Christmas at home can be a wonderful experience, but let's face it, sometimes you just want to get away from it all during the festive season. And what better place to be at Christmas than in the most vibrant city on earth, London. The lights, the events and the sheer spectacle make the city a fantastic place to be over the Christmas period.
Here is our brief guide to the best things to do in London this Christmas.
Take to the ice
There are a number of popular outdoor ice rinks open during this time of year. Just a short 5-minute walk from Marlyn Lodge, you can enjoy skating in the historical setting of the Tower of London. The rink set in the Tower's dry moat is open every day except Christmas day.
Alternatively, the beautiful Somerset House (tube: Charing Cross / Covent Garden) is another great outdoor rink. Set in the courtyard of the charming 18th Century house, the 900 m2 rink also features club nights hosted by The Ministry of Sound, and fine dining, afternoon teas and champagne at Fortnums' lodge.
Visit a Christmas Market
The traditional German-style Christmas Market has now become a fixture of the London Christmas season, and many of the best ones are very close to Marlyn Lodge. Just a 10-15 minute walk from the apartment, the market at More London Riverside (nearest tube: London Bridge) features charming stalls with homemade gifts, crafts, clothes and entertainment. Not to mention excellent views of the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. And just a little bit further along the riverside, the Christmas Market in front of Tate Modern has charming wooden chalets serving mulled wine, delicious treats and handmade toys and gifts.
Say Merry Christmas to Santa
Just looking at the Christmas window display at Harrods (harrods.com) can be worth a visit in itself - this is a store that really knows how to "do Christmas". Little ones can take a thrilling journey through Santa's toy workshop before meeting the great man himself inside his magical grotto. Alternatively, why not combine Santa with a visit to London Zoo. Children can meet Santa and his elves, and make some festive treats for the Zoo's furry residents too. We would strongly recommend booking ahead online to avoid disappointment.
Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park
With over 100,000 Christmas lights and the biggest outdoor ice rink in the UK, Winter Wonderland has become a favourite destination for visitors during the festive period. Free to enter, it features two circuses, a magical ice kingdom of spectacular ice sculptures, a traditional Christmas Market, fairground rides and themed bars. Visit hydeparkwinterwonderland.com for details.
Pantomimes and Christmas Shows
London's theatreland represents the very best in drama and musical theatre. And at this time of year, why not see a first-rate pantomime or festive-themed show the whole family can enjoy.
Christmas Carols at St Martin in the Fields
Nestled on the corner of Trafalgar Square (nearest tube: Charing Cross / Leicester Square), the beautiful church of St Martin in the Fields is celebrated the world over for its stunning choir. So what better place to enjoy a Christmas Eve carol service, than in the company of their truly heavenly sounding choir. There are a number of services throughout the day (including midnight mass) and entry is free.
Christmas Shopping and Sales
Shopping in London is heaven for any serious shopaholic over the Christmas period. Beautifully decorated with Christmas lights, the streets around Knightsbridge (Harrods), Oxford Circus (Liberty, Debenhams) Regent Street (Hamley's Toy Store), and Bond Street (Selfridges, John Lewis) are a magnet for shoppers looking for last minute gift ideas or to bag a bargain in the January sales. Sales in most stores start on 26th or 27th December (check individual stores for details).
Take it easy on Christmas Day
The 25th December is the only day of the year that this bustling city seems to wind down a bit. Although public transport services are limited and most shops are shut, Christmas Day is a good opportunity to take a quiet stroll in London's celebrated parks or enjoy the Christmas lights without all the crowds. And many restaurants are open on Christmas Day, although you are strongly recommended to book well in advance.
A luxurious Christmastime stay at Marlyn Lodge apartments could just be the perfect break you need this year.