All I want for Christmas is a city break

Simone Kane suggests how you can turn the annual search for presents into a overnight stay
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The Independent Travel


See the sights: Don't miss the bicentenary Darwin exhibition at the Natural History Museum (020-7942 5000; ).

Stop for lunch: Dip into dim sum at Min Jiang (020-7361 1988;, recently opened at the Royal Garden Hotel on High Street Kensington.

Hit the shops: Westfield (020-3371 2300; is London's latest uber-mall, with five department stores, 265 global high-street names such as Rigby & Peller, Desigual and Fornarina, and The Village of designer brands, including Amanda Wakeley, Tiffany & Co and Twenty8Twelve.

The package: K West Hotel & Spa (020-8008 6600; has a Shop 'Til You Drop deal from £109, including a night's B&B in a deluxe room, mocktail, manicure, use of spa facilities and glass of champagne.


See the sights: Catch a show at the Curve theatre (0116-242 3560;, the state-of-the-art cultural venue that was officially opened by the Queen last week.

Stop for lunch: Leicester's most stylish restaurant, The Quarter, (0116-251 1889; is currently serving up seasonal, contemporary cuisine in the heart of the city.

Hit the shops: One of Britain's oldest cities is undergoing a £3bn facelift, including the recently opened Highcross (0116-242 8644;, home to a flagship John Lewis and 120 further stores, including newcomers to the city, Ghost, G-Star and Reiss. For something a little more quirky, take a look at the independent outlets in the Leicester Lanes.

The package: Hotel Maiyango (0116-251 8898; is offering a Christmas and New Year shoppers' deal from £170 for two, including a night's B&B in a superior room, champagne cocktails, £75 of cruise vouchers and a personal shopper.


See the sights: Don't miss taking a stroll across the city's famous landmark, the Clifton Suspension Bridge (

Stop for lunch: Brasserie Blanc (0117-910 2410; is chef Raymond Blanc's most recent venture, housed in a renovated Georgian Quaker meeting house and medieval halls.

Hit the shops: The autumn opening of Cabot Circus (0117-9529 360: in the heart of Bristol, has transformed the city into a top shopping destination. Anchored by Harvey Nichols and House of Fraser, it houses 120 new outlets, including 15 flagship shops, as well a huge selection of high-street names. For independent shops, make a diversion to see the small stores and studios of Park Row and Christmas Steps.

The package: The Mercure Holland House hotel & Spa Bristol (0117-968 9900; has a Shop 'Til You Drop offer, from £67.50 including a night's B&B in a luxury bedroom, with a relaxing aroma foot relief treatment (book when making reservation) and 3pm checkout.


See the sights: Make the most of the final days of Liverpool's reign as European City of Culture; visit The Beat Goes On at the World Museum (0151-478 4393; ), an exhibition looking beyond the Beatles at the city's musical history.

Stop for lunch: Eat pastrami on rye at nearby award-winning Deli Fonseca (0151-255 0808; ).

Hit the shops: The city is now the UK's fifth-best destination for retail therapy, thanks to the launch of Liverpool One (0151-232 3100; ). It covers 42 acres of city centre, reconnecting the shopping district with the historic docks; expect to find the likes of a flagship John Lewis and newcomers Bench, Karen Millen, Mango, Radley and Ted Baker among its 160-plus shops, restaurants and bars.

The package: Posh Pads at the Casartelli (0151-708 6666; ) has a Luxury Shopping Package, from £99, based on four sharing a two-bedroom apartment. The price includes a breakfast hamper, champagne, personal shopper, bag-carrying, shopping discounts, three-course meal in a top city restaurant, VIP reservation for cocktails (with vouchers) and free parking.


See the sights: Call in to the Leeds Art Gallery (0113-247 8256;, which houses a world-class collection of 20th-century British art.

Stop for lunch: Try the Restaurant at the Ellington (0113-204 2150;, an award-winning collaboration with Albert Roux.

Hit the shops: Harvey Nicks earned this city the nickname "Knightsbridge of the North". That's in the Victorian Quarter, where you'll find a host of high-end brands. But the new additions to the shopping scene include Clarence Dock (0113-391 2881; for all things urban, and, for foodies, the Corn Exchange (0113-234 0363; ).

The package: 42 The Calls (0113-244 0099; has an Ab Fab Christmas Break from £225, including one night's B&B, a chilled bottle of bubbly, £50 of Harvey Nichols vouchers and a Christmas goody bag from the store.


See the sights: Swing by the Mackintosh House (0141-330 5431; ) for some classic interiors inspiration.

Stop for lunch: Take advantage of one of the special offers for Christmas shoppers put together by the Glasgow Restaurateurs' Association ( ), which represents 60-plus of the top culinary venues in the city.

Hit the shops: One of the world's top 10 cities, according to Lonely Planet, and the best for shopping outside London, Glasgow has a unique mix of stores, from high street to niche names. The compact centre, including Princes Square – look out for new pop-up shop Reposition – and Buchanan Street, is home to everything from Primark to Prada. Check out the new Che Camille (07862 720215;, a 3,500 sq ft loft space showcasing the city's independent designers.

The package: Abode Glasgow (0141-572 6000; ) is offering a Girls' Night In deal, from £100, including a night's B&B in an Enviable room, based on four sharing, a three-course dinner at the hotel's MC Bar and Grill, and a £20 voucher redeemable against a treatment from the resident beautician.

All prices are per person per night, based on two sharing a twin/double room, unless otherwise stated. Offers subject to availability.