As much as we love Christmas, it can be a rather overwhelming affair. Suddenly every friend you haven’t seen in two years wants a reunion and there are so many options for festive fun that sitting on the sofa with a mince pie seems more appealing. You’ll be pleased to hear that we’ve already scoured the capital, so read on for our whittled-down guide to the best festive offerings on the bar and restaurant scene this year.
Where to eat yuletide dishes
45 Jermyn St, St James’s
What: Head to 45 Jermyn St for a luxurious take on a winter warmer, as the restaurant has added four new dishes to its à la carte menu in celebration of truffle season. The star of the show is the toasted cheese sandwich: the ultimate in comfort food, it sees homemade sourdough oozing with raclette and coated in whipped butter. To complete the dish, white truffle is shaved on the toastie at the table, adding an extra touch of theatre to proceedings.
Where: 45 Jermyn Street, SW1Y 6DN
Aubaine, various locations
What: This group of chic, French-accented all-dayers is the place to come for indulgent brasserie dishes to help fuel Christmas shopping expeditions. Tempting starters include the likes of duck liver parfait with a gingerbread crumble and port-soaked plum, alongside roast turkey breast with truffle cream. The highlights though are the decadent desserts, including the winter-themed Mont Blanc, and a tarte Tatin.
Where: Various locations
Chiltern Firehouse, Marylebone
What: Chiltern Firehouse is drawing in guests to its cosy surrounds this winter with a decadent feasting menu – the perfect place for Christmas catch-ups. Designed for groups of eight to 12 diners, the selection kicks off with pre-dinner snacks such as venison rolls with smoked ketchup, before moving on to a black truffle and Champagne risotto, and a choice of mains for the table, such as whole-glazed duck or slow-cooked salmon.
Where: 1 Chiltern Street, W1U 7PA
PF Chang’s Asian Table, Covent Garden
What: Christmas is a time for indulging, and it’s all about sweet treats at PF Chang’s this season. Head here to tuck into dreamy desserts such as the ‘Christmas Meltdown’: a white chocolate snowman filled with honeycomb, cocoa nibs, popping candy, chocolate soil, hazelnuts and meringue. If one dessert isn’t enough, there’s also the miniature white chocolate igloo, which is a pistachio sponge built on crunchy shortbread biscuit.
Where: 10 Great Newport Street, WC2H 7JA
Where to enjoy festive afternoon teas
The Chesterfield, Mayfair
What: At The Chesterfield’s Winter Wonderland tea, guests kick off proceedings with a glass of mulled wine, to get them in the Christmas spirit. Next up, you’ll feast on a selection of sandwiches such as pulled ham hock, with brie and spiced apple chutney, or turkey mayonnaise and cranberry. After chocolate and cranberry scones, you can tuck into more sweet treats, including a chocolate yule log and a gingerbread man cupcake.
Where: 35 Charles Street, W1J 5EB
Crystal Moon Lounge at Corinthia, Whitehall
What: Served in the gorgeous Crystal Moon Lounge at Corinthia, named so because of its giant crystal chandelier, this seasonal take on afternoon tea includes finger sandwiches with fillings such as turkey topped with caramelised apple and stuffing. Festive cakes meanwhile, include rum and vanilla chocolate truffles, a vanilla, white chocolate and cranberry snowball, and a traditional Christmas loaf cake.
Where: Corinthia Hotel, Whitehall Place, SW1A 2BD
What: Offering an Asian-style twist on a British tradition, the festive afternoon tea at Nobu Shoreditch swaps out scones and finger sandwiches for something a little different. Guests sitting down to enjoy the tea can indulge in the likes of a tofu bun with truffle tofu cream and pickled tomato, and a snow crab tempura on a shokupan bun. From the sweets, try a snowflake yuzu tart, and a gingerbread ganache sphere.
Where: 10-50 Willow Street, EC2A 4BH
Palm Court, Fitzrovia
What: Found at the Kimpton Fitzroy London, this Christmassy afternoon tea keeps things cute and traditional. Guests can enjoy finger sandwiches, followed by scones studded with candied orange and spiced fruit. From the cake and pastry selection, you can satisfy any sugar cravings with the likes of a chocolate and gingerbread yule log, and a snowflake mince pie. If you’re feeling extra festive, you can add a glass of Taittinger Champagne.
Where: 1-8 Russell Square, WC1B 5BE
Where to buy Christmas hampers
What: Legendary hotel Claridge’s has once again created some seriously impressive hampers for the holiday season. There are five different variations to choose from, but the most extensive is The Mayfair, which includes an abundance of goodies, from shortbread biscuits and a large Christmas pudding, to a set of four Art Deco-style mugs and a Claridge’s teddy bear.
Where: Brook Street, Mayfair, W1K 4HR
Mount Street Deli, Mayfair
What: This casual café from Caprice Holdings (Scott’s, The Ivy etc.) is where you’ll find a hamper that will impress even your most picky foodie friends. The Mayfair Hamper comes filled with goodies, including chocolate truffles from Scott’s, panettone, Paxton & Whitfield cheese, Prosecco and Scott’s mince pies. A smaller Mini Mayfair Hamper includes Champagne Delamotte NV Brut, Scott’s chocolate truffles and mince pies, and brandy butter.
Where: 100 Mount Street, W1K 2TG
Restaurant Story, London Bridge
What: Tom Sellers' first London restaurant is known for its quirkiness, but its Christmas hamper largely sticks to traditional fayre. The Black Wicker option contains a handful of tempting goodies, such as Restaurant Story cider, British honey, truffle popcorn, and a ‘Madeleine’ candle designed exclusively for the restaurant, scented with some of Sellers' favourite smells such as smoke, cut grass and leather.
Where: 199 Tooley Street, SE1 2JX
Where to feel festive
What: Angler has teamed up with Moët Vintage Champagne for a White Christmas takeover of its seventh-floor rooftop bar. The fully weather-proof terrace has been dressed up for the festive season, featuring an all-white Christmas tree and twinkling lights. Sip on glasses of Moët & Chandon’s Brut Impérial NV or Rosé Impérial, while snacking on the likes of pigs-in-blankets croquettes with cranberry ketchup, and curried Bratwurst.
Where: South Place Hotel, 3 South Place, EC2M 2AF
The Ivy Chelsea Garden, Chelsea
What: The Ivy Collection is known for its over-the-top festive installations, and it hasn’t disappointed this year. The entire frontage of The Ivy Chelsea Garden has been transformed into a show-stopping Gingerbread House, embellished with multi-coloured sweets, candy canes and Christmas tree decorations. Aside from this Insta-fodder, the restaurant is also serving a limited-edition Gingerbread Espresso Martini to really make you feel cosy.
Where: 197 King's Road, SW3 5ED
Dalloway Terrace, Bloomsbury
What: Regularly called one of London’s prettiest restaurants, Dalloway Terrace has been transformed for the winter season, now boasting swathes of crystallised white, pink and silver petals. To fully embrace the Christmas season, order the truffle cheese fondue to share, and sip on winter warmers such as Hug In A Mug: a warming mix of Belsazar White, Cachaça Yaguara, chamomile tea and honey.
Where: The Bloomsbury Hotel, 16-22 Great Russell Street, WC1B 3NN
Savage Garden, City
What: Hanging out outside might not seem like the best idea at the moment, but luckily, the Wildside terrace at this City bar is fully weather-proof. It’s also been turned into its own take on Narnia, complete with silver birch and willow trees, and of course a lamppost where you can rendezvous with Mr Tumnus. If you found yourself siding with the White Witch while reading the novel (you monster), you can snap a selfie on her frosted throne.
Where: Doubletree by Hilton Hotel London – Tower of London, 7 Pepys Street, EC3N 4AF
Where to drink Christmas cocktails
Bōkan, Canary Wharf
What: Celebrate the imminent arrival of Christmas 39 floors high at this sexy rooftop bar, restaurant and terrace. While the usual cocktail selection at Bōkan is good enough to keep you entertained, we’d recommend opting for its seasonal special – The Hot Gin & Gingerbread. This drink is a warming biscuity sip of Sipsmith gin and gingerbread syrup, garnished with a wedge of orange.
Where: Novotel Canary Wharf, 40 Marsh Wall, E14 9TP
What: This 1940s tube-themed cocktail bar has got into the spirit of things by dressing itself up with plenty of cosy Christmas decorations. The bar is also serving up a seasonal tipple, fittingly called Jack Frost Tippling As He Goes. The drink is made with a blend of Gentleman Jack Bourbon Tennessee whiskey, Martini Riserva Speciale Bitter aperitif, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey whiskey liqueur, and mulled wine.
Where: 13 Kingly Court, W1B 5PW
Manetta’s Bar, Mayfair
What: This cosy, conspiratorial cocktail lounge was once a favourite haunt of foreign spies and British spooks based at MI5’s then HQ on nearby Curzon Street. While we can’t promise James Bond will be waiting under the Christmas tree here, we do know that the drinks are perfect for winter. Try The Wassail: a hot cocktail made with Remy Martin VSOP, apple juice, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, vanilla bean and Allspice.
Where: Flemings Mayfair, 7-12 Half Moon Street, W1J 7BH
Sky Pod, City
What: For Christmas lovers with a sweet-tooth (and a head for heights) Sky Pod is the place to be this season. Take the lightning quick lift up to level 35 and ask the bartender for a Sweet Temptation cocktail. What you’ll get is a hot chocolate drink spiked with Hennessy Cognac and amaretto, before being finished off with a dusting of cinnamon and a side of shortbread. Perfect for warming up those sugar cravings pre-Christmas day feasting.
Where: Level 35, 20 Fenchurch Street, EC3M 3BY