It’s that time again – already. No, not Christmas, silly, but the Arb’s legendary gift guide that accompanies the festive season. This year, we’re going a little light on the frivolities – there are no sub-aqua machines, high-tech TVs or bullet-proof glass pool tables. No, on this occasion, we’re getting cosy, getting practical, and kicking off with things you can ‘do’, rather than ‘have’. So, to open the batting…
Give the gift of calm with a Four Seasons Hampshire Spa Day
The soirees, the shopping, the wrapping… it all takes its toll. Rescue a loved one from London’s laborious festivities by whisking them off to every weary London’s favourite country retreat: Four Seasons Hampshire. Cocooned by 500-acres of manicured gardens and rolling meadows, the grandiose Georgian mansion, famed for its lavish rooms, decadent afternoon tea and outrageously long list of country pursuits, also boasts one of the country’s best spa days.
Now, thanks to their new partnership with 111 Harley Street, they also offer the iconic Signature Harley Street Facial. The epidermis-repairing, moisture-boosting, collagen-pumping treatment battles festive frazzle, leaving one’s visage nourished, hydrated and ready to get back to the Big Smoke – they shall go to the ball!
Spa days at Four Seasons Hampshire are available Monday to Friday. Priced at £195 they include full use of the pool, jacuzzi and thermal suit, as well as lunch in Café Sante.
Take time out with…Sofitel St. James’ Festive Afternoon Tea avec SMEG
When it comes to festive feasting in London, you can’t knock a good old afternoon tea. Come rain or shine, few things feel more decadent than whiling away half a day champagne-sipping, tea-tasting and scone-scoffing in one of the capital’s finest hotels. This Christmas, Sofitel St. James’ rose-tinted tea lounge has given this great British tradition a continental twist; injecting its own touch of French je ne sais quoi and a dash of Italian style, courtesy of SMEG (yes, the sexy fridge people).
The result? A pompy, retro repast filled with pretty pastries, punchy panettone and more swoon-worthy kitchen utensils than you can shake a spatula at (well, you don’t see Dolce & Gabbana designing kettles for Bosch, do you!). Sofitel St. James’ Afternoon Tea Avec SMEG takes place in The Rose Lounge priced at £70pp (or £80pp with Champagne).
A hamper with a difference: Chococo Festive Hamper Bag
The Jurassic Coast is known for many a fabulous find; from swirling ammonites and pin-sharp belemnites to the area’s record-breaking, headline-grabbing, mind-boggling 150-million-year-old ‘stomach stone’. But our favourite Jurassic Coast find this year has to be Chococo’s festive hamper bags! Bursting with handcrafted chocolate treats, these plastic-free bags of joy are stuffed with everything from handsome blonde chocolate Santas and divine tins of milk chocolate Dorset mackerel (yes, you read that right) to their fabulously frivolous chocolate baubles which come stuffed with melt-in-the-mouth caramel gems. Now that, my fossil-loving friends, is headline-worthy.
Chococo offers a range of chocolatey Christmas gifts for all tastes and budgets. Their festive hamper bags start at £55. Order online or visit one of their ‘chocolate houses’.
For the budding baker…Little School of Biscuiteers
There’s a reason that the big man demands a cracking cookie come Christmas Eve. Let’s face it, with every child’s hopes and dreams rammed into his trusty sack, he could ask for anything; but a lip-licking, tongue-tickling sweet treat is what spurs him on. A humble choice, you may think? Think again. There are biscuits and then there are Biscuiteers biscuits. Yes, London’s most Insta-worthy biscuit baker has a client list that reads like a copy of Vogue, with everyone from Chanel to Cartier eager to have their brand immortalised as an exquisitely crafted, expertly embellished, perfectly packaged… biscuit.
To really appreciate the skill that goes into creating these masterpieces, book your budding baker a festive icing party at the Little School of Biscuiteers. Each child will leave with a sweet branded apron, a certificate and their own collection of hand-iced biscuits fit for the big man. The hour-long Little School of Biscuiteers sessions are for a minimum of 4 children and are priced at £49pp.
Getting granular with the pamper: Cellcosmet’s Swiss Revitalising CellFacial
All hail London’s most relaxing beauty treatment: Cellcosmet’s Swiss Revitalising CellFacial. Renowned for precision and innovation, Switzerland churns out luxe tech brands like France knocks out award-winning wines (here’s looking at you, Rolex). But it’s not just ardent horologists that consider the neutral state’s high-tech products the holy grail; the beauty industry are sold too, thanks (in part) to Cellcosmet! Created on the shores of Lake Geneva, this techy beauty brand’s miraculous elixirs are part scientific genius, part scrupulously sourced natural ingredients and the rest, in our humble opinion, is sheer wizardry.
If you know someone that deserves a proper pamper this Christmas, pack them off to Fenwick’s iconic Bond Street fashion emporium and book them in for this ridiculously relaxing, fabulously firming, magnificently moisturising facial. While the 90-minute treatment will leave them in a heavenly slumber, their springy visage will be re-energised and ready to face the big day!
Cellcosmet’s Swiss Revitalising CellFacial is available at Fenwick Bond Street. It lasts 90-minutes and is priced at £250.
Get cosy when travelling: Johnstons of Elgin Ombré Cashmere Cape
Those of us who love to travel or simply like to keep warm in the most elegant way possible would be thrilled to receive a cashmere shawl this Christmas. Soft as newly fallen snow and light enough to throw into your hand luggage before a chilly flight, as the name suggests these lovely wraps graduate in colour, a technique perfected at Johnstons of Elgin’s mills in Morayshire, where everything has been dyed, woven, spun and finished for the past 225 years, earning the company a royal warrant. Available in camel and silver, black and navy, and mallard and peat. £795 www.johnstonsofelgin.com
Not forgetting the pooch…Equafleece for dogs
Finally, why shouldn’t our pets be pampered, too? Equafleece makes coats for every breed from terriers and dachshunds to Great Danes in the jolliest of colours from a bright festive red and a snazzy orange to tastefully muted mulberry and dark green. This small company is perched on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon, where the fleeces are handmade from at least 85 per cent recycled content. The durable Polartec fleece works with your dog’s body heat to create a waterproof layer to keep him or her toasty warm and dry, perfect for a bracing Boxing Day walk across windswept moors or city parks. Visit www.equafleece.co.uk for information on how to measure your hound for a perfect fit and to order.
For some winter fashion…’Marianne Scarf’ and ‘Paul Beanie’ from Sezane
With the temperature dropping, it’s time to bring out the largest, softest scarves – and none feel more luxurious than Sezane’s – the label loved by the Princess of Wales. Their oversized ‘Marianne Scarf‘ is made from baby alpaca wool and feels like a hug. It comes in a range of colours with a matching ‘Paul Beanie‘; we’re partial to the green-grey. And if you can’t find the colour you want online, it’s the perfect opportunity to visit their Appartement on Westbourne Grove.
Ollie gets creative…
For the social media hound…SnapGrip Creator Kit
This holiday season, give the gift of epic selfies and shake-free smartphone videos. The SnapGrip Creator Kit lets your loved ones channel their inner influencer with pro-quality content. Snap on the grip, light, and tripod for artsy Instagram shots and TikToks that clock up the views and likes. When the relatives become merry on mulled wine, you’ll capture steady footage as they bravely attempt drunken karaoke or carols. And during Secret Santa, sneak off to film unboxings and reactions. Turn the holiday hijinks into a viral hit with SnapGrip. At £202.99, it fits neatly into even Father Christmas’ budget. Let those creative juices flow!
To get in the frame visit www.shiftcam.com.
For the ideal night’s sleep…Simba Orbit Weighted Blanket
Struggling to sleep after one too many mince pies? Simba’s Orbit Weighted Blanket is the ultimate wind-down this Christmas. Its nano-bead fill hugs you like a gentle snowman, lulling you into sweet dreams of sugarplums. Turn the living room into a relaxation station after chaotic present openings. Curl up by the fire as the blanket melts away festive frazzles. Its soothing powers can even save Boxing Day, when dealing with boisterous relatives on a toy comedown. Give the gift of peaceful slumber for £169 – Father Christmas might want one too after his long night of deliveries.
To find out more please head to www.simbasleep.com.
For the chef on the big day…HORL 2 Knife Sharpener
Carving the Christmas ham will be schnitzel and cheese with HORL’s slick knife sharpener. Its 15° and 20° interchangeable diamond grinding discs put a razor edge on knives, including fancy Japanese ones. Simply “snap on, grip, and sharpen” for perfect slices. Impress the in-laws as you masterfully crown the protein centrepiece. And avoid any ambulance trips to A&E. At £159, even Gordon Ramsay would approve of this contemporary gadget with its gorgeous oak finish. Be the toast of the dinner table with this knife sharpener. Ready to sharpen up? Cut to www.horl.com.
And when the big event’s over…project your own movie with Nebula’s Mars 3 Air
Are you still squinting at films screened on that ancient TV in the guest bedroom? It’s time to leap into 2023, festive friends. This season, give your loved ones the gift of cinema magic with Nebula’s spectacular portable projector, which works incredibly both inside and outside the family home – although, admittedly, you’ll probably want to wait until it’s a little warmer to take it on a camping trip.
This mini marvel – only launched in December, in time for the Christmas spike – can be tucked under the tree, ready to transform any wall into a makeshift movie theatre or gaming arena. Shine the Mars’ heavenly 1080p HDR display against a handy blank canvas, use Google TV (for free), and that’s it.
Enjoy up to 2.5 hours of mesmerising moving images – sync with your Netflix and Amazon Prime accounts – complete with heart-thumping Dual 8W Dolby Audio. Its nifty smarts even automatically correct wonky angles and focus, so there is no need to channel your inner Stephen Spielberg. After Christmas lunch, the whole clan can cosy up with cocoa to watch flicks or connect to the new games console. For £449.99, this petite projector makes for one stellar stocking stuffer – Ebenezer Scrooge would surely approve. The Mars 3 Air is available on Nebula’s website and and on
Tom wraps it up…
For everybody to enjoy…Jancis Robinson x Richard Brendon Wine Glasses
The glass you drink your wine from matters. Their shape matters and so does their texture. A brand like Riedel will sell you a glass for almost every grape variety, but who has space for such luxuries? What you need and what your loved one deserves at Christmas is one glass to rule them all: in this instance, you should look no further than the universal glass designed by Jancis Robinson, one of the world’s foremost wine critics, and London-based designer, Richard Brendon.
The hand-blown glass is so fine it is like the liquid is being wafted to your lips on a magic carpet, and the tulip shape is both aesthetically pleasing and designed to enhance the wine’s aromas and your tasting experience. Trying these glasses for the first time was a revelation and it ruined all other glassware for me, as it will for you. Moreover, they are dishwasher safe, so fill your boots. £270 for 6. For more information, visit www.richardbrendon.com.