Festive restaurants, hotels and experiences to book for December 2021

It might only be November, but it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… especially when it comes to booking festive nights out.

So you’ll want to make sure you’re first in line for these celebratory treats.

There are luxurious afternoon teas, Alpine-themed feasts and a full on Alice in Wonderland themed boozy adventure.

Plus you can take a trip on (sort of) the Polar Express, except rather than the North Pole, this gourmet train is headed for Chiswick.

The American one

The halls will be decked with holly and more at the Henrietta Hotel in London’s Covent Garden for the return of its festive Miracle pop-up bar.

It offers creative cocktails served with a side order of kitsch (think bartenders wearing antlers and a profusion of Christmas jumpers).

Sip on the likes of a Jingle Balls Nog — with cognac, cream sherry, cream, egg and nutmeg — or a Christmas Carol Barrel, with tequila coffee liqueur, spiced chocolate and orange bitters.

Nibbles such as wild mushroom and comté croquettes, as well as lamb and cumin skewers are on the menu too.

From November 15

The cheesy one

If you’re the type to leave your Christmas decorating till the last minute, soak up the festive atmosphere in Belgravia at the new Berkeley Hotel winter cabins in the meantime. They’re adorned with lanterns, candles and wreaths, and flanked by fir trees and fairy lights.

Each cabin seats eight diners, while the menu will cater heavily to those who like melted cheese — there’s fondue and a showstopping raclette grill — and schnitzels.

Decadent desserts are available, as well as a tableside-mixed hot chocolate, with a tot of rum or whisky.

Available to book from December 4, minimum spend applies.

The decadent one

Luxury boutique hotel brand Dakota has just launched a decadent festive afternoon tea at its Manchester and Leeds properties.

It includes, of course, turkey sarnies with cranberry, as well as a host of other tempting sandwiches including ham and honey mustard, and smoked salmon with dill crème fraîche.

Sweet treats include spiced apple macarons, and white chocolate and mulled winter fruit tart, with local specialities too — cinnamon and winter fruit loaf in Manchester, and a sticky Yorkshire parkin in Leeds. Scones feature too, naturally.

From £25pp, available from November 15.

The railway lover’s one

It’s not quite the Polar Express but the Steam Dreams Rail Co is aiming to do a pretty good impression as it hosts four atmospheric evening journeys on a vintage train from London Victoria.

The Christmas Steam Express experience will include a three-course festive dinner in the Pullman-style dining carriage, as the beautifully restored Mayflower, a B1 class locomotive, chugs her way across west London to Chiswick and back in a two-hour trip.

Running on selected dates in December, adult tickets cost from £49.

The Mad Hatter one

Get the Christmas party started with a journey down the rabbit hole. This year’s annual rooftop extravaganza at the Queen of Hoxton pub is themed as Alice in Winterland.

You’ll be welcomed by the Cheshire Cat while drinks — some served in teacups — include the Always Late After 8 cocktail and Alice’s Always Awake Potion (a naughty twist on an espresso martini).

Food is also available, such as the Wonderland and Queen of Hearts katsu burger — and like the Caterpillar in the story, there will be shisha to smoke too.

The off the piste one

Pretend you’re already on an Alpine ski holiday at The Yan in the Lake District, which is now offering a winter menu packed with hearty comfort food. Chef Will Manley spent many years managing ski chalets in France, which has influenced the dishes on offer.

There’ll be a Cumbrian fondue made with local cheddar, smoked cheese and gruyère, and croziflette — think mac ’n’ cheese but with an Alpine twist, featuring beef brisket, roasted chorizo and brie.

Enjoy them in a new dining space, the Chalet, which has views over Helm Crag.

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