose to stay the night will also be treated to a drink reception with traditional stories in front of the fire. Magic.