London at Christmas

With Christmas fast approaching, and the festive season officially underway, here are a few fun and Christmasy things to do in London over the coming weeks:

Ice skating at Somerset House:Every year Somerset House turns it’s main square into an ice rink. Tickets can be bought in advance (which I would recommend) or on the day. The setting is absolutely beautiful and I would definitely recommend popping into The Savoy Hotel after, for a drink/cocktail.

Ice skating at Natural History museum: Another beautiful ice rink in London is at the Natural History Museum. The building itself is spectacular and when you add the ice rink and Christmas trees, its simply magical. I would recommend booking tickets in advance for this, as demand is high. Click herehere to book.

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Kew Gardens: See these famous gardens light up, for the annual after-dark festive trail of lights. Click here to purchase your tickets.

Hogwarts in the Snow: Until Sunday 27th January, you can visit Hogwarts in the Snow at Warner Brothers studios, where the studio is completely transformed into a winter wonderland. Buy tickets here.

Christmas at Leicester Square is a mini winters grotto with traditional Christmas markets, delicious food and drinks, a Santa’s Grotto, and a number of great shows in the beautiful surroundings of a tradtional 1920s spiegeltent.

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Coppa club: Famous for its beautiful and decorated igloos, Coppa Club at Tower Bridge is definitely worth paying a vist for a festive drink/meal. There is also a Christmas market beside Tower Bridge if you fancied a bit of pre-dinner shopping!

Kensington Palace: Experience Christmas as it would have been in Victorian times with a host of 19th-century decorations and activities to enjoy at Kensington Palace. Click here for prices and opening times.

Carol Service: Attend a carol service at St Pauls Cathedral or the Royal Albert Hall, or sing carols at Trafalgar Sqaure.

Parision rooftop at the Queen of Hoxton: This East London Rooftop has been transformed into a Seductive Parisian Speakeasy For The Winter period. Definitely one to check out for a drink one evening.

Coq d’Argent: This hidden gem is located at the top of an elevator at tube Bank station. Similar to Coppa Club, Coq d’Argent transports you to a winter wonderland. Food is expensive but definitely check it out mid week for a glass of mulled wine

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Winterville: Located in Clapham Common, expect live DJs, comedy, ice skating, roller disco,Street Feast food, Backyard Cinema’s Christmas and more at Winterville. Tickets for this can be bought online here and it is open until December 23rd, so if you are living South-West definitely check it out.

Go to the theatre: Why not check out whats on in the theatre or in the West End,and go and see a pantomine or musical? Tickets can be pre-bought online or bought last minute on the day for reduced prices.

Sloane Square: At the weekends, Sloane Square is the perfect festive spot for food, shopping and a mulled wine at the Duke of York Square and Kings Road. With their weekend food market and plenty of breakfast and brunch spots nearby, Chelsea is lit up with Christmas lights and is a great spot for shopping and enjoying good food/wine. Definitely be sure to checkout the Saatchi Gallery too, as there might be an interesting exhibition worth attending.

Southbank Centre Winter Market:  With markets, family shows, artisan gifts and global street food, craft beers & cocktails, the Southbank Centre Winter Market is the perfect spot to eat, drink and enjoy the festive season. Not to mention it is located right on the River Thames, boasting great views of the city of London. Southbank Centre will also host additonal events including Christmas Carols on the 8th December, so be sure to check out tickets for that.

Festive afternoon tea: Afternoon Tea is definitely a traditional, British event, and so many of the cities top spots go all out decorating for the Chrstimas Season. My suggestions are as follows: The Landmark London at their Iconic Winter Garden, Fortnum and Mason, The Savoy, The Kensington (Beauty & the Beast themed) , The Connaught, The Langharm x Liberty, Claridges and The Ritz.

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^^^ Fortnum & Mason ^^^

Santacon: Kicking off on December 8th is the annual Santacon event. It is essentially a convention of santas (groups of men and women dressed like Santa.) It is basically a Santa themed pub crawl in the centre of London. Checkout santacon.info for more information

Backyard Cinema Christmas Labyrinth: Watch a movie at the beautiful Christmas Labyrinth. Walk the enchanted tunnels to the indoor cinema, set in a festive woodland, in the heart of the Winterville Festival. Watch the film under a blanket and on your own giant beanbag, with a mulled wine and a mince pie.

Breakfast at Dalloway Terrace

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Pub Roast: Try a Sunday roast in one of London’s great pubs.

Winter Wonderland: Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland includes ice skating, show, roller coaster rides, street food stalls, festive bars and live music. Buy your tickets here.

Shopping: for festive shopping I would recommend Covent Garden or Oxford Street, but be prepared for crowds, particualrly with the latter location.

 

London: My September/October Restaurant Picks

Emilias Pasta

Right on the water at St Katherines Dock, this hidden gem is the perfect restaurant for small groups or a party of two. Producing homemade, Italian pasta, the food is absolutely delicious and very reasonably priced! Not only that, but St Katherines Dock is the prettiest location, hidden away in the heart of central London. You can also book this restaurant, however seats outside/by the water are served on a first come first served basis.

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Plot

Amongst the chaos of Tooting Market is Plot, a British restaurant focused on small plates served in a small, clean-lined setting. This small restaurant is not to go unnoticed, as the food is stunning and super unusual! The menu is small but you can choose from a variety of plates.

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NAC

I came across NAC’s famous Dulce de Leche pancakes on Instagram, and knew I had to go and try them. This French bistro does brunch, lunch and dinner, serving a mixture of modern plates. I tried the restaurant for brunch and cocktails one Saturday afternoon, and would definitely go back to try another menu! The service was great, the food was delicious, and needless to say those pancakes were sensational! As NAC is in Mayfair, dishes are on the pricier side, but it is definitely worth the visit!

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Boqueria in Brixton

My love for tapas never seems to end, and Boqueria in Brixton and Battresea is no exception. This restaurant is perfect for larger groups, who love to share delicious tapas. The menu consists of traditional Spanish tapas and the food is yummy – another restaurant I will be returning too in the future.

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Via Instagram: @boqueria_tapas

La Farola

I recently came across this spot in Angel by chance, and will definitely be heading back! A Tapas restaurant in the heart of Angel, this cosy spot is perfect for either a couple or small group who are looking for non-expensive and delicious food! Their weekend brunch menu is also meant to be fantastic, so I will definitely be heading back to try that soon!

Suggestion: Why not make an evening of it and head to The Everyman Cinema (Screen on the Green) after your meal for a luxury cinema experience!

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The Apple Blue Patisserie

On the corner of Balham tube station is a hidden gem for coffee, pastries and brunch! Whilst on my daily commute to work, I would walk by the Apple Blue Patisserie, curious as to who the are and what they do! Now, this place is my favourite spot for my americanos and oat milk! Not to mention, their cakes are also works of art!

I also recently tried this place for weekend brunch, and the food was delicious! The staff and really friendly and you can sit both inside or outside, depening on your preference!

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Brunch, Brush and Bubbles

Last Saturday I spent a wonderful day in London’s Notting Hill. The day started off with brunch at The Dayrooms Café. A tiny café, 5 minutes walk from Ladbroke Grove station, this little gem is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area. The menu is a mix of traditional brunch food, with a few alternative dishes thrown in there too. The service was excellent and the food was delicious, although if you go at peak times, I would imagine you will have to queue. We went slightly after midday, and managed to get a table immediately.

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From there, we walked 10 minutes to The Eagle pub, where the Brush and Bubbles afternoon was being held. Brush and Bubbles is a project for people of all creative abilities, to be able to create something wonderful (whilst sipping a glass of bubbly!) The founders love the idea of bringing people together and encouraging them to be creative.

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Their classes are not about being ‘good’ at painting, but more about people coming together to chat, paint, drink and enjoy. I went along with two of my girlfriends and we had such a fun afternoon! The class is super relaxing, and the artists are there to guide you, regardless of your ability. At the end of the class, you walk away with your own masterpiece, on canvas, that you can bring home!
The class is £35 to do and I would definitely recommend it to anyone living in London or paying it a visit anytime soon! You can buy tickets online on their website http://www.brushandbubbles.com/londontickets.

London’s Prettiest Cafés

Let’s be honest, we are all suckers for a pretty, floral café, and London is just bursting with them! Here are my favourite, most Instagrammable spots in London…

 

FEYA CAFE

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PEGGY PORSCHEN

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DOMINIQUE ANSEL

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SAINT AYMES

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ELAN CAFÉ

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BISCUITEERS

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AUBAINE SELFRIDGES

 

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DALLOWAY TERRACE

 

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Things to do in London

Often it can be hard to think of non-traditional/non-tourist activities to do in London, so I have complied a list of fun and different things to do in London, whilst also including some of the more traditional, tourist attractions.

 

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London Activities:
Day trip to Brighton (check out my blog post on this)
Day trip to Oxford (check out my blog post on this)
Luxury cinemas (Electric Cinema, Curzon at Mondrian Hotel, Everyman Belsize Park, Olympia Cinema Barnes)
Shopping (Oxford Street, Sloane Square/Kings Road, Covent Garden, Canary Wharf, Westfield)
Afternoon Tea (Check out my Ultimate Brunch List post for the list of afternoon tea spots)
Food markets (Check out my Ultimate Brunch List post for the list of markets)
Bottomless Brunch (Check out my Ultimate Brunch List post for the list of bottomless brunch places)

 

Tourist Activities:
 London Eye
 Tower of London
 Buckingham Palace
  Kensington Palace
 Hyde Park
  Big Ben
Covent Garden
The Shard
Camden Town
Westminster Abbey
  Hampton court

The Churchill War Rooms. They were used or recreated in the movie the Darkest Hour.

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Galleries and Museums
Saatchi Gallery
Imperial War Museum
Victoria and Albert museum

The British Museum

The Tate Modern

The Portrait Gallery

The Ultimate London Dinner List

For the past few weeks I have been trying to compile the Ultimate London Dinner List, with all the best restaurants (for dinner) across London. Each of these restaurants has been tried and tested, by either myself or friends, and includes everything from cheap and cheerful to Michelin star (marked with an *). Enjoy!

 

French:

The Orrery (Modern take on traditional French dishes) Marylebone
Margaux (French) Kensington
Leroy (French Small plates) Shoreditch
Nac (French Bistro) Mayfair
Le Boudin Blanc (Rustic Gallic Food, French cuisine) Mayfair

Italian:

Sorella (Italian) Clapham
Bernardi’s (Italian) Marylebone
Flour & Grape (Italian/Pasta) London Bridge
Padella (Pasta) London Bridge
Bocco di Lupo (Italian) Soho
Popolo (Italian) Shoreditch
Da Corradi (Italian) Mayfair

Tapas:

Jose (Tapas) London Bridge
Pizarro (Tapas) London Bridge
Cambio de Tercio (Tapas) Earls Court
Capote y Toros (Tapas) Earls Court
Hispania (Spanish Tapas) Bank
Barrafina (Spanish Tapas) Soho, Covent Garden, Drury Lane *

Mediterranean:

Peyote (Mediterranean) Mayfair
Brawn (Mediterranean small plates) Shoreditch
Liman (Mediterranean) Angel

Indian:

Benares (Michelin Star Indian restaurant) Mayfair*
Bombay Bustle (Indian) Mayfair
Bombay Brasserie (Indian) Kensington
Kricket (blend British ingredients & Mumbai-inspired flavours.) Soho
Dishoom (Indian) Shoreditch, Kensington, Carnaby, Covent Garden, Kings Cross

British:

Tanner & Co (Old English food with a modern edge) London Bridge
Lamberts (modern British) Balham
Magpie (Modern British) Mayfair
The Ivy (Modern British Food) Multiple Locations
Drayton Arms (British gastropub) Earls Court
Bumpkin (British) South Kensington
Kitty Fishers (Modern British with Spanish twist) Mayfair
Plot (Modern British small plates)Tooting Market
The Dairy (Small-plate dining from seasonal Modern English/European menu amid vintage chic of bar/bistro.) Clapham Common
Randall & Aubin (Seafood, Oysters, Modern British) Soho
Frog by Adam Handling (continues Adam’s signature British style and combines technical savvy with the freshest, highest quality seasonal produce) Covent Garden

Steak:

Gauchos (Steak) Multiple Locations
Hawksmoor (Steak) Covent Garden
Foxlow (Steak) Balham
Hixter (Chicken/Steak) Bankside
Arlo’s (Steak) Balham

North Africa:

Barbury (North African) Neals Yard Covent Garden
Morito (Spanish/North African Tapas) Clerkenwell

 

Asia:

Bull in a China Shop (Asian infused eatery) Shoreditch
Sushi Samba (Japanese-Brazilian-Peruvian sushi) Moorgate
Go (Vietnamese) South Kensington
Pidgin (Asian Inspired 4 course menu) Hackney*

 

Moroccan:

Tagine (BYOB Moroccan) Balham
Momo (Couscous, tagines and lamb dishes in colourful setting filled with furnishings from a Moroccan souk.) Mayfair

 

Peru:

Chicama (Peruvian, does not serve meat) Kings Road, Chelsea
Pachamama (sister restaurant of Chicama, serves meat, also Peruvian)

 

Turkish:

Oklava (Turkish sharing plates) Shoreditch
Ruya (Turkish) Mayfair

 

Other:

Caravan (A bit of everything) Kings Cross, Exmouth Market, Bankside, Fitzrovia
Palomar (Modern fare from Jerusalem meets a variety of international influences) Soho
The Manor, Clapham
La Bodega Negra (Mexican food) Soho
The Ned, City of London
The Hospital Club (Private Members Club)
Black Roe (Hawaiian-inspired raw fish &seafood dished, plus grilled meats) May
Asia de Cuba (Asian influence on Cuban cuisine) Covent Garden

Casual and Chilled:

Radio Alice (Pizza) Clapham Common
Pho (Vietnamese) Multiple Locations
Franco Manca (Sourdough Pizza) Multiple Locations
Eco (Pizza) Clapham Common
The Pepper Tree (Thai food) Clapham Common
Kaosarn (Asian BYOB) Brixton

Markets:

POP in Brixton
Dinerama in Shoreditch
Mercato in Elephant and Castle
FlatIron Square
Boxpark Shoreditch

Feya Cafe

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Right off Oxford Street, this beautiful café has not been open too long, and gives Elan Café and Peggy Porschen a run for their money! A hidden gem amongst the bustling side streets of central London, the roof is decorated with white flowers and THE walls are pastel pink. The café not only does cake and coffee, but also has a breakfast and savoury menu with an unique twist (Pink Oats with Caramel Chia Pudding, Mashed Rose Raspberries, Banana Flowers & Rose Petals for example!) Considering how beautiful the cakes are, the prices are incredibly reasonable!

So if you love all things sweet like I do, then it is definitely worth a visit!
Aimee Rose xx

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