Boutique hotels, worldwide
Why panic-buy a pair of socks when you could give a cosy weekend away or contribute to a summer holiday? I-escape.com’s collection of 1,500 chic places to stay includes more than 100 in the UK. Its gift vouchers, launched this month, can be bought for any amount from £25 upwards.
Cottages, villas and unusual retreats
CoolStays is another portfolio of hand-picked places to stay around the world, with vouchers available from £20-£500. As well as unusual conversions – lighthouses, buses and boats – it also offers villas, cottages and city hotels. The site is navigated by theme with rural, snow, family-friendly and dog-friendly collections among the choices. Budget choices include an eco-house in Catalonia (pictured) from £450 a week.
Know someone who’s itching to do something new? Skyros specialises in learning holidays and covers a wide range of skills, from art to singing, writing to windsurfing. Its main centre is on the Greek island of Skyros but it also runs courses on the Isle of Wight. Vouchers can be bought for any value.
STA vouchers cover all bases, whether the person you’re giving to is planning an epic trip or a weekend away. Its gift card can be topped up to any value and can be used on flights, accommodation and experiences – £20 buys three nights in a hostel, for example; £120 would cover a weekend in Paris or Barcelona.
Selling tours with local guides in the UK and Europe, plus Nepal, Indonesia and Australia, Much Better Adventures is perfect for anyone who loves the outdoors. Most UK trips are focused on a skill – how about free diving or mountain climbing? Alternatively, try a challenge such as the Welsh 15 Peak and do the run over a weekend. Further afield, adventures cover a huge range of activities and are designed to be added on to an existing itinerary. Vouchers are available from £25-£1,000, with no expiry date, and a gift certificate will be emailed immediately.Vouchers are available from £25-£1,000, with no expiry date, and a gift certificate will be emailed immediately.
Walking and cycling holidays
Got a New Year resolution to get fit? Then plan an activity holiday with a friend or family member. Headwater is a hiking and cycling specialist covering the UK, Europe and the Caribbean. It offers both self-guided and guided trips that vary in difficulty from two-to-three hours’ to eight hours’ walking a day. Bike trips are also graded – it even has electric bikes to make light work of hill climbs. Vouchers are sold in multiples of £20 (order by 18 December for guaranteed Christmas delivery).
With 5,000 trips across 190 destinations, Responsible Travel covers the full gamut of trips for all sorts of interests, from archaeology to yoga, but also family and city breaks. Vouchers can be purchased for any value and are valid for two years.
Selling everything from London theatre and event trips to holidays to the north of Iceland, Super Break’s vouchers are available from £10-£100; it also sells separate spa vouchers.
Glamping, UK and Europe
Surprise the other half with a stay in a UFO-inspired treehouse or lakeside cabin. Canopy and Stars features unusual stays in the great outdoors with a choice of 466 places in the UK, such as the Sleepout in Powys (pictured), 83 in France and others in Europe, as far north as Finnish Lapland where Esko’s cabin is pulled out onto a frozen lake on skis. Vouchers can be of any value, and by spending £150 this festive season, you will receive a £50 voucher (available until Christmas Eve).
Craft courses, Scotland
Gartmore House in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs national park could be the place for fans of crafting. This 18th-century mansion is introducing a programme of courses for 2018 in sewing, jewellery making, painting, quilting and other arts. There are also walking, photography and foraging courses that make the most of the spectacular landscape on the doorstep. Its gift vouchers are available for £25, £50, £75 or £100.
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