The idea of going to London near Christmas is pretty marmite-esque. For some people, it fills them with joy and excitement, for others, it fills them with a sense of sheer dread. This year I fell into the former category and decided to head to the capital just a few days before Christmas. London at this time of year isn’t a trip for the faint-hearted, and I was unsure as to whether my decision to tackle Oxford Street on the 22nd December meant that I was brave, or just plain stupid, but nevertheless I was determined to give it a go.
This was the first time I had ever been to London so close to the big day and I am so glad I did because I ended up having such a great weekend there! My boyfriend and I have a habit of packing so much into one day whenever we go away together and this trip was no different, so I thought I’d share what we got up to!
So day one got off to a somewhat rocky start due to an accommodation disaster. We had originally planned to stay in a family member’s flat in Wembley, but as well all know, the best laid plans often go awry. After initially being told the wrong flat number, we spent a good fifteen minutes unintentionally attempting to break into a random person’s flat (fortunately nobody was home) until we discovered that our accommodation was actually on the floor above. This is usually the part where you laugh about what just happened and proceed to open the actual door. But instead we realised, after another good twenty minutes of wrestling with the correct door, that the keys hadn’t been cut properly and so they didn’t even fit the lock.
So all in all, I can confirm that operation ‘open apartment’ was a failure. Fortunately, despite what tradition would suggest, there actually was room at the inn this Christmas (in the form of a slightly shabby hotel near Camden, but still, better than a barn ay). Anyway, crisis averted, we were finally able to get on with our weekend.
It would have been rude not to go to Camden at some point considering that our hotel was situated right next door at Chalk Farm, so we made this the first thing on our list. If you’re familiar with Camden you’ll know that there is so much going on, from funky shops and endless market stalls, to delicious street food and pretty bars along the canal.
Naturally, we went straight to the food market. There was so much choice but we ended up getting a Thai box of noodles, rice, breaded chicken and more.
We then explored the markets before getting a drink at one of the many bars in the area! I liked this one because it was right next to the canal and the interior decor was so cute.
So after building up our strength at Camden, we were ready to face the horrors of Oxford Street on the weekend before Christmas. I’d like to think of myself as somewhat of an expert weaver and so we actually managed to make it through the crowds without losing any limbs in the process.
All jokes aside Oxford Street was busy, but it certainly wasn’t unbearable and we even managed to get the last of our Christmas shopping done!
London really can’t be outdone with it’s Christmas lights. Every single street was lit up with beautiful decor and Oxford St was definitely one of the prettiest.
We sort of stumbled across Carnaby by accident and I am so happy that we did. This was such a lovely area with the street being lined end to end with Bohemian Rhapsody lyrics.
We wandered around the shops in this area and went to another pub for a warm cider which is my favourite drink at Christmas time. The Englishmen were out in force with the streets being almost entirely occupied by pub-goers which made for a great atmosphere.
PASTAIO AND KINGLY COURT
Last time I went to London with my friends I officially ate the best pasta I have ever had. Bearing in mind, I eat pasta pretty much every time I go to a restaurant, this was a pretty big deal. So of course I simply had to return to Pastaio in Soho to relive my favourite meal, once again it did not disappoint.
Then it was off to Kingly Court for yet more drinks, that’s what Christmas is all about right?
Living under two hours away from London it’s fair to say I’ve done quite a lot of the typical sight seeing over time, but I couldn’t help myself from doing just a little bit whilst I was in the capital. So we headed over to Tower Bridge to have a browse.
There was a cute indoor market and some Christmas food stalls outside which smelt amazing!
One of the main things that I had been excited for in our weekend away was going to the Sky Garden. It’s free to go but usually books up really quickly so it’s difficult to get places, so I was really happy that I managed to secure some for my boyfriend and I! You can stay for an hour if you are just booked in to the main area, but if you want to stay for longer then you can always reserve a table at one of the restaurants. Unfortunately it’s times like these that remind me I’m still very much on a student budget…
Nevertheless an hour was more than enough to enjoy the views and get something from the cafe! (Plus I don’t actually think it’s that strict so you could probably stay for longer without anyone knowing anyway).
The London skyline looked pretty spectacular from thirty-five stories high, and with the outside public viewing point, we had the perfect spot to take some pictures.
Our next pit stop was Covent Garden. I had already seen so many pictures of it on Instagram during this Christmas period so I knew that I wanted to see how it compared to in the summer. Once again, it did not disappoint!
Filled with markets, shops and street performers on every corner, this is one of the liveliest places in London at any time of the year, let alone near Christmas!
And finally we come to the main event. The actual reason we wanted to go to London in the first place was to go to Winter Wonderland, but we just decided to be extra about it in the process.
I have been to quite a few Christmas markets but I have never been to anything like this before. The title really does say it all. This wasn’t just a market, this was an entire wonderland in Hyde Park, dedicated to all things Christmas.
With endless market stalls, bars, food places, an ice rink, a big wheel and even a theme park area, there really was something for everyone here. Unfortunately my student lifestyle yet again reminded me that I had to reign myself in somewhat when booking my tickets. So the only attraction I booked beforehand was the big wheel (PSA: when booking it’s really worth getting the fast track ticket, it reduced our waiting time from over an hour to just 15 minutes!)
There were so many different foods on offer here and this time I was determined to avoid all things slathered in strong mustard (if you read my post on the Toulouse Christmas markets then you’ll know what I’m talking about). I ended up getting a ‘yum-dog’ aka the best hot dog ever. Although I had to make a speedy exit from the food stand after accidentally squirting mayo all over some poor woman’s designer handbag. What can I say? I panicked. Be careful with condiments kids.
Following my mayo mishap, we thought it was best I steered clear from the food stalls. So we spent the rest of the evening going to the different bars and exploring the market!
I could probably insert another 100 photos here because there was so much going on but since I’ve already emptied half of my camera roll into this post I might give it a rest now.
Despite what some people say about the crowds, I would definitely recommend spending a weekend in London at Christmas time because it’s such a magical place! There is so much to do you really will be spoilt for choice, but essentially, if you go to London in December, expect lots of pretty lights, good food, lively bars and a whole host of festive markets. What more could you ask for?
If you made it to the end of this post, thank you for reading! I hope you all had a great Christmas, how did you spend it?