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‘Tis the season to shop in London

Shangri-La at the Shard
Shangri-La at the Shard


Most children have been counting down the days to Christmas since … well, since last Christmas, and as December approaches, they’re probably reaching some sort of transient, tinsel-themed higher state.

Indulge their excitement with a trip to the capital, where the streets really do appear to be paved with gold – if you stand underneath the displays on Regent Street for long enough.

One patch in particular appears to glow more brightly, at least in the eyes of children, so don’t be surprised to see them flutter like moths in the direction of Santa’s one-stop shop, Hamleys.

A trip to the toy Mecca is also part of a new Dukes And Duchesses package offered by townhouse hotel, Dukes, with young shoppers transported through Mayfair in a royal rickshaw. Once they’ve complied their stocking wish lists, they can visit M&M’s World, finishing off with a family trip to see Matilda The Musical.

To really make children feel special, they’ll also be presented with lavish outfits and an afternoon tea of cakes and flavoured milks.

Nigel Mendham’s THIRTY SIX restaurant welcomes young diners for breakfast, and after dark, parents can escape to the Perrier Jouet lounge.

The Mini Dukes And Duchesses package costs from £390 (for a family of four) per night with breakfast. Afternoon Tea for children and costumes included. Visit or call 020 7491 4840.


Europe’s first grand hotel originally cost £300,000 to build, a fraction of what real estate in London’s premier shopping district would sell for today.

The hotel, which will be celebrating its 150th anniversary next year, is a short stroll from Oxford street and the glittering window displays of Top Shop, Liberty and John Lewis.

Paying homage to its past, the hotel still revels in its grandeur with plaques commemorating past guests, such as Oscar Wilde and Mark Twain.

But rather than reminiscing about yesteryear, the hotel also has some new accolades to shout about; their glamorous cocktail bar Artesian was recently voted World’s Best Bar for the third year running.

After a day of contending with heaving crowds and big band renditions of Jingle Bells, retreat to the Art Deco enclave for mixologist Alex Kratena’s seasonal ‘Pine Waiting To Become A Christmas Tree’ cocktail.

Or go the whole (roast) hog and book a table at Roux at the Landau, where a festive menu of spit roast sirloin beef and butter-roast farm turkey.

The Festive Break (available from December 1-January 11, 2015) costs £295pp and includes overnight B&B accommodation and free Wi-Fi. Visit

or call 020 7973 7503


You don’t need to be based in the West End to appreciate London’s illuminations.

The best place to survey the dazzling scene is from one of the Thames-view rooms at the Shangri-La Shard hotel, which opened earlier this year.

Occupying the upper section of the capital’s tallest building, the slick Bond-style rooms teeter above some of London’s most famous landmarks.

From the wall-length windows on all sides, guests can enjoy a panorama of Tower Bridge, the Tower of London and the more modern Cheese Grater and Gherkin.

Watch commuters charge like ants or take a voyeuristic peek into nearby office buildings, with the aid of binoculars provided in each room.

For a real taste of Christmas, head to nearby Borough Market, where the smell of pork roast mingles with the sweet scent of fresh pine from Christmas trees stacked up for sale.

Thankfully, all cooking needs are taken care of at Shangri-La’s TING restaurant, serving an elegant festive menu (a four-course lunch will cost £40; five-course dinner £65). But the real star on top of the Shard’s pointy Christmas tree is the 52nd floor cocktail bar, Gong.

Order The Nutcracker cocktail (a whisky and sherry blend with mulled wine), and perch on one of the low stools in a room that’s a cross between a Chinese emporium and a Seventies nightspot.

Rooms from £450 per night. Visit or call 020 7234 8088.


A sparkling sea blue beacon on the South Bank, this eagerly anticipated hotel from the US Mondrian group is arguably the most striking decoration of them all.

Furniture designer Tom Dixon has turned his creative hands to hotel design. The nautical theme begins with a large replica of links from an anchor chain in reception and 68m copper hull that curves through the building into hotly tipped restaurant, Sea Containers, where a yellow submarine is suspended above the bar.

Riverside suites feature balconies designed to replicate those found on grand liners of the early 20th century.

The overall feeling, though, is modern and fun, with murals in the lift featuring a pearly king, and even Dixon himself dressed as a US astronaut.

That youthful personality extends to the Dandelyan bar where award-winning mixologist Mr Lyan has devised a menu based on modern botany.

Drinks are categorised as cereal, vegetal, mineral or floral, with a handy time chart advising the best time of day to tackle each one.

But it’s the hotel’s location that really sells it; close to the OXO tower and Borough market, it’s also a 10-minute walk from the Christmas market stalls that line the South Bank throughout November and December.

Following an afternoon spent drinking gluhwein and perusing handicrafts, head back to the hotel and book a treatment in the serene but sexy Agua spa, set underneath the Thames, where there’s even a dedicated Boob Bar. An uplifting experience guaranteed all round.

Rooms from £195, exc VAT. Visit or call 020 3747 1000.