Whether it’s visiting family or friends – or jetting off somewhere warm and wonderful to avoid either – I’m sure heading out of town for Christmas has its rewards. But in the words of Lord Kitchener, when it comes to celebrating Yuletide in style, London is the place for me.
Consider: for an inveterate late-shopper, the capital has shoehorned virtually every brand imaginable into a relatively tiny area: far better to stroll the backstreets of Soho, Covent Garden, Marylebone or Shoreditch than make that fearful journey to an out-of-town shopping park en route to the in-laws. And then there’s the endless opportunity to pop in for a little light refreshment as you go.Whether it’s the basement wine bar in Fortnum & Mason (hands down the best “best-kept secret” in London with its deliciously light menu to soften the guilt of staying all afternoon) or curling up with a glass of Ruinart in the Coburg Bar of the Connaught, the overcrowded, overheated country pub – “gastro” or otherwise – comes a very poor second at this time of year.
Come the big day and the temptation to stay put inside is sorely tested by the sheer variety of delights that lie beyond the front door: a good walk around one of the Royal Parks; an aperitif in one or other of the west end hotels, their lights blazing in preparation for their own festive feasts.
But the real joy of a Christmas spent at home is exactly that: the chance to slip off one’s shoes, pull a cracker or two and – following a blow-out meal featuring the very best produce Harrods, Allens of Mayfair, Berry Brothers & Rudd and the aforementioned F&M have supplied – make the short commute to one’s own bed. Bliss.
Deputy Editor of GQ magazine
Bill Prince recommends this enclave
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