Naughty Guide to Winter in London

I know, I know – Santa always tells you to be nice… But what if you made an exception this year and stopped playing by his rules? After all, what’s the use trying to please someone who only visits you once a year!

Gluttony, greed, sloth, pride, lust, wrath and envy. In theory you should avoid these seven deadly sins at all costs… But let me play devil’s advocate and illustrate why you should commit every single one of them in my naughty guide to winter in London!

[custom_headline type=”left, center, right” level=”h2″ looks_like=”h5″ accent=”true”]Gluttony[/custom_headline]

christmas cupcakesAh, gluttony! With silly phrases like “cheat day” and “thinspiration” permeating contemporary lingo, this sin is deeply engrained in Western culture. I shouldn’t be eating this cheesy sourdough pizza… but how could it be wrong when it feels so right?

England has a bad reputation when it comes to food, but I beg to differ. Not only is the food here not bad – it’s great! If you are after a truly English affair, afternoon tea is your best bet. The Ritz is a time-tested institution, but bookings have to be made so far in advance that it might already be too late for your Christmas getaway. Luckily for us all, there are countless alternatives – Palm Court glamorous and traditional, The Tea Rooms is quaint and homely, and Drink Shop Do sweet and quirky.

Your gluttonous extravaganza would be incomplete without a little tipple to help you topple into bed at the end of the day. Yes, eggnog is one of the most beautiful gifts ever to be bestowed upon humanity… but it’s hardly novel. You know what is? Indulgent candy cane or toffee infused vodka! The Montague hotel has recently opened its Ski Lodge for the fourth consecutive year and their sweet vodkas, butterscotch-flavoured schnapps and bubbly Camembert are some of the many treats their £25 ski pass will give you access to.

[custom_headline type=”left, center, right” level=”h2″ looks_like=”h5″ accent=”true”]Greed[/custom_headline]

liberty shopping londonHarrods is the biggest department store in Europe and one of the most famous in the world. It is also a fantastic place to max out all your credit cards and set out on a path of consumerist self-destruction. Although this sparkling gargantuan with gold-frosted ceilings will eventually leave you sobbing over your bank statements, it is well worth a visit.

Under one roof you will find opulent food courts, fanny pack donning tourists, luscious Laduree macaroons, posh locals, piles of Louboutins and watches with a starting price of one soul and a half. Basically, Harrods is the place where you would want to hide during a zombie apocalypse – and isn’t Christmas season fairly similar to one?

If you would rather endure the mayhem in an open space, Oxford Street and its neighbouring Regent Street are just as beautiful, albeit just as crowded. Whatever you do, you must peek inside Hamleys – the oldest and largest toy shop in the world. Its five floors crammed with teddy bears, tiny remote-controlled helicopters and candy will awaken the child in you… So much so that you may find yourself fighting actual children for that remote. I know I have and I ask you to reserve your judgment until after your visit.

[custom_headline type=”left, center, right” level=”h2″ looks_like=”h5″ accent=”true”]Sloth[/custom_headline]

DSC_0072Let’s face it – as cheerful and relaxing as it tries to appear, Christmas is one of the most exhausting times of the year. Santa may get all the credit, but at the end of the day we are the ones setting the table and hastily googling “what to get auntie Berta” on December 23.

Amidst all the craziness, you deserve a little down time. How should you spend it? By putting your feet up and enjoying a festive film or a lovely book! Now, you could definitely just snuggle up in bed and watch “The Grinch” on your laptop. But what if I told you you can do just that, plus have some champagne, a three-course dinner and a huge silver screen? One Aldwych hotel is currently running a Festive Film & Fizz offer which will let you do just that!

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via Karl Cossio

Vanity is a special kind of pride and although it is something my life is riddled with all year round, it manifests itself most strongly around Christmas. All those dresses you can no longer zip up – because hello, delightful desserts! – can make you feel like ’tis the season to be counting calories, not merrily eating yourself into oblivion. Our physical appearance directly reflects our mental state – but this does not have to be a negative thing. All those Christmas balls are the perfect excuse for a little professional preening.

Even something as inexpensive as getting your eyebrows threaded (£3 and up) can lift your spirits high and make you feel fabulous. How about a festive manicure complete with cheery snowmen and glittering trees? And, if all that shopping has left your back tense, might I suggest a relaxing massage and spa experience? TRULY offers some truly incredible spa packages around London – the only hard part is choosing the one you like most… and funding your habit once you get addicted.

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saWhen Santa asks whether you’ve been naughty or nice, just shrug and call him out on his pervy prying – long winters nights were made for cuddles and everyone knows that spooning leads to… yes, forking.

London can seem a little uptight by day, but the Arctic Monkeys were right – it certainly changes when the sun goes down ’round here! From renowned burlesque performances to the kinky sex shops of Soho, the city boasts an abundance of places that will leave your stocking full of coal. I solemnly promise that is not a metaphor!

So where should you go? Madame Jojo’s, one of the most renowned burlesque venues in the world, would have been my first tip but it unexpectedly closed down after losing its licence… literally yesterday! Luckily, there are other options like Cafe de Paris or Proud Cabaret which certainly merit a visit.

If you are feeling particularly adventurous, you could also hit up the Torture Garden Xmas Ball which only admits guests in “full fetish costume”. Not sure what that means, but I do own a latex raincoat which would probably go down a treat – if you decide to go, I might consider lending it out!

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DSC_0347There are few better ways to channel your inner anger than strapping two lethal weapons to your feet and joining dozens of people in similar gear on an icy battlefield. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you’ve clearly never been ice skating – one of the most terrifying winter sports known to man. Because our lives consist of omnipresent traffic jams and feigned politeness, we Londoners have a lot of repressed anger to deal with… Which is why ice skating rings are an integral part of winter festivities in the British capital!

My top three picks would be the picture perfect rink in front of the Natural History Museum, the icy paradise at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park and the festive space in front of Somerset House. Prices hover around £8-15 and include unlimited face plants and bruises. Bargain!

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carnaby street

via Pavlina Jane

Envy is not a very Christmassy emotion, but some parts of London are so beautiful in winter that you will be unable to keep yourself from envying those who live there. Honestly – with a light dusting of snow and fairy lights, Hyde Park and all of its surrounding areas become magical.

You would do well by choosing a hotel in South Kensington like the Holiday Inn London Kensington Forum. This will give you the perfect base for shopping at Harrods, visiting the incredible – not to mention free – Science Museum, V&A and Natural History museum. Don’t forget to schedule in some ice-skating at the last stop, as I advised earlier! Oh, and have I mentioned that Harrods is within walking distance from the hotel, waiting to fulfil your sinful greedy ways?

If you would prefer to satisfy your cultural cravings, Mayfair is the best place to stay if you want to attend West End shows and hang out with the Queen at Buckingham Palace. The Holiday Inn London Mayfair is right in the midst of it all – and just around the corner from Fortnum & Mason, whose window displays are the most beautiful I have ever seen!

Would you spend Christmas in London this year? Are you or have you? Which sin are you most excited to commit? I’m all about gluttony this season, but I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Disclaimer: This post was brought to you in collaboration with Holiday Inn. As always, everything has been written by me and all opinions are fully my own (as well as all those subpar delightful puns!).

  • Cyra | Gastronomic Nomad
    Posted at 04:22h, 26 November

    Great post girl Sabina 🙂 I went ice skating at Somerset House a few years ago. Actually I am terrible at anything remotely sporty or active but I survived without getting my fingers chopped off. Win! It was even kind of fun. Who would have thought.

    • Sabina
      Posted at 17:16h, 27 November

      Thanks so much Cyra! Ohhh that sounds exactly like me… I suck but hey, I haven’t injured myself – or anybody else – and I had fun so why not 😉

  • Teawashere_
    Posted at 12:28h, 26 November

    LOVE this post. I am spending Christmas days in Berlin, but some of the above are on my list for the coming weeks

    • Sabina
      Posted at 17:15h, 27 November

      Yayyy, so glad to hear that! I spent last New Year’s in Berlin and had a grand time, I’m sure you will too! I have some posts from then on the blog if you’re interested – might be worth checking out 🙂

  • The Brave Dame
    Posted at 12:33h, 26 November

    Amazing post! Spending New Years there. You gave me some great ideas! Thanks!

    • Sabina
      Posted at 17:12h, 27 November

      Oh yay, so happy to hear that!! Let me know how you found the activities you end up doing – I always love hearing other people’s opinions 😀

  • Renegade Travels
    Posted at 14:03h, 26 November

    The post definitely beats the usual things to do in London that you see everywhere. Will be there in January.

    • Sabina
      Posted at 17:13h, 27 November

      Yayy, I’m so happy to hear that you’ve found it helpful! Let me know when you’re around – I’ll be back in mid January and could give you some tips or show you around 🙂

  • Lubka Christova
    Posted at 21:04h, 26 November

    I’ve got to admit this post is really interesting. I would mind a nice massage and visit to the SPA center right now!

    • Sabina
      Posted at 17:13h, 27 November

      So happy you enjoyed the post Lubka! Always so lovely hearing from you 🙂 YES, I’m totally with you on that spa bit… just what I need right now!!

  • Silvia
    Posted at 07:50h, 27 November

    I love how you did this post! I won’t be in London this Christmas, but I will be there for New Year’s! Particularly excited to get my glutton on 🙂

    • Sabina
      Posted at 17:14h, 27 November

      So glad you liked it! I was like “is the idea too wacky?” but then… meh, this is Girl vs Globe where anything goes 😉 Unfortunately I won’t be here for NYE otherwise I’d definitely suggest a coffee or something 🙁

  • Penny Sadler
    Posted at 19:57h, 05 December

    Love this! I’ll probably try it! In my city: Dallas. 🙂

    • Sabina
      Posted at 21:51h, 05 December

      Yayyy, let’s make this a new thing 😉 Let me know if you do it – I’d love to have a read!

  • Vicky
    Posted at 20:36h, 05 December

    Nice is good, but naughty is so much more fun! I love your ideas for some sinful fun in the city.

    • Sabina
      Posted at 21:51h, 05 December

      Haha I’m glad you agree! Nice in moderation, naughty in excess – right? 😛

  • Kelsey of Route Words
    Posted at 00:31h, 06 December

    What a creative post idea! I love this 🙂

    • Sabina
      Posted at 19:18h, 08 December

      Really glad you enjoyed the post Kelsey 🙂

  • Noel Morata
    Posted at 16:35h, 19 December

    This is the first time on your blog, I loved the post – very witty and a nice twist to dry and boring London, but not anymore with your tips and fun ideas…..great job!

  • Pete
    Posted at 20:15h, 03 January

    London bars are the best anywhere. Nothing beats the atmosphere and history that you feel when sitting in a classic pub drinking a nice cold (or warm) British beer. London would be one of the greatest cities in the world, and it keeps drawing me back every couple of years. Thanks

  • DandelionBlue
    Posted at 23:39h, 07 January

    Haha. Love how you thmed and structured this post. Some good tips and places to go in London. Great funny post. I went to vent some of my London anger and frustration on the Iceskatingring and fell flat on my behind. Haha. Still a lot to learn if I want to become a real Londoner. xx Dandy I

  • Stella
    Posted at 11:32h, 04 July

    London is a complete package. I mean that there are a lot of the places in London which every kind of person would love to visit, I love the Night Parties so much,. and for the last time yet i went to London after coming back from my 2 days niagara falls tours from new york, and really enjoyed myself while visiting all of the places around sub awesome city.

  • The.Restless.Worker
    Posted at 12:39h, 13 August

    I’m going to be in England over Christmas and in Europe for the first time in the winter months – I was hesitant about it at first but the more I read the more excited I get about it! I can’t wait to buy myself a little something at Harrod’s 🙂