London is magical during the holiday season. There’s a festive atmosphere everywhere you go, and the city is lively and vibrant with seasonal events, cultural goings-on and, of course, world-class shopping.
And, when you’ve got family in tow, there’s no better way to experience the holidays in London than by renting the right apartment. You can simultaneously feel at home and on vacation. You get more space for your dollar (remember that most London hotel rooms are tiny), a communal living area for family gatherings, and even a kitchen for preparing your own holiday feast.
To help you pull together a London winter getaway, we asked Madelyn Byrne Willems, our Trusted Travel Expert for London apartment rentals, to share her favorite things to do during the holiday season, plus the apartments she recommends, whether you’re bringing the whole family or just escaping for a romantic weekend alone. Her recommendations:
What to Do
• “Take a twirl around the Natural History Museum’s ice rink and then warm up with a hot cocoa. There are ice rinks across London, but this one is a favorite with our guests, as it’s only a short stroll from our vacation rentals in South Kensington. Check out all the best London ice rinks here.”
• “Check off a few people on your holiday shopping list with a visit to the beautiful Victoria & Albert Museum gift shop. They have an excellent Christmas display for a bit of artistic gift-giving inspiration. While you’re there, don’t miss the “Shoes: Pleasure and Pain” exhibition, a fascinating look at the history of extreme footwear from around the world. It will leave you happy you wore comfy shoes and can put your feet up to relax at your vacation rental after a day of museum-going and shopping!”
• “Catch A Christmas Carol with Academy Award–winning actor Jim Broadbent at the Noel Coward Theatre from November 30th, 2015 to January 30th, 2106.”
• “Join the crowds for holiday shopping on Oxford Street and Regent Street. The hustle and bustle combined with the glittering Christmas lights makes this a classic London experience during the holidays. Covent Garden and Carnaby Street are also extremely festive for shopping leading up to Christmas.“
• “Don’t forget the department stores! Get into the holiday spirit by visiting the fabulous holiday displays at Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges, Liberty and Harrods. The Christmas windows at all of London’s top department stores, especially Harrods, are always show-stopping numbers.”
• “Now through Christmas Eve, take a stroll along the Thames at the Southbank Winter Market. Get a glass of mulled wine and explore the wooden chalets selling gifts, sweets, and festive food and drinks.”
Where to Stay
“With an ideal central location, excellent transport options, and great sights and dining, South Kensington is a top choice for our guests during the winter holidays. Walk to the ice rink at the Natural History Museum and spend a day visiting the sights along Museum Row. Fabulous shopping and the West End are just a hop, skip and jump away on the Tube or a bus. It’s a wonderful area for feeling like a local and enjoying cozy evenings in a comfortable home setting.
Our charming Queensgate is a studio loft, a welcoming spot for a winter stay right in the heart of the neighborhood. The Salisbury is another popular choice with our guests, who enjoy its stylish décor and location on a pretty garden. For a bit more space for gathering with family and friends over the holidays, the Middleton is a beautiful three-bedroom home set on a charming mews.”