London is the ‘Capital of Cool’ at all times but during Christmas, it is so cool you’ll need to watch out for frostbite!
Kew will find London enchanting during the holidays!
Special Note: 2020 has been a trying year for all of us, even for residents of the Cloud like me. With this post we wanted to celebrate our absolute favourite holiday city. This year, however, London is locked up tight under new “Tier 4” pandemic restrictions. So, while many of the attractions below cannot be visited this year, we know that better times are in the near future. Please enjoy this holiday post and know that all of the fine folks at JourneyHero wish you the very best of happiness, success and especially health in 2021!
The capital of the United Kingdom might seem a little overwhelming due to its size, but lucky for you and me, the city is split into recognisable neighbourhoods, each with its own distinct vibe. Enjoy luxury shopping, high-end restaurants, and 5-star hotels? Visit Knightsbridge, Kensington, Marylebone and Mayfair. Here for the nightlife, art galleries, and artisan stalls? Add Covent Garden to your list. Consider yourself a historian or a culture vulture? Stroll around Westminster and hop from one historic site to the next. Enjoy funky bars, restaurants and boutiques? You best go to Soho! While London and its culture-filled neighbourhoods are exciting all year round, winter brings with it an added sense of joy and no matter which close-knit hub you visit, you’re bound to be in for a winter treat.
London is a large city, so it should be no surprise that six international airports serve the metropolis. The largest number of visitors land at London Heathrow which sits just over 15-miles west of the city. From Heathrow it is easy to travel into central London.
Knightsbridge is always busy!
The fastest link between Heathrow and the city is the Heathrow Express. This particular service runs non-stop to Paddington Station and departs from Terminals 2,3, 4 and 5, every 15-minutes. From Paddington, I’d recommend using the Underground (also known as “The Tube”) to travel to your final destination. Alternatively, take the Tube from Heathrow right through to the city by riding the Piccadilly Line. The journey takes roughly one hour, with plenty of stops on the way. Once in the city, you’ll find the Tube is very convenient. While some attractions are close enough to explore on foot, the majority of your journeys will be a Tube ride or taxi away. The Underground is efficient, fast, and easy to navigate. However, if you’d prefer to travel in style, flag down an iconic London black cab.
Here’s Another Pro Tip: Purchase an Oyster card from the airport or subway station as soon as you arrive. It’s the easiest way to pay for your travel around the city and the cards can be topped up in a matter of seconds.
Here are the London sites I’d recommend the most during the holiday period:
Hyde Park is tree-mendous during the Christmas Market!
- Winter Wonderland: Hyde Park’s annual winter festival involves carnival rides, Christmas markets, and enough street food options to leave you spoilt for choice.
- Kensington Palace Outdoor Cinema: There are multiple outdoor cinema venues across London, thanks to a company called Luna Cinema, but watching a Christmas Film in the grounds of Kensington Palace is great fun!
- Oxford Street: Christmas shopping down Oxford Street (and adjoining Regent Street) is a rite of passage. Decorations are elaborate and everyone seems to be “of good cheer”!
- Warner Bros Studios: While the Warner Brothers studio is located over an hour’s drive north of London, a tour of the Harry Potter set under a blanket of snow is an absolute must in winter.
- Somerset House Ice-skating: Strap on skates, finish your hot chocolate, and take to the temporary ice-skating rink at Somerset House. The Natural History Museum also has an ice rink over the winter months.
Christmas in London is all about keeping cosy and warm, and well away from the winter chill outside. At this time of year, restaurants across the city take it upon themselves to transform their dining rooms into winter wonderlands, and you can find yourself dining next to a roaring fire in no time. Check out my restaurant recommendations:
- Clos Maggiore – Clos Maggiore is arguably one of the most romantic restaurants in the world, especially if you visit at Christmas. Endless foliage adorns the walls and ceiling, a fire roars in the background, and delightful winter dishes (including honey roast duck) are enjoyed by all.
- Madisons – Dine in the Enchanted Woods on the Madison’s rooftop! Expect fairy lights, Christmas trees, and best of all – outdoor heating! Cushions, blankets and hot water bottles make your evening meal all the more enjoyable.
A Christmas dinner fit for a queen!
- Maggie Jones – If you’re after a funky alternative restaurant, try Maggie Jones, a farmhouse-style tavern serving traditional British food. This little restaurant was a firm favourite with the royal family, and Princess Margaret was known to dine here regularly under the pseudonym ‘Maggie Jones’.
I’m always spoilt for choice when it comes to enjoying London’s entertainment industry and rip-roaring nightlife, and the winter season brings with it more places to party than usual. Below I’ve listed my favourite places for a Christmas cocktail or warming mulled wine, from Scandinavian igloos to a cosy snow-themed bar.
Like London, I get lit-up during Xmas!
- Aviary Igloo – If you want to spend the evening wrapped in blankets sipping Christmas-themed cocktails under the stars then look no further than the Aviary Igloo. The private pods sit atop the Aviary hotel and should be pre-booked to avoid disappointment!
- Lodge d’Argent at Coq d’Argent – Transport yourself to Scandinavia at the Lodge d’Argent, an après-ski themed bar equipped with sheepskin throws, Christmas cocktails, and hygge vibes.
- Dalloway Terrace – The Dalloway Terrace is one of my favourite places to drink all-year-round, but in Winter the Dalton goes all out to impress (think snow-themed decor).
From lavish 5-star Hotels fit for royalty to quaint and quirky townhouses in the heart of Central London, here are some of my favourite places to stay when visiting “The Big Smoke”:
- Brown’s Hotel – Made up of historic townhouses and situated in the heart of Mayfair, Brown’s Hotel offers the ultimate luxury escape. Mayfair is one of London’s most affluent neighbourhoods, and it’s fair to say that this 5-star hotel has spared no expense on interior decor and amenities.
- Claridge’s – A classic Christmas in London includes a stay at Claridge’s, one of the city’s most notable hotels. As a firm favourite with the rich and famous, Claridge’s pulls out all the stops for Christmas (hello giant tree!).
- Zetter Townhouse – If you like your accommodation a little alternative, check out the Zetter Townhouse. This 13-bedroom Georgian townhouse sits in historic St John’s Square and boasts an award-winning cocktail lounge.
Christmas in the capital is a magical affair, no matter your age. For me, I just can’t pass up on the opportunity to soak up the charm, all wrapped up with a Christmas bow on top!