London’s Hotel Cafe Royal, winter gardens and the week’s best deals

Café Royal has been a high-society café and a decadent nightclub, playing host to everyone from Oscar Wilde to David Bowie, but from 3 December the Café Royal will reinvent itself as London’s newest five-star hotel.

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David Chipperfield Architects is behind the upgrade of the 19th-century Grade I-listed building on Regent Street, which has been closed for five years. The hotel will have 159 rooms with a midcentury-modern flavour, plus several restaurants and a spa. Rooms will cost from £450, but until March 2013 a special introductory rate of £350 is available, including a bottle of champagne and late checkout.

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It’s a good time to… visit a garden 
It’s tempting to go into hibernation, but more gardens than ever will be keeping their gates open this winter. Undeterred by the encroaching nights, Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire will be lighting up its gardens on weekend evenings, with magical walks through the illuminated silver birch grove and statue gardens (1-16 December, adults £10, children £7), while the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Llanarthne, Carmarthenshire, will celebrate the dark skies with a Stargazing Party (23 November, adults £3, children free).
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Anglesey Abbey in Cambridgeshire
Kew Gardens is offering guided tours of its evergreens, plus a vintage carousel, and if it gets cold you can warm up in the tropical palm houses (1 December-6 January, adults £14.50, children free, kew.org). Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens have gone one better with the installation of Heliotrope, an immersive “experience” designed to bathe visitors in sunlight and music – a perfect antidote to Seasonal Affective Disorder (24-27 November, free, heliotrope-project.com).
For a truly festive atmosphere, head to Northumberland’s Belsay Hall, which is running a wreath-making workshop followed by a tour of the gardens and lunch (6 December, £50).
Give me a break: The week’s best deals
Home The Foley, an 18th-century coaching inn in the village of Claygate, Surrey, has been given a makeover, with the addition of 17 smart new bedrooms and a restaurant serving British menu classics. The normal rate for a double room is £149 including full English breakfast, but a special introductory rate of £89 per night is available until the end of January.
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Away Snow is already falling in the Alps, and to encourage skiers to get on to the slopes early A&K Chalets is offering a free day’s lift pass for every night stayed in one of their chalets in Verbier or Davos Klosters before Christmas. A four-night stay in December at the self-catering Bois Gentil chalet in Verbier costs from £285pp based on eight people sharing.
Source: Prco
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