Plan a festive day out in St James’s
The Christmas lights are twinkling, shop windows are looking festive, and yuletide treats await around every corner… Christmas is on its way, so let’s make 2023 a magical one.
From gift shopping to dining, and top shows to festive window displays, there are plenty of things to do this Christmas in St James’s. Don’t know where to start? Here are our suggestions for a fun-filled festive day out in central London this winter.
Breakfast: 45 Jermyn Street
Start the day with breakfast or brunch at chic all-day dining spot 45 Jermyn Street. Warm up with kedgeree or kippers, go all out with a full English, or choose from a range of egg-citing creations. Spice up your choice with a pairing of alcoholic and non-alcoholic Bloody Marys, or pack in those vitamins with a tasty smoothie.
Morning: shopping for style
You’re perfectly placed to explore Jermyn Street and neighbouring Piccadilly. Start your Christmas shopping in style at iconic Fortnum & Mason – crammed with festive food, stocking fillers and stylish accessories, it’s the ideal place to pick up presents for even the most challenging.
Known as a centre of style, Jermyn Street has no shortage of heritage tailors, grooming specialists, shoe shops and perfumers to explore. Sneak a scent into your loved one’s stocking with a gift from Floris, look through colourful ties at Emma Willis, or select from handcrafted knitwear at John Smedley and menswear specialists Moss and Pink.
If bookworms are on your to-buy-for list, you’re sure to find a suitable read in Europe’s largest bookshop, Waterstone’s Piccadilly, or at historic Hatchards, which has been running since 1797. Maison Assouline, meanwhile, is a great option for luxury coffee table books.
Lunch: easy eats
With afternoon tea on the horizon, enjoy a light lunch at one of the neighbourhood’s laid-back lunch spots. Reward your shopping efforts by pairing a glass of bubbly with seafood delicacies at Wiltons, or share Venetian-style bites at Cicchetti.
Afternoon: art, arcades, and afternoon tea
After lunch, check out the Royal Academy of Arts’ latest exhibition, Impressionists on Paper: Degas to Toulouse Lautrec, showcasing often overlooked work on paper from some of the most influential artists of the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist periods – make sure to to guarantee entry. There are plenty more galleries to explore in St James’s, from the classic to the contemporary – find out what’s on this season with our pick of the top exhibitions.
Still items on your shopping list? Explore festively decorated arcades that are full of on-of-a-kind, high-quality gifts. Discover colourful gift boxes full of chocolatey treats at Prestat, or browse luxury cashmere knitwear at Luca Faloni, both in Princes Arcade. Nearby Piccadilly Arcade is a great place for beauty products – with options including Aesop and Santa Maria Novella – as well as specialist items such as militaria and luxury cufflinks.
For more shopping inspiration, nearby Piccadilly is home to Sirplus, which crafts stylish clothing from surplus fabric and ASSOS which covers those requests from sporty types. Fashionistas are well catered for at Dover Street Market’s five floors.
With your shopping bags full, it’s time to fill your stomach with a Christmas afternoon tea. Among the best this year, GBR (Great British Restaurant) includes poached turkey sandwich with cranberry mayonnaise, scones with plum jam, plus festive cakes, as part of its seasonal spread.
Early evening: lights and bites at St James’s Market
As darkness falls, take in all the seasonal wonder with a walk around the iconic Christmas lights across St James’s and Regent Street. Themed on “The Spirit of Christmas”, there are over 50 to spot, including a new locations in St James’s Market, Glasshouse Street, Swallow Street and Quadrant Arcade this year (they’re lit on a timer with LED bulbs from early evening to ensure a greener display).
St James’s Market’s restaurants span the globe. Take your pick from Neapolitan street food at ‘O ver, or enjoy influences from Asia, Oceania and the Middle East at Scully. Alternatively, share small seasonal plates with shopping buddies at Fallow. Can you squeeze in something sweet (or take away for later)? Ole & Steen has a range of seasonal treats and warming drinks for a cosy post-meal treat.
Evening: shows and spirits
Finish in time to join a concert at Christopher Wren’s St James’s Church, Piccadilly (on select days) or see a show: follow the haunting love story of Phantom of the Opera at His Majesty’s Theatre, or have festive fits of giggles as hilarious show Noises Offplays out at Theatre Royal Haymarket (booking until 16 December). Bring a little magic to the holidays with a spellbinding performance at Wonderville or keep an eye out for one of the regular DJ sets at Neon 194.
End the night by getting into Christmas spirits, with a nightcap at one of St James’s cocktail bars: The American Bar at The Stafford, Duke’s Bar, and Rivoli Bar at The Ritz all serve up classic tipples – just make sure to buy one for Santa.