Nothing gives me greater pleasure than exploring London – and even more so in December. So, I gathered my favourite festive finds, to create my 12 days of London Christmas Trees (2018 guide).
One of my most treasured photographs from my New Zealand childhood is of my siblings and I gathered around a Christmas Tree. Well, I say my siblings – it’s me and my sister (my brother is already gone, probably off already reading this ‘How xxx Works’ book, ready to quiz us) and I’d love to say we have gathered about in our prettiest dresses in perfect bliss.
But we’re not – we’re both dressed in Pyjamas in varying stages of crumple, and I’m being told off because as usual, I’m opening my presents with a snail-like pace, frustrating the adults who want to go and relax. Oh, and it’s probably 27°C so we’ve got the deck doors open to let a breeze through.
This very real situation is our antipodean, summer Christmas – but we’re gathered around a uniquely decorated Christmas tree, a tradition that I’ve treasured through the years. There’s a magic that dances between the branches of Christmas trees and London has the best in the world – from luxury hotel foyers to the foredecks of boats docked in the Thames. NOTE: if you pop into the hotels, just make sure you’re dressed appropriately and I thoroughly recommend you treat yourself to a drink there. It is Christmas afterall and they all have wonderful bars…
Claridges Hotel – Award for best allegory
With nary a spruce branch in sight, Diane von Furstenberg’s tree, the Tree of Love, has shimmering silver-leafed leaves, blue glass spheres and 150 glass hearts. Did I mention the animals including several cats that grace the boughs?
The Mayfair Hotel – Award for the best glitter icicles.
Narnia meets RuPaul meets prim London luxury. I adored it.
Annabel’s Mayfair – Award for being an Instagram Ambivert (outwardly extroverted, inwardly a private members club.)
The snapping Instagrammers are stopping Berkeley Square traffic, but there again look at the gorgeous facade. When I wandered through, I don’t think I counted a single person who didn’t stop, especially when they saw the sparkle light up. Pure Christmas magic.
The Connaught Hotel – Award for Glamourous Surprise
Sir Michael Craig-Martin said: “I wanted to focus on what I think of as the two essential elements of a Christmas tree – the tree itself and the lights. It struck me that however beautiful, most Christmas trees are static, unchanging. I wanted to make a tree that was dynamic.” The beautiful lights shimmer through the spectrum of the rainbow (and we were lucky enough to enjoy the visage of the tree as we enjoyed their luscious Christmas afternoon tea.
The Ritz Hotel – Award for sheer Old Fashioned enchantment
Beribboned with velvet bows, twinkling lights and silver baubles that wouldn’t be out of place in a royal drawing room, the Ritz Christmas tree is stunning. (So was the Baileys Hot Chocolate I enjoyed there, out of the winter wind but that’s a story for another time.)
Somerset House – Award for Best Excuse to enjoy mulled wine/cider
There isn’t anything quite so enjoyable as watching skilled skaters glide effortlessly along the ice, whilst in your hand a mulled wine warms you from your fingertips to the top of your head. Especially when the view is so beautiful…
Aqua Shard – Award for immersive experience and London Skyline views
Bompas and Parr have created an “interactive snow globe” that sits in the window of Aqua Shard, 31 floors above the city – within ‘golden hours’ guests can reach inside through a pocket cut into the tree; those who manage to grab one of the golden snowflakes whirling around will be given a complimentary rum-based cocktail, before being entered into a draw to win a meal for six at the site. What more could you want?
The Tattershall Castle – Award for View and proximity to
I love the Tattershall Castle – it’s special to Mr Kiwi for being a boat from Grimsby, now permanently moored on the Thames riverside – but for me I love the views; the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament and looking back along the river you can just about peep St Pauls Cathedral.
The London Edition Hotel – Award for Childhood envy
The London Edition commissioned paper artist Zoe Bradley to decorate a 14ft Norwegian spruce with 160 handcrafted snowflakes, and it made me swoon a little – what an incredible career to have.
Covent Garden – Award for Most Worth Braving The Crowds
As a rule I tend to avoid Covent Garden as I hate crowds – but I snuck in a lovely visit to see the decorations this year, and it was absolutely worth it…
Trafalgar Square – Award for Best Norwegian Gift Tree
My visit to see the Trafalgar Square tree lit up took nearly a decade, getting through a royal procession of cars in rush hour traffic and facing the bitter wind of London in December to be drafted. Is that commitment or what!?
Chez London Kiwi – Award For Simply Being Ours to enjoy
I couldn’t resist adding our own to the list. A little bit wonky – sorry, full of character – it was decorated by my own in-house Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, and charts our travel through the years. Every December we unbox the baubles that we’ve collected and been given over the years, and the memories rush back all over again. From Vancouver to Ireland, Grimsby to Dubai they’re all moments in our timeline.
These London Christmas trees are all just so beautiful – and well worth a trip to London to see alone.
Do you go Christmas Tree spotting in the festive season? Do you prefer modern or traditional style?
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