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Escape Hot List: Carriage cakes and birds of prey

Falcon Crest

Bird lovers will be squawking with delight at the chance to learn falconry. Country house hotel Palé Hall, which is situated on the edge of Snowdonia, is launching a new birds of prey experience, where visitors can observe flying demonstrations, hear expert talks or take part in a half-day hunting experience. Prices start at £35pp, available on request; nightly rates at Palé Hall start at £210 on a B&B basis.

Desert Dreams

Soak up some winter sun in the little-explored United Arab Emirate of Sharjah, thanks to low-cost carrier Pegasus Airlines’ new direct route from London Stansted. Seen as the UAE’s cultural capital, Sharjah has held on to its heritage more than some of its neighbours, such as Dubai. There’s an atmospheric souk, traditional restored homes and museums devoted to Emirati customs. It’s also got beaches galore and, for families, the Al Montazah amusement and water park. Daily flights start at £149.99 return,

New York, New York

If you’re obsessed with the Big Apple, leave this page open in full view of your main gift-giver in the hope that he or she splashes out on this beautiful coffee-table book from publishers Assouline. New York by New York charts the most important moments of this vibrant city, including Prohibition and the 1970s disco scene. There are quotes by writers from Tom Wolfe to Jay McInerney, and images from photographers including Peter Lindbergh, Dennis Stock (who snapped James Dean in Times Square) and Diane Arbus. £195,

Up in Arms

Fancy a little Highland fling before, or after, Christmas? The Fife Arms hotel is set to open in historic Braemar on December 20, and is ready to welcome guests with open arms — and possibly a few wee drams. Gallery owners Iwan and Manuela Wirth, of Hauser & Wirth, have overseen an artistic renovation of this former Victorian coaching inn, with its 46 rooms and suites designed by interiors guru Russell Sage. The beautiful Cairngorms National Park is right on its doorstep and if you head there in September you may bump into the Queen. She regularly attends the region’s annual Highland games, the Braemar Gathering. From £250pn, including breakfast,

Berry’s baking back on track

Mary Berry will be hosting two afternoon teas on board the Belmond British Pullman next May. On a scenic route through the English countryside, Berry will discuss her award-winning career, provide some cheeky baking tips and (probably) demonstrate the best way to eat a cucumber sandwich. From £300pp,