Showing off its breath-taking festive lights and window displays, our Capital sparkles over Christmas. As schools close for the holidays and workers escape to recharge their batteries it’s as if the City has waved a magic wand. The Capital slows down and empties a little, making restaurant bookings easier, and driving around London is quick. There are fantastic bargains in the shops and great rates at hotels.
Travelling with family, book into The Landmark London in Marylebone. The deluxe family room and suite offers luxury and indoor tents with headlamps for the children, homemade cookies on arrival and breakfast in their amazing Winter Garden.
On a crisp morning, enjoy the stillness of London’s parks. Take a brisk walk or Heely around Hyde Park and make your way to Park Lane to marvel at the high performance super cars in the showroom windows. With your Oyster card (no cash accepted) jump on a No. 11 or 390 bus to Victoria tube station to get to the Tower of London. The Crown Jewels are the most spectacular exhibition in London, the torture chambers might make you queasy, but on the plus point, the queues are smaller in the winter months. After this historic tour, chill out on a river cruise down to Greenwich taking in Dickensian warehouses and wharves along the way. Marvel at the Cutty Sark and Britain’s grand naval history. Or book a Sunday sharing lunch at The Coal Shed, coalshed-restaurantlondon.co.uk.
Recharged for an exhilarating climb to the top of the O2 to take in the spectacular view of the City. Dress up warm. It’s windy at the top! Check out a show at the O2 Arena or go straight to Greenwich underground and take one stop to Canary Wharf for a spot of ice skating and quiet weekend shopping in Canary Wharf Plaza. Continue on the Jubilee line – a 20-minute journey to Green Park. Cut across the park to watch the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.
Head up Bond Street to Oxford Street to browse the January sales and new season fashions. You can pre-book a personal shopper at Selfridges, or a free hour online shopper at myoxtstplanner.com while the family enjoy luxury gelato, waffles and milkshake at Snowflake, Selfridges…perhaps even splash out on the Billionaire’s Soft Serve, the most expensive ice cream in London!
Discover London’s best independent bakeries, gelaterias, cheesemongers, and chocolate shops with trained pastry chef Lynne Staartjes on one of her exclusive Sweet Tooth Tours. Enjoy tasting portions from several edible hidden gems, while taking in the history of the local area. If you really want to splash out, you can even have a chauffeur driven Rolls Royce tour!
Afternoon tea at Jean-Georges at The Connaught is a treat. Wander down Mount Street, Mayfair and enjoy the shops, Scotts Restaurant and Richoux pattisserie around the corner. Or jump in a black cab (lots of room for shopping bags, a bugaboo and five passengers) to Marylebone High Street and all its independent shops including the famous Edwardian bookshop, Daunts books.
London has the highest ranking in 100 cities for concerts, theatres and cinemas. At weekends it’s best to book in advance. Keith Bewick Head Concierge at Landmark London Hotel recommends that families visit Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, ZSL London Zoo, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at Palace Theatre, and Sea Life London Aquarium when staying with them. Other fabulous family shows on in January/February 2018 include, Aladdin, Lion King, School of Rock, and Ovo at Royal Albert Hall. Or take in the latest blockbuster in the heart of London – Leicester Square – Vue London was refurbished in 2017 and even has reclining seats in the front row!
Design and arts are in abundance in London. For the Tate Modern walk over the wobbly bridge and become a Tate member and get exclusive access to the Members Bar, or grab a bite at the Kitchen & Bar. Keep up the momentum and check out the ‘One, Two, Three, Swing’ exhibit in the Turbine Hall by artists Superflex. Each swing has been designed for three people. Enjoy more free access to the arts at the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery and afterwards take a moment to sit on the famous lions in Trafalgar Square for an iconic photo. The much anticipated exhibition ‘Charles I: King and Collector’ opens on 27 January until 15 March at The Royal Academy of Arts
For a winter cocktail go up to Aqua Kyoto for a ‘Sloeberry Snowsnaps’ (£14). Ingredients include: Tanqueray gin, apricot brandy, lemon, grenadine, apricot, soda and cranberries, or enjoy a mocktail if detoxing, and survey the City of London and beyond.
Down at ground level, cosy up in the winter terrace at J. Sheekey in Covent Garden and try the Warm squid salad with slow roast tomatoes and violet artichoke. Or perhaps go for a mulled sloe gin in the Monkey 47 Winter Lodge at Rosewood London until February, when London is back at full capacity and gets its groove on with the music world and fashionistas for the Brit Awards and London Fashion Week.
Have a great Christmas and enjoy London.
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