On arrival at Heathrow Airport airport, a private transfer will take you to the Macdonald Windsor Hotel, where we stay for the next two nights. In the evening, join the group for a welcome drink, followed by dinner.
Monday: Windsor Castle and Kew Gardens
We start our day with a visit to Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world and the final resting place of Elizabeth II. Established in the 11th century by William the Conqueror, it has been remodeled by successive kings and queens and is regularly used for ceremonial and state occasions. The magnificent State Apartments are furnished with some of the finest works of art for you to admire, beautifully decorated at this time of year. We find out more of the castle’s history on our audio-guided tour.
Later, a festive treat awaits us at the world-famous Kew Gardens, where the iconic architecture and tree canopies are brought to life, enriched with Christmas color and sparkling with seasonal decorations. Discover an enchanting festive trail of lights that winds its way through the botanic gardens, before enjoying some tasty treats from one of the many enticing stalls.
This evening we enjoy a late dinner at a local restaurant.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Tuesday: Bath Assembly Rooms and Bath Christmas Market
After checking out of the hotel we head to Bath, an elegant Regency city graced with wonderfully well-preserved Georgian architecture. Nestled among the picturesque streets is our first stop, Bath Assembly Rooms*, once the hub of the Georgian social calendar and the recognizable backdrop of the lavish Ballroom scenes from the popular TV series Bridgerton. Designed by John Wood the Younger and finished in 1771, they provided a place for polite society (including Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and Thomas Gainsborough) to enjoy concerts, teas, balls and gambling.
*Bath Assembly Rooms are currently undergoing restoration. If not complete, we take a guided walking tour of Bath.
We then explore the enchanting Bath Christmas Market, bursting with traditional chalet-style stalls selling a variety of handmade items. Whether you’d like to start your Christmas shopping early, treat yourself to a tempting seasonal offering or simply browse the high-quality Christmas gifts, homewares, jewelry and more, there’s plenty to get you into the festive spirit.
Later we check into the Queens Hotel Cheltenham – MGallery, where we stay overnight.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Wednesday: Cotswolds Villages
Leaving Regency Cheltenham, we take a scenic drive through the Cotswolds, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty where quintessentially English villages are peppered throughout rolling hills. We first stop in picturesque Lechlade to visit the unique Cotswold Christmas Shop, established in 1985 but open all year round for lovers of charming ornaments and decorations.
Our other stops include famous Bibury and Bourton-on-the-Water, where you can expect a lovely mix of honey-hued buildings, cozy traditional pubs, independent boutiques, tempting cafés and some of the area’s most iconic landscapes.
We end the day with a festive afternoon tea at Hartwell House, one of the National Trust’s Historic House Hotels, where we also stay for the next two nights.
Meals: Breakfast, Afternoon Tea
Thursday: Henley-on-Thames, Greys Court and Blenheim Palace
This morning we make a brief stop in Henley-on-Thames, one of the most picturesque towns in the country and set on the River Thames against the idyllic backdrop of the Chiltern Hills. It’s a lovely spot for a riverside stroll, and there are also plenty of historic buildings to admire.
We continue to Greys Court, a filming location of the hugely popular Downton Abbey TV series and films. Set in the rolling hills of the Chilterns, this picturesque Tudor mansion has a rich patchwork of styles, including 18th-century additions and 20th-century interiors. The house is still furnished as an intimate family home, having been occupied until 2003, and is beautifully decorated during the countdown to Christmas.
Our last visit today is Blenheim Palace, set in over 2,000 acres of beautiful parkland landscaped by ‘Capability’ Brown. As the seat of the Dukes of Marlborough, the palace is synonymous with the Churchill family and is the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. A permanent exhibition commemorates the life of this famous wartime Prime Minister, whilst the magnificent State Rooms are sumptuously dressed for Christmas and reveal a superb collection of tapestries, paintings, porcelain and furniture. In the courtyard outside, there are plenty of tempting goodies on offer at the enchanting Christmas Market.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Friday: Waddesdon Manor
Checking out of the hotel, we head to Waddesdon Manor, built by the wealthy Rothschild family in the style of a Renaissance château and filled with royal treasures. We have time to explore the interiors, given an extra sparkle around Christmas with lavish festive decorations, before enjoying a private festive lunch at the Five Arrows, located at the gates of the manor.
Afterward, we check back into the Macdonald Windsor Hotel where we toast the festive season with a farewell dinner this evening and enjoy a private, Victorian-style carol singing performance, highlighting some of the traditions and customs during this special time of year.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
A private transfer will take you back to Heathrow Airport for your return flight home.
Please note: the order of excursions is subject to change and guided tours are subject to restrictions.
Email us today to reserve at BKennedy@Royal-oak.org or call 212-480-2889 ext. 203