One of the most beautiful cities at Christmastime is London. The streets are lit and the shops are fully decorated. There is no requirement that commercial buildings have fake trees so the fresh trees give off a scent of fir and pine everywhere. Even Westminster Abbey is full of real trees with their root balls intact so they can be planted after the holidays. Some of the favorite haunts of mine were sporting upside down trees this year. The best was at Claridge’s that was amazing to see.
London is now a great culinary city. From a restaurant such as Rules with very traditional menus – meat pies, game, Scottish salmon – to the best Indian food in the world at The Tamarind (which also has a great French wine list) to Cicchetti which is listed as one of the finest Italian restaurants with “small bites” in the region and it was some of the very best Italian food we’ve eaten anywhere. Jean Georges at The Connaught, along with the bar there, is worth the price for an elegant meal. The Christmas tree made of chocolate fruit was a great decorator’s touch.
It has also become a tourist favorite place which can be a bit of a challenge with the crowds but shopping was still possible! Jermyn Street for men’s clothing. Fortnum and Mason for exquisite foods and teas. A series of arcades off Piccadilly where antique jewelry and beautiful leather goods can be found. Harrod’s with its amazing holiday sales.
If one wanted to do the traditional tourist “musts” were available – The Tower with the Crown Jewels and Beefeaters all around; The Churchill Rooms; Westminster Abbey; and a little further out, Kew Gardens where nature is at its best.
For New Year’s Eve, we ate dinner and watched the cabaret at Cafe de Paris in the West End. A fantastic, although very risqué, show with an acceptable dinner started the night off properly. When the show ended, we retired to our favorite bar off St James called The American Bar at the Hotel Stafford. With a live band and dancing plus the wonderful atmosphere and staff at the bar, we rang in the New Year properly.
If you are looking for an escape around the holidays, do consider London. Although it is a wonderful city at all times, it truly shines at the holidays.
Happy New Year to all!