It’s hard not to love the charm of winter—the first snow, Santa, apple cider, and seasonal treats. The chilly weather and frigid winds are enough to make the most extroverted cosmopolites temporary homebodies, but for those of you planning to spend the holidays in England, New York Habitat has the perfect traveler’s guide through London’s most charismatic winter attractions. Though you can’t predict the weather to come, you can avoid any hassles this winter by working with one of our licensed real estate agents to help plan your holiday expedition in one of our London-based furnished apartment rentals. To explore the most famous tourist attractions, check out our guide to traveling like an Englishman in London for a complete survey of the city’s beloved parks, museums, statues, and public gatherings.
A Feast for the Eyes
Begin your travels in the vibrant city of Westminster, Central London, where you can visit Trafalgar Square. During the holidays, the world-famous site counts down to Christmas with the help of forty community-carol groups. Each group dedicates an hour every day underneath the Christmas tree in song and spirit to raise funds for charitable organizations based in London. This winter, practice your falsetto while supporting a noble cause.
Also home to Westminster is Europe’s most expansive shopping destination, Oxford Street, located in the West End of London. The lights on Oxford Street are traditionally the first to show during the holidays. Vendors, store displays, and pop-up street performances decorate the street, spanning from Tottenham Court Road to Marble Arch. The Regent Street lights are equally mesmerizing: This year, they will show from November 14th, lighting London’s shopping district into 2020.
For family trips, New York Habitat recommends this cozy 4-bedroom furnished apartment located in Willesden, London (at the cross of Bramston Road and Wrottesley Road). This fully furnished rental will help everyone settle in and feel at home in no time with two living rooms, an open-concept kitchen, and a delightful garden that features a children’s play area. The full-service kitchen is perfect for baking seasonal goods and hosting holiday dinner parties. Yummy aromas will fill the apartment while the family gathers near the fireplace.
It’s important to note that Willesden is a quaint neighborhood with bespoke, local businesses scattered throughout its cobblestoned streets. With easy access to local transportation via the Harlesden and Willesden Junction Stations, this modern rental is a convenient way to let the family relish in London’s light shows and charming landmarks—Big Ben and the Coca-Cola London Eye—without getting lost in Central London.
If you are closer to southwest London, you’ll find the perfect photo op during a stroll through Kew Gardens. Treat your eyes to the stunning optics of over 1 million twinkling lights: the 2019 route will guide Brits and tourists alike along the recently restored Victorian landmark, Temperate House, which will act as the backdrop of the night’s kaleidoscopic laser show. The light show is loosely inspired by mythology, a concept curated by Bifröst to celebrate the holiday’s larger-than-life wonder as visitors walk under sparkling canopies of light. This year, the central piece is a waterfall in the heart of the botanical garden, marrying nature with man-made alchemy.
A Theater Extravaganza: Tickets to The Nutcracker
Treat your family to the iconic ballet The Nutcracker set to Tchaikovsky’s spellbinding score in the renowned London Coliseum. This ballet is an unforgettable holiday treat: experience a live orchestra as 100 dancers take the stage. Tickets are known to sell out, so we advise that you reserve your seats as soon as possible. For magic, elephants, and winter splendor, visit the Royal Festival Hall for a viewing experience of Circus 1903 (between Dec.19th and Jan. 5th). Located within Southbank Centre in London, this circus performance is a wonderful way to enter into the new year.
Among London’s most famous theaters is the Old Vic (Londoner’s endearing nickname for the formerly named Royal Victoria Palace), southeast of the Waterloo Station. Join over 1,000 attendees to experience an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The performance is heralded for its whimsical update to the literary classic for an evening of family-friendly merriment.
A New York Habitat licensed real estate agent can help you plan your London rental to accommodate easy access to the Old Vic and the London Coliseum. Our 2-bedroom furnished rental in Southwark, London is convenient for those who want unobstructed access to the Waterloo Station and who plan to stay in London for longer than a month. If you’re not entirely comfortable traversing the city’s metro, we encourage you to visit our guide on mastering London’s underground transportation to help navigate the closest stations to your apartment rental.
Treat your family and friends to the luxury amenities of this contemporary Southwark listing by hosting brunch on the outdoor balcony, or cuddle up for a snug evening in the spacious living room. This apartment is a sleek addition to New York Habitat’s London rentals and is perfect for those who covet a view of River Thames. Don’t shy away from the cold! Southwark is home to many cozy English pubs and eateries that will warm your spirits during your extended winter vacation.
Naughty or Nice: Your Christmas Shopping Spree
If Oxford Street doesn’t cross everyone off your shopping list, we recommend visiting one of London’s largest parks, Hyde Park. Enjoy the park’s spectacular seasonal destination, Winter Wonderland (Nov. 21st to Jan. 5th) and get some holiday shopping in. We promise, there’s something for everyone in the family: In the morning, the park is a beautiful display of London’s knack for opulent design, complete with quaint local vendors. During the evening, the park is a lively, atmospheric dive into the city’s dynamic nightlife.
You’ll find family workshops, festive lights, and Christmas-themed shops at the Southbank Centre 2019 Winter Market. The market is free to the public and one of London’s most coveted winter events. The market is closed on Christmas Day, so be sure to stock up on all your seasonal goodies beforehand. Harvey Nichols and Harrods are two of London’s must-visit luxury emporiums in Knightsbridge, London, home to the most influential designer labels in contemporary fashion, and they are equally celebrated for their impressive dining halls.
Spend an evening on the ice at the Natural History Museum Ice Rink (located in South Kensington). We advise you to bundle up before you hit London’s favorite ice rink, known for its surrounding cafe bar, featuring seasonal lattes and cocktails. Trees with glamorous fairy lights line the outskirts of the rink, and an enchanting Christmas tree sits in the center of the ice. The Somerset House ice rink is also a local favorite, hosting a variety of niche vendors and goods in the surrounding area.
This fully furnished South Kensington vacation rental at Ashburn Gardens & Courtfield Road is just minutes away from the National History Museum. This is an excellent, affordable option for families that are planning to stay in London for less than a month—you’ll have the rental entirely to yourselves. Plan your family dinners by visiting Sainsbury’s to stock up the fridge and fully equipped kitchen. Gather loved ones around the dining table to enjoy intimate meals near the TV during Christmas specials.
For nights when you don’t feel like putting on your chef hat, treat your family to Bombay Brasserie for an upscale British Indian dinner. Take the kids to build a snowman in Hyde Park—you’ll be in walking distance to the Winter Wonderland festival if you visit in November. All of our rentals are vetted to comply with British law, so the only surprise you’ll be in for is an impromptu snowball fight with the family.
Looking to get away from the kids or treat yourself to an afternoon of British-style grandeur? We highly recommend indulging all of your senses during a reservation for Afternoon Tea at The Ritz London. Treat your eyes and palettes to a variety of traditional British pastries and teacakes. The traditional Afternoon Tea in Mayfair is an opulent experience hosted in the Palm Court, where guests are treated to 18 types of loose-leaf tea and dainty sandwiches. A resident harpist and pianist will set the ambiance as you revel in the luxurious décor: glittering chandeliers, golden statues and fixtures, and beautiful florals throughout the dining room. The grandiosity of Palm Court is a unique preservation of London’s high society.
There’s no shortage of entertainment during the winter season in London. If you need inspiration to find your perfect London rental, New York Habitat encourages you to reference five of our top-rated London apartment rentals to see what past travelers have said about our listings in areas like Kensington and Willesden. The reviews are in! This year, you’re guaranteed a magical Christmas in London.