If you don’t fancy risking it in Central London or trying to get a table inside a jammed restaurant, the Enchanted Garden Globes at Ashridge House in Hertfordshire is the answer. The perfect festive antidote to the year we’ve all had is only a short train from Euston, where you’ll be transported back in time.

Once a royal residence to King Henry VIII and home to his daughter, Princess Elizabeth I, Ashridge House is a hidden gem in leafy Hertfordshire, only 30 miles from London and surrounded by 190 acres of quintessential English gardens. The majestic stately home and spellbinding yuletide outdoor wonderland serve as the illuminated backdrop to the evening’s experience.

Ashridge House: The Lowdown

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On arrival, carol singers in the garden set the tone and ensure the Christmas spirit is in full swing. Inside the transparent domes; the no expense spared decor brings a Scandinavian twist, with log fire heaters and blankets to keep you warm. Diners receive a delicious five-course meal, served with prosecco and wine – and the friendly staff are on hand to explain every step of the experience and are more than happy to explain everything from the history of the building to the menu and residence.

Ashridge House: The Menu

We kicked off the meal with a delicious starter of arancini balls in a rich tomato sauce. Following the Scandi-theme, a fish course of cold and hot smoked salmon, prawns, rollmops and giant caper berries. The fish was incredibly fresh and delicate; it was a generous portion that was perfect for sharing and went perfectly with the crunchy bread roll.

Then it’s on to the main event – the moment you’ve all been waiting for – and this is a Christmas feast that will ensure there’s no debate over which meat is a must. Rare roast beef is served alongside a sage and onion stuffed turkey, Brussel sprouts and mini potato rosti towers. The potatoes were a real highlight soft and smooth with a creamy sauce (they were the sort of thing you see in a TikTok video but never really attempt yourself). Both meats were perfectly cooked; the turkey soft and succulent the beef rich and rare.

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The dinner is £155 per person but the quality (and generosity) of the ingredients is clear – there’s no corner-cutting here. The whole meal is finished off with a delicate medley of chocolate desserts.

With all that eating a woodland walk is a must. But this isn’t any old walk in the dark, guests wander into an illuminated woodland with beautiful light installations, secret hideaways, tunnels of falling stars, hot toddies, glittering grottos and surprise encounters along the way. It’s a magical way to end an enchanting night.

Ashridge House: The Details

Taking place throughout December, and with new dates in January 2021 to be added, this is the first time ever the private gardens of the magnificent former palace will be transformed into a festive dining experience to surprise and delight the senses. Don’t miss out: each pod can take up to 6 people, perfect for larger households or you can book for smaller groups too.

The cost is £90pp for lunch or £155pp for dinner (based on full occupancy) and is available to book throughout December and January. Book here