It’s that magical time of year again when cities are being transformed into winter wonderlands. Decorations are popping up all over the place and Christmas markets transform urban parks spreading the feeling of festive cheer.
It really is a season for the kids. While they are counting down the sleeps until Santa comes, the grown-ups are fretting over what to get their fussy other half or the few extra pounds they are likely to gain over the holidays.
Having given it much thought, my boyfriend and I decided we were not going to exchange gifts this year. Instead, we are going to pretend we are kids by embracing everything that is wonderful about Christmas and well and truly immerse ourselves in the festive spirit.
Earlier this year, we spent a wonderful long weekend at the Hotel Russell situated in one of my favourite parts of London.
The large Victorian building dominates the street it sits on overlooking Russell Square – with perfectly kept gardens. The location is so central we could walk straight into town within 10 minutes and the hotel was literally 30 seconds away from the nearest Tube station. It was surrounded by beautiful boutique shops and major high-street retailers – yet set in the heart of Bloomsbury you would have no idea you were smack bang in the middle of the big smoke.
So where better a place to go back to for our festive celebrations?
Now the area itself is full of hotels, leaving you plenty to choose from, so you might wonder why we would choose to head back to the Hotel Russell.
Firstly, the building itself far outshines everything in the surrounding district. Built in 1898, the mammoth structure looks regal and extremely grand compared to its concrete competitors nearby.
As soon as you step though the doors, it does not lose its appeal as a concierge greets you to help you with your luggage. Inside immediately reminded me of the enchanted castle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Large marble pillars, winding staircases, ornate chandeliers, a library where you can have afternoon tea and a traditional Victorian dinning hall.
There, you can tuck into an extensive buffet every morning for breakfast. Whether you’re after a hearty fry-up or a lighter snack of fruit and yoghurt, the choice is all there. We also ate at the hotel one evening and were pleasantly surprised by the cuisine. Although not Michelin-star quality, the food is tasty and freshly cooked and relatively cheap compared to other restaurants in the capital.
The rooms don’t disappoint either. Despite the age of the building, most of the four-star en-suites have recently had an overhaul and have mod-cons including flat-screen TVs and luxury bathrooms.
If you are not after a quiet retreat and are looking to head to London for some serious shopping, the hotel is only a 20-minute walk from Oxford Street, and once you return at night, it’s so peaceful you are bound to waken fresh for another day of retail therapy.
The only bad negative of our stay was having to leave. That’s why we cannot wait to return for our Christmas treat to ourselves and celebrate in style.
Hotel Russell, 1-8 Russell Square, London WC1B 5BE
Telephone: 0844 915 0027
Rooms start from £149 + VAT for a double B&B
Closest Tube station is Russell Square on the Piccadilly Line