Each year in the run up to Christmas, my friend Jaz and I plan our annual Christmas Day out (some years we’ve been too unorganised and done it afterwards). I always look forward to this as we try to jam-pack as many festive things into one glorious day, and because we normally end up rather merry if we’re not driving. And this year was no exception…
In previous years we’ve done all sorts, from eating fondue and drinking Christmas cocktails in a pop-up restaurant on top of Selfridges in Oxford Street, exploring a painfully busy Saturday afternoon at Winter Wonderland and just generally finding some new and exciting things to do in London during the festive period.
This year we decided to hold our Christmas Day out the Saturday before Christmas and set off bright and early to begin our celebrations (in my eyes 10:30am is a very early time to leave the house on a Saturday).
I travelled across from West London to Tower Hill where the lovely folk at The Tower of London Ice Rink invited us down to show off our moves on the ice. I’ve always loved ice skating, my family used to go every year at Christmas and so it’s something I’ve tried to continue doing with my friends.
The setting for the ice rink was amazing. Right in front of the infamous and historical Tower of London which famously holds the Crown Jewels and for housing various prisoners including the Kray Twins as well as being where Anne Boleyn (One of Henry VIII’s many wives) was held prisoner and then beheaded.
It was a frightfully frosty and windy morning in London and was only going to get a lot colder once we stepped onto the ice. But the view was amazing. I’d never imagined skating in front of such an important historical landmark but it really did make it feel all the more special (and luckily for us it shielded us from quite a lot of the wind).
It was super quick and easy to get our skates on and prepare for the ice, luckily we had a £2 coin for the locker as you’re not allowed to take bags onto the ice (definitely a good thing, I don’t need anything else to hinder my balance) and before we knew it our time had come to take to the floor. At first everyone clings to the side, too scared to take those first graceful glides and so we wandered around the outside for a little bit before I decided it was time to take the plunge and actually skate… bad idea, I think I had the wrong companion – she wasn’t cut out for the ice skating life and didn’t know how to move her feet. However it did provide me with a lot of entertainment throughout the 45 minute skate. Thanks Jaz. Luckily after a while we realised that if she just held onto my arm I could pull her along with minimal effort on her part. So we slowly made our way round and round (until we fell on the floor in the mightiest of tumbles you’ve ever seen.)
Soon after this our time had come to an end and so we returned to retrieve our shoes and made a pit stop at the little cafe next to the ice rink where I had a delicious mulled wine and jaz opted for a punch winter warmer. A nice little treat for all of our hard work!
After exerting all of our energy through ice skating we needed some food and so we headed to the B-E-A-UTIFUL (yes, Bruce Almighty helps me to spell this) Park Room at the JW Grosvenor Hotel opposite Hyde Park for ‘Anna’s Festive Afternoon Tea’. We felt so posh and classy here (little did they know we’d both just fallen on our bums). I’d never been to this hotel before but it was gorgeous, hopefully one day I’ll be rich enough to stay here and be able to look over Hyde Park after a long day of spending all my money on Oxford Street (I’ll keep dreaming).
From the moment we stepped into the room we were treated with such amazing service and treated like VIPs and after handing our coats in for the cloakroom we were shown to a lovely little table in the corner. We were then poured a glass of Ruinart Brut Champagne (perfect) before being left to decide on which teas we wanted and which jams were going to accompany our scones. I went for the Mango and Strawberry (amazing, so much flavour) whilst Jaz went for the classic Earl Grey. Soon after this we were brought a tower of treats which included a Selection of finger sandwiches which were:
cucumber, garden mint butter
smoked Oakham chicken, tarragon, crème fraîche
roast Aberdeen Angus beef, creamed horseradish
honey roast Yorkshire ham, Coleman’s English mustard
North Atlantic cold water prawn, classic Marie Rose sauce
all of the sandwiches were so yummy that we had to ask for seconds (I realised later that we didn’t need to do this as there was more than enough food for us to devour) and we also had the open sandwiches which were Foreman’s smoked Scottish salmon, cream cheese & Burford brown Clarence Court egg, mayonnaise, chive which were equally as tasty, albeit a little harder and messier to eat!
Next up were the scones, there were two each – one plain buttermilk and one raisin buttermilk with our selected strawberry and raspberry jams along with a hearty helping of cream. After the long debate of whether to put cream or jam on first we tucked in, they were gorgeous and the jams were so fruity and sweet.
after this, we had made it to the top tier of the food tower and we were on to the festive ‘Assortment of Tantalising Afternoon Tea Pastries’ which were:
Chestnut and hazelnut meringue,
Pecan, banana and buttered rum brownie,
Gingerbread and pineapple éclair,
I loved these, they were all quite small but all bursting with unique and exquisite flavours. Each looked completely different from one another but all worked really well together – we split all of them in half rather than dividing them up so that we were able to sample all of them which was a great idea as I’m glad I didn’t miss out on anything!
We thought we were done. Stuffed to the brim but there was one more course. CAKE. We were offered to pick a slice of cake from the list of freshly baked cakes of the day and were told we could either eat it now or take it away in a little box for later. As we were heading straight on for an evening at The Winter Brixton Rooftop Saloon (which was good by the way, very festive) we decided to be real piggies and eat our cake at the table. We both chose the Chocolate and Baileys cake and OH MY GOD it was incredible. I’m not the biggest fan of cake but it was amazing. So rich (I couldn’t finish it) but you could definitely taste the Baileys, plus the icing was out of this world. I’m a real sucker for some good icing and this topped my list!
Our evening then followed on into the early hours at the Brixton Rooftop but my phone died so unfortunately I can’t report/remember all of this! But overall we had the most perfect day and it got us well in the mood for Christmas! A big thank you to Tower of London Ice Rink and JW Grosvenor Hotel for having us and making our day so wonderfully special. I’d definitely recommend both of these experience’s but even when the festive time is over, The Park Room offer an equally amazing Afternoon Tea that you should definitely try out!
The Tower of London Ice Rink is open daily Until 2nd January for more info CLICK HERE
For more information regarding the afternoon tea CLICK HERE
*Both of these experiences were gifted to me but views are entirely my own.