This week… the festive newt, feasting and festivities

More than ever this year it seems we are all looking to nature and simple traditions to soothe our souls. It’s feels like the time to take a slow, deep breath and steady ourselves as the year draws to an end. It’s also a time to be thankful. We got through the roller coaster ride of 2020. There has been sorrow and sadness but we made it. A new year is on the horizon and we need to nurture that little spark of hope for new beginnings. Let’s take the time to find our simple pleasures where we may and follow the pragmatic example of Dame Joan Collins, who declared this week her intention to “squeeze every ounce of joy from life”. The show must go on.

Winter at The Newt, Somerset

Hadspen House in Somerset.

Just the name of this estate is intriguing. The Newt offers a luxury hygge experience in Somerset. I haven’t reviewed The Hadspen Hotel on the estate but the former Georgian family home sounds an ideal destination to enjoy the simple pleasures of winter. Built around 1690, the rooms have been restored and reimagined. There’s also a spa for additional nurturing.

Choices on where to stay include The Stables at Hadspen House.

The hotel is set within the estate’s extensive gardens, farmland and woodland for long lazy walks. Settle down in front of a cosy open fire and explore the library on rainy afternoons. Below the house are vaulted wine cellars, and the estate makes its own cyder. The winter menu in The Botanical Room includes seasonal estate venison and hearty warming stews, hand-picked seasonal fruit and vegetables from the gardens, fresh breads and pastries from the bakery, dairy from Somerset cows and honey from local bees.

A room with four-poster bed at Hadspen House.

Alternatively, order a estate hamper to enjoy in your room for a more private, and maybe romantic, experience. Other considerate in-room touches includes bottled nightcaps from the bar – for instance, a Somerset Old Fashioned featuring whiskey made with The Newt’s apple butter, chestnut syrup, aromatic bitters and applewood smoke – and curated iPod playlists.

A four-night minimum Christmas stay, from 23 to 27 December at The Newt starts from £2,775. Check the web site for the full offer, terms and conditions as well as COVID compliances in place. www.thenewtinsomerset.com   

Post header image: The Stables at Hadspen House, The Newt.

London is reopening for Christmas

The Lanesborough festive display.

One of the joys of the season are the festive floral and light displays that brighten the winter days and represent hope for a brighter future ahead. The grand entrance at The Lanesborough Hotel this week unveiled a majestic wreath complete with little crowns to match the hotel’s crest, and two twinkling Christmas trees either side of the doors.

The Peggy Porschen Festive Afternoon Tea at The Lanesborough hotel.

A programme of events and packages include The Festive Shop & Stay package, in partnership with Harvey Nichols, will whisk guests to the iconic department store in one of The Lanesborough’s chauffeur-driven cars for a personal shopping experience. The Festive Shop & Stay package from £735 in a Superior Room, per room, per night for two people. The Lanesborough’s festive Peggy Porschen Afternoon Tea, pricet £75 per person, including a glass of Champagne on arrival.  For the full festive programme including Christmas in Residence and New Year’s Eve in Residence packages check The Lanesborough Hotel web site.

New Year 2021

Chenot Palace at Weggis.

The New Year is traditionally a time for detoxing from the festive excess but now is the time to book a spa for early next year as the best ones are popular. Medical spas have been in existence for many years but in the current climate they are becoming more widely popular. The pandemic has turned the spotlight firmly on personal responsiblity where our health and wellbeing is concerned. Medical spas take a more in-depth approach offering a fully integrated, science-based approach to health and wellbeing, with on-site medical departments, laboratories and high-tech machines. This is more than simply a relaxing day at a spa – fun though these are – but more about a holistic approach.

A single room at Chenot Place Weggis

Chenot Palace at Weggis in Switzerland offers three signature programmes Advanced Detox, Recover and Energise or Prevention and Ageing Well. This newest and most advanced property within the Chenot portfolio, features the most advanced treatments and diagnosis technologies, cutting-edge medical screening tests and a team of expert doctors. Programmes are designed for a one-week stay (7 nights & 6 days of treatments) and begin with diagnostics, followed by dietary recommendations and aromatherapy, phyto-mud, hydro-jet and other treatments. Prices: as an example the Detox Programme is from CHF 5’300.-

Lake Lucerne at Chenot Palace, Weggis.

In 1897 Mark Twain wrote that Weggis was the “loveliest place” he had ever visited. Weggis lies at an altitude of 435 metres on the shore of Lake Lucerne and at the foot of the renowned Rigi.

The Chenot Method was originated by Henri Chenot who studied biology, later focusing on psychology, Chinese medicine and naturopathy. Known for his revolutionary approach to preventative healthcare, he opened his first Centre at Cannes Polyclinic in 1974 believing that preventative healthcare, stressing, and certain lifestyle choices accumulate to a build-up of toxins that lead to degenerative diseases. www.chenotpalaceweggis.com.

In my inbox

Stocking fillers

Mobile Newt is stocked with country life goodies including cyder made on the estate.

The Newt estate online shop stocks a range of products inspired by a love for the land, sustainable agriculture, artisan production and local heritage. In the pantry section there are cordials, such as Apple, Plum and Ginger, Christmas Windfall Chutney 275g, £6, poached pears in jars and more delightful items to treat yourself or give as a festive gift.

I especially like the idea of the Christmas breakfast box dlivered to your door. Serves 2 to 3 people, £60. There’s also a Christmas lunch and a supper box. Free time slot daily delivery and fresh produce to postcodes: BA, DT9, DT10, SP7, SP8 and TA11. London delivery to the N, NW, SW, SE, W, WC, E and EC postcode areas. Delivery rest of the UK Monday to Friday. Full details at Newt Mobile.

Christmas spices

Spicy stocking fillers from Spice Kitchen.

At Spice Kitchen, mother and son team, Sanjay & Shashi Aggarwal, source and produce award-winning spices, spice blends and gin botanicals. This week I tried the Chocolate orange tea which is deliciously warming and comforting. Traditionaly, I make mulled wine on Christmas Eve when I’m cooking and listening to carols from King’s College. This year I’ll be using the Mulled wine spice kit from Spice Kitchen. They are both perfect stocking fillers for foodies. Keen home cooks would also welcome the varied Spice Trays representing Indian, Moroccan and African / Persian cuisines starting from £24.95. For orders placed The Spice Kitchen donate to The Akshaya Patra Foundation to support children in India to receive nutritious mid-day meals.

Happy 20th birthday!


All images credit: Nigel Young / Foster+Partners

The Queen Elizabeth II Great Court turns 20 this coming week. The British Museum will reopen on 3 December, in time for the special anniversary on Sunday. The Great Court designed by Designed by Foster + Partners, is one of the most recognizable museum interiors in the world. To celebrate the milestone Museum reveals that since it opened in 2000, 113 million people have walked under the famous glass roof.  At the opening ceremony for the Great Court, HM The Queen hailed it as “a landmark of the new Millennium.” New photographs to mark the 20th anniversary were taken during lockdown.

Tickets are available to book for exhibitions Tantra: enlightenment to revolution and the Citi exhibition Arctic: culture and climate, along with free tickets to the permanent collection, where visitors can still see Grayson Perry’s installation The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman and Edmund de Waal’s library of exile. http://www.britishmuseum.org.


That’s all for this week. The UK comes out of national lockdown next week, wish us luck! Stay safe and well wherever you are in the world.



As always please check the Foreign travel advice web site for the latest on domestic and international travel guidelines.

Unless otherwise stated, I have no affiliation with the brands mentioned but simply aim to share places and products that have caught my eye. I will always state if a post is sponsored or gifted.

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