Choose from Christmas afternoon teas, overnight stays, emergency shopping trips or New Year Eve’s celebrations
Words: Richard Mellor
The best festive offerings at Knightsbridge’s hotels
Pull up outside The Berkeley this Yuletide and you’ll immediately encounter Snowfall – a beautiful installation of 137,000 miniature lamps gently recreating a magical dreamlike blizzard. There’s nothing frosty inside the hotel, however, where decked halls host twinkling trees. You could just visit to sample special menus on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, or a festive version of the hotel’s couture-inspired afternoon tea, Prêt-à-Portea, featuring a limited-edition cake. Alternatively, book a two-night stay from 24 December to enjoy turkey, champagne, carol singers and a horse-drawn carriage ride around the loveliest local streets.
For little ones, the Father Christmas Village at The Berkeley is an unmissable experience. Taking place from 15 – 16 December, the pop-up invites you to immerse yourself in the magic and wonder of the North Pole (without having to leave Knightsbridge) with a vintage carousel, face paintings, festive games and, of course, the chance to meet Father Christmas himself. Spaces are filling fast, so book yours here.
Along with special set menus on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day (featuring live music) and New Year’s Eve (ditto), the Bulgari’s on-trend Italian restaurant, Sette, will offer activities such as tree decorating followed by a special brunch. As for Nolita Social, the casually cool New York-style bar located below, expect concerts and DJs playing 1960s rock, ’70s soul and ’90s hip-hop on 31 December; there’s no cooler London venue in which to welcome 2024. Elsewhere, the newly launched Champagne Afternoon Tea and Spa experience, including a 90-minute treatment, offers the perfect antidote to stressful shopping outings.
The Lanesborough, which is gorgeously decorated in seasonal flowers, has devised a Shop & Stay package chauffeuring guests to Harvey Nichols for present buying, while its Christmas and New Year overnight breaks involve private trees in rooms, carol concerts, feast-like meals and live bands. Over in its modern British restaurant, The Lanesborough Grill, festive set menus are available until 7 January, while there’s a Yuletide afternoon tea themed around Netflix’s Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story. Visit on the weekend of 2 and 3 December, meanwhile, and the grand ballroom will be decorated like a snowy garden as those same teas are served; on the Saturday, ballet performers will recreate scenes from The Nutcracker.
As neighbouring Hyde Park introduces its own Winter Wonderland – tickets are included in the hotel’s Wintery Wonderland overnight package – the Mandarin Oriental’s reception will also become a fairy-tale space of frosted trees, flickering lights and, frequently, complimentary spiced hot chocolates. Three-night stays including Christmas Day encompass lunch at the two-Michelin-starred Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, as well as a visit from Santa; a family version throws in festive movie nights among other treats. If you’re a Knightsbridge local, consider a wreath-making class with a florist (28 November and 5 December), seasonal bar or afternoon tea menus (20 November to 2 January) or the pop-up Christmas market on 10 December. The newly-launched Mandarin Cake Shop at the hotel features delightful Christmas-themed cakes and pastries created by the talented team at The Rosebery and are available to takeaway and enjoy at home (and impress the family).
Next to Harvey Nichols, upmarket Park Tower can provide bespoke trips to other shopping venues, including nearby Harrods, should guests still have gifts to buy – the hotel’s concierge is able to make recommendations. Another option for guests is to tour the capital’s famous Christmas windows, from those in Knightsbridge to Hamleys and Selfridges in the nearby West End. Before that, sit down to a Royal Afternoon Tea, incorporating the hotel’s signature cranberry and white-chocolate panna cotta and shortbread crown, or simply enjoy jaw-dropping views of festive London from your bedroom.
In December, bauble-lined Christmas trees and handsome wreaths complement this art deco boutique hotel’s usual line-up of signature cocktails, graceful live music and top-end collections of spirits and cigars. Thanks to a free butler service and complimentary BMW chauffeur service (within a 1.5-mile radius), it’s easy to arrange a trip out to attend a carol service (try midnight mass by candlelight at St Paul’s Church, or the Choir of the London Oratory at Brompton Oratory) or perhaps visit the famous Bunch of Grapes pub on Brompton Road. And if there’s no time to buy something for those last remaining family members, how about a Wellesley Experience gift voucher from £100?
Richard Mellor is a travel journalist who write for the Metro, Times and Guardian