How we spent the perfect festive weekend in London (and you can too!) 🎄
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…But no, really, it is! There are just 9 days until Christmas and I can feel everybody around me beginning to panic as the big day looms. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Christmas, but I’m constantly so busy that I don’t feel like I have the chance to get festive anymore.
Running my own business, managing a blog and being a university lecturer leaves little time for me to get into the Christmas spirit, so I need to make a real effort to dedicate time to enjoy one of the most beautiful times of the year. Last week I decided that I wasn’t going to let Christmas pass us by, and we headed to the airport to catch a 7-am flight to London to get Christmassy. 🎅🏼 🎁
We’ve teamed up with glh Hotels who have recently launched London Covered – an interactive online map which features ‘trips’ to follow using pre-loaded points of interest. We jumped at the chance to give this a whirl, as it takes the stress out of planning.
Watch the Muppets at Snow Kingdom ❄️
Backyard Cinema is a hidden ice kingdom buried deep within the heart of London (more specifically, South London – just a 5-minute walk from either Borough or Elephant & Castle station.).
The cinema is based in Mercato Metropolitano, a 45,000 square foot market space offering a mixture of Italian and London based artisan producers. Before curling up to watch a movie, we decided to fill our bellies with tasty food, because we just couldn’t resist!
Equipped with a lantern, we travelled through a secret cave of ice and walked across a frozen lake on a suspended bridge before opening the door to the Snow Kingdom cinema *the video below perfectly captures the experience*
We were greeted by staff who directed us to blankets, a bar full of sparkling cocktails and warm drinks, before showing us to bean bags at the front of the room.
When we first read about the cinema, for some reason, we thought it was outside – I guess the word *yard*threw us! The weather was miserable that morning and we were worried about sitting in the cold. Little did we know, that we were super warm and comfortable in the shelter, we had absolutely nothing to worry about!
It was such a lovely and novel way to watch a Christmas movie. We even looked at the upcoming showings and there are some of my favourites coming up, including Elf, Mean Girls and Titanic! 💙 I’ll definitely be coming back…
Treat yourself to a tasty lunch at the Coppa Club
Once we finished watching the Muppets, we headed over to the Coppa Club at Tower Bridge to have some lunch (you’ll notice throughout this article that food is regularly featured; I blame the cold weather!). Next to the Tower of London on the banks of the River Thames, Coppa Club is a lovely restaurant that has been tastefully decorated.
There are currently igloos out the front of the restaurant that you can dine in, decorated with sheepskin rugs and elegant candles, they looked incredibly cosy! I say ‘currently’ because I assume they aren’t erected all year around but I have no idea why they wouldn’t be. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a table booked in an igloo but the view of the Thames from our window seat wasn’t too shabby.
We ordered a couple of mocktails (cucumber and mint cooler, yum!) and took in the view.
If you’ve never been to the Tower of London at Christmas, you’re really missing out. As soon as we stepped out of the tube station, we felt super festive. The Tower was lit up with dancing snowflakes, and Michael Bublé tracks echoed through down the streets. I would definitely recommend heading to the Tower of London ice rink in the evening for this experience alone, but it was also really quiet when we joined our session at 5-pm.
I’ve only been ice skating a handful of times in the last 10 years, so I was a little bit apprehensive when putting on my skates, but the staff were super friendly and helpful when we arrived. After being put at ease that I probably wouldn’t break my hip or slice off a finger, we took to the ice! The first 15 minute was a little wobbly but before I knew it, I was back to my 8-year-old former self, feeling confident and free.
We spent 45 minutes on the ice, which was the perfect amount of time. I honestly thought I’d duck out sooner than that because I was feeling so anxious about it, but I ended up having so much fun.
Sip hot chocolate at Southbank Winter Festival ☕️
If you want to get into the Christmas spirit but avoid the chaos of Winter Wonderland, then head over to Southbank. The stalls ranged from tasty chocolate waffles to beautifully handcrafted leather handbags, which as you can imagine, was hard to tear me away from. It’s busy enough that there is a great atmosphere but equally, it doesn’t feel claustrophobic and you don’t spend ages queuing to get to stalls or bars.
My brother (a now Londoner) came and met us straight from his work near Liberty House, Oxford Street. I didn’t give him much notice but luckily he was able to come and see us briefly. I don’t get to see him much anymore, as he’s always so busy with work and going on adventures with his girlfriend, so it was nice to catch up. We sat by a fire, drank hot chocolate and chatted about our recent trips to Asia the week prior.
We stocked up on brownies and other chocolate delights before heading back to our hotel.
Check-in to a suite at the Thistle Trafalgar Square
Whenever I go to London, it’s always about luxury and indulgence, for me. We had also just come back from spending 10 days away on our recent trip to Tokyo and Kamakura in Japan, we needed a little TLC. We checked-in to the suite at the Thistle hotel, just stone’s throw from Trafalgar Square.
The room was fitted with a state-of-the-art flat screen LCD TV, rain shower, bathrobe and slippers. Upon arrival, there was also a bottle of wine and chocolates waiting for us in the living area, which is a lovely touch, even if we don’t drink alcohol. The bed was enormous, S and I could starfish on the super king-size bed and still not be touching.
I ran myself a steaming hot bath and took advantage of all the complimentary toiletries (who doesn’t?!). I had the BEST nights sleep before leisurely waking up at 9-am. We filled our bellies before jumping on our afternoon flight back to the Motherland of pasties, Cornwall.
The food at the Thistle Trafalgar Square is worth a mention too… I’m a self-confessed snob when it comes to buffet breakfasts in hotels. Don’t let my petite frame and my size 6 waist fool you, I’m always hungry and usually eat more than my 6ft boyfriend. Thank the Lord, the Thistle didn’t disappoint – they had everything, from high-quality pork sausages to a selection of cured meats, and plenty of cereals and yoghurts. Kudos! 🍳🥓
Needless to say, our mini-break in London was perfect to get into the Christmas spirit and to feel a little pampered. Want to do the same route as us? You can find theLondon’s riverside festivities route online.
Meet Sam, the creator behind UK lifestyle blog, Strawberry Squeeze 🍓 Sam is a newlywed living in Cornwall studying her PgDip in Strategic Direction and Leadership with the Chartered Management Institute 🍕🐰 She's also the Founder + Director of multi-award-winning SEO & PPC agency, Float Digital ✨