Imagine spending Christmas Eve at a snug old inn called Christmas House? Well, curses, turns out it's impossible. While Christmas House is open the rest of the year, the owners close on Dec. 25 and Christmas Eve. Still, you can get into the spirit of the season other evenings right up till the day before Christmas with a traditional wassail bowl, caroling and readings from Dickens around a fire in the parlor. Next Sunday (5 p.m. till 8 o'clock) the hostess is scheduling a tour of the house, Christmas music and refreshments. Christmas House, an old three-story Victorian, is set in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Red and green stained-glass windows. Seven fireplaces, three bedrooms, one suite, with two shared baths. Weekend rates with a full breakfast figure out to $50/$95 (a 10% discount on weekdays). Christmas House: 9240 Archibald Ave., Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. 91730. Telephone (714) 980-6450.
Holiday in France
If the idea of settling down in France for a spell sounds appealing, contact Rosemary Chiaverini of French Home Rentals (a company we've mentioned here previously). Chiaverini, the local rep, tells of several properties in the southwest (near the Dordogne Valley, Bordeaux region). Move in for a week or for as long as three months. Chiaverini also lists apartments in Paris, the French Riviera. We've had good reader response about FHR. Norene Geiger of Los Angeles said she rented a four-bedroom home in the Dordogne this year for $380 a week. Called it a "terrific" deal. No doubt rates will be up in '87 due to a weakening dollar. Details, brochures from Chiaverini, French Home Rentals, 230 N. Cordova St., Burbank, Calif. 91505, or telephone collect (818) 846-9582.
We've had a lot of favorable feedback about the new Mandalay Beach Resort at Oxnard. Suites for $89 a night, double occupancy with two baths, mini-kitchens, a full breakfast, complimentary cocktails 5:50-7:30 each evening. (Accommodations free for children under 12.) The resort is on the ocean. Tennis, whirlpool spa and swimming pool. Contact Embassy Suites/Mandalay Beach Resort, 2101 Mandalay Beach Road, Oxnard, Calif. 93030, or call toll-free (800) 582-3000. Outside California telephone toll-free (800) EMBASSY.
Elaine Petroceli is mailing free catalogues describing nearly 2,000 books/maps to readers who write to her c/o Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera, Calif. 94925. (Dozens of travel books that make excellent Christmas gifts.) In California telephone (415) 927-0960, or outside the state dial toll-free (800) 321-9785. Free wrapping. Also gift certificates ($10 minimum). Meanwhile, William Tomicki puts out a newsletter that deals with restaurants, hotels, travel. Calls it Entree. Subscription rate ($45 a year for the six-page publication) includes a complimentary copy of Jack Adler's "Consumer's Guide To Travel." Write to Entree, P.O. Box 5148, Santa Barbara 93150.
Scandinavia for Shoppers
Scandinavian Airlines and Crownline Tours are providing shopping trips out of Copenhagen to the Kosta Boda and Orrefors glassworks in Sweden. These are one-day trips. The price ($40) includes lunch. (Buy more than $80 worth of crystal at Orrefors or Kosta Boda and the $40 is refunded.) Shoppers save 20%/60% over U.S. prices. And SAS says to forget about "schlepping your purchase back to the United States." Shipping by sea/air is arranged "on the spot." Details from SAS, Box SHOP, 8929 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills 90211, or telephone toll-free (800) 221-2350.
The Good Life
For travelers who enjoy old-fashioned luxury, Martin and Judith Miller are welcoming guests to their 17th-Century country house hotel, the Chilton Park. About an hour by road/rail from London, 40 minutes from Gatwick Airport. The address is Sandway Near Maidstone, Kent, England. A choice of 25 bedrooms. Open fireplaces, four-poster beds, original paintings, loads of antiques. Maids in Victorian uniforms unpack guest luggage. (You can arrange to be picked up by limousine at the rail station.) The Chilton Park features three dining rooms. Menus list oyster soup, artichoke souffle, pigeon breasts with port and juniper berry sauce, whiskey syllabub. Guests gather in a music and drawing room, a library with thousands of books. There's also a billiards room. Carriage rides offered around the 250-acre estate, fishing in a private lake, tennis, riding. The Chilton Park is run like a 19th-Century country home. You reach it off the A20 between Maidstone and Ashford. Rates: 48/70 single, 60/100 double, including a full English breakfast, daily newspaper, VAT. Six-course dinners for about 18, afternoon tea 4.
Canada--Mr. and Mrs. A. E. Cowen, Palm Springs: "We planned on staying two weeks but this B&B was so good, we stayed two months, 1509 Rockland Ave., Victoria, B.C. V8S 1W3. Less than a block from Government House Estate. Excellent food. Large rooms, $36.20 for two."