Festive London Hotels: It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

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There’s something magical about London at Christmas. The sense of tradition, the enchanting window displays and the elegant street lights ooze an optimism and cheer as we skip towards the end of the year. But London is nothing without its smorgasbord of hotels. The city has some of the grandest and most famous hotels in the world and at Christmas they come into their own with larger-than-life festive displays and decadent offerings for locals and tourists alike.

You are spoilt for choice at Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane, starting with a winter wonderland experience in the lobby in the shape of a giant snow-globe installation that will transport guests to an Alpine landscape. (Guests can also create their own snow-globe story by capturing a special snap with their loved ones that will be framed by the Four Seasons team.)

From the pop-up hot chocolate cart to the option of having a Christmas tree in your room, you can soak up the wonder of the season in every part of the hotel. There are limited-edition Four Seasons wreaths, by resident florist Rosalind Ackerley, which you can purchase, personal shopping packages to take the stress out of gift-buying and special festive menus, so you can soak up the finest traditional fare. It all culminates with a surprise appearance from Santa on Christmas Day.


The Lanesborough, meanwhile, which is part of the Oetker Collection, taps into the magic of the season by transforming its Regency rooms into an enchanted country house filled with stunning seasonal displays. On arrival at the hotel, you are met the ‘Lucky Star’ installation, which adorns the exterior portico and entrance. The piece is by renowned event imagineer, Tony Marklew, and features a cascading curtain of glittering oversized snowflakes with a sparkling fairy light curtain.

The central tree has been created from lace-like laser-cut metal with an internal light throwing the shapes and shadows of the structure onto the floor and walls of the lobby. Oversized glittering snowflakes in white and gold fall from various organic structures to extend the magical theme throughout the hotel space.

The hotel is also offering in-suite shopping, in collaboration with Harvey Nichols, and its festive dining experiences include a Festive Afternoon Tea and a Festive Set Menu, created by executive chef, Shay Cooper, which celebrates British ingredients (think: cured salmon and Lytham shrimp cocktail, Cornish cod with sprout tops and smoked bacon cream, and apple and blackberry crumble). Throughout December, The Lanesborough Grill will also be home to its intimate Festive Live Nights sessions on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, including live entertainment from the hotel’s resident musicians


Shangri-La The Shard, London always goes the extra mile when it comes to its end-of-year celebrations. This year is no exception, with its cosmic take on traditional décor and a space-age Christmas tree designed by McQueens Flowers. Located on the hotel’s ground-floor lobby, the fantastical Christmas tree stands at 12-feet tall and is constructed using contemporary geometric metal cubes, preserved and dried blue, silver and gold florals, glittering disco balls and crinkled silver foil. In a space-age twist on traditional Christmas lights, bands of swirling neon light travel down the tree while changing in colour from purple to white.

The hotel’s Christmas Afternoon Tea, served in the TING Lounge, is also celestial-themed and features galactic-inspired pastries. You can also see in 2023 at the hotel’s New Year’s Eve Party of the Future, with a satellite view over firework displays across the city.

The Sky Lounge and the hotel’s entire level 34 will be transformed into a futuristic New Year’s Eve party from an alternative universe, complete with a five-piece band and DJ, as well as secret rooms to explore, karaoke and surprise entertainment alongside champagne, cosmic cocktails and canapés. Meanwhile, GŎNG, London’s highest bar, will be closer than ever to the stars with a space-themed, Galactic New Year’s Eve party with a DJ, guaranteed window tables and Japanese sharing menus accompanied by Cristal Louis Roederer Champagne.


One Aldwych, on the other hand, has taken The Nutcracker, the iconic Christmas classic which celebrates its 130th anniversary this year, as its point of inspiration. The hotel is bringing the ballet, based on the original story by E.T.A. Hoffmann, to life through a series of immersive festive experiences. The whole offering has been designed by stylist and artistic director Aurelien Farjon, who has previously worked on costume design for the English National Opera at the Coliseum, in collaboration with One Aldwych’s resident florist, Mark Siredzuk.

The story begins at the entrance to the hotel, where guests will be welcomed by Nutcrackers standing guard at the doors, a prelude to the theatrics that await in the Lobby Bar, featuring a ceiling full of golden and white stars and a pastel-hued Christmas tree – a twinkling tribute to the ethereal beauty of ballet and a nod to the dancers who will be treading the boards at the nearby Royal Opera House this Christmas.

The Lobby Bar will offer a specially curated list of five seasonal cocktails, each inspired by a different Nutcracker character, while a festive twist on the tradition afternoon tea offered in Indigo restaurant, is inspired by the Sugar Plum Fairy and the kingdom of sweets.


Meanwhile, at Hotel Café Royal there’s an indulgent Festive Afternoon Tea, served in the jewel-box-like Grade II listed Grill Room, once a favourite haunt of Oscar Wilde. Special patisseries will be hand-crafted by executive pastry chef Loic Carbonett, with a live pianist to create the perfect festive ambience. For those wanting to soak up the charm of London, the hotel is offering a two-night-stay, with real reindeers arriving on Christmas Eve, a stocking filled with gifts in-room and, on Christmas Day itself, executive chef Eliano Crespi has created a traditional menu to be served in the brasserie.


At The Dorchester, you can ascend to the rooftop to dine in the prestigious hotel’s new Winter Globes. The pod-style dining seats four to ten people, and there’s a choice of two set menus: a party menu of shareable delights, or a three-course chef’s menu, both of which include a welcome glass of Veuve Clicquot Champagne.

The culinary team has created tantalising plates inspired by the traditional Frost Fairs’ finest flavours including ‘Lobster Stockings’, Vacherin Fondue, Alpine salad, smoked trout with warm potato salad, Venison Wellington, and chestnut mandarin baked Alaska (flamed tableside) to name just a few. “Sharing plates in the winter pods spark emotions of family and togetherness, capturing the spirit and soul of London: coming together and creating delight despite the bleak winter,” says the hotel.


The Strand Palace Hotel has teamed up with traditional toyshop Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop to create a family-friendly Christmas Afternoon Tea, packed with vintage fun and games to delight children and make nostalgic adults smile. Pollock’s is a renowned London institution, famed for selling Victorian-style toy theatres since 1856, with a store in Covent Garden’s Piazza hall just a four-minute walk from the hotel.

Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop Christmas Afternoon Tea includes pastries inspired by traditional fairy tales and folklore, such as ‘Sugar Plum Fairy’s gold dusted chocolate and praline éclair’ and ‘Toymaker’s strawberry and vanilla yo-yo macaron’. For an extra sweet treat children will also receive a goodie bag to take home, including a miniature Pollock’s cut-out theatre and a surprise toy.

The Art Deco themed tearoom will be decked out with festive designs, including traditional nutcrackers, pop-up theatre-style menus and a Christmas tree tea stand. Hotel guests and passers-by alike can also enjoy the Pollock’s themed fun with a pop-up theatre selfie booth in the lobby. What’s more, in an effort to spread a little Christmas cheer beyond the hotel, Strand Palace will donate any excess goodie bags or toys to The Toy Project’s ‘No Present Too Small’ drive. This charity initiative provides Christmas gifts to children in care and families in difficult circumstances across London.


Finally, at The Athenaeum Hotel, foodie delights are at the centre of proceedings. There’s a Festive Tasting Menu at 116 At The Athenaeum, a Festive Afternoon Tea and a Christmas Day Lunch with all the trimmings. On New Year’s Eve, The View Experience will include a five-course feast at 116 at The Athenaeum before diners make their way up to the tenth-floor panoramic lounge, The View, where free-flowing Bollinger awaits from 11pm. As the clock strikes midnight, guests will have a view of London’s skyline as it lights up with the city’s famous fireworks display.


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