- 1 Things to do around Christmas in London
- 2 Where to Stay in London for your Christmas weekend
- 3 Smaller Hotels in central Fulham
- 4 Start your London Christmas shopping with a good breakfast
- 5 Christmas shopping on King’s Road and Duke of York Square
- 6 Visit the Saatchi Gallery for free around Christmas!
- 7 Christmas Shopping in Chelsea
- 8 Harvey Nichols Windows at Christmas
- 9 Harrod’s Christmas Windows
- 10 Ice Skating at Christmas at London’s Natural History Museum
Things to do around Christmas in London
For me, the Christmas season in London has to be one of my most favorite times of the year. Occasionally we get treated with a dusting of snow. One particular year, it was freezing outside, and I have an old, non-functioning Victorian fireplace. I typically bundle up a wad of white Christmas tree lights in put them in there so that it looks like fire. Stupid, I know. But it creates a lovely atmosphere.
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I had the lights down low with my fake fire burning. Then all of a sudden out the window I see the snow start falling. It was one of the most magical December evenings in London. And, it wasn’t a dusting we received that evening. We had 1/2 foot of snow on the ground by morning and London was at a standstill. It was amazing. I do miss the snow on occasion and to see it in London was surreal. The next morning, the traffic was non existent. People on the streets said hello to you and I walked nearly 2 miles to get to an appointment. It was fabulous.
Any way, are you looking for a quick winter break for Christmas 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 Christmas festivities, base yourself in Fulham, my neighborhood, and go from there.
Fulham, in southwest London, is a great place to situate yourself to easily see and do Christmas in London. This borough flanks the more popular and pricey neighborhoods of Chelsea, South Kensington and Knightsbridge, but it’s spitting distance from 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 London for your Christmas weekend
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 stumbled upon a ‘secret fare’ for a 4* hotel on the Fulham/Chelsea border. There is only one 4*, so I knew it was the Millennium Hotel. But book your hotels in advance to get the best deals.
Point A Hotels also offers some great deals on hotels in London’s East end toward Shoreditch, King’s Cross and Liverpool Street.
The Millennium Hotel is alongside the Copthorne Hotel on the Chelsea Football grounds. 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.
If you have 4 days in London, check out Sam’s London itinerary here.
Smaller Hotels in central Fulham
Other options for reasonably-priced hotels are La Reserve, on Fulham Road, 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, and they are in the heart of Fulham Broadway. You can find a few additional hotels down North End Road going toward Earls Court.
Start your London Christmas shopping with a good breakfast
My favorite breakfast haunt is Megan’s Cafe on King’s Road. 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. And if you go further afield, you may enjoy some of these great places to eat in London.
Christmas shopping on King’s Road and Duke of York Square
From Fulham you can take Buses 11, 22 and 211 to the famous King’s Road, which is the heart of Chelsea. All these buses arrive at the Duke of York Square, one stop before Sloane Square Tube Station. Exit there and start your Christmas shopping.
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 Christmas 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 around Christmas!
The Saatchi Gallery is also at the Duke of York Square and general admission is free. Stop in and see what they are showing at Christmas. They may even have a special exhibit around Christmas upstairs that you need to pay for, so check that out as well. This gallery is actually the 15th most visited in London and it’s really quite interesting.
Christmas Shopping in Chelsea
Back on The King’s Road, you come to the heart of Chelsea: the iconic Sloane Square. That square is dotted with lovely high-end shops all tarted out for Christmas. First, you will see the beautiful blanket of lights covering the 7-story John Lewis department store, an icon of Chelsea. Then swing by Tiffany’s, Hugo Boss and Jo Malone to check out their displays. It’s really lovely, and I’ve always loved the Christmas season in London because of this. It’s magical.
You’ll find loads of quaint boutiques and shops along the famous Kings Road for Christmas shopping. You’ll definitely find something unique to take home with you. You can easily spend an entire day along the King’s Road for Christmas shopping.
Harvey Nichols Windows at Christmas
From Sloane Square, either walk up Sloane Avenue or take the No. 22 or 19 bus three stops to the Knightsbridge Station. Exit there and Harvey Nichols Department Store will be on your right. Every year these Christmas windows have a sponsor and every year is different. Sometimes they look Christmasy and other years you wonder what the hell they were thinking. At any rate, the displays are quite intricate and great for getting into the Christmas spirit.
Harrod’s Christmas Windows
Walk the opposite direction from Harvey Nichols down Brompton Road and you’ll find Harrods. You can’t miss the beautifully illuminated exterior, the icon of Knightsbridge. Their shop windows, too, are sponsored by companies whereas previously they just set up their own lovely Christmas displays.
In a sense, it’s sad. There is little to suggest Christmas 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 Christmas 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 are 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!!