From an African safari in Kent to an English vineyard- a staycation makes the perfect present | The Sun

FORGET panic-buying socks – give memories with an unforgettable staycay instead…

Port Lympne Animal Reserve

Deputy Fashion Editor Abby McHale checked in for an African safari experience in Kent.

THE PAD: From glamping pods to luxurious lodges right on the doorstep of your favourite animals (yes, we’re talking waking up with lions, spectacled bears and wolves potentially peering at your bed hair), there’s an experience to suit everyone.

We stayed in a treehouse for four with panoramic views down to the pretty Kent coast, complete with a smart TV, soundbar and Bamford toiletries.

Plus there’s a fully equipped kitchen if you fancy cooking all your feasts.

Ditching the kids? Check out the new Lookout Bubble, perfect for star-gazing from the king-size bed, before a soak in the freestanding bathtub.

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EXPLORE: Set over 600 acres, there are more than 900 animals that call Port Lympne home.

And by staying the night, you get to meet them after hours and first thing, too.

Jump in a truck and join a safari drive to spy giraffes, zebras and painted dogs up close, then hit the ground on foot to check out the red pandas and clouded leopards.

You can even get up close and personal with the resident tigers to feed them their lunch.

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Animal experiences start from £15 per person.

REFUEL: Jump in a golf buggy and hit the reserve’s historic Mansion Hotel, which has hosted the likes of Winston Churchill and Charlie Chaplin.

It offers a fab afternoon tea with treats like egg and paprika mayo sandwiches and white chocolate, strawberry and elderflower mousse, from £29 per person, all served up in a decadent room.

Find fine British dishes at The Garden Room, such as succulent slow-cooked beef with ale suet pudding and an excellent Kent cheese selection, two courses from £33 per person.

Oh, and we loved our welcome fizz at the Treehouse Clubhouse overlooking the rhino enclosure on check-in, which is also where you can borrow board games and even toast marshmallows.

DON’T MISS: If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the gorillas  playing with their bubble machine!

BOOK IT: Glamping stays cost from £129 a night. Short-break gift vouchers are available from £100 (

Three Choirs Vineyards

Assistant Editor Claire Frost vined and dined in picturesque Gloucestershire.

THE PAD: In gorgeous English countryside, right where the Cotswolds meet the Malvern Hills, you’ll find Three Choirs Vineyards, which boasts eight rooms looking out over the vines.

Just down the valley, there are also three tucked-away wooden lodges.

We loved staying in the furthest-away lodge (where the Wi-Fi barely reached, so we could turn off our phones without feeling guilty!), with its floor-to-ceiling windows, rolltop bath and Temple Spa products.

As evening fell, we sat on the veranda and spotted rabbits and muntjac deer. It’s also the perfect place for stargazing after dinner.

EXPLORE: You’re free to wander around the wild ponds and through the rows of vines on the 75-acre estate whenever you please.

During harvest in September and October, you might even have a chance to chat to the team as they pick the grapes.

But a wine tasting is a must, whatever time you visit.

Sample whichever five of the nine Three Choirs wines takes your fancy – we loved the deliciously biscuity sparkling blanc de noirs.

Tastings cost £20 per person.

REFUEL: It’s all small plates in the quirky brasserie, where (empty!) wine bottles hang from the light fittings.

Our faves were the delicious smoked-mackerel pate, £10, lamb meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce, £11, and sweet and salty padron peppers, £9.50.

The vineyard’s red wine, £23.50 a bottle, pairs nicely, as it’s full of plum and cherry notes.

Come morning, tuck into avo on toast or a full English.

DON’T MISS: Just down the road is 3 Shires Garden Centre with a huge array of plants and gifts and the fab Brown & Green farm shop.

Nab locally made treats, such as orange marmalade cake and Malvern Gold cider (

The pretty town of Ross-on-Wye is a 20-minute drive.

Pop into Rossiter Books for signed editions and cute cards (, while Lizzie Bunting is full of dreamy home decor ( 

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BOOK IT: Double rooms cost from £205 a night, lodges cost from £235 a night. Gift vouchers are available from £10 ( 

Compiled by: Catherine Bennion-Pedley  Photography: Alamy, Thomas Alexander, Jason Ingram

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