A wintry scene in Kew Gardens is even more magical with a blanket of snow
Located just outside central London in Richmond, the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens are among the finest public gardens in the world. Whether you’re taking a leisurely stroll through the gardens, peering up at William Chambers’s 18th-century pagoda or admiring the marvellous floral displays inside the glass Palm House or Temperate House, Kew Gardens is a lovely escape from city life anytime of the year.
From Saturday, December 8th, 2012 to Sunday, January 6th, 2013, Kew Gardens will once again be a wonderful setting for winter magic. While there might not be snow, there will be festive events for the whole family, including Santa’s Grotto and a charming vintage carousel for the kids, holiday shopping at the Victoria Plaza shop, roasted chestnuts and other winter treats as well as tours through the winter gardens. Visit the Kew Gardens website to find out more about all the events for Christmas at Kew Gardens.
Brilliant colours brighten a winter day at Kew Gardens!
During your winter visit to Kew Gardens, bundle up for a stroll along the Holly Walk, one of the largest collections of mature holly plants in Europe. Explore the winter gardens and see the witch hazels near King William’s Temple, which bloom during the winter. The beautiful photos in this blog post will also help you spot winter blooms at Kew Gardens.
Kew Gardens are located just 10 miles outside central London along the Thames in Richmond. It’s quick and easy to reach Kew Gardens on the Underground from our vacation rentals in London. Just hop on the District Line (the Richmond branch) and get off at the Kew Gardens Station. From the station it’s about a 5 minute walk to the Victoria Gate entrance, which you’ll reach by crossing Sandycombe Road and following Lichfield Road. For more information and a map of the garden, visit the Kew Gardens website here. Check schedules and hours in advance, and do keep in mind that Kew Gardens is closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
So, dear readers, it’s been a rip-roaring ride through the history of Tea and a step-by-step guide on the best way to make oneself a superlative cup of the good stuff. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling quite tired. Arguably too tired to even switch on the kettle and brew myself a pot of the aforesaid, caffeine-charged liquid ambrosia.
What to do, what to do?
I may just have to let someone else do it for me. And if they’re going to do that, they may as well prepare a sandwich or two and possibly something sweet to accompany the tea. I could even be tempted to have a glass of champagne as well. After all this hypothetical effort, it would be rude not to.
Finally, this may have to happen in surroundings more agreeable and tidier than my chaotic living room.
Ladies and gentlemen, I’m going out for afternoon tea.* Since the mid 19th century a formal marriage of tea, cucumber sandwiches and cake has delightfully punctuated afternoons throughout the land. Under the large umbrella term of “Cake”, the gold standard is the humble scone. Plain or sprinkled with sultanas, these are bready, muffin-esque vehicles upon which to liberally spread fruit jam and lashings of clotted cream. Oh, and then there are the pastries.
Tempting pastries served for dessert with afternoon tea at the Ritz
Yes, it is as indulgent as it sounds.
And if you want indulgence, then it’s best we head off to Piccadilly! If you’re staying in our Mayfair vacation rental, you’ll be within a stone’s throw of not one, not two but THREE titans of London’s afternoon tea scene; Fortnum’s, the Wolseley and the Ritz.
Should you be shopping for tea at Fortnum’s anyway, do try the newly refurbished Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon. The “tearistas” are on hand to help you choose a light, medium or strong tea from the in-house collection that best suits their magnificent menu. Just dashing through as you pick up a few tea-based purchases? Then the more casual Gallery has a lovely spread that will fortify and soothe the weariest of shoppers.
Delicious sweets served for afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason
If you prefer a more continental aesthetic, something like Caffé Florian of Venice, the Café Central of Vienna or Budapest’s Central Kavehaz, then head on to the Wolseley. Its mahogany hued interior with accents of burnt caramel creates a luxurious spot to enjoy one’s high tea, especially as winter draws in. My favourite past time whilst nibbling on a crust less cucumber sandwich? Imagining which of the other patrons could have been Cold War spies a la Graham Green’s Third Man.
Lovely interior of the Wolseley in London
For those with a penchant for foliate swags, cartouches the occasional coquillage and swathes of opulent gold drapery, someone who maybe goes a bit squishy inside at the thought of tight British formality in such lavish environs…
A sumptuous setting for afternoon tea at the Ritz in London
…then why on earth are you still reading this? Why aren’t you already at the Ritz?
A short bus ride to the Strand will take you to another elegant establishment held in great regard by the high tea aficionados of London. The recently refurbished Savoy Hotel sits upon the original site of a medieval palace, a 16th-century hospital and a “colony of Jesuits”. That’s almost 1,000 years of history to ponder whilst you enjoy your cup of tea, attended to by some of the marvellous people in this clip below:
Ah, afternoon tea. How much do I love thee? Let me count the ways…
*A small note; many, many scones were consumed and much champagne tea imbibed all in the name of research, dear readers. You wouldn’t expect anything less from me, would you?
Zoë F. Willis is a London Perfect reservationist, writer and Londoner. Visit her blog Things Wot I Have Made to find out more about Zoë’s many creative talents!
Visit the Chelsea Physic Gardens for the annual Christmas Fair
Behind this door is London’s oldest botanic garden, which was founded in 1673 by the Society of Apothecaries. Located in a charming residential neighbourhood in Chelsea between Royal Hospital Road and Chelsea Embankment along the Thames, Chelsea Physic Garden is a peaceful spot in one of London’s most charming areas. Travelling to London this December? We’ve got a few special dates for you to add to your travel calendar.
Lights and Christmas magic at the Chelsea Physic Garden Christmas Fair
On December 1st & 2nd, head to Chelsea for the Chelsea Physic Garden Christmas Fair. This two-day fair opens from 10am-4pm and features a delightful selection of products and gifts on display. The stalls will be set up in heated marquees in the garden and will feature everything from garden gift items, beautiful jewellery and ceramics, handmade chocolates, artisan food items and exclusive gifts. It’s the perfect spot for enjoying the holiday atmosphere while finding gifts for everyone on your shopping list! Take a break from shopping to enjoy something savoury or sweet from the noted Tangerine Dream Café at Cheslea Physic Garden. You’ll find mulled wines, Christmas cakes and puddings, mince pies and more. During the Christmas Fair expert guides will also be available for guided tours.
Floral displays at the Chelsea Physic Garden Christmas Fair
Even if you miss the Chelsea Physic Garden’s two day Christmas Fair, you’ll still have a chance to find great gift items for the holidays during the Festive Shopping Days from December 4th to 14th (excluding December 8th & 9th). Open from 10am-4pm, admission is free and the Chelsea Physic Garden Book & Gift Shop will have a wonderful display of Christmas cards and gifts. Stop in to the Café to enjoy their special Christmas menu while enjoying Christmas Shopping at the Chelsea Physic Garden.
Only open from April to October, these festive holiday events offer a wonderful chance to visit the Chelsea Physic Gardens in the winter. Find out more about the Cheslea Physic Garden Christmas Fair and holiday shopping events here.
As a special day to reflect on the many things we have to be grateful for while gathering with family and friends and enjoying delicious food, Thanksgiving is a holiday that we think should be celebrated around the world! Nevertheless, it’s just not a big day in Britain, where it is only celebrated by expats, American tourists and the few who have discovered the magic of roasted turkey, oh so sweet yams and pumpkin pie. This Thanksgiving we’re sharing a few of our favourite slices of Thanksgiving Day in London … along with our fabulous London Perfect Black Friday Sales!
When celebrating a holiday abroad where it’s not a traditional holiday, we try to strike the right balance between finding ways to keep important traditions alive while also taking a moment to remember just what makes that day special. For us it’s preparing a big Thanksgiving meal to share the tradition with our family and friends. It also means finding time to reflect, and there’s no better way to do that than by enjoying a peaceful Thanksgiving Day walk through one of London’s beautiful parks or gardens. The connection with nature and the rich colours of the season are just two of the gifts to be grateful for on Thanksgiving Day in London!
A Thanksgiving Day walk in London's beautiful parks and gardens
Our American guests travelling in London during Thanksgiving week often ask us where they can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner in London. Many take advantage of the beautiful and fully equipped kitchens in our London vacation rentals to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner in a comfortable and welcoming home setting in London. Many of the classic ingredients for Thanksgiving recipes are becoming easier to find in London or can be picked up at specialty food shops. Other guests look for a fun Thanksgiving experience dining out in London. There are plenty of restaurants that have picked up the theme of Thanksgiving dinners, and Time Out London puts together a list every year of where to find Thanksgiving meals in London.
One of our favourite shopping spots in Knightsbridge, Harvey Nichols department store offers Thanksgiving with SEASON at the Fifth Floor. This lovely dining spot on the fifth floor (where you can also find American food items in the Food Market!) is offering a special American inspired menu on Thursday, November 22nd, 2012 with Thanksgiving turkey and trimmings, pumpkin pie and even a selection of American wines to accompany the meal. It’s the perfect spot for enjoying fabulous shopping and a Thanksgiving dinner you won’t forget – right in the heart of London!
Nothing says Thanksgiving like pumpkin pie!
Thanks to the cupcake craze of the past years, it’s easier than ever to find American sweets in London. One of our favourites is the Hummingbird Bakery, which has bakeries conveniently located in Notting Hill and South Kensington near many of our London vacation rentals. Stop in for a slice of good ol’ American pumpkin pie, pecan pie, apple pie or other classics. This year Hummingbird Bakery has whipped up special edition Thanksgiving Cupcakes made with a light vanilla cake and topped with a swirl of frosting with holiday-themed decorations. All we can say is … yum!
Enjoy a stay at one of our lovely London vacation rentals - at a super sale price!
Holiday shopping has already kicked into high gear in London, and everywhere you go you’ll find streets decked out with Christmas lights, festive displays and holiday fun. While Britain doesn’t do Black Friday … we do! Instead of rushing off to the shops at the crack of dawn tomorrow, visit our website Friday morning to find out more about our London Perfect Black Friday Sales. We’re offering deep discounts on all of our London vacation rentals … sales so good you won’t want to miss them! Why not come and experience the charms of the Christmas season in London this year? Or take advantage of our sales to book your London holiday for 2013. Sales start at 10am (London time) on Friday, November 23rd, 2012. Head on over to our London Perfect Sales page tomorrow or contact us to take advantage of these amazing Black Friday offers!
As you gather with your family and friends for Thanksgiving, we’d like to wish you a very special and happy day from all of us at London Perfect!