Hannah Drake

Christmastime in London

TravelHannah Drake2 Comments

Note: I literally can't even think about this post, whether it be writing copy or editing photos without singing "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas..." So there you go, now it's stuck in your head too.

Over the weekend, Luke and I used our free train tickets one last time to get a dose of London holiday spirit. Because it's the only time we have to go down to London to see all of the Christmas decorations, we were a little bit more intentional about planning out our day than we have been in the past. I had been saving images (mostly from my favourite London Instagrammers) of the things I wanted to see (and do and eat) so that we could make a plan for the day based on timing and location.

We went on Saturday, when London Midland started experiencing some issues on their trains to and from Euston Station, the station in London we were due to arrive. When we got to the station in Birmingham, we saw that the next two trains out of New Street were cancelled, but we could catch one at 8:30, about 15 minutes later than we were intending. Unfortunately, we got delayed further along on the journey, so we didn't arrive in London until about 11:00. We immediately hopped on the tube to start our day.

Our first stop was Covent Garden. I think I've been to Covent Garden every time I've visited London now, so it was only fitting. They had a massive tree set up and were having some sort of Christmas themed race in which teams of 4 would compete. We didn't stay to watch the race, but we were sure to kiss under as much giant mistletoe as we could. (Barf, I know.) We ducked into a few shops and admired a few more facades. While we were there, we also grabbed a quick lunch at Benito's Hat, one of Luke's favourite burrito shops.

From there, we walked to Mayfair to see some more holiday shop fronts. There was so much to see on the way there. It seemed like everything was decorated. We made a quick detour in to Fortnums & Mason to check out their beautiful spiral staircase, but it was an absolute madhouse in there. It seemed to be packed wall-to-wall with holiday shoppers and it was quite difficult to find each other again when Luke set off to find a bathroom.

I wanted to see the Tiffany & Co. building, as well as the Cartier building. I had seen a number of pictures of both on Instagram already, but the big red bow on the Cartier building was what I was most excited about. Nothing feels more like Christmas in a big city than a whole building wrapped in a Christmas bow. I mean, hasn't there been a glimpse of one in every single Christmas movie ever set in New York City? While we were on Old Bond Road, there was a bear mascot (for lack of a better term) outside Ralph Lauren posing for photos in front of the bear display. Yes, bears instead of mannequins!

We got back on the tube from there to go to Victoria Station so we could stop into Peggy Porschen's Cakes. We went there when we were in London on Valentine's Day and they always have the most beautiful decor. Unfortunately there was a long queue to get seated since it's such a small shop, so we opted to skip a treat and just admired their beautiful pastel gingerbread houses and biscuits.


We took the tube again to go to the Natural History Museum. We were hoping to spend some time ice skating around the Christmas tree outside, but you have to reserve skates for a 50 minute window that starts on the hour and one was about to start, so we would have had to wait an hour and it would have been dark. We decided we'd go sometime in Birmingham before Christmas instead.

I only had one last thing on my list: Anthropologie. I wasn't interested in really seeing Christmas decor there, but more interested in the shopping. It's one of my favourite American stores and there happens to be a location (or maybe two?) in London. Last year I stocked up on goodies for my hot chocolate bar and picked up a few Christmas gifts as well. I mean, who doesn't have one of their monogrammed mugs? (I have three!) On the way, we stumbled upon The Ivy, which was just down the road in Chelsea and on my list, but we hadn't made it a priority to see. Luke would also probably like me to include that we also stumbled upon a Vietnamese restaurant called Phat Phuc. I kid you not. Anyway, after a quick photo op with about a dozen other people outside The Ivy and witnessing two newlyweds exit their wedding, we found Anthro. We didn't end up getting anything, but it was fun to look around. (And try on furry hats!)

Luke was hoping we could find a pub in London to watch the Arsenal game, but we realised we actually had enough time to catch the train back to Birmingham so he could watch it with a few of his friends. We headed back to Euston to discover that they were still experiencing cancellations to and from the station. We had just missed a Virgin Train and had to wait about 40 minutes for the next London Midland train. Suddenly, half the trains on the marquee turned to cancelled and they announced that we could use our London Midland tickets on Virgin Trains, which seemed to be getting priority. There was a train headed to Glasgow via Birmingham that we were able to catch. We were excited that we'd even be back before the game started, but about halfway through they announced someone had mistakenly allowed the train to leave the station while it needed servicing, so we had to make an unscheduled stop and switch trains. So much fun.

On Sunday, Luke read that basically all trains were shut down in and out of Euston for the day and would resume service on Monday. We were talking about how lucky we were because we were considering going on Sunday and if we hadn't tried to get back to Birmingham to watch the game, we might not have been able to catch a train and would have been stuck in London until Monday. Yeah, there are worse things, but that would have been inconvenient.

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