LONDON LIFE • December 2019
We may be short on snow-capped mountains, but London’s flurry of festive pop-ups and fondue feasts means that alpine adventure is alive and well in the city. Club writer and resident Londoner, Hannah Ralph, follows the fairy lights to the cosiest spots around the capital this Christmas
If you’re a fan of The White Company’s signature Christmas scents – and really, who isn’t? – then you’ll love Orrey’s Winter Terrace. Lit by the company’s coveted candles, this rooftop snug is all dressed up in an avalanche of White Company cashmere throws and Tibetan sheepskin rugs. French winter classics including truffle-topped risotto and melt-in-the-middle chocolate fondants will be cooked up in an à la carte menu by head chef Igor Tymchyshyn, while three specially created cocktails draw inspiration from The White Company’s winter candle range; think Moët & Chandon Champagne infused with pine syrup, cinnamon cloves and more.
A sandy beach in summer and a pine-filled forest come winter, this Thames-side space knows its way around a good pop-up party. There’s mulled wine on the stove, cheesy fondue stacked with thinly-sliced charcuterie and a small neighbourhood’s worth of fur-lined cabins and heated igloos in which to knock it all back. There's even boozy shuffleboarding from £5pp. Once you’ve had your fill of games and its Christmas markets (selected dates only), meander to the edge of the fairy-lit ‘forest’ and you’ll find your very own hot tub, bubbling away in Nordic style by the river’s edge, from £25pp for six people.
If you don’t like cheese or don’t eat meat, it’s time to turn around, and head elsewhere. Switzerland is big on both, a fact that modern Swiss restaurant Heritage on Rupert Street honours with a chic, cosmopolitan touch. While the brick façade and terracotta leathers warm you up like a wood fire, the food is mountainside grub goes gourmet: rösti four ways (pictured); smoked beef tartare; blushing chateaubriand sprinkled with sea salt; and, of course, the ‘Moitie-Moitie’ fondue (half Gruyère, half raclette) – a theatrically cheesy feast. The cocktail menu isn’t as alpine-esque as you might hope, which is why the ‘I’m No – Mad’ whisky cocktail saves the day, served as it is, with a square of Swiss Lindt chocolate.
Are there two more Christmassy sights than falling snow and the gooey centre of a deep fried camembert? No, which is why there’s nowhere that’ll leave you feeling snugger than the Ski Lodge at The Montague, which proudly shows off both. An après-ski sanctuary of Schnapps and snowmen, it’s £38 for 90 minutes of tartan-cosiness, three festive drinks and a pre-selected spread of nibbles. Meanwhile, just next door the hotel’s Garden Terrace transforms into the fire-lit Lanson Winter Lodge, in partnership with Lanson Champagne: all the benefits of the Ski Lodge, but with extra sparkle (£85 for two).
As the sun sets over the ramshackle boutiques of Camden Passage, there’s an incandescent glow from inside one café window... If you’re not a local who loves it already, this is Kipferl – purveyors of the kind of cuisine that you’re most likely to find tucked away in the dizzying heights of the Austrian Alps. For your own Austria-on-a-plate moment, try the schnitzel, served crispy beside parsley-flecked potatoes, or the beefy Goulash soup (this is one of the only restaurants in the city that serves it). If you’re here early, the Tyrolean Breakfast will leave you ready to hike the hills, or if your sweet tooth needs a fix, you can’t go wrong with Vienna’s coffeehouse classic, Sachertorte (pictured).