It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And there’s no denying the magic of Christmastime in our capital city of London. Watch in wonder as the city is transformed under a canopy of a thousand twinkling lights, and oodles of festive cheer. As we nosh down on the last remaining chocolates in our advent calendars, even the city’s iconic Eye celebrates the 12 days of Christmas with a daily-changing light show. So let’s warm our frosty fingers over a rich mug of cocoa, and check out the city’s most iconic attractions, and HIP-est hotels for maximum yuletide joy.
Undeniably the most iconic place to skate over the holiday season, this neoclassical courtyard is once again transformed into a frozen landscape centred around a 30ft Christmas tree, with a backdrop of some of the city’s most historic and beautiful architecture. Spin and jump - or simply imagine you are - as you take your laps around the rink to the tunes blasted out by the rink-side DJ’s. Have your mulled wine at the ready though, baby. It’s cold outside.
Not only the most famous store in the world, this London establishment probably boasts the greatest light show too. If you love luxury, and designer labels, you’ll love this year’s collaboration, which has seen the whole store transformed into The Fabulous World of Dior – from immersive pop-ups, magical window displays and a gingerbread themed Dior Café, there’s more than enough sparkle for everyone. Be sure to check out ‘Christmas World’ too on the Lower Ground floor, with a labyrinth of festive goodies guaranteed to please anyone who likes their Christmases shiny.
No one quite does Christmas lights like London. And the Oxford Street Christmas lights are undeniably the biggest and best in the city. In fact, until those lights are turned on, Christmas hasn’t officially begun. Watch as 5000 LED stars light up the night sky above the city’s most iconic retail strip, followed by shimmering angels along Regent Street, and a more colourful display up the hipper area of Carnaby Street. This dazzling display of twinkles is sure to delight even the grumpiest festive party poopers. So even if you’re not up for any shopping, go for the display alone. But we’re warning you - no bah humbug allowed.
This year marks the 15th year since Hyde Park was first transformed into the magical Winter Wonderland it is today. From 100 thrilling rides to the largest ice rink in the whole of the UK, this annual attraction is surely one of London’s most-loved Christmas events. Step into the Magical Ice Kingdom and marvel at over 500 tons of ice that have been sculpted into secret passageways, a crystal carriage of the Ice Palace and much much more. Acrobats put on a show at the circus, whilst the Dr Archibald VR experience will leave you questioning what’s real, and what certainly isn’t. Whether you’re lured by Santa’s grotto, or chilling with a cocktail at the après-ski-themed ice bar, there really is something for everyone.
Situated right along the River Thames, every year the Southbank is decked out in true festive style, as it puts on the ultimate Christmas market. Wander through an alpine-themed wonderland, where rustic mountain-style cabins serve up festive drinks, delicious treats and a wonderful array of artisanal goodies too. Front line to London’s most iconic landscape, lighting up the night sky with thousands of fairy lights, we dare you not to feel the Christmas spirit set your heart aglow. Tuck into homemade mince pies, spiced bratwurst and freshly made churros. It’s Christmas after all.
It’s easy to forget the real reason behind Christmas, but even if you’re not a believer, you can still partake in the season of giving and joy. For anyone who does wish to partake in something more traditional, St Paul’s Cathedral is set to celebrate the birth of Jesus, through words, silence and music. Whatever you believe, this iconic London landmark is opening its doors for an experience of Advent and Christmas, and there’s no arguing its awe-inspiring beauty. According to a 4000-year-old mathematical equation, known as the ‘golden ratio’ St Paul’s has been crowned as the most beautiful building in the world. This barometer works by comparing the world’s most famous architectural works, and determining how visually appealing each is to the human eye. So whether you come for the Word, the songs, or the beauty, St Paul’s is surely a contender for the places to see this Christmas in London.
Opulence and grandeur are par for the course at this truly British institution. Dating back to 1851, Fleming’s is not only one of London’s oldest family-owned hotels, it also happens to be one of its finest. With 18th-century rooms resplendently restored, following a multi-million-pound refurbishment, what better place to stay this Christmas time. Fit for a king, or a queen, or any member of royalty, treat yourself to the splendour of Fleming’s this holiday season. This London institution is also offering a range of extra special Christmas packages just for you from their Festive shopping package, which includes a £50 voucher to spend at Harrods.
Blink and you might miss it. One of the city’s most historic boltholes is actually disguised behind an original London townhouse façade. Known for its impeccable style and classic décor, Mimi’s is arguably one of the best stops in London’s theatreland. Whilst there isn’t a restaurant on-site, the hotel’s Henson’s Bar & Social, is arguably one of the finest watering holes in Soho. Serving up impeccable handcrafted cocktails amid an ambience more akin to a private member’s club, this is happy hour all day long. If you’re in the mood for a little festive sounds, singers and choirs performing traditional Christmas carols are just 10 mins away at the city’s Trafalgar Square. Fa la la la la.
This stylish London hotel is all decked out for Christmas. Arranged over 10 floors in slick Midtown style, you can revel in the festivities from the comfort of the hotel, or venture out into the city to experience the true spirit of Christmas. Think plush funky décor and statement neon artwork, contributing to a young, fun vibe here at NYX Hotel Holborn. Their exclusive rooftop bar, Glasshouse on The Roof, which actually has a retractable roof, enjoys panoramic views over London. So when you feel like getting away from the frantic crowds, why not relax in one of their sumptuous seats, and slip into something more comfortable - like a Glasshouse Cadillac (a heavenly fusion of Grand Marnier Cuvee Louis Alexandre, Galliano and more). All the Christmas feels with none of the stress. Merry Christmas one and all.
If you fancy yourself a bit of a rock n’ roll Christmas, Notting Hill’s Portobello Hotel is the spot. Its prim and proper exterior belies a raunchier underbelly of wild antics and legendary stories. Attracting celebrities, rock stars and fashionistas since the seventies, these walls can tell the tales of many a Christmas past, and any other day of the year for that matter. The two converted neoclassical mansions are home to 21 decadently eclectic rooms, including the iconic room 16, whose circular bed Robbie Williams famously tried to buy. From bathtubs filled with snakes à la Alice Cooperto the Felliniesque cocktail bar, the bohemian spirit permeates throughout every inch of this well-known luxury escape. We have it on good authority that Johnny Depp and Kate Moss filled the tub with Champagne. Now we’re not suggesting you do the same, but this is the season to celebrate after all. Our lips are sealed.
Blending Indian culture with British heritage, The LaLiT London is surely one of London’s grandest stays. Housed in a centuries old grammar school, the neo-Baroque features still shine on through. Think vaulted ceilings and grand wooden panelling, bathed in hues of orange and cream, this Grade II listed bolthole never fails to impress. From the opulent Headmaster’s Room to the impressive Teacher’s Room, LaLit’s contemporary bar, there’s no shortage of cosy corners and oversized seating to sink into in front of roaring fireplaces to keep the cockles warm. It’s one time you might actually enjoy being called into the school head’s office. Located on the South Bank, near Tower Bridge, you’re in prime position to enjoy the best of London this Christmas time. If you love elephants, there’s an adorable stuffed one in every room for guests to take home; it doesn’t even matter if you’re on the nice list or not; the festive spirit is here for everyone.
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