While I am well aware that Christmas was over a month ago now, it seems to me that during these trying and absurd and depressing (and whatever other adjective you want to use) times, we could all perhaps use a little bit of cheer. So what better time to revisit my trip to London this past holiday season?
After spending a lovely Christmas at home in Michigan, I hopped on a plane and headed to London town, where I would spend the last few days of 2016 and ring in the new year. I mostly chose to go at that time because I knew work would be quiet, but another benefit should, from the preceding paragraph, be obvious: the remnants of Christmas were still all around the city, and I love me some Christmas decorations. And London? Well London does Christmas right.
After landing in London, one of my first stops was Bond Street, home to some of the most upscale department stores. I wasn’t there to shop – Cartier is a bit out of my price range at the moment – but rather to admire. The targets of my ogling? The gigantic Cartier Bow (so pretty!), the peacock chandeliers lining the street, and the incredibly intricate and gorgeous window displays at Tiffany’s. Ooh la la!
One of my favorite things about Central London is all the shopping arcades. During any time of year, they’re pretty, but lined with garlands and twinkling lights? Downright magical.
Of all the decorated shop windows I saw in London, some of my very favorites had to be at Fortnum & Mason. This year, Fortnum’s intricate and whimsical windows centered around the theme “Together We’re Merrier.” As their website explains, “Each story tells the tale of an unlikely pairing who have put aside their differences for the festive season.” Some of my favorites included (clockwise from top left): the Boy and the Brussels Sprouts; the Turkey and the Butcher; the Wolf and the Sheep; the Bull and the China. Aren’t these just so fun?!
If I had to pick my favorite bit of London Christmas cheer, I just might choose Regent Street, with its gigantic illuminated angels hung high across the bustling road. Stunning, right?
While Oxford Street stresses me out a bit – there are just so many people – it is rather pretty during the holidays. Though I love the lights strung across the street, I was seriously bummed by one thing: by the time I arrived in town, the windows at Selfridges had been covered up with gigantic signs announcing post-Christmas sales. Rude! I was lucky enough to have seen the Selfridges windows in 2015, but I would have liked to admire the 2016 versions, too.
Somehow, despite all the times I’ve visited London in recent years, I had never made it to the iconic Carnaby Street until this trip. Most associated with 1960s Swinging London, Carnaby Street’s Christmas decor channeled that same spirit, with banners celebrating love, peace, and hope lining the length of the street.
While Covent Garden can be crazy crowded at times, I stopped by late at night one evening and found the place blissfully empty. All the better to admire its beautiful decorations! I thought the gigantic disco ball ornaments dangling from the ceiling were stunning.
Though I wasn’t adventurous enough to strap on a pair of figure skates myself this trip, I did pop by some of London’s skating rinks to admire the holiday splendor. At Somerset House, I loved the gigantic tree:
And at the Natural History Museum, I was simply delighted by how postcard-perfect the entire scene looked:
I’ve visited the Churchill Arms before in warmer months, and the pub is always a riot of color, with every inch of the exterior draped in flowers. It turns out, it’s equally delightful in the winter months, as the pub is piled with Christmas trees. I only regret that I didn’t go back at night to see them all lit up.
If there’s one thing I must confess I do a lot of when in London, it’s daydream about living there. And if I ever get lucky enough to do just that, I think I’d love to live in one of those classic townhouses with their elegant, Christmas wreath-laden doors. While walking through Kensington, I couldn’t stop photographing them:
And while staying in East London later in my trip, I wound up doing exactly the same thing. They’re just too pretty, don’t you think?
The Bottom Line: Being in London at Christmastime made me so, so incredibly happy. I love this city, and I love Christmas, and the two things combined are pretty much perfect in my book. I’m even considering making this an annual trip!
And in conclusion: