TRAVEL REVIEW: Christmas in London
While we love spending the festive season in our fave sandpit, nothing quite says Christmas like being in the freezing cold with soggy toes. Which is why London will always be on the agenda once late November hits. The UK’s capital is a veritable light show at this time of the year. Even the Grinch would struggle not to get into the festive spirit. Here’s our guide to having all of the fun in London.
TRAVEL IN STYLE
Who better to take you to London than British Airways? BA currently operates three daily flights (with Boeing 747 and 777 aircraft) on the Dubai-to- London route and one daily flight (Boeing 787-9) on the Abu Dhabi route. It’s a brilliant way to get your holiday started at the airport. Get yourself into BA’s Club World and relax in the Terminal 1 lounge pre- flight with top-quality service. Business passengers (or those of swanky Silver membership or higher) can indulge in the range of hot and cold snacks and premium beverages at the Deli Bar, before relaxing in one of the many comfy seating areas, all of which have access to power sockets and USB points. It’s A-list lounging at its best.
Once on board, Club World passengers can look forward to a spacious seat (which reclines into a fully flat bed – seriously comfy), exclusive The White Company goods such as cosy blankets and amenity cases, top films and telly shows on your personal video screen and a yummy selection of on-board meals and snacks. You’ll be so comfy you’ll wish the seven-hour flight was longer. INFO: To book, visit britishairways.com
WHERE TO STAY
For a central location that is stylish and ultra- comfortable, you can’t get much better than Como Metropolitan. Situated in Mayfair, Central London, the hotel is within easy walking distance of Piccadilly Circus, Bond Street, Knightsbridge and Oxford Street. Heathrow airport is a 45-minute car journey, or 15 minutes by train (heathrowexpress.com) from Paddington Station, with an additional 15 minutes by the famous black taxi.
Since its opening in 1997, the Como has gone from strength to strength, and prides itself on providing the utmost care, luxury and service for its guests. It’s a swish place to stay. Even the sta are decked out in uniforms designed by Armani. The hotel has 144 rooms and suites all featuring bespoke king-size beds with 400-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets, Loewe interactive TV with extensive on-demand music and over 70 channels, gadgets such as Nespresso machines, touchscreen controls, remote-controlled curtains and blinds, operated by your bedside. There are rainfall showers, international multi-region plug sockets and climate control. If you’re going on a shopping marathon and need help getting to or from the stores, Como’s personal shopping assistant is on hand to help.
Guests staying at the hotel have complimentary access to Como Shambhala Urban Escape and gym, just in case you want to work on those extra holiday pounds. All of this, plus the incredible floor-to-ceiling windows with views of Hyde Park or Mayfair make Como an ideal choice for a festive getaway. It’s also home to celebrity fave hangouts Nobu and London’s famous Met Bar, where everyone from Kate Moss to Liam Gallagher has partied at some point over the years. INFO: Old Park Lane, +44 20 7447 1000, email@example.com, comohotels.com/metropolitanlondon
REGENT STREET SHOPPING
It’s one of the busiest shopping areas in the city, but a trip to Regent Street is a must, if only to see the lights. Every year, the capital decks the sky above the bustling road and high street with themed fairy lights turning the entire 1.3km length into a festival of lights. The actual shopping here is, of course, great, with stores such as Burberry, Molton Brown, Weekday and Apple all waiting to welcome you (and your wallet) with open arms. It’s also where you will find Hamleys, the world’s oldest and largest toy shop. INFO: Closest tube: Oxford Circus
WINTER WONDERLAND IN HYDE PARK
London’s largest annual winter market and funfair attracts around 2.5million visitors every year. Open daily (except 25 Dec) from 10am-10pm, expect rustic stores where you can pick up homemade toys and ornaments, Bavarian chalet-style bars and fairground rides such as the waltzers, and a giant 60-metre Ferris wheel. Zippo’s Megadome is home to The Sooty Christmas show, which will be certain to keep little ones entertained. INFO: hydeparkwinterwonderland.com
AFTERNOON TEA AT THE NED
The Ned will be celebrating its first Christmas this year and is pulling out all of the stops to make it a stylish one. Pop along to Millie’s Lounge for a traditional afternoon tea served in bespoke Burleigh China tea sets. Gobble up finger sarnies, cakes, fresh scones, jam and clotted cream with cups of tea. Then go to the beautifully decorated loos and take a selfie – it’s The Ned law. INFO: Dhs130 (with tea), Dhs180 (bubby), 2pm-5pm, Mon-Sat, 27 Poultry, +44 20 3828 2000, thened.com
ICE SKATING OUTDOORS AT SOMERSET HOUSE
If you haven’t taken a tumble on an ice rink outdoors, you haven’t lived. Hit Somerset House, located on the banks of the Thames, for a spin on the outdoor rink. Skates are available to hire, just remember to wrap up warm. Gloves are a must. INFO: The Strand, somersethouse.org.uk, closest tube: Temple
Fancy seeing a Christmas tree with a difference? Karl Lagerfeld is behind the legendary Claridge’s tree this year and it’s one Stranger Things fans will appreciate. Hanging upside down in the lobby, it’s a breathtaking sight to behold. Go see it and take plenty of snaps. INFO: Brook Street, Mayfair, +44 20 7629 8860, claridges.co.uk
ULTIMATE POWER CHRISTMAS
We love a good Christmas knees-up (read: ‘party’, for any non-Brits). One of the most fun London nights on the festive calendar is Ultimate Power, a night dedicated to power ballads and fun. Sing along to the likes of Céline Dion, Whitney Houston, Meatloaf and so many more. INFO: Fri 8 Dec, O2 Forum, 9-17 Highgate Rd, Kentish Town, ultimatepowerclub.com
If an evening of elegant traditional entertainment is more your thing, why not book tickets to see the Birmingham Ballet performance of The Nutcracker? A tale as old as time, this beautiful show will leave you feeling more festive than Santa riding a reindeer. INFO: Thu 28-Sun 31 Dec, Royal Albert Hall, Knightsbridge, royalalberthall.com
Foodies have to visit Borough Market when in town. The mega open-air market has stalls packed with both savoury and sweet treats to purchase (with plenty of freebie tasters). Pick up a panettone and some of the finest cheeses in London while contentedly munching on a mince pie and warm mulled beverage. INFO: 8 Southwark St, boroughmarket.org.uk, closest tube: Southwark