CHRISTMAS IN THE CITY: LONDON

A city that sparkles day and night throughout the festive period, there’s so much to explore with The Langham London as our base. Elysia Agnew uncovers the ultimate Christmas in the capital...
CHRISTMAS IN THE CITY: LONDON

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Make The Langham your base for a winter weekend in London, with luxury at its heart.

This place is something special. From the dapper doormen, to the warm welcome at check in and the tour of the hotel before it’s time to kick back and relax, we’re made to feel right at home at our beautiful base for weekend festivities in London.

Delivering everything a guest desires and providing a personalised service for over 150 years, this landmark London hotel is as luxe as it gets – and oozes British charm and character. A plush Marylebone pad just moments from the hubbub of Christmas shopping on Oxford and Regent Street, The Langham has a real sense of place. Its quintessential English elegance is found in its opulent interior design; while modern touches are brought to life with Bond-like technology and first-class facilities throughout.

Porters in plush pink suits see us to our suite – five floors up above the city, through a maze of majestic furnishings and festive decorations. Our room for the weekend is as cosy as it is classic – a clean palette of creams and whites, with hints of pink – in keeping with the Langham London brand. Fluffy robes and slippers await as we switch off and unwind in preparation for our festive weekend in the capital. Taking in the room, we find treats and trinkets in every nook and cranny – whether it’s books of history and heritage, a glorious guide to life in London, Chuan Spa products in the bathroom suite or chocolates and tangerines to tick us over ’til morning.

The luxuries of the Langham really come into their own in the Club Lounge – an exclusive home away from home on the third floor. The Langham is the only five-star hotel in London to feature this new and improved club concept – treating guests to tempting food and drink from sunrise to sunset. With Albert Roux OBE and Michael Roux Jr. at the helm, the cuisine is at the top of its game, feeding guests from breakfast, right through to supper.

We’re pleased to hear that breakfast is served late on weekends, so for us it’s a lazy brunch in the Langham Club. We’re greeted and guided to a cosy corner with a cup of coffee. There’s a lovely feel to the place – a far cry from the usual rush of a buffet breakfast. There’s continental options laid out on the Butler’s Pantry – with everything from fruit and pastries, to cheese, cold meats, smoothies and fresh bread. You’ll also find shiny silver domes of bacon, sausage and scrambled egg – but if you’d prefer the chef to knock up something different for breakfast, you can just ask. A perfect plate of Eggs Florentine and a beautifully presented Eggs Benedict is brought to our table as we toast to weekend brunch with a glass of champagne. When in London…

The Club Lounge is open all day for members and Club guests to enjoy – serving a sumptuous selection of cakes, coffees, cocktails, culinary offerings and canapés; as well as two-hours complimentary use of The Langham Club boardroom and media room, if visiting for business.

After hitting Regent Street and Carnaby Street and getting to grips with Christmas shopping in the department stores of Oxford Street, we’re ready to rest our legs back at the Langham Club. A touch of late afternoon luxury as darkness falls. Afternoon tea is served with champagne and cocktails as the fire flickers in the corner and guests gather for the evening.

As the birthplace of traditional high tea, and with some of the country’s top chefs on board, the hotel’s dining opportunities are endless and exquisite. Whether it’s a bottle of wine and some bar snacks in The Wigmore, a chic and cosy get-together in The French Winter Village pop-up by Grey Goose, an indulgent dinner in Roux at the Landau, or tea for two in the sparkling Palm Court restaurant.

A spa session and full wellness experience at Chuan Body + Soul is an absolute must. A hidden gem tucked away beneath the rush of London life. Go here for a dip in the pool, some chill-out time in the sauna and a cardio session in the state-of-the-art ARTIS fitness suite. The changing rooms come complete with fluffy robes and slippers, dreamy Chuan Spa products, GHD straighteners and Dyson hairdryers – so leaving the spa feeling fabulous from head to toe is no problem at all.

The Langham is a regal retreat from the everyday. Its exquisite service, elegant interiors and first-class food sets the bar high when it comes to experiencing true luxury in London. Its proximity to the city’s shopping hotspots as well as its special seasonal touches such as the winter pop-up, the Christmas tree collaboration with Liberty London and the hotel concierge serving up mulled wine and mince pies as you leave for the day, we can’t think of a better spot to spend the festive season.

langhamhotels.com

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STREET FOOD LUNCH – THE ATHENIAN

If you’re looking for a bit of street food to see you through the Christmas shopping season, swing by The Athenian, with sites in Shoreditch, Canary Wharf, White City, Victoria, Tooting and soon-to-be in Wembley.

The goal here is to bring glorious Greek street food to the city, making delights such as the gyros and souvlaki commonplace in London’s culinary scene. Born from the passion of two Londoners born and raised in Athens and Cyprus, The Athenian launched in 2014, and continues to grow as Greek food makes waves across the city.

We swing by the Victoria site for a chicken gyros wrap (£5.90) – a handmade pitta packed with shavings of marinated chicken, tomatoes, red onion, parsley, oregano fries and secret Greek herb sauces. A flavour-filled favourite, taking us back to summer days on the Greek isle of Mykonos. A portion of halloumi fries (£5) dipped in a mildly sweet Athenian sauce seals the deal for a sumptuous street food lunch in London.

SATURDAY SUPPER AT ULI

For a sumptuous supper with a touch of spice, visit Asian-fusion restaurant, ULI in Notting Hill. This vibrant little spot on Ladbroke Road serves up carefully selected dishes from Asia, all prepared using traditional Chinese, Thai, Malay and Singaporean disciplines. 

It’s Saturday evening and the place is buzzy inside and out. The glass-covered terrace is a whimsical winter hideaway, complete with blankets, festive decorations and flickering candles as locals and visitors alike lounge under heaters and enjoy a seasonal supper – Asian style.

We’re seated in a cosy corner of the room, wined, watered and treated to a pre-dinner cocktail. The lychee martini is the perfect palate cleanser to prepare us for our fiery feast.

We kick things off with the hunan pork dumplings (£7) and the quarter crispy aromatic duck pancakes (£16). The dumplings are little pockets of spicy pleasure and the pancakes are perfectly crisp, packed with scallions, cucumber and duck sauce.

Next up it’s the Thai sea bass fillet (£19), steamed with chilli and lemongrass, and the robata sirloin steak (£21) served with a spicy Thai sauce. The fish is flake-off-the-fork fresh, and full of flavour with a spicy kick. The sirloin is the best we’ve had. Barbecued to perfect, with a perfectly pink centre. It’s the only steak we’ve had where a knife isn’t necessary! Sides of steamed jasmine rice (£3.90) complete the feast.

With no room for dessert on this occasion, we sit back, relax and take in the fabulous festive atmosphere with a bottle of Malbec (£37) – an easy-going Argentinian tipple and the perfect winter warmer to end the night.

SUNDAY LUNCH AT SIMPSON’S IN THE STRAND

If you’re in London and looking for somewhere to enjoy a proper winter feast, Simpson’s in the Strand is an absolute must. Just a short stroll from the hubbub of Covent Garden at Christmas, this landmark London dining experience will take you on a tale of foodie traditions over two centuries. 

Its grand, white tablecloth approach to dining makes it something of an experience in a world where street food bites seem to suit those looking for dinner on the go. This is a place where you can really switch off, drop your shopping bags for an hour or two, and enjoy the finer things in life. 

The restaurant’s quintessentially British approach runs through to the menu. Whether you’re in for a hearty meal, a bit of fresh fish, or a traditional trolley roast, we’re certain you’ll finish up with a warm fuzzy feeling as you wander back out into the winter rush.

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Take some time out and toast to the festive season, with a visit to many of the city’s Christmassy cocktail spots, swanky rooftop bars, quirky speakeasies and seasonal markets. Radio Rooftop at ME London is a must for breathtaking views across the city as it lights up for Christmas – go her for a warming glass of red or an espresso martini to perk you up throughout the party season. 

Take it to the Thames for a tipple or two at Southbank Centre’s Winter Markets, where you can shop, sip and spread season’s greetings around fire pits – with a toasty mug of mulled wine in hand.

Golden Bee is another glorious cocktail lounge – serving the finest seasonal sips to the people of Old Street, Shoreditch and beyond. Go here for Christmassy cocktails with your chums – but don’t forget to wrap up warm on the swanky roof terrace.

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FESTIVE FUN AT WINTERLAND LONDON

Make your way to Winterland London this Christmas for the ultimate Alpine experience. Fulham’s urban beach has taken a seasonal twist, bringing a retro ski-inspired space to the banks of the Thames. Think large fire pits, mountain scenery, festive feasting tables, gondolas, chairlifts, bauble-filled igloos, DJs, karaoke, winter sports activities and more!

Start with a Christmas tipple, tuck into a wood-fired pigs in blankets pizza from The Pizza Shed, pick up a portion of truffle and parmesan fries at the Cheeky Burger and make your way through the Alpine village to challenge your chums to ping pong, curling and a karaoke session.

Winterland takes you from the streets of London, to the cosiest, cutest and most Christmassy hideouts in the Alps. Make sure you add this spot to your festive to-do list in London this year.

ICE SKATING AT SKYLIGHT ROOFTOP

Get your skates on and see the city’s skyscrapers with a visit to Skylight Rooftop‘s ice rink, igloos and festive huts at Tobacco Dock. Kick things off with a Christmassy cocktail as you admire the panoramic views of London, or take to the ice with for an afternoon of festive fun with friends and family.

Feeling peckish? Make sure you check out the all-new foodie collaborations for the festivities. All your cheese dreams will come true thanks to the Raclette Brothers – bringing their signature Alpine treats to Skylight this season, warming visitors through with copious amounts of melted cheese. Delicious!

Skylight is the ultimate winter hangout, perfect for post-work drinks, weekend catch ups and festive parties. Think blankets, heaters, warming spiced cocktails, festive food, cosy igloos, mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and a sparkling rooftop ice rink. What’s not to love? This cosy rooftop haven for Londoners will be running its winter season until 27 January 2019.

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Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland is a must visit if you’re visiting with the whole gang. With everything from fairground rides and foodie stalls, to spectacular shows, comedy clubs, ice rinks and the chance to meet Santa, there really is something for everyone. Hide out in The Bavarian Village with a warming hot chocolate, have a bit of foot-stomping fun with live music and pick up some seasonal street food and sweet treats as you wander around this whimsical Winter Wonderland.

Don’t miss Nativity! The Musical at the Hammersmith’s Eventim Apollo this Christmas. The ultimate feel-good family show that promises to get you in the festive spirit. You’ll laugh, cry, dance and sing as St Bernadette’s School try to perfect the school nativity. Join Mr Maddens, Mr Poppy, hilarious children and a whole lot of sparkle and shine as they struggle to make everyone’s Hollywood Christmas wish come true.

Make The Royal Ballet part of your London theatre plans, with a fabulously festive visit to The Nutcracker show from 3 December – 15 January. Prepare to be blown away as this classic tale is told through the beautiful art of ballet.


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