From riverside terraces to Japanese drinking dens and winter igloos, these nightlife offerings marry a Christmas atmosphere with festive tipples and carefully curated holiday menus.
Wondering where to spend Christmas Eve in the city? Or looking to enjoy a merry drink by the river just before 2022 draws to a close? London’s glitziest hotels and restaurants promise delicious dishes, inventive cocktails and colourful interiors for an unforgettable festive experience. Here’s our pick of the best.
The Prince Akatoki, for Japanese flavours
Swap pigs in blankets and your yearly winter wonderland bratwurst for succulent yakitori sticks and miso-seasoned scallops at The Prince Akatoki, Marylebone’s five-star Japanese-inspired hotel. A short walk from Marble Arch tube station, the hotel is celebrating Christmas this year with a menu of tempting Japanese treats and cocktails, with obligatory festive flourishes throughout.
A choice of four-course fusion menus at TOKii, the hotel’s flagship restaurant, include caramelised black cod with miso and spiced roasted pumpkin and honey and soy glazed beef with heritage carrots and wasabi mash, while confit duck leg and roast Norfolk turkey offer something for the Christmas purists. Meanwhile, a festive afternoon tea boasts trays of smoked salmon blinis with wasabi remoulade and turkey teriyaki buns, in addition to Japanese Christmas cake, matcha yuletide log and a selection of teas, sparkling sakes and champagnes.
For afters, swing by The Malt Lounge and Bar and choose between the Otoso, a mix of whisky, sloe gin and Japanese mulled wine, or the Kurisumasu Keki, combining honey and strawberry syrup, vanilla essence and your choice of Japanese whisky.
Wagtail, for spectacular skyline vistas
This grand 1920s building in the City offers outstanding skyline vistas from up high. For spectacular views of Tower Bridge, The Shard and St Paul’s, snuggle up and enjoy food and drinks in one of the fir-tree-lined winter igloos at Wagtail’s rooftop terrace bar or the exclusive private dining room in the cupola. Or opt for regular seating in the restaurant and its two private terraces.
Tuck into Christmas canapés or book a proper Christmas dinner to savour the rich vegetable and lardon pâté stuffed goose or pumpkin and artichoke risotto, followed by an indulgent Guinness chocolate cake.
Drinks at Wagtail are an experience on their own, with packages specifically designed for the season: pick the classic one for a glass of Joseph Perrier champagne, and the exclusive one for a glass of Nyetimber rosé wine; each comes with half bottle of wine, with options including the white Joie de Vigne marsanne vermentino, and the red Les Allées De Cantemerle bordeaux.
Le Pont de la Tour, for a glittering boat cruise
Few London landmarks look more magical than an illuminated Tower Bridge. Pair this fairy-tale view with your favourite cocktail and refined aesthetics of Le Pont de la Tour for a festive outing to remember.
This Parisian-style bistro close to London Bridge City Pier blends 1930s glamour and French cuisine, in a Christmas Day menu (signed by executive chef Tony Fleming) comprising winter truffle and cep macaroni, cured salmon and Christmas pudding ice cream. Fancy tipples like the Nutcracker (Cambridge Dry Gin, Frangelico, chestnut liqueur, double cream and chocolate bitter) steal the show, while the wine list features bottles from Australia to Argentina.
On New Year’s Eve, book a table for a five-course meal, followed by a 90-minute boat cruise along the Thames, complete with fireworks and free-flowing champagne. A live set of French, swing and jazz covers from the house band awaits at the bar.