- 1 Holiday visit in Southwest London
- 1.1 Where to Stay in Fulham, London
- 1.2 Smaller Hotels in central Fulham
- 1.3 Best Breakfast and Brunch in Fulham
- 1.4 Sloane Square and Duke of York Square
- 1.5 Visit the Saatchi Gallery for free!
- 1.6 Holiday Window Shopping in London
- 1.7 Harvey Nichols Department Store
- 1.8 Check out Harrod’s Christmas Windows
- 1.9 Ice Skating at London’s Natural History Museum
Holiday visit in Southwest London
Want a quick winter break for holiday shopping in London, but don’t want to go overboard? For an element of quaint neighborhood charm, good value for money and a good dose of holiday festivities, head west! By west, I mean Fulham.
Fulham, in southwest London, flanks the more popular and pricey neighborhoods of Chelsea, South Kensington and Knightsbridge. This is where you’ll find the famous Harrods, Harvey Nichols and John Lewis Department Stores. Great for window and Christmas shopping!
From Fulham, you are a short bus ride, a few tube stops, or actually a very lovely walk away from these more ‘tarted-up’ neighborhoods. They have the best Christmas windows in London and shouldn’t be missed. If you base yourself in Fulham you’ll get a feel for a real London-living experience and be close to all the unique pre-holiday festivities.
Pick up your London Guide Books here before you go!
Where to Stay in Fulham, London
The more I know London, the more I find its size daunting, the pace increasing, and the traffic incessant. You can easily get frustrated wasting a lot of time in traffic, trying to see and do everything. So don’t. Focus on a smaller area.
With abundant low cost flights to London, the most expensive part of a trip will be your hotel. I recently stumbled upon a ‘secret fare’ for a 4* hotel on the Fulham/Chelsea border. There are not many hotels fitting that description. In fact, there is only one. So I knew exactly which hotel it was. But book your hotels in advance to get the best deals.
This hotel is typically full when the Chelsea Football team is playing, because it’s right on the football grounds, but when the team is not playing, the hotel has a lot of vacant beds. It’s connected to the Copthorne Hotel just next door and together they have 281 beds. It’s in a great location on Fulham Road, with several bus lines out front, and a 5-minute walk to the Fulham Broadway Tube Station.
Smaller Hotels in central Fulham
Other options for reasonably-priced hotels are La Reserve, just next door, which is a modest, clean, 3* hotel, and The Malt House, which is actually a pub with six luxurious rooms above the bar. They fill up quick, but they are in the heart of Fulham Broadway and the rooms are quite lovely. You can find a few additional hotels down North End Road going toward Earls Court.
Best Breakfast and Brunch in Fulham
My favorite breakfast haunt is Megan’s Cafe on King’s Road. From the Millennium, cross over Fulham Road and continue straight (south) one block to King’s Road and Megan’s is right there. Megan’s offers a great selection of baked goods, eggs, eggs benedict and brunch selections. They have an extensive menu selection. All very healthy and delicious. And they have a lovely covered back garden. Great for chilling on a Sunday morning. Megan’s has a few places dotted around Southwest London so check them out.
Otherwise, it’s Labi’s Deli on Fulham Road. They offer a substantial mix of European flavors morning, noon and night. Big ole bowl of Greek yogurt, honey, mixed fruits on top for just £4.50 ($5.60). Just up King’s Road you’ll find an American-style diner called, The Chelsea Bun. There you can get your full English breakfast, waffles and pancakes, salads, steaks, burgers and more. And if you go further afield, you may enjoy some of these great places to eat in London.
Sloane Square and Duke of York Square
From any stretch along Fulham Road, take Bus 211 to the heart of Chelsea. From King’s Road, take Bus 22 or 11 and all these buses arrive at the Duke of York Square, one stop before Sloane Square. Exit there and start snooping around.
Many buildings of the Duke of York Square used to be part of an old military barracks. Now they are part of a chic shopping area, and the holiday decorations are just lovely. On Saturdays, there is an ever-growing Fine Food market in the Duke of York Square curated by Partridges supermarket. They have yummy baked goods, ready-made organic dishes, meats, poultry, coucous – you name it. There are around 70 stalls with something for everyone, and it’s quite reasonable and unique. There are several nice restaurants at the Duke of York Square; some modestly priced and some more expensive.
Visit the Saatchi Gallery for free!
You’ll also find the Saatchi Gallery at the Duke of York Square. Admission is free so stop in and see the latest installations. This gallery is actually the 15th most visited in London and it’s really quite interesting.
Holiday Window Shopping in London
From there, go back out to The Kings Road, and you are in the heart of Chelsea at the iconic Sloane Square. There, you can see the beautiful blanket of lights covering the 7-story John Lewis department store, an icon of Chelsea. Or stop in Tiffany’s, Hugo Boss, or Jo Malone, just down Sloane Street. It’s really lovely, and I’ve always loved the holiday season and window shopping because of this. It’s magical.
Harvey Nichols Department Store
From the north end of Sloane Square, either walk up Sloane Avenue or take the No. 22 or 19 bus for three stops to the Knightsbridge Station. Get off there. To your right will be Harvey Nichols. To the left will be Harrods. Check out the new holiday windows of Harvey Nichols’ Department Store, which are sponsored by Britalia this year. They showcase the newest collections of Italian design. It’s titled, ‘Italy. Curated by Harvey Nichols.’ In one of the windows, you see a subtitled film celebrating Italian culture. It’s quite funny when you watch it and read the subtitles, but when you visit their website and hear the actual Italian version of the film, the subtitles don’t match the actual film at all, and it’s really quite comical.
Check out Harrod’s Christmas Windows
Then walk the opposite direction from Harvey Nichols down Brompton Road. You can’t miss the beautifully illuminated Harrods, the icon of Knightsbridge. Their shop windows are sponsored by Burberry, and this is the first time they have ever collaborated with a brand for their holiday windows. I say ‘holiday windows,’ because there is nothing Christmas-y about these windows or Harvey Nichols’. If you didn’t know it was Christmas, you’d certainly not know from looking at these windows. It just looks like a major sponsored fashion installation, which it is. But, they are lovely, none the less. They did have something looking like Santa coming down a chimney, but he’s dressed in pink! Nice try.
Ice Skating at London’s Natural History Museum
Once you are done gazing at the store windows, continue further along Brompton Road until you come across the Natural History Museum Skating Rink on your right. From late October until early January they have a lovely ice skating rink out front, where you can spend an hour skating around a beautiful Swarovski-sponsored Christmas tree. The museum itself is free to get in, but it’s such a special treat to skate there and have a glass of mulled wine in their adjacent café bar. You can even go the bar if you haven’t booked a skating session. It’s really nice to watch the skaters, no matter their skill.
Tickets to skate are £12.65 ($16) for adults and £8.80 ($11) for children, and booking online is highly recommended. When I was there, the lines were long so book in advance.
Once you are done, you walk a couple blocks back toward the South Kensington Tube station and get back on a Number 14 or 414 bus that will take you directly back to the Millennium. Very easy and stress free.
Given the holiday windows are not specifically Christmas windows, they should be up even in January for a bit of time. Currently neither store’s website provides a ‘tear-down’ date.
Have a great time and drop me a line if you go!!
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