Christmas in London is magical. Quite aside from some fantastically imaginative shopping options spanning the city from east to west, and being lit by twinkling Christmas lights galore, there are heaps of unusual things to enjoy in the city, and heaps of hotels from which to enjoy them. We’ve handpicked 12 great ones that'll form the most festive of bases to enjoy everything from carols in medieval churches to ice-skating at Somerset House.
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For a traditional Christmas, check into London’s most iconic hotel. Exquisite rooms have classy art deco stylings, en suite marble bathrooms, and state of the art technology. And for a ‘turkey and all the trimmings’ meal, the Claridge’s Festive menu (from £95 per person) is available as a Christmas Eve or Day dinner, or Boxing Day lunch. After a great breakfast, walk it all off in nearby Hyde Park.
What’s more Christmassy than ice-skating? Check into the ME Hotel and head over to the Fortnum & Mason rink at Somerset House where, on special club nights, DJs will provide a funky soundtrack for you to show off your moves. For learners, there’s Skate School, and non-skaters can tipple at the Alpine-themed lodge before heading back to modern designer rooms – white leather walls and soundproofing – and chill some more. Other ice rinks throughout London offer similarly fun days and nights out.
Experience the spirit of Christmas at a carol service in one of the City’s medieval churches. Stay at the perfectly placed Andaz, in one of its oh-so-cool rooms with Eames designer furniture. Flex your vocal chords in the steam room, take a soak in the deep fast-fill tub then find more Christmas spirit at one of its seven bars and restaurants before falling between Egyptian cotton sheets.
With the best views in London, bar none, the Shangri-La is the best place for watching London’s New Year’s Eve Fireworks. Watch from floor-to-ceiling windows in your luxury room, or treat yourself to a six-course dinner on level 35 at TING (from £400 pp). Or book tickets to GONG bar (£180) to enjoy a cocktail and the live music and DJ set from midnight until the early hours.
It’s a wonderful life, especially if you’ve booked into the Mondrian, the über-cool, ship-themed hotel designed by Tom Dixon. Sleek rooms might include one of Dixon’s drip wall paintings or his signature wingback chair, and have Hollywood-glamour marble bathrooms. Relax at the Agua Bathhouse & Spa, strut your stuff in the 12th-floor Rumpus Room rooftop bar, visit the hotel’s own 56-seat cinema, or check out the Christmas markets along the Thames.
Hip to the max, the Zetter is the epitome of cool in an area where you can still find Dickens’ London. Housed in a Victorian warehouse, rooms are a combo of antique and reclaimed furniture, with super-modern comforts, like rain showers, Bose speakers and REN products. Find excellent Christmas gifts, as well as groovy cafés, bars and restaurants in nearby Exmouth Market and around the historic Smithfield meat market.
What better way to end a last-minute shopping dash than with a stay at K West & Spa, where huge stylish rooms feature funky wallpaper, smart TVs and in-room tablets as well as sleek Philippe Starck bathrooms. Just across the road is Westfield shopping centre, and once you’ve bagged the seasonal booty, you can head back to the hotel’s spa for revitalisation of the body, if not the wallet. Both steam and ice rooms, plus pool, should do the trick.
If you’re going to take in a Christmas show, why not stay in the heart of London’s theatre district. Each room is unique here, with Kit Kemp’s distinctive style taking in pinstriped wallpaper, floral upholstery, pristine white quilts and beautiful granite and oak bathrooms. The 1920s Paris-style Brasserie Max is on the ground floor, and there’s even a screening room. Those looking for privacy should head for the library and drawing room.
London dazzles at Christmas: the Oxford Street lights alone have 1,778 snowball-like decorations (and 750,000 LED lightbulbs). Switch off at the Hoxton in Holborn. Rooms are smart, but simple, with free wifi and a bag of breakfast delivered to your room, and prices to suit every pocket - shoebox, snug, cosy and roomy. The Holborn Grind serves great joe, while the basement Chicken Shop is clucking good too.
Unleash your inner child at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, fun for big and little kids alike. Play in the 'snow', get an eyeful on the giant ferris wheel, explore the Magical Ice Kingdom and the two circuses, before getting your grown-up on back at the hotel. Across the road (within stumbling distance) you'll find Bayswater's Stylotel, with well-appointed rooms and en suite pod bathrooms. StyloSuites, just around the corner, start at £99 and are home to Stylotel's pub The Sussex Arms.
After Midnight Mass at Westminster Abbey or Cathedral, stroll back to this cosy boutique hotel, housed in a Pimlico townhouse. Charming rooms have cool and quirky furnishings – they were decorated by artists, after all – with roll top baths, slippers and robes. A real added bonus is the on-site bohemian Clarendon Cocktail Cellar, and excellent on-site café/restaurant, serving great brunch and dinner.
Dreaming of a White Christmas? Head for Ian Schrager’s London Edition, where a fabulous après ski lodge, complete with rugs and antlers, has been set up in the basement. Invite up to 100 of your closest ski-bunnies, chill out with a couple of hot rum punches, then slope off to a sophisticated ‘yacht-cabin’ room, with wooden floors and walnut-panelled walls. Other facilities include a grand lobby bar and Michelin-starred restaurant.
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