by Lizzie Frainier, The Telegraph, November 2, 2018
Let it be said that London hotels are best dressed in winter. When temperatures plummet, the appeal of stepping inside somewhere cosy and adorned in festive decorations suddenly multiples. Some have magnificent Christmas trees, sparkling lights, and wintery drinks, but it’s the hotels with themed pop-ups that will really get you in the spirit. Favourites this year include a kitsch bar with plenty of nostalgic décor, rooftop igloos with views across the capital and a woodland glade with whisky cocktails. Don't be a Scrooge, get stuck in.
Miracle at The Henrietta Hotel
If you’re going to embrace full-on kitsch, Christmas is a pretty good time to do it. And that’s exactly what The Henrietta Hotel is doing on its mezzanine this year, with the Miracle pop-up bar. Miracle was born in New York and has spread across the US with 80 locations each winter, but this will be the first to land in the UK. It’s no secret that our friends from across the pond know how to go all-out in the holidays, and this nostalgic bar is no exception with retro décor, festive glassware and themed cocktails. Of course, there’ll be a Christmas tree, stockings hung, and the twinkling of fairy lights. Sup on creative concoctions such as the Snowball Old Fashioned (with butterscotch rye and spiced Demerara) and the Christmapolitan (picture a Cosmo with spiced cranberry sauce and absinthe mist). Rosy cheeks guaranteed.
Open November 23 to December 24.
Read the hotel review: The Henrietta Hotel
Winter at Dalloway Terrace at The Bloomsbury
Even though those well-versed in the London hotel scene will know Dalloway Terrace at The Bloomsbury dons its winter glad rags every year, it definitely has not lost its charm. Florists Wild at Heart bedeck the space with fir trees and snowy pine cones, and sheepskin blankets hang off the back of chairs. Of the drinks, opt for a Bourbon Brittle, and you’ll be met with a comforting cup of Peanut Butter Maker’s Mark, hazelnut liqueur, dark chocolate liqueur and Pierre Marcolini hot chocolate. Warning: the stylish set-up will soon be flooding your Instagram feed, if it hasn’t already.
Open from November 6.
Read the hotel review: The Bloomsbury
The Glenlivet Glade at Rosewood London
The Glenlivet founder George Smith first learnt his whisky craft in a remote valley in Scotland, and that is exactly where you’ll find yourself when you step into Rosewood London courtyard this winter. The centrepiece is the night sky above, but there’s also a soundtrack of woodland nightfall and wood and stone furnishings. Make use of the fur blankets and hot cocktails to stay warm; The Flying Scotsman mixes The Glenlivet 18 Year Old, pine-infused Belsazar Dry Vermouth and campari with apple, cinnamon and clover syrup. You can also order an Old Fashioned tailored to your personal preference of fruity, smoky or sweet, or a flight of whiskies to really educate yourself in the drink.
Open from November 6 to March 2 2019 from 4pm to 10pm.
Read the hotel review: Rosewood London
Icelandic Igloos at Aviary
London has gone a bit igloo mad. Every year in the approach to Christmas, there seems to be more and more incarnations, but these ones on the very top of The Montcalm Royal London House at Aviary are some of the best. They sit 10 storeys up meaning the views of the City skyline (almost) rival what you’d see from one in the Arctic circle, and they’re kitted out with faux fur, natural wood, and hanging winter foliage. There’s enough space for a group of 10, and an inventive Reyka cocktail menu, where all the drinks are made with handcrafted vodka that’s been filtered through lava rock and distilled in Iceland’s first geothermal distillery. Seriously. Platters of rare roast beef and Yorkshire pudding canapés and turkey brochettes topped with brussel sprouts are fittingly festive, too. Keep your eyes peeled for Father’s Christmas sleigh on the horizon.
Packages start from £200, including arrival cockatails, snacks and a minimum bar tab of £130. Open from November 8 to March 16 2019.
Read the hotel review: The Montcalm Royal London House
Winter Terrace by Moët & Chandon at The Hari
Think of the ultimate winter comfort food, and fondue is surely one of the first that pops into mind. This season, you can indulge in both sweet and savoury renditions on the terrace of stylish Knightsbridge hotel The Hari. Living walls, lanterns and heaters mean the space is already suitably cosy, but it will also be appropriately kitted out with faux fur rugs and blankets. Begin by dipping charcuterie, winter vegetables and bread into melted fontina cheese, then move on to decadent dark chocolate fondue with doughnut balls, marshmallows and seasonal fruits. Pair it with a glass of Moët & Chandon Brut, or opt for cocktails such as Eggnog with Hennessy Fine de Cognac or hot cocoa with Mozart chocolate vodka.
Minimum two people for fondue. Open from November 12 to January 6 2019.
Read the hotel review: The Hari
Montague Ski Lodge
The Montague on the Gardens hotel is once again bringing a postcard from the Alps to life in its central covered courtyard. Expect pine trees, snowmen, piste maps, ski racks, plenty of fairy lights, and even falling snow at the entrance. Prop yourself up at the bar and order a Schnapps or a flavoured vodka to really get into the Après spirit. There’s also hot spiced cider, mulled wine, and candied walnuts. Later, snuggle up in the log cabin, where you’ll find cosy armchairs and sofas in front of the decorative fire and Christmas tree.
Tickets available for booking from November 1. Open from November 14 to January 13 2019.
Rooftop Winter Cinema at The Berkeley
Up the ante on your festive film watching traditions this year with a visit to the secret garden on the rooftop of The Berkeley. Throughout December, the garden will be decorated with glowing lanterns, fairy-light clad pine trees, and four wooden chalet-inspired cabins that seat two guests each in front of the big screen. The fact there’s a maximum capacity of eight, means it’s quite an exclusive setting. As for the films, you can choose between the black-and-white classic Miracle on 34th Street or The Nutcracker. Heated velvet and fleece blankets ensure your toes stay toasty, and complimentary hot chocolate with melted marshmallows, mulled wine and mince pies complete the setting.
£75 per person, £55 per child. Reservations open now. Screenings between December 1 and December 31.
Read the hotel review: The Berkeley
A Snow White Christmas at The Goring
Combine a trip to theatre this winter with an overnight stay at ultra-traditional five-star hotel The Goring, which really comes into its own at Christmas. A special package grants you two tickets to The London Palladium’s pantomime Snow White, with Dawn French leading as the wicked Queen and Julian Clary playing the man in the mirror. After the show, head to the bar for a Poisoned Apple cocktail, made with Julien Fremont Calvados, apple blossom honey and fresh lime. A caramelised crab apple on top rounds things off nicely. There’s a mocktail version for children, too.
The Poisoned Apple experience is from £792 for two including room, breakfast, tickets to the show and two cocktails. Available from December 8 to January 13 2019.
Read the hotel review: The Goring
Narnia at St Martins Lane Hotel
Follow the hurricane lanterns from the entrance of St Martins Lane Hotel through Narnia’s winter landscape of fallen snow and glistening branches to speakeasy Blind Spot. It’s lit up by a glowing lamppost and there’ll be a range of Turkish delight inspired cocktails, and the sweet itself made by boutique chocolate makers Rococo. Sheepskin throws are of course in place, although Mr Tumnus is yet to be spotted.
Open from end of November until early January.
Read the hotel review: St Martins Lane Hotel
The Winterised Portico at The Kensington
The best table for dinner and drinks at The Kensington in the weeks before Christmas is most certainly The Portico. This small private, outdoor terrace is heated and offers an atmospheric spot for four tucked between the trees with sparkling lights and candles. Order something warming from the Town House and K Bar menus, perhaps a braised lamb shank pumpkin mash with quinoa and raisins or highland venison Wellington with wild mushrooms and spinach.
Open from November 19.
Read the hotel review: The Kensington
Sanderson’s chocolate factory
Fans of Willy Wonka will be eager to get inside the chocolate factory at Sanderson London. An edible Christmas tree will stand in the lobby (picture a tower of stacked vintage sweet jars decorated with lights), the Long Bar will be decorated with giant candy canes, colourful ribbons, and a giant lips adorned with bubble gum balls, and there’ll be factory gates leading out into the courtyard. Naturally cocktails will be just as exciting and surprising – the flavours will be not be what you expect from the colour of the drink.
Open from end of November until early January.
Read the hotel review: Sanderson London