This Christmas escape to London for a long weekend, or even a whole week. We round up the city's best hotels, restaurants and things to do for families, couples and groups of friends.
Travelling with the whole family should not mean you have to compromise on comfort or luxury, and an increasing number of London’s most popular hotels are now going above and beyond to accomodate little ones. Perhaps most surprising is The Dorchester. Everything from the menus – children and infant choices in the majority of their restaurants, to entertainment – a concierge to help book child friendly activities during your stay and behind-the-scenes tours (meet the chef!), for small prying eyes, has been thought of. And if you still need a night, or even day, off? They’ll even book a babysitter or nanny.
For ‘mini-me’s’ worth spoiling this Christmas check in to One Aldwych. Fuel them up on complimentary cookies, milkshakes and fruit cocktails and make the most of your central Covent Garden location. Even bedtime will be a breeze with smaller versions of the hotel’s bathrobes and slippers supplied during the nightly turn down. This winter the hotel are running a special family promotion: when booking a two bedroom suites the children’s bedroom is free of charge. What’s more, the whole family will enjoy breakfast, free of charge, for the duration of your stay. We recommend the fluffy chocolate chip pancakes.
The standard of options availble to children in many restaurants across London is enough to put any parents off eating out with the family. Luckily some of our top chefs have started to take notice and publically campaign for a better range, including Mark Hix. Hix Soho welcomes children with open arms and a refined menu, think Glenarm minute steak, that will leave you jealous and drooling. Those with smaller appetites can opt for a boiled Burford egg with perfectly buttered soldiers.
Brgr.co, with restaurants in Soho and Chelsea, offer a smaller 4oz burger for just £4.95. Alterntiavely opt for the ‘afternoon tea’ selection and enjoy minituare burgers, bites and milkshakes.
For full on family fun grab a table at Homeslice who serve up delicious sharing pizzas. Children will love being able to tear off as much or a little as they want, using their own pizza slice.
This winter celebrated choreographer Arthur Pita returns to Sadlers Wells with his ‘magical dance show’ The Little Match Girl, based on Hans Christian Anderson’s classic story. The story of a poverty striken match girl, left with just one final match flame for warmth on a snowy Christmas Eve, has been produced with children in mind and is told through dance, song and original live music.
Delight children with a trip to Tower Bridge and experience the new glass walkway, 42m above pedestrian level and 11m long. For those who feel quesy at the thought of looking down keep your eyes firmly up and enjoy panoramic, sweeping views across the city.
Make a romantic gesture this festive season and book you and your significant other into the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel. Behind the towering gothic facade, a London landmark in its own right, you’ll find a type of traditional and grand glamour offset by impeccable service that cocoons you from the hectic city outside. For further seclusion, the Chambers Suites are housed in the original Victorian building and come with impossibly high ceilings, ornate furnishings and private butler service.
The dark grey facade of Blakes Hotel in South Kensington could hardly be described as discreet but this hotel is something of a hidden gem; protected from the public glare and too many tourists by its loyal, tight lipped customers. The interiors, designed by world reknowned designer Annoushka Hempel, are a gorgeous assult on the senses that draw influences from the Orient, Thailand and Italy. Choosing where to get your beauty sleep is an almost impossible decision so we’ve made it for you. Plump for either the Cardinal or Corfu Suite, the latter a provencal style room swathed in white gauze.
If you aren’t deterred by cliches then book a table at Clos Maggiore, voted Britain’s most romantic restaurant 2014. Enjoy french inspired cuisine in the blossom-filled conservatory style dining room and, if the weather is kind, a spot of star gazing through the fully restractable glass roof.
In close promity to Clos Maggiore you will find another Covent Garden establishment (albeit a much newer one), Balthazar. This French brasserie is more Parisian cafe, think Cafe du Flore, than it’s Covent Garden cousins rustic offering. There are no hushed voices here, more relentless enthusiam and high speed chatter, but that just adds to its charm. The perfect place for a bit of people watching; turn up for brunch and stay till supper.
For a dash of originatlity check out Wilton Music Hall‘s winter programme. The venue is the world’s oldest surviving grand music hall and plays host to live music, theatre and talks throughout December.
If you’re seeking some winter warmth, or a quick respite from Christmas shopping, then Selfridges on Oxford Street has just the answer. The rooftop now houses Le Chalet, a pop up winter restaurant serving up some of your favourite alpine specials and hard hot chocolates.
FOR THE GIRLS
Before the family descends, escape for an impromptou weekend away with friends to the The Charlotte Street Hotel. Situated just north of Soho you have the shops, theatres and a whole host of bars and restaurants on your door step. Opt for the Penthouse Suite, faded floral motifs, a calming grey colour pallete and flashes of pink upholstery, before descending for one of London’s best brunches in The Oscar Bar and Restaurant.
The ESPA spa at Corinthia Hotel will soothe any pre-Christmas nerves and ensure you get some much needed tender loving care. Set over four floors the space is one of clean lines and high end glamour, rather than clinical and cold. It’s no wonder then that it has just won ‘Best UK Hotel Spa’ in the Conde Nast Reader Travellers Awards.
Afternoon tea has enjoyed something of a revival in the last few years with every hotel, restaurant and cafe jumping in on the act, but our long-standing favourite remains that served by Rosewood London. This Christmas Head Pastry Chef, Mark Perkins, has created a mandarin and white chocolate tart that ‘pays homage to the mandarin orange often placed in Christmas stockings’ and the winter snow we all long for.
If you are lucky enough to claim a Soho House member amongst your group make sure you pay a visit to Little House Mayfair. Christmas calls for a little over induldgence so make sure you order the chocolate fondant with marmalade ice cream for pudding.
Jason Atherton’s, of Pollen Street Social fame, latest venture is City Social, an art deco explosion in the iconic Tower 42 building. The bar offers Prohibition inspired cocktails, live music and breathtaking views across London.
Some of the best presents we buy are those for ourselves so hop on over to Dover Street Market for 6 floors of covetable apparel, footwear and accessories. Now 10 years old this shopping mecca shows no signs of slowing down with a slew of ever changing products from designers at the fore front of fashion.
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