Karen Swan's favourite places to spend Christmas

Karen Swan, author of Christmas Under The Stars and Christmas on Primrose Hill, shares her favourite places to spend Christmas.

Karen Swan, author of Christmas Under The Stars and Christmas on Primrose Hill, shares her favourite places to spend Christmas.

In front of a fireplace at home
The whole reason I had my fireplace put in was to ensure Father Christmas could get down it! I want my children's Christmas memories to be of waking up in their own beds and knowing their stockings are bulging with presents by this fire.
I'm all about cosiness and hunkering under blankets together and for me, a huge roaring fire is an essential element for Christmas Day and every bit as important as the turkey.

In a chalet in the Swiss Alps
Two years ago, we enjoyed a big family Christmas at this chalet near Verbier and if I thought I could have got away with changing the locks and staying there forever, I would have done it. The views over the Rhone Valley were sensational, especially when viewed from the comfort of a reindeer-blanketed chair with a glass of vin chaud to warm my hands.

In a crofter's cottage in the Scottish Highlands
Almost all my childhood Christmases were spent in the Scottish Highlands, where my father's from, and we still own a lovely, very tiny crofter's cottage just outside Glen Coe. I know all the walks up there and I don't care how bad the weather gets, I insist on a yomp down by the river. It's the only way to justify spending the rest of the day on the sofa.

At Claridges
If I couldn't spend Christmas out in the wilds, then I'd want to be in the very heart of London and go all the way on the urban festive thing. A big Mayfair hotel, Claridges has the pedigree and experience for doing Christmas properly. I bet the presents in the crackers would be amazing and I'd take a misty morning walk in Hyde Park, smiling at strangers and wishing them a merry Christmas.

A Chateau in France
A good friend took a group of us to a small chateau in Bordeaux for his 40th and I'd love to go back there one year for a big family Christmas.
The rooms were painted in dark matte colours with sensational original floors and fireplaces, and stone walls six feet deep. It has an incredible spa, beautiful garden, a wine cellar that you'd pay to be locked in overnight and the chef was an artist, bringing out pulled pork garnished with stems of lavender and potatoes grown just outside the windows.

Christmas Under the Stars

by Karen Swan

In the snow-topped mountains of the Canadian Rockies, Meg and Mitch are living their dream. Just weeks away from their wedding, they work and play with Tuck and Lucy, their closest and oldest friends. Meg and Lucy are as close as sisters – much to Meg's sister's dismay – and Tuck and Mitch have successfully turned their passion for snowboarding into a booming business.

But when a polar storm hits, tragedy strikes. Alone in the tiny mountain log cabin she shares with Mitch, Meg desperately tries to radio for help – and it comes from the most unexpected quarter, a lone voice across the airwaves that sees what she cannot.

As the snow melts and they try to live with their loss, the friendship Meg thought was forever is buckled by tensions, rivalries and devastating secrets. Nothing is as she thought and only her radio contact understands what it is to be truly alone. As they share confidences in the dark, witnessed only by the stars, Meg feels her future begin to pull away from her past and is forced to consider a strange truth – is it her friends who are the strangers? And a stranger who really knows her best?

Listen to an audio extract of Christmas Under the Stars: