Christmas London is no small event – the city is absolutely teeming with fun things to do, beautiful displays to see and delicious yuletide delicacies to munch. To make sure you really make the most of the festive season and don’t end up overwhelmed by the many options available to you, follow this Christmas guide to success.
Where to stay
The question of where to stay in London can be answered in most cases with any Montcalm Hotel. Straying too far from one of the luxurious Montcalm properties in London is always a mistake – luckily, there are a number of properties sprinkled around the city so no matter where you want to be, there is a Montcalm Christmas package to be enjoyed. From The Montcalm Royal London House to M for Montcalm, these packages include not only full access to the Club Lounge and complimentary breakfast for two, but the adults also get a festive drink on arrival as well as mulled wine during turndown service. Montcalm experiences are a family affair – and there are of course mugs of hot chocolate for the kids to tuck into!
Have yourself a very Merry Montcalm Christmas.
Where to shop
The ultimate Christmas guide would be incomplete without suggestions on where to get your Christmas shopping done. Even if you find yourself not having bought a single present before arriving in London, there is no way you will get through a day at the high street, the markets or in the major department stores without finding the perfect gift for every special person in your life. No matter which Montcalm property you are staying in, you are always a short train ride or even stroll away from the following hotspots.
If the department-store experience is your preference, head first to Oxford Street to the world-famous Selfridges. Bustling with designer brands as well as opportunities to sip on champagne and slurp down oysters, there is no shopping experience quite like it. Harrods is an equally unique and worthwhile shopping experience, with Christmas cheer emanating from every floor of the Knightsbridge location. From the bookstore to the jewellery department, there is something for every mood.
Address: Selfridges & Co: 400 Oxford St, Marylebone, W1A 1AB
Harrods: 87-135 Brompton Rd, Knightsbridge, SW1X 7XL
If you want to keep away from brands this year and buy some local gifts and sentimentally bespoke products, then you are better off doing your Christmas shopping at one of London’s gorgeous Christmas markets. Each stall is selling something you won’t find anywhere else, from scented candles to wool scarves. The Winter Market at the Southbank Center and Winter Wonderland are the two big, obvious markets, but you will have just as exciting a shopping experience at some of the smaller markets, like Winterville in Clapham Common or Ruskin Park’s Frost Fair. Remember: no market experience is complete without a warm mulled wine to keep you focused.
Address: Winter Market: Southbank Center, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX
Winter Wonderland: Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park, W2 2UH
Winterville: Clapham Common, SW4 9DE
Frost Fair: Brixton, SE5 9BD
Where to drink
There is no shortage of watering holes in London – and we are not talking about the River Thames. Grabbing a drink in the city is a rite of passage when visiting London and during Christmas-time, things really crank up a notch with bars around the city offering themed drinks and specials for the season. From mulled wine to egg nog, or just a cinnamon twist, here are the best spots for a Christmas tipple.
The Aviary London is a top-notch bird-themed bar and restaurant on the 10th floor of east London’s Montcalm Royal with spectacular views of the city. In other words – the perfect spot to have a drink while overlooking a spectacular bird’s eye view of the Christmas lights across the city. The Aviary’s Christmas drinks menu includes everything you need to embrace the season.
Address: Royal London House, 10th Floor Montcalm, 22-25 Finsbury Square, EC2A 1DX
The pop-up Bavarian Village at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland is where you ought to be visiting if you have mulled wine on your mind. You get your fair share (and more) of the authentic German Christmas experience with traditional German food, drinks and music. It has a great festive atmosphere and everyone is dancing and laughing like they haven’t a worldly care! If you feel like you are still stressed from the tiresome year and won’t fit into this laid back environment, then make the most of the Montcalm Spa Deals on offer at your hotel and that will be a thing of the past.
Address: Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park, W2 2UH
Where to eat
Though where to drink is always on the list, where to eat is arguably the most important part of getting the full Christmas experience – is it even the season to be jolly if you don’t tuck into the best Christmas dinner? Here are some places offering the home-run of Christmas dinners.
Eating out in Shoreditch is a recipe for delight – especially if you are staying at M for Montcalm. In fact, it is just a 15-minute walk from your hotel to Lyle’s on Shoreditch High Street – where all your Christmas-menu dreams will come true. Throughout the year, the Lyle’s team serve up seasonal British fare, so it should come as no surprise that during the Christmas season, they are serving up all-things-Christmas… all with modern, stripped-back dining room chic. For instance, their tantalising Pheasant Broth or the mouthwatering pear, chestnut and honey dessert.
Address: Tea Bldg, 56 Shoreditch High St, Hackney, E1 6JJ
If you are looking for more of a traditional roast dinner environment, then look no further than The Victoria, just around the corner from Montcalm Marble Arch. Their Christmas finger buffet has everything you could wish for from the season: Pigs in blankets alongside Turkey, orange and cranberry sliders anyone? Alternatively, their set two or three-course menu contains all the classics: turkey breast with chestnut and apricot stuffing, apple braised pork belly, Arctic roll of nutmeg, pumpkin and cinnamon… and that is just to name a few.
Address: 10A Strathearn Pl, Paddington, W2 2NH
If you want neither traditional nor traditional-with-a-twist, but rather a completely different cultural Christmas meal, then head to Dishoom for a Christmas feast that is unrivalled. This heavenly Indian restaurant in various locations across London reminds us that this time of year is about community, celebration and bringing people together through food and love, no matter the cultural affiliations with the season. Their Bombay Christmas feasts should be on everyone’s Christmas lists… think Chai EggNog (in case you thought eggnog couldn’t get any better), a whole turkey leg prepared in the traditional Indian raan style with a healthy serving of spicy cranberry chutney.
Address: Kensington: 4 Derry Street, Kensington, W8 5SE
Shoreditch: 7 Boundary Street, Hackney, E2 7JE
King’s Cross: 5 Stable Street, Kings Cross, N1C 4AB
Carnaby: 22 Kingly Street, Soho, W1B 5QP
Covent Garden: 12 Upper St Martin’s Lane, WC2H
The best mince pies
Where to find the best mince pies in the city deserves a section all to itself, because Londoners are connoisseurs of the perfect mince pie. A word of warning: buy more than one.
Paul’s are a popular bakery and coffee shop with a number of venues across the city. But during the Christmas season, they really make themselves stand out with their mince pie croissant – you heard right. Mince. Pie. Croissant. This hybrid tastes like everything you love of both treats – gooey mince meat and crumbly croissant pastry. Are you drooling yet?
All foodie roads lead to Borough Market, whether it is a wheel of cheese, a freshly squeezed juice, Ethiopian coffee beans or a marvellous mince pie. If it is the latter the piques your taste buds, then head to Bread Ahead. The bad news is that they are so delicious you will want them every Christmas. The good news is that they also offer mince pie workshops to ensure that even if you don’t visit London every Christmas, you will always have the tools to make sure you don’t go without these magical mouthfuls.
Address: Borough Market, Cathedral St, London SE1 9DE
There is no excuse for not tucking into a mince pie this Christmas-time – not even an aversion to dairy. Head to one of the Konditor stores in London and buy a pack of their vegan mince pies. They don’t taste like they are lacking in butter, but they are 100% dairy-free!
Christmas is only complete when you have been ice skating – luckily, London comes brimful of options to do just that. Your decision of which venue to visit should be based on which location is most appealing to you architecturally because between the fairy lights and Christmas decor, they all look sensational.
Admirers of The National History Museum in South Kensington will be thrilled to hear that the courtyard in front of the Waterhouse Building has been transformed into an ice-skater’s utopia. There is a towering Christmas tree in the centre of the outdoor rink and every tree surrounding the rink is wrapped in its finest lights. Take your camera – you are going to want to take pictures of the shadow and light cast Waterhouse Building as soon as you see it.
Address: Cromwell Road, South Kensington, SW7 5BD
Somerset House has a lovely Christmassy courtyard set up this year, as with every year, and it just gets better with age. There is a large Christmas tree in the centre of the court and the ice rink is within the iconic four walls of this historically significant landmark. Most people have Somerset House firmly planted on their bucket list even without an ice rink for entertainment, so it is absolutely buzzing when it is there.
Address: Somerset House, The Strand, WC2R 1LA
The best Christmas shows
It is not a trip to London without a trip to the theatre in the same way as it is not a stay in the Montcalm Marble Arch without a cracking champagne afternoon tea. Though there is seldom a show on the West End that isn’t worth your time, there are a number of Christmas-themed shows that will make the experience all the more jolly. Here are the top three to look out for in the box office.
The Snowman is the stage adaptation taking place at the Peacock Theatre. It is a stage remake of Raymond Briggs treasured 1978 children’s book of the same name which was made into the cherished animated film in 1982, featuring the iconic song by Howard Blake “Walking In The Air”. This is a Christmas extravaganza for the whole family to enjoy, with the perfect combination of novelty, nostalgia and joy.
Address: Portugal Street, Holborn, WC2A 2HT
Nativity! The Musical is back in London this Christmas after the success of last year and after a UK tour prior to its London dates. You are in for a laugh-out-loud treat, with an utterly dazzling star-studded cast, including Sharon Osbourne, Danny and Dani Dyer and Rylan Clark-Neal, to name a few. Expect a Bethlehem-bonanza for the books.
Address: 45 Queen Caroline St, Hammersmith, W6 9QH
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol has become an institution of the Christmas season, so it goes without saying that you should consider seeing the production of it at The Old Vic during your yuletide-explorations. This is no ordinary show, though – it is Matthew Warchus’ critically acclaimed production which for the last two years has been met with absolutely raving reviews.
Address: The Cut, Lambeth, SE1 8NB
This guide covers all the cornerstones of Christmas in London, but it is important to remember that exploring the roads and venues just around your chosen hotel is likely to be fruitful – there really is that much happening. From shopping to mulled wine, theatre trips to ice skating, there is something merry and bright to make even Scrooge start singing Jingle Bells!