“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” CHARLES DICKENS
My recent trip to Finland was sandwiched between two quick trips to the UK. As mentioned briefly in my Catching Up With Myself post the first three days included a whistle stop trip to my hometown via all possible forms of public transport, an encounter with the British interpretation of shopping craziness Black Friday weekend, a much needed hair appointment, a good catch up with hometown friends, a baby shower, a friends band playing a gig and a wrestle with the crowds in the West End shops and not forgetting copious amounts of red wine and a few cocktails of course.
This was my first trip home in over five years without hiring a car and even though my pubic transport experience was marred by bus replacement services and delays one of my really positive carless experiences was my first use of Uber London which was excellent. Fast, efficient ordering and fare quote via the app, interactive maps, driver and car notifications and polite and chatty drivers on all my four trips to and from Heathrow. Uber London gets an all round thumbs up from me (I have read some bad reviews but I guess you can only judge on your own experience.
Back at Riverside Quarter in London after a fantastic Finnish adventure and wedding (read about that here in Helsinki in Pictures and Nice Day for a White Wedding) there was just time to defrost (although London was pretty chilly too) ready for two days of festive frivolity with a good friend. First stop on day one was Le Chalet restaurant on the roof at Selfridges. Located on the fifth floor above the Christmas shop Le Chalet is a winter Alpine ski style chalet operated as a pop-up restaurant in the store by Q Grill.
If you are in London check out Le Chalet Restaurant on the Roof (source:www.selfridges.com/content/le-chalet)
All very festive with lots of twinkly fairy lights, candles, a fireplace complete with decorations and even checked blankets akin to being in a ski resort location, it was a great spot for lunch and a nice bottle of red. I love the après-shop instead of après-ski concept and the toasted ancient loaf with sea-salted butter was divine as was our whole lunch of sweet walnut and stilton tart and charred bbq chicken caesar salad and there may have been some seasoned chips too!
The interior resembles a high-end ski chalet (source:www.selfridges.com/content/le-chalet)Le Chalet is the perfect place for a festive or New Years get-together or just a break between shopping and will be open at Selfridge’s until the end of February 2015. It also serves breakfast and afternoon tea (I would suggest booking in advance at weekends if you fancy going) so lots of dining options available.
Destination Christmas 2014 at Selfridges (source:www.selfridges.com)
I spotted the bear of the moment, Paddington in his camouflage gear as part of The Paddington Trail in the Selfridges Christmas emporium on my way to buy the teenager her own personalised Nutella jar.
The Paddington Trail in London features fifty Paddington statues designed by celebrities
Next a wander through the beautifully decorated St. Christophers place, a browse around another one of my favourite London stores, Liberty to see their Christmas shop especially curious after seeing it on the Liberty TV programme (have you seen it? If not check out the eight episodes that go behind the scenes over the Christmas build up of 2013 and 2014). Next stop Carnaby Street and their headphone inspired decorations before heading down Regent Street to Piccadilly and over to Knightsbridge.
A quick glance at Harrods Christmas windows and then it was off to Harvey Nicholls as my friend had never been so obviously a visit to the fifth floor bar was necessary as part of the initiation ceremony for a cheeky festive mojito. We boated home in the rain on the Thames Clipper boat from Embankment to Riverside Quarter which stops right outside the door.
Father Christmas and his sleigh take centre stage in the Harrods windows
The stunning interior of the Fifth Floor Bar is inspired by Perrier-Jouët’s Belle Époque Champagne bottle
Day two of the London festivities involved a lunch at the spectacular Paramount located at Centre Point with 360-degrees views of London and guess what another bottle of red and probably the poshest mince pie you ever did see.
Views across the capital from the Paramount restaurant on Level 32
The poshest and tasty mince pie ever at Paramount
Festive decorations in Covent Garden
A stroll to Covent Garden to walk off lunch and a spot of Christmas shopping before a chocolate martini at Happy Hour at Dirty Martini. After a quick pre-theatre snack we headed to the Duchess theatre to see ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’, a 1920s whodunnit about an amateur dramatic group performing Murder at Haversham Manor, a play-within-a-play. Full of bloopers, mistimed cues, set malfunctions and wandering spotlights the play was an Agatha Christie meets Basil Faulty fiasco that gets it so very wrong but got it so right in the hilarity stakes. It was actually ‘laugh out loud’ comedy with some fantastic acting, well worth seeing if you fancy a break from the normal West End offerings.
Winner of the best New Comedy at the Whatsonstage.com awards 2014 the ridiculously funny ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ (source:www.officialtheatre.com)
My final day in London was spent meeting up with my good friend and an ex-Abu Dhabian having lunch at another favourite of mine Bills restaurant in Westfield, Shepherds Bush. A perfect end to a perfect trip with a spot of final shopping thrown in, I ‘uber-ed’ my way back to Heathrow the following day and headed back to the family in the land of sand with a heart and belly full of festive cheer!
Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2014. All rights reserved.