With the streets lit up with festive decorations and department store windows showing off their creative displays, it’s the most wonderful time of year to be in London. So if you find yourself across the pond over the next couple of weeks, here’s what you absolutely must do to make it an unforgettable holiday jaunt.
1. Après Ski at Fortnum and Mason
Gliding across the ice in the grand Neoclassical courtyard of Somerset House is a winter tradition for many Londoners. Even if you don’t have the skiing skills of the Après Ski crew, there are plenty of reasons to visit. Fortnum and Mason, the famed posh department store, will be serving champagne and afternoon tea at its glamorous Fortnum’s Lodge, as well as running a seasonal pop-up store featuring its royally approved festive gifts, accessories, and food — perfect for last minute gift shopping. If you want to make a night of it, save the date for Club Nights, featuring international DJs taking over the rinkside decks.
2. The Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House
Whether you are in Europe or the U.S., the Nutcracker is a festive tradition for many — London alone currently has four different productions performance. There is, however, nothing quite like seeing the magical masterpiece at the plush Royal Opera House, one of the great arts venues of the world. Only a few tickets remain for this season’s dates, so hurry! And make an event of it by reserving a table at the opera house’s Amphitheatre Restaurant and Terrace or for a Nutcracker afternoon tea, which includes such indulgent fancies such as rum and vanilla drum cake, Opéra Gâteau, and white chocolate and Perigord truffle.
3. Christmas Afternoon Tea at the Ritz
You don’t get more iconic London that the hallowed, opulent Louis XVI interiors of the Ritz Hotel London. Afternoon Tea in the Palm Court here is an institution any time of the year. The service takes on a festive theme over the Christmas weeks with a Nordic pine Christmas tree, grown in Scotland especially for hotel, carol singers, and treats for younger guests. Father Christmas himself will be making several appearances on Christmas Day.
4. Christmas Dinner at Shangri-La at the Shard
Rivaling London’s classic hotels in opulence is the recently opened Shangri-La, occupying the 34th to 52nd floors of the soaring Shard building. On the 35th floor, Ting restaurant is serving a three-course Christmas lunch menu and wine pairings, offering festive dishes such as roasted Norfolk turkey with all the trimmings along with Asian-influenced selections including pork belly with pineapple, star anise, and squid. If you are a guest of the hotel, you can swim it all off afterward at the 34-foot infinity pool on the 52nd floor, where uninterrupted views include St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster.
5. The Christmas Experience at Rosewood
Spend three nights with the ultra-luxe Rosewood London hotel and it will treat you to a truly memorable experience. The hotel’s Christmas Experience package (rates from $3,643) includes Christmas Eve dinner in the sumptuous Mirror Room, Christmas lunch in the Holborn Dining Room, and your very own gift-filled stocking to wake up to on Christmas morning. Guests even get to take Pearl, the resident hotel dog, out for a brisk walk around nearby Regents Park, accompanied by a personal butler to prepare snacks and mulled wine.
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