A weekend away in London is something we have talked about for quite a while; and the build-up to Christmas seemed like the perfect time for us to come. Christmas 2019 was already looking like being an exciting one.
We arrived into Paddington Station at just after 15:00 on Friday 13th, and took the tube to King’s Cross to get to our hotel. As we intended to spend most of our time out and about in the city, we went for a room at a hub hotel. These hotels are found in both London and Edinburgh. They offer small, simple rooms with a focus on technology. There is a touch sensitive control panel behind the bed for the lighting and air-conditioning controls, as well as controls for setting a “do not disturb” light to pop up on the door. All of this functionality was duplicated in an app that clearly shows who this type of hotel is aimed at.
One of the more noticeable things that make this sort of hotel different from the norm is the lack of tea and coffee making facilities in the room. This is more than made up for though, by the free teas and coffees available 24 hours a day in the lounge area. Unlike many hotels of this sort, such as Premier inns; the owners of hub, there is not a real pub or restaurant attached, although the lounge does offer a variety of drinks and deli style food.
Once we had settled in to our hotel, and after a nice shower, we headed out towards the city. Our first stop being Covent Garden. Covent Garden is great at any time of the year, but is especially so at Christmas. The walk between here and our actual destination of Leicester Square was filled with trees, lights and a couple of groups singing carols. Everyone seemed to be in a great mood. Until we reached Leicester Square at least; here we found a group of protesters, seemingly unhappy at the result of the previous days general election and very willing to make sure everyone knew it.
After a satisfying meal at Garfunkels we headed across Leicester Square to the cinema to watch Last Christmas. Although not unexcited about this film, I thought I knew what to expect; after all, it was just going to be another happily ever after Christmas movie right? No, despite not being a particularly sad film, the twist towards the end caught me completely off guard and had me leaving with a very different view of Christmas films as a category. We were both more impressed than we expected.
Saturday began with us getting some breakfast from a street food market outside of Kings Cross, before we did a small amount of shopping. The evening was what we had really come to London for, Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland. When we first discussed coming to London, this was the thing that determined Christmas time as the time we would do so.
London at Christmas is fantastic, there is no denying that; and Winter Wonderland is no exception. It was, understandably, very busy; but that didn’t in any way diminish how great a spectacle it was.
We had tickets booked for a couple of the events at Winter Wonderland, Cirque Berserk and Magical Ice Kingdom. The Magical Ice kingdom showed the story of A Christmas Carol in ice sculptures, which was amazing to see; although also very cold. Cirque Berserk was really impressive with trapese acts and motorcycles, and a fair few crossbows.
Sunday included a visit to Madame Tussauds and some last minute Christmas shopping at Camden Market. Both places were very busy, as was to be expected. But both offered some great entertainment.
We popped across the city towards the end of the day to Somerset House, where there was an ice rink and, most importantly the Baileys pop up bar. Baileys salted caramel espresso martinis are fantastic.
As we had until midday to checkout of our hotel we decided to go for a final walk around our little area of London on Monday morning. This mainly consisted of having a nice breakfast at a restaurant near the under construction Google building at King’s Cross, and taking a look around the food market by the station entrance.
London at Christmas time was great and we both can’t wait to go back again.