Elizabeth Winding
Elizabeth Winding


ADVERTORIAL • December 2023

A festive day out in Regent Street and St James’s

Glittering with lights, London’s West End is full of seasonal cheer, from its iconic shops to its theatre shows and destination dining.

In the run up to Christmas, Regent Street and St James’s tick every festive box. If there’s shopping to be done, there’s no better place for gifts, from tech to toys, silk dressing-gowns to rounds of Stilton. A stocking filler for the family pooch? Try Fortnum & Mason’s venison sticks. Something special to wear for New Year’s Eve? Head to Regent Street’s fashion-forward flagship stores or find something to suit on Jermyn Street. As dusk falls, follow the trail of Christmas lights and see where the evening takes you, from cocktail spots and great places to eat to the bright lights of theatreland.

9–10am: Kick off with a coffee

First up, coffee – and no one does it better than Perks & White in St James’s Market. Think flawless flat whites and cortados made from Columbian beans, with a sugar-flecked St John doughnut on the side. Or head for Redemption Roasters, by St James’s churchyard, for epic cinnamon buns and coffee with a cause (the roastery’s inside a prison).

01 Perks and White

10am-1pm: Tick off your Christmas shopping

Step inside Fortnum & Mason as its mechanical clock chimes the hour, and explore its famous food hall, brimming with festive edibles. Next door, browse the bookshelves at Hatchards for that special signed edition, then stroll to Regent Street. Hamleys is stacked with toys, while Liberty is the place for grown-up gifts: an embossed leather diary, say, or pair of silk pyjamas.   

fortnum window

1–3pm: Time for lunch

On Heddon Street, arrive early for a perch at Sabor’s counter. The kitchen is Michelin-starred, the tapas next level, from sausage-studded tortilla to impeccably crisp croquetas. Alternatively, head to Toba in St James’s Market, whose aromatic beef rendang is perfect on a winter’s day.  

03 Toba

3–4.30pm: Stroll a gallery or two

Whatever art you’re into, you’ll find it here. On Regent Street, the Art of Banksy is full of stencilled subversion, while St James’s galleries showcase everything from Old Masters to Japanese ceramics. For boundary-pushing performance art, hit the Royal Academy of Arts, currently hosting Marina Abramović’s epic retrospective.

04 Royal Academy

4.30–6pm: Get those last-minute gifts

As the Christmas lights gleam overhead, it’s time for a final spot of shopping, whether it’s Champagne truffles at Prestat in Princes Arcade or a beautifully boxed Creed cologne from the Quadrant Arcade store. Next, we’re thinking some festive-season fashion. On Regent Street, Anthropologie’s sequinned jumpsuits and tulle skirts are guaranteed show-stealers, while Jermyn Street will soon have chaps kitted out with a smart new suit or dress shirt.

truffles and prestat

6–7:30pm: Dine in style

With the West End on its doorstep, this neighbourhood has some great pre-theatre menus. Feast on Bentley’s royal shellfish platter, with a complimentary glass of Champagne, or settle into a velvet banquette at the Michelin-starred Wild Honey St James’s. Its early supper menus are exceptional – as are the signature negronis starring its house-blend vermouth.

06 Wild Honey St James

7:30-10pm: See a show

You can’t visit this part of town without seeing a show. There’s magic in the air at the Criterion, with the Derren Brown-penned Unbelievable, while The Phantom of the Opera stalks His Majesty’s Theatre. Or catch Odyssey: A Heroic Pantomime at the tiny Jermyn Street Theatre. The grandly gilded Theatre Royal Haymarket, meanwhile, is staging Noises Off, with an all-star cast led by Felicity Kendall.

07 Theatre Royal

10pm-12am: Join the cocktail crowd

Artesian sets the bar for London’s cocktail scene. Its delicious, restlessly inventive drinks are laced with unusual ingredients, from banana-peel rum to cactus leaves. Meanwhile, for old-fashioned glamour, hit Bar Américain, a low-lit hideout with a classic cocktail list and opulent Art Deco surrounds.

08 Artesian

12am: Time for bed

As the clock strikes midnight, it’s time to head back to your hotel: the sumptuous Hotel Café Royal. Built in 1865, it’s long been frequented by the city’s movers and shakers, from dandy-about-town Oscar Wilde to David Bowie. From its double-height lobby to its grand suites, it’s a masterclass in luxury, with magical views over London’s twinkling Christmas lights.

christmas lights

Follow @regentstreetw1 and @stjameslondon for more ideas for your ultimate central London trip. To find Regent Street inspiration, click here. To learn all about St James’s, click here.

This article has been tagged Advertorial