Christmas and New Year Celebrations in London
London is an idyllic place to visit at all times of year, but especially during the run up to the festive season. At Christmas time things are truly special, with a plethora of wonderful events on offer. There are attractions galore, from great Christmas pudding races and festive markets, ice skating at some of the world’s most iconic landmarks, magnificent light displays to a range of shows and pantos, (oh no there isn’t!) All of which should combine to put you in the festive mood. So none of your ‘Bah Humbugging’…get your skates on, wrap up warm and brave the chilly London outdoors to saviour some of these unmissable delights.
This month we’ll give you a sample of a few, of what we consider to be, the best festive activities within our glorious capital. This is by no means exhaustive, but should help to whet your appetite and hopefully set you up for a fantastic Yuletide.
Christmas Light Displays
Christmas is a time when London overcomes those dark, dismal winter nights and gives its streets and department stores a festive makeover with the twinkle of millions of Christmas lights all over the city. You know Christmas is almost upon us when London’s greatest shopping area, Oxford Street, transforms itself with sparkly, glowing lights (750,000 lights this year alone) and 1778 decorations!
If you want to combine your ‘light seeing experience’,(get it?) with a market or two, along with a glass of mulled wine into the bargain, then there are a host of other areas to explore with more superb light displays.
The Carnaby Street Christmas Lights for instance, are an ostentatious example of Christmas glitz. This famous street often offers visitors a Christmas 20% discount in many of its unique shops. Or head off to Christmas at Kew Gardens, where you’ll be able to follow a mile long, twinkling path of over 1,000000 sparkling Christmas bulbs, lighting up ancient trees and buildings throughout these spectacular gardens. You’ll also experience giant baubles, a flickering Fire Garden, a kaleidoscopic laser display in the glorious palm house and even experience the trees singing! What more could you ask for? Oh yes! Your Christmas visit won’t be complete without meeting Santa and his elves at the North Pole village, whilst to warm yourself up after this fantastic experience, you could partake in a glass of hot chocolate or mulled wine or toast your toes and some marshmallows by the fire. For those more energetic at heart, you could take the Christmas Lights Bike Tour, which will guide you to some of the best locations to see London’s prettiest Xmas illuminations. On this 2 hour tour you’ll see some of London’s most iconic buildings lit up with thousands of lights and decorations, flickering unforgettably along your route. You’ll discover quieter streets that you’ve never encountered before, along with London’s glorious array of wonderful festive markets and some of the most mesmerising illuminations imaginable, such as the famous Hamleys toy store, whose gleaming array of lights will delight your every thought. During your journey, you’ll also hear hilarious tales of London’s history. Definitely a unique Christmas experience!
Christmas markets and fairs in London
If you’re on the lookout for Christmas gift inspiration, then London’s Christmas markets and fairs are the place to be. Here you’ll not only discover a wealth of hand crafted offerings and foodie gifts, but will also be in the midst of a plethora of festive events into the bargain. What’s more, whilst shopping ‘til you drop, you’ll be able to sample many of the capital’s street vendors, selling every conceivable type of fast food known to man, along with Christmas beverages. Why not try, for example, Covent Garden at Christmas? This London area is truly irresistible at this time of year, with its cobbled piazza, stylish stores and market buildings giving it an air of sheer nostalgia. With over 40 mistletoe chandeliers hanging elegantly above you, you can find that perfect gift, whilst savouring the beauty of Christmas. Combine this with a sumptuous meal in one of Covent Garden’s restaurants, whilst watching a street entertainer and you’ll be able to de-stress after all the hustle and bustle of buying that last minute piece of tinsel!
Great Christmas Pudding Race
If you’re in Covent Garden on the 2nd Dec, try not to miss 150 Christmas puddings tackle a festive obstacle course, in aid of Cancer Research UK. Last year raising over £26,000 for this worthy cause, 2017’s outing will be the 37th in its history. Teams don fancy dress and hurtle around obstacles including foam jets and flour-filled balloons, whilst trying to negotiate and balance Christmas puds on paper plates! You can register teams of 6 and compete, or simply support and have a fun day out. There’ll be entertainment and celebrity guest appearances throughout the day.
Southbank Centre Wintertime Market
If you’re looking for that special something, this market features over 50 wooden chalets brim full with festive food and drink and unique presents. Set alongside the Thames, street food is plentiful, with irresistible smells ranging from Asian cuisine to hot dogs and other traditional fayre. A glorious way to enter into that Christmas spirit, whilst savouring London’s wintertime sights and sounds is to try out the Bar under the Bridge, where you can indulge in your favourite tipple.
Greenwich Wintertime Festival
Located near the famous 19thC Cutty Sark, this venue combines our 17th C architectural legacy with an unforgettable wintertime festival experience. Situated in the stunning grounds of the world heritage listed Old Royal Naval College, this inviting, yet intimate market/festival still delivers a great experience which will appeal to everyone. You’ll taste London’s finest festive food/drink and be entertained by theatre, street performers, children shows and live music. You can find that last minute gift at the Winter Market and for the tots why not make their visit more magical by visiting Santa and his Greenwich launch pad, as he gets ready for his Christmas journey? With a mixture of contemporary and traditional activities, amidst over 500 Christmas trees, this festival is becoming a unique and distinctive Christmas destination. So try boogieing at the silent disco, or marvelling at the amazing ice skating performance from world class skaters, for this venue seems to have it all!
Ice Skating in the Capital
During the ‘Little Ice Age’ during the 17th C to the early19th C, it was common during some winters to ice skate on the River Thames. Alas, the river freezes over no longer, however London still boasts several venues where those energetic enough, can ice skate in enchanting surroundings to their hearts content.
Take, for example, the Natural History Museum Ice Rink. This famous museum is home to one such ice rink. With the elegant Waterhouse building as a backdrop you can skate, surrounded by the magical trees laced with fairy lights, weaving like Bambi or a real professional around the majestically adorned Christmas tree. There’s an indoor café, bar and viewing balcony overlooking the ice to enjoy all the falls and scrapes that will inevitably happen, whilst enjoying a restful drink or a toasted marshmallow!
Another grand setting for an ice rink is Somerset House, whose stunning 18thC courtyard is the setting for winter fun. This 900 sq m outdoor rink is the perfect venue for a real escapade. Ideal for families, you can combine your skating with winter dining at the renowned Fortnum Lodge, which offers champagne and mulled wine, or watch from the Skate Lounge. There is the Fortnum’s Christmas Arcade to peruse whilst new this year, are the ‘Skate Lates’, a range of programmed events throughout the winter period.
If you want something different this Christmas Day, you could celebrate like never before on a spectacular panoramic tour of London. You’ll experience all the amazing city landmarks including Westminster Abbey and Houses of Parliament during your festive tour and learn about London’s fascinating history whilst you soak up the festive atmosphere
Take in a panto or show
No Christmas visit to London would be complete without taking in one of the seasonal extravaganzas within the capital. Take the Magic Circle Christmas Show, for example, where you’ll experience The Magic Circle in all its glory. Featuring superb magic tricks, entry also gives access to The Magic Circle museum. Or go and see Peter Pan - Wembley Arena, to follow Peter Pan’s adventures in this interpretation of J.M. Barrie’s classic. Martin Kemp is the baddy Captain Hook and Matt Knight plays Peter Pan. This dazzling panto features a full size galleon along with a 7m long crocodile! Meanwhile Disney on Ice presents Passport to Adventure at the 02. You’ll enter magical world of many famous, yet timeless Disney characters like Simba from ‘The Lion King’, Elsa from ‘Frozen’ and Peter Pan. Toe tapping music abounds in this mesmerising ice-skating spectacular. Or head off to follow Dick Whittington’s adventures at the London Palladium. For ballet lovers, why not take in and be thoroughly enchanted by a lovely presentation of The Nutcracker (Royal Opera House).
Pay a visit to Santa
The magic of Christmas isn’t complete until you and your little terrors have visited Santa in one of his many gift-filled grottos around the capital. We know he’s ultra-busy at this time, yet Santa always makes time to visit some iconic places within the capital to hear if you’ve been naughty or nice! His grotto at London Zoo for example or his hideaway at the WWT London Wetland Centre, are 2 examples of where you can meet the big man himself. You could even set sail for a sightseeing tour on the Thames with Santa, when he’ll dish out all kinds of goodies to children on board. Adults can enjoy mulled wine and mince pies as you glide by many of London’s famous landmarks. Or head to Santa's Grotto at WWT London Wetland Centre to go on an exciting sleigh ride with huskies. In the forest you may find a hidden cabin in this winter paradise and if so you’ve discovered Father Christmas’ grotto!
Sing Christmas Carols
Often many people are so wrapped up in their Christmas preparations, they forget the true meaning of Christmas. So why not take part of traditional Christmas carols at the historic St Paul’s Cathedral, where there is also a Christmas day church service? Or join in at the Albert Hall with their Carols by Candlelight? There are many other such services throughout the capital, including the carols sung around Trafalgar Square’s enormous Christmas tree, where you’ll hear choirs performing carol concerts in the run up to the special day. Whichever iconic venue you choose, you’ll be sure to soak up the atmosphere and be able to reflect on what Christmas is really about.
Experience the Christmas of long ago.
If you want to experience a Christmas of yesteryear, then there’s nowhere better than an Elizabethan Christmas complete with live dance at Hampton Court Palace. Here they have a series of yuletide activities, ranging from an Elizabethan Christmas to singing carols in the courtyards. As well as a magnificent ice rink, the BBC Good Food’s Festive Feast will get the taste buds going with more than 50 food stalls within these historic courtyards. On specified dates, there will also be a themed ‘Elizabethan Christmas’, with Tudor-style courtyard entertainment along with live period music/ dance, epitomising what the Christmas of 1592 was like. Alternatively, try Christmas at Kensington Palace where you’ll experience what Christmas would have been like during Victorian times. There’ll be a host of 19thC activities to experience along with the 8m tall Victorian styled Christmas tree where there will be occasional workshops enabling you to make decorations to take home.
New Year Celebrations
After all the excesses of Christmas time, why not see the old year out by celebrating with family and friends at some of the wonderful New Year festivities on offer within the capital? Choices are endless, with fireworks, parties, dinner cruises and clubbing to name a few! Whatever your plans though, be sure to book in advance as it’s unlikely you can just turn up on the night!
Central London’s Firework Display
This event has become a dazzling spectacle of world class proportions over recent years. A ticketed event, this pyrotechnic display will dazzle and delight, although if you aren’t lucky enough to get a ticket, you can always see the spectacle on TV whilst enjoying a pint or two! There is a wealth of other activities also on offer to see out the old year. A dinner cruise aboard a vessel on the Thames is one such choice, as you’ll still enjoy the fireworks whilst enjoying a lovely meal in the warmth of the cabin. Champagne/live music are available on some of these cruises, allowing you to dance the night away. You could opt for an exhilarating speedboat ride, a traditional boat trip or welcome the New Year whilst overlooking London’s skyline on the London Eye. Or perhaps watch The Shard light up the sky with a special New Year's Eve light show.
For those who enjoy more cultural experiences, try being transported to 19th C Vienna to enjoy New Year's Eve’s music/dancing in ‘The Magic of Vienna concert’ (Barbican). Experience memorable music by Strauss, whose waltzes and polkas provided the entertainment to the Viennese of yesteryear.
Alternatively, join the Southbank Centre's Vintage New Year's Eve Party, which offers a quirky, yet stylish way to see in the New Year. With 5 pop-up ‘vintage’ nightclubs, the music ranges from the ‘20s to the ‘90s, incorporating swing, rock’n'roll, disco, soul and cabaret. There is walkabout entertainment, good dining options and a private river terrace to watch the London fireworks.
If you want something more modern then the Ministry of Sound Electric (Brixton) could be for you. This flagship all-night club attracts many followers of the global dance and house music brand.
New Year’s Day
So the New Year beckons, although January 1st is often overlooked by those with hangovers and those who didn’t get to bed until 5am! However, there are numerous things to do for those who can manage it.
New Year’s Day annual Parade
This spectacular parade, mixes entertainment and traditional pomp with dancers, marching bands, historical vehicles and more, all descending upon central London to enthral the crowd. This colourful celebration starts at Green Park Tube station at 12pm, finishing at Parliament Square at 3.30pm. Over 10,000 performers will feature, with colourful floats representing countries from around the world, whilst over 500,000 spectators will witness the glorious spectacle, with music and confetti wafting through the London streets.
New Year Sales
If you still have money to spend you could hit the sales in some of London’s top shopping hotspots and pick up bargains in the January sales.
Time for a stroll?
Why not walk off the excess pounds you’ve gained over Christmas with an amble around London’s beautiful parks? Beautiful any time of year, but on a crisp January day they can be even more stunning!
So get planning your wintery stay in London so that you don’t miss a thing. If you decide to extend your visit to our fabulous capital then Euracom can help! We provide a range of reasonably priced serviced apartments within London, making your stay in the capital a memorable one.
Why not try our Short stay studio apartments London, Bayswater Kensington Gardens W2?
These short stay apartments are situated in Bayswater, near to Hyde Park & Whiteley’s shopping centre. With the West End’s many shops, restaurants and theatres nearby, they’re an ideal base for exploring our lovely capital. Apartments range from £140p/n and each is decorated to a high standard, complete with air con, LCD TVs and fully equipped kitchens and bathrooms. They are also close to some of London’s beautiful parks, such as Hyde Park and its Winter Wonderland.
- Air conditioning
- Concierge / security / reception Daily cleaning service/ Lifts Nearby/ Secure storage facilities
- DVD player/ Telephone TV / Freeview Wifi
- Fully equipped kitchen/ Iron / Ironing board/ Laundry / dry cleaning facilities available Bayswater
More about our Bayswater Kensington Gardens Short Stay serviced apartments London ›
Alternatively, the Short stay apartments London, Earls Court Road, SW5 provide an excellent base and are close to Sloane Square and Harrods. These Edwardian styled serviced apartments are beautifully furnished boasting traditional, high ceilings & sizable rooms, ranging in size from studios, (£153p/n) to apartments which sleep 8 people. Their proximity to popular destinations like Knightsbridge, Kensington & Chelsea make them ideal for a spot of Christmas shopping. The famous Royal Albert Hall and Natural History Museum are nearby sights and landmarks worth visiting.
- Baby cot / high chair (upon request)
- Breakfast available/ Concierge / security / reception/ Daily cleaning service Desk
- Workspace Dining table & chairs
- Fully equipped kitchen/ Laundry / dry cleaning facilities available/Dishwasher in some apartments/ Tea / coffee making facilities
- Door entry phone/ Lifts/ Welcome pack available
- DVD player/ Telephone TV / Freeview/ Wi-fi
- En-suite Bathroom in some apartments
More about our Earls Court Road Short Stay serviced apartments London ›
For an even more spectacular, luxurious stay, with everything you could possibly need in the way of 5 star living, the Luxury serviced apartments Green Park, London W1 Mayfair, are for you.
Located off Piccadilly, these apartments are part of a 5 star hotel, so offer the same amenities you’d expect from a luxury London hotel, with all the added benefits of being self-contained, fully equipped luxury serviced apartments. More expensive than the last examples, (prices start from £765p/n for a 1 bed apartment) yet you get what you pay for, as these luxurious apartments are finished to the highest possible standard, featuring marble bathrooms, spacious lounge, dining area and fully fitted kitchen along with a gym, spa, room/ concierge service. You even have the option of a private garden or penthouse! With Oxford Street and all London’s shops and festive lights nearby, this apartment could be a real ‘dream come true’ of a holiday.
- Air conditioning
- Breakfast available/ Room service/ Radio / Business centre available/ Onsite restaurants / bars /
More about our Green Park luxury serviced apartments London ›
By Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK (Christmas Lights 2 Uploaded by tm) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
jeffwarder [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Simeon87 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
at 28 Nov 2017
It goes without saying that the build up to Christmas is a magical time for both adults and children alike. If you are a kid at heart like me, then there is nothing better than scouring the shops for that perfect gift for your loved ones. With this in mind, our great capital city has some of the most well renowned stores in the world for first class retail therapy. There is something for everyone, from the spectacular array of toys available in Hamleys toy store, to that extra special something from the exquisite, jewel in the crown of London’s stores, Harrods.
This month we’ll take a look at these, and several more stores which are well worth a visit, giving you a potted history of how they were first conceived, through to why they have become so famous today. Together they all contribute to make London one of the finest shopping venues in the world.
Harrods - Knightsbridge
Perhaps London’s most famous store, attracting millions of customers annually, is Harrods. Opened in 1834 by a 25 year old grocer and tea merchant, Charles Henry Harrod, this world renowned shopping empire is steeped in history. From its humble beginnings in a small room in Stepney, East London, with just two assistants and a messenger boy to help him, Mr Harrod initially only sold tea and groceries. Yet this canny grocer expanded his enterprise by taking over a shop on the site of the current Harrods in Knightsbridge in 1849 and the present legend of Harrods was born. Charles capitalised after the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, which increased trade within the area and so the store became a very successful asset. Since then it has expanded to more than 1,000,000 sq ft of floor space, whilst employing over 4,000 staff. It is as much a major London landmark as it is a store and has developed into one of the most distinguished names for luxury goods.
Did You Know?
- England’s first ever escalator
In 1898 the first moving staircase was installed into Harrods. Customers were overawed by this new piece of technology. So much so that Harrods staff were on hand at the top to provide brandy and smelling salts for those who found the ordeal too traumatising!
- Tiara Triangle
The immediate 3 mile square area surrounding Harrods has become known as ‘The Tiara Triangle’, as it’s believed that over 60% of its custom comes from those who live in this very affluent area.
- Silver replica
Looking closely on the lower ground floor of today’s Harrods, you’ll see a silver replica of Harrods on display. This was presented by Harry Selfridge whose store was a major rival to Harrods at the time. He set a wager with the managing director of Harrods, as to who’d make the most profit in 1927. Ever the gentleman, on losing his bet, Mr Selfridge commissioned a silver replica which he awarded to the store.
- Pet Shop
The store boasts a pet shop that houses numerous animals. Once a large cobra’s main purpose was to protect a £62,000 pair of sandals because of the diamonds and other gems which were encased in them. Also, a regular customer to the Harrods pet shop, the famous actor Noel Coward, once bought an alligator for Christmas!
- Customers Galore!
Around 100,000 shoppers descend on Harrods each day, rising to over 300,000 during the Christmas season.
- “Omnia Omnibus Ubique”
With 330 departments over 7 floors, Harrods Latin motto meaning, “All things for all people, everywhere,” can certainly deliver, as it provides every possible thing that the discerning shopper could ever want!
- World at War
During this period of its history in WW II, the store transformed itself from selling luxury goods to making uniforms, parachutes and even parts for Lancaster bombers.
Hamleys - Regent Street
Another iconic shop, Hamleys, is a must visit destination at this time of year. The oldest toy shop in the world, (it’s over 255 years old) the store was originally named Noah’s Ark, and was conceived by the Cornishman William Hamley. First opened in Holborn, it later moved to its present site in Regent Street, eventually being renamed ‘Hamleys’, after its founder. William Hamley’s dream of opening the best toy shop in the world certainly came to fruition, as the shop was crammed with every toy imaginable, delighting young and old alike. By Queen Victoria’s reign it had already become a London landmark. The 'Joy Emporium', as it was once nicknamed has had its fair share of hardship, however. The picture looked bleak during the 1930s, as due to the Great Depression toy sales fell dramatically and the shop was forced to close. However, after the store was later taken over, it was given a new lease of life and customers eventually returned, resulting in the toy shop being awarded a Royal Warrant by Queen Mary and then a second by our present Queen Elizabeth.
Did You Know?
- Bear Mascots
The two Hamleys mascot bears are called 'Hamley' and 'Hattie'.
- Bus Stop
In 2014, Hamleys created a bus stop made from Lego bricks in front of their Regent Street store to commemorate Transport for London’s (TfL) Year of the Bus.
- World War II
Even after being bombed significantly (5 times during the Blitz), this didn’t stop service. Donning their tin helmets, Hamleys staff managed to serve at the entrance to the store, rushing in to collect orders and then handing them over at the door.
- Something for Everyone
The store has seven floors covering 54,000 sq ft of space. There are over 50,000 lines of toys on sale, ranging from life sized stuffed giraffes to squeaking, bleeping, whizzing and chiming toys. No wonder it has more than 5 million visitors each year.
Selfridges - Oxford Street
Second only to Harrods in terms of largest retail space in the UK, this great example of one of London’s finest shopping scenes opened its doors in 1909. Originally situated at what was deemed to be the ‘unfashionable end of Oxford Street’, it was the last of London’s best known department stores to be built. The founder, Harry Gordon Selfridge, knew exactly what he wanted… a purpose built extravaganza, rather than a building which needed adaptation and extending from a previously existing structure.
Ever the business entrepreneur, Mr Selfridge took shopping to a whole new audience. He enticed customers by being one of the first in Britain to introduce ‘window dressing’. This change of approach, (previously, shopkeepers would stand in the shop’s doorway trying to lure customers into the store), not only attracted new customers, but also served an educative purpose too. Displays often portrayed the latest ideas and inventions, which huge crowds would stop to inspect. Take for example, French aviator Louis Blériot’s intrepid flight over the English Channel. Selfridge cannily displayed Blériot’s plane in his store window which attracted over 150,000 people to the shop.
Today, Selfridges boasts one of the largest shoe departments in the world and has also revolutionised the sale of make-up, perfume and beauty products, due to the way it was marketed, at the front of the store, rather than pushed unnoticed, to the back! Its success is due to the willingness to keep up with changing trends and fashions. Miss Selfridge, for example, was opened within the main store in the 1960s when the store recognised it needed to attract a younger, more fashion-led customer base.
Did You Know?
- Air Raid Shelter
During WW2, the basement of Selfridges was used as an impromptu air-raid shelter. During raids, employees took turns to fire watch and be on the lookout for incendiary bombs. The US Army also took up residence here, as it gave safety from bombing, was near to their embassy and easily accessible for VIPs like Churchill and Eisenhower.
- The rooftop
Although now part of annual tradition, Selfridges summer rooftop had been closed for 70 years, due to damage during WW2. However in 2009 a ‘pop up’ restaurant run by famous Michelin-starred chef Pierre Koffmann restored it to its former glory. In its heyday, the roof hosted many forms of entertainment such as in 1913, when dancers Florence Walton and Maurice Mouvet entertained the high and mighty.
- Queen of Time Clock
This may go unnoticed as you enter the store entrance, yet is well worth a look. To commemorate the store's 21st birthday, this 3.3m tall, exquisite bronze sculpture was designed by Gilbert Bayes.
Fortnum and Mason - Piccadilly
Another enterprising businessman is responsible for the success of this famous Piccadilly store.
William Fortnum, the store’s joint founder, was once a footman in Queen Anne’s royal household. This family’s demand for fresh candles each night was to the benefit of said Mr Mason, as due to their wastefulness there was a lot of surplus half-used wax. Fortnum managed to develop his business knowledge by selling this wax on, thus making a sizable profit into the margin. Not content with this, he also had a side line business as a grocer. On persuading his landlord, Hugh Mason, to be his associate, they founded the first Fortnum & Mason store in Mason's small shop in St James's Market in 1707.
Although Fortnum and Mason’s main focus now is selling high end, luxury, exotic speciality food and drink, back in the late 19th C it was credited as being the first UK store to sell baked beans. Legend has it that the store purchased the entire stock of the newly produced, Heinz Baked Beans, from a US sales rep, and managed to sell them all. Entrepreneurism at its best! Further to this, they also claim the very dubious award of being the inventors of the Scotch egg, marketing it as ‘the travellers' snack’, in 1738. Staff apparently created this travel friendly food using hard boiled eggs wrapped in a parcel of sausage meat. The Piccadilly site was well situated as it was en-route for westward heading travellers, making it the ideal location to sell this new delicacy! In recent year’s homeware, beauty and fashion have been successfully added to the Fortnum and Mason brand. It is also the location of a fabulous tea shop and several restaurants.
Did You Know?
- The clock
This said masterpiece sits at the front of the building and weighs in excess of 4 tonnes. At the top of each hour, it quaintly comes to life to enable you to see the co-founders Fortnum and Mason religiously bowing to each other.
- Napoleonic Wars
During this era, the store supplied a range of dried fruit, spices and other preserves to British officers on the front line. It also provided food for many of Queen Victoria’s court functions, along with, at her own expense, shipments of Fortnum and Mason’s own branded, concentrated beef tea to hospitals during the Crimean War.
- A post office before it was invented!
Before the foundation of the GPO (General Post Office) in 1839, sending letters was, to say the least, a nightmare. Seeing an opportunity, Fortnum and Mason provided letterboxes which were emptied six times a day- long before our current postal service began.
- A connection to Primark?
What, I hear you ask has this to do with the world renowned Fortnum & Mason who deal in some of the most luxurious goods in the land? Yes, they do seem worlds apart, however, I’ll let you into a little secret…they are both owned by the same parent company! So why not also head off to Primark for a bargain?
If you intend to make a weekend, or longer out of your shopping experience in London, then look no further!
Euracom can find the accommodation that is just right for you. We have a range of affordable, luxury, serviced apartments available, to make your stay in London unforgettable.
Take for example… Bayswater Studios, London W2
For a modest fee from £97pn, these serviced apartments are perfect if you’re visiting London for a short stay. They provide a welcoming personal, professional service and boast a private garden for residents. These newly refurbished apartments range from 1 bed studio simplicity to a 3 bed, luxury space. Each features a lounge area with TV/ DVD, and a fully fitted kitchen. With close proximity to the amazing Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park and the Oxford Street and Knightsbridge stores, staying here will certainly make your access to all of London’s attractions easy and pleasurable.
Other features include:
- Concierge / Security / Reception / Door entry phone
- Daily cleaning service / Laundry / Dry cleaning facilities available
- DVD player / Telephone / TV / Freeview / Wifi
- Kitchen / Kitchenette / Dishwasher in some apartments
More about our Bayswater Studios Short Stay serviced apartments London ›
Alternatively, if you are looking for a more luxurious option you could try…..our Serviced apartment rentals in South Kensington, Gloucester Road SW7
These holiday apartments are situated within South Kensington and are well situated within the capital. They provide the perfect, central venue to stay, whether your intention is to shop ‘til you drop or relax in luxury. From £125p/n, these self-catering, serviced apartments are comfortably furnished with a small, well-equipped kitchen and bathroom with separate shower. Close to Hamleys and Selfridges, along with a host of other central London attractions, they allow easy access to Europe’s largest shopping district, so if you love shopping & luxurious living, these apartments are for you!
Other features include:
- Concierge / Security / Reception / Door entry phone / Lifts
- Daily cleaning service / Laundry / dry cleaning facilities available / Dishwasher in some apartments
- Duplex-style apartment
- Telephone / TV / Freeview / Wifi
More about our South Kensington, Gloucester Road SW7 serviced apartments ›
Our final featured apartments for this month are our Luxury serviced apartments London Bond Street, W1, offering luxury in the heart of London's West End. If you’re looking for a luxury serviced apartment at a great price, then this luxury serviced London apartment is perfect for you. From £208p/n, these serviced apartments vary in size from a 1 bed to a larger 2 bed apartment. They are tastefully furnished in a contemporary style, giving them a ‘home from home’ feeling. Each apartment has a comfortable lounge, fully equipped kitchen and bathroom. They allow easy access to Europe’s largest shopping district, the perfect way to combine your love of shopping with luxurious living.
Other features include:
- Air conditioning/ Central heating/ Door entry phone / Lifts/ Safe
- Bathroom- (some en-suite)
- Complimentary grocery shopping service
- Daily or weekly linen change / Daily cleaning service / Laundry / dry cleaning facilities available
- DVD player / Radio / Alarm clock/Satellite TV / Tea / coffee making facilities / Telephone / Wifi / TV / Freeview
- Fully equipped kitchen/Washing machine
- Spa / health club in building or nearby
More about our London Bond Street W1 serviced apartments ›
So there you have it…a range of the most splendid stores in the world for Christmas shopping. Miss them, especially at this time of year, at your peril, although don’t leave London without exploring a few of the other thousand retail outlets, boutiques and often quirky corner shops which often go unnoticed! Whatever you do – have a great shopping experience and don't forget, the best way to make the most of any visit to London is to extend your stay by renting one of our fabulous London serviced apartments. Happy shopping!
By Michael Caven from Stockholm, Sweden - Glowing Harrods, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24318570
By DAVID HOLT from London, England [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
R Sones [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Andrew Meredith (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
at 6 Nov 2017
Christmas shopping in London is more than just going out, buying what you need and going home again. It’s an event. It’s a full day out that takes in inevitable sightseeing, a couple of coffee stops, the actual shopping and some lunch or an early dinner in a nice pub or restaurant.
We all have fond memories of going into London to ‘see the windows’. Everyone knows what that means and it was a highlight of the year. If you don’t, the premise was simple. Each of the department stores (along Oxford Street and Regent Street predominantly) would dress up their storefront windows with the most magical displays and we’d be captivated by their Christmassy themes. Today of course we see it as a cynical marketing ploy to get us to buy their stuff but that aside, it was something we loved and that tradition continues today.
It wasn’t always like this though. The humble department store rose, not coincidentally, alongside growth of a consumerist society in the early years of the 19th century. Entrepreneurs like Josiah Wedgewood (the cups and saucers guy) pioneered what we now call marketing to influence the tastes and trends of the day. To this end, window shopping became a legitimate leisure activity and department stores acted as safe havens for Georgian ‘society’ women with disposable income who could shop unaccompanied without a slight on their closely-protected reputations.
Oxford Street in the late 1800s
There is some conjecture as to what was the first department store and it seems like the truth has been consigned to the annals of history but Kendal’s in Manchester (now House of Fraser) has been trading under various guises since 1796 and has a legitimate claim. If you know of an older department store, tell us on Twitter@EuracomLondon!
Perhaps the most famous department store in the world is Harrods in Knightsbridge. A former grocery store located in a grim part of London’s East End, Charles Henry Harrod saw a gap in the market when the East India Company lost its monopoly on tea pricing in the 1830s and swooped. Harrods moved into semi-rural Knightsbridge around 1850 and started on a path to greatness.
Over 12,000 bulbs light up Harrods every night
Harrods claimed to sell literally everything ‘from a pin to an elephant’ and this claim was put to the test by then Governor of California Ronald Reagan who called the store to ask ‘do you sell elephants?’ ‘Would sir prefer African or Indian’ came the reply!
A million square feet of shopping space was sold by Chairman Mohamed Al Fayed for £1.5b to the ruling family of the emirate of Qatar soon after his son Dodi Al Fayed was killed in the Paris car crash that also claimed the life of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997.
London is home to a vast array of department stores (all of which, ironically, sell basically the same stuff) including:
Debenhams – recently the subject of a £25m makeover on Oxford Street
Fenwicks – on Bond Street is at the luxury end of the scale
Fortnum & Mason – not usually considered a ‘department store’ and they have come under fire in recent years for their insistence on selling foie gras but they do sell luggage, home wares and clothes alongside their world-famous selection of luxury foods
Harvey Nichols – noted as much for its fashion at its restaurant for the beautiful, rich and famous on the fifth floor
House of Fraser – sits perfectly in the space between Debenhams and Harvey Nicks
John Lewis – perhaps the best loved of all, they are ‘never knowingly undersold’
Selfridges – recently the subject of a dramatized TV series, contrary to popular belief, they don’t sell fridges
Selfridges under construction, c.1908
Selfridges on Oxford Street, 1960s
They all have some incredible sales on over Christmas so if you are coming to London to do your Christmas shopping, you better book your accommodation quickly!
Here at Euracom we have some great deals on vacation apartments in London, on the doorstep of the stores, the sights and everything London is famous for! There’s still time to secure your London apartment but we are getting booked up very quickly so don’t delay, call 020 8420 7666 today! You can also email email@example.com and we’ll get back to you as quickly as we can.
All that’s left for us to do is wish you a very happy Christmas and a healthy New Year. We’d also like to take this opportunity to thank you, our loyal clients who have used Euracom in 2014 and we hope to serve you just as well in 2015 and beyond.
at 8 Dec 2014
***STOP PRESS*** There is now only two weeks until Christmas and if you’re coming to London and you don’t yet have accommodation, you better call us quickly on 020 8420 7666 or email firstname.lastname@example.org! Spaces are limited but we still have holiday apartments in Bloomsbury, the City of London, Earl’s Court, Hampstead andWestminster.
When was the last time you spent Christmas in London? It’s traditional for Londoners to escape the hustle and bustle of the big smoke and either travel to sunnier climes or leave the city for the relative quiet of the provinces however London in winter is exciting and magical with tons and tons to do!
Over the last few months we have written about London’s markets and Christmas shopping in London but there’s a lot more to do than go shopping!
Take Winter Wonderland for example. It’s in Hyde Park until 5th January and it’s full of fantastic things to do for all the family – walk through the Magical Ice Kingdom, ride the Giant Wheel and try not to fall over ice skating at the Lycamobile Ice Rink! If you’re not too exhausted after that, you can see the Cirque Berserk show, a Zippos Circus extravaganza thrill show with knife throwing, fire, high wire stunts and a Wheel of Death! There’s something for everyone!
One thing you must do while you’re in town is see the windows of the department stores on Oxford Street. One of this year’s highlights is Debenhams who have constructed animals from household objects like hoovers, coffee machines and leather bags! It’s brilliantly creative and the kids will love it (you will too!) After that, stroll down Regent Street and go into Hamley’s, one of the biggest toy shops in the world but beware, it’s SO popular there are queues to get in but it’s worth the wait!
One of the most famous sites in London every Christmas is the tree in Trafalgar Square. Every year since 1947, the people of Norway gift a tree (usually a Norwegian spruce) to the people of London to say thank you for Britain’s support for Norway during World War II. It’s over 20m high and around 50-60 years old and it’s chosen from the forests around Oslo by the foresters who look after it and call it ‘the Queen of the Forest.’
Most evenings in the run up to Christmas there’s carol singing and all sorts of events around the Square as well as dozens and dozens of restaurants and bars for some seasonal food and drink!
In true British fashion, here’s a word of warning. Christmas in London is fantastic and we can’t recommend it highly enough but there are always some unscrupulous types who look to prey on the innocent so keep bags, wallets, phones and cameras hidden away and if you’re driving, PLEASE don’t drink. The police are cracking down on anyone they suspect who may be over the limit and if there’s anything that can instantly ruin Christmas it’s a night in the cells and a car you can’t use for a year.
So, all that’s left for us to say is a huge thank you for trusting Euracom with all your accommodation requirements in 2013 and we very much look forward to servicing your every need into 2014 and beyond.
As we said our holiday apartments in London are filling up VERY quickly so call us today on 020 8420 7666 or email email@example.com and we will do our very best to help you find exactly what you’re looking for.
Have a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.
at 12 Dec 2013
Christmas in London is magical and we Londoners put on a real show for all our visitors! It’s true that shopping in London is exceptional all year round, but at Christmas, it’s just a little bit more special.
We don’t know if it’s just us, but generally speaking, Londoners have a habit of leaving their Christmas shopping to the last minute – especially the men – so here’s a handy guide so you can avoid last-minute panic buys!
If you’re staying in London over December, remember Euracom has some fantastic accommodation in Bloomsbury, Camden Town and indeed all over London and includes serviced apartments in London, holiday apartments in London and student apartments in London – something for everyone, just like the shopping!
Anyway, we digress.
People flock to London at Christmas from all over the world, but where do they go to do their shopping?
To us, one of the best places to go is to walk along Oxford Street and Regent Street. The lights are always fantastic but the real thrill is the department store windows. Each year they compete to see who has the best window displays. It’s hard to judge because they are all fantastic but one thing is guaranteed, the whole family will love it! Hamleys on Regent Street (one of the most iconic toy shops in the world) always has brilliantly inventive windows – as well as seven floors of every toy and game in the universe!
Moving around London, Covent Garden always looks beautifully festive and is a warm place to be with its boutique shops, cafés and restaurants. Trafalgar Square, now they have pedestrianised it will be a great place to be this Christmas and there are also a number of ‘pop-up’ Christmas markets and fairs that are definitely worth a visit –
Christmas at Kew Gardens – there’s lots to do for the family, including vintage and Victorian rides, a market, Santa’s Grotto, food treats and live festive music.
Handmade Christmas Fair – One-off pieces made by small, independent designers, crafters, hobbyists and foodies!
Hyde Park Winter Wonderland – Plenty of rides, stalls and attractions, including two circuses and the world famous ice-rink.
Southbank Centre Christmas Market – Loads of toys and gifts, food and drink including the German staples of bratwurst, glühwein and gingerbread!
Taste of Christmas – The Taste of London brand goes all festive! There’s food as far as the eye can see with masterclasses, demonstrations and tastings from top restaurants and special guests like Michel Roux Jr, Monica Galetti and Valentine Warner.
While it’s tempting to stay at home in the warm with the family with a hot chocolate and repeats of The Wizard of Oz and Only Fools & Horses on the telly, there really is a huge amount to do in London over Christmas. We’ve just talked about the shopping but there are ice rinks, carol festivals, grottoes, shows, pantomimes and attractions and lots of events for adults, kids and the whole family.
We promise you’ll never be bored. You won’t’ have time to be!
Where are your favourite markets, shopping streets or hidden gems n London? Where’s the place that you can’t wait to get to in the festive season? Tell us on Twitter@EuracomLondon or on our Facebook page!
Don’t forget, we have some of the best apartments to rent in London so browse through the website and then call us on 020 8240 7666 or email firstname.lastname@example.org!
at 8 Nov 2013