Have a wander through the city centre to see London decked up in fairy lights. Be sure to check out Bond Street, Covent Garden, Carnaby Street, and Oxford Street for the most impressive illuminations. Shimmering lights adorning the boulevards, the scent of caramelized nuts overflowing in the Christmas markets and the comfort of mulled wine to warm even the coolest of nights. Christmas is one of the most anticipated times of the year in London and the magic of the holiday season is nothing less than overwhelming. This year Carnaby Street was lit for the Queen Inspired Lights installation in celebration of the Bohemian Rhapsody. The lights were magnificently transformed into Queen’s prominent crest feature on the arch. There’s so much shopping to be done, so many sights to see, so many carnivals to experience, so many cuisines to try, so many bars to go sing at, and so much festivity to soak in here in this ginormous metropolis.
I wanted to experience the finest of Mayfair for this part of my trip, and what better place to do that other than at London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square? After all, London is all about its royal, historical, or chic elements, and nothing speaks for all the above like the first ever Marriott hotel in London, right? A beautiful Cosmopolitan Hotel originally built in 1964 and renovated in 2008, with a Gregorian facade in an unparalleled central location just a short walk from Oxford and Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus, Soho, Hyde Park and so many more iconic landmarks. Luxuriating in the impeccably furnished suites smeared in the shades of cream, overlooking the hotel’s intimate garden was all I could ask Santa for Christmas! This hotel also houses Gordon Ramsay’s Maze Restaurant, and the Award-winning bar, “The Luggage Room”. And that's not all, the hotel boasts of 10 meeting spaces, including the renovated Westminster Ballroom, that combine a heritage of Mayfair service with a contemporary edge.
A stylish reception area, a congenial lobby, a plush room, seriously snuggly poster bed, fluffy robes and slippers and a gorgeous fireplace that sets a romantic tone to the room. May I add the delectable sweet treats they had laid out for me to welcome me? Always so spoiled but oh, do I love it! Truffles, chocolates, macaroons, cakes- name it, I gobbled it all. The bathroom was enormous, white and marble clad, and included a plunge bath – just the way I love them. You can slide back the bathroom wall too if you want to enjoy the roaring fireplace and watch some TV from the comfort of your bath, nothing like a bubble-bath with a view, right? The room was then completed with a garden terrace, walk out into the serenity of a secret, lush, private garden and unwind staring into the starry sky or just catch the morning sun rays. Head down for a glass of champagne or an expertly shaken cocktail with a cheese platter, and I promise you The Luggage Room will be one of the most fun things you do on the trip. A walk to the club lounge will also take you down an elegant staircase lit by a petite chandelier.
A walk out leads you right into the starry streets of London decked out in fairy lights. You could start with Regent Street, Carnaby Street and Oxford Street for the most impressive illuminations. There's no better time to visit the UK’s glorious capital than when the yuletide merriment is in full swing. The most popular Christmas lights are what London has to offer, be it the 1,778 sparkling snowball decorations on the Oxford Street that pedestrians walk beneath, or the sculptural masterpiece at Regent Street, the lights that are inspired by Regent Street’s very first Christmas lights scheme which featured traditional angels positioned as if playing trumpets, or then the ones at Carnaby Street which were dedicated to all Queen fans thanks to the release of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody', lyrics from the six-minute masterpiece, reimagined in neon and hoisted high above the famous shopping and partying street was all the color I needed to see the bling side of otherwise sophisticated London!
Piccadilly Circus too, is an absolutely stroll-worthy area. On the streets around Piccadilly Circus, you’ll find a few chic covered markets. These pristine walkways are filled with little boutiques and independent stores. They’re each decorated in a unique style just in time for the festive period, and are all well worth a wander along! Over 72 million people visit Piccadilly circus annually. It's the infamous location of a giant advertising board where Coca-Cola has been advertising since 1995! Even the name of this place has a unique history behind it, the ‘piccadil’ part comes from a 17th century neck collar worn by men and was invented by Roger Baker who lived in the area. And the Circus part comes from the Roman word ‘circus’ meaning circle or ring, indicating the architecture.
There's also the ever so magnetic Soho street, the heart of London is here, in Soho. Soho circle, Soho theatre, music shops, book stores, Curzon cinema, China town, coffee shops, jazz and blues clubs, endless bars, night clubs, restaurants offering cuisines from all over the world, there's so much to explore in here! You can’t get more central than Soho. Right smack in the middle of London, the buzzing atmosphere and non-stop entertainment put it squarely in the heart of the city. With hot new restaurants and secret basement bars, the neighborhood is the epicenter of the city. The pedestrianized stretch is full of colorful buildings and independent shops, and I love the little side streets around it. Only one square mile and yet Soho is an eclectic multi-cultural neighborhood that's home to fashion houses, chic bars, restaurants, film companies, recording studios, record shops, and residences too.
And well, if you're near Hyde Park around Christmas time then you wouldn't want to miss Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland. Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park is the biggest, most fun and famous of all the Christmas markets in London. Originally opening in 2006, Winter Wonderland features the UK’s largest outdoor ice-skating rink around the Victorian bandstand, a giant Ferris Wheel, a magical ice kingdom, several food and merchandise stalls, and many other things. Walk amongst the ice and snow sculptures in the Magical Ice Kingdom, enjoy two circuses, take a whirl on the rides or enjoy views over Hyde Park on the giant observation wheel or shop at the fun, classic alpine Christmas Market stalls with over 150 wooden chalets selling holiday treats, handmade items, decorations, toys and more.
So you see, Christmas and London combined are the best thing that can happen to you in the name of a holiday, specially one that's bringing in the new year for you. Spend your time in London enjoying classics such as Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, or some Christmas themed plays perhaps, airing at some of London’s best loved theatres. Or go strolling and exploring and swoon over the extravagant festive displays in the windows of literally every store ever, the best ones at Harrods, Hamleys, Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason, to name just a few. Or just go shopping and avail all those lavish festive discounts, since London is one of the best shopping cities in the world, that's definitely an experience you wouldn't want to miss. Go skiing, eating, drinking, partying, or just looking at the festivities, London will keep you entertained in blissful merriment!