4 festive getaways around the world
Expat missing home? Local, curious to experience a traditional Christmas? Or just love the cold? Here are our picks of the best big cities to get your fix of fairy lit trees, gift-wrapped shopping, and stomach-warming treats.
Best for lights: New York
The Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown always does Christmas in true Big Apple style so expect festive decor, treats and pampering. Alternatively, hipsters can join the party and smooch under mistletoe at the very lively Sister City NYC.
Where to eat: Delmonico’s is America’s first formal restaurant and the most photogenic venue in town. Bubby’s will have a festive 12 Days of Brunch special. Meanwhile, Sweet Rehab is where you go to see amazing desserts made right in front of you.
Where to shop: It’s all about the fancy new Nordstrom flagship which opened in October so expect elaborate holiday displays.
On Location Tours still offers a massively popular Sex and the City hotspot tour, where you’ll get to explore and shop at the cast’s fave stores.
What to Instagram: NYC is all about Christmas lights! The Bronx Zoo (oh hey, J-Lo!) has the best display to walk through.
You can also book The Holiday Ride whereby a fleet of motor coaches use electronic wizardry, music and performers take you on a magical drive around the city.
Where to party: The McKittrick organises some of the best seasonal parties, and this NYE will be an extravaganza! How about bar hopping under the bright colourful lights of Times Square?
Bar 54 has an awesome rooftop terrace if you don’t mind winter chill, while the Times Square EDITION is the place to get dressed up to boogie down at against views galore.
Any celebs home for the holidays: Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, SJP, Alicia Keys…you’ll be in a hot bed of super stars here!
Best for snow: Montreal
Where to stay: In Old Montreal – it’s where you’ll find fairytale architecture accentuated by the snow.
Check out Hotel William Gray, a trendy spot with buzzing social spaces and spectacular views of the city’s most historic buildings.
Where to eat: BEVO Bar & Pizzeria is the city’s pizza party, where you’ll dance over two floors in company of a hotshot DJ, and tuck into freshly made pizza which you can even choose to make yourself.
There also the uber trendy MARCUS restaurant, specialising in seafood – everything from sashimi to seafood towers.
Where to shop: The eclectic neighbourhood of The Mile End is full of surprises – from vintage fashion to modern art, and you also need to visit the year round Christmas store, Noel Eternel.
What to Instagram: Ever imagined yourself as a mermaid? AquaMermaid swimming school was founded by mermaid super fan, Marielle Chartier Hénault, and offers ‘flipping fun’ classes in swimming with your two legs bound together in tail.
This engages your core muscles to give you a workout and photos like no other! It’s the best way to work up an appetite for all that festive food.
Where to party: Wolf And Workman is a friendly Old Montreal pub where you’ll meet new local pals to toast the holidays with, or alternatively party with other tourists and join one of Montreal’s many food and drink walking tours.
Any celebs home for the holidays: Montreal is Celine Dion’s beloved home.
Best for a magical time: London
Where to stay: Check into cool new 2019 openings The Standard in Kings Cross and The Stratford in East London.
For that traditional British feeling the iconic Browns Hotel on Albemarle Street is fit for a Queen (and indeed has welcomed royalty over the years).
Where to eat: Festive fine dining is exquisite London. For a British Christmas dinner, it’s all about Berner’s Tavern which has the most stunning interiors, while steak fans will love Wolfgang Puck’s CUT in Hyde Park.
The multi-cultural city has brilliant international eats, such as the flagship Zuma in Knightsbridge and Chinatown’s glam hidden hangouts Xu and Opium.
Where to shop: You must shop under the Christmas lights of Oxford Street, Bond Street and Carnaby Street, and of course Selfridges, where a scene from Love Actually was filmed.
Chocolate addict? Hotel Chocolat has stores all over the city, as well as a London Eye tasting experience.
What to Instagram: Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, is where you’ll experience the magic behind the famous Harry Potter films.
In addition, the city’s ice rinks have the best backdrops for your IG photos – our faves are the rinks at Somerset House, the National History Museum, and Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.
Where to party: For daytime fun, visit Mr Fogg’s Residence in Mayfair - a quirky wanderlust themed bar with quirky drink creations and crazy interiors.
Nolita Social is a chic and stylish underground lounge close to Harrods in Knightsbridge, but if you prefer heights, watch the Christmas rush up high from the Shangri-La at The Shard bars.
Any celebs home for the holidays: Meghan, Harry, William, Kate, and showbiz royalty, The Beckhams.
Best for winter romance : Paris
Where to stay: Forget AirBnb, 2020 is all about the Plum Guide. It’s like the Michelin Guide for homes, and here you can find amazing and unique stays, from gorgeous French townhouses in Le Marais to sleek apartments facing the Eiffel Tower.
For those who like the familiarity of hotels, we love Brach, a designer property, and Sinner, a modern gothic stay with romantic candlelit hallways.
Where to eat: Having claimed two Michelin stars and a prestigious World Restaurant Award, Le Clarence is a ‘when in Paris’ splash out dining occasion perfect for a winter romance.
You’ll be tended to by sharply dressed wait staff under a stunning 19th century mansion, and indulge in a series of visual and gastronomic masterpieces on a dish.
Where to shop: Chanel on 31 Rue Cambon. This isn’t just any Chanel boutique – it’s the very first one in the world.
The legend opened it in 1910 and even lived above it. The building also contained the studio of the late creative director, Karl Lagerfeld.
What to Instagram: The French are renowned for their dazzling cabaret shows, from the Moulin Rouge to Crazy Horse and Lido De Paris.
You can’t take photos during the shows, but there are photographers inside who will take them for you to purchase, and the exteriors are totally worth a social media post.
Where to party: Le Marais is where the cool crowd party through the holidays! Start at Jacques’ Bar, an intimate venue from the team behind The Hoxton.
Then take the party downstairs to Rivié, an adjoining leafy courtyard bar/brassiere, and finish at Little Red Door, a jazzy speakeasy with little red stools and cosy lamp-lighting.
Any celebs home for the holidays: Johnny Depp and family may return for a French Christmas, and fashion bunnies should look out for their fave designers trotting around the cobbled pavements.