London Christmas itinerary
London is beautiful at Christmas but there’s far more to see than the main lights on Oxford Street. This is my guide to all of London’s best Christmas decorations.
I’ve split these Christmas spots into three main areas so you can visit them all as three distinct walks. If you want to combine them with some other Instagrammable locations then check out my autumn Instagram walk post which you could combine with the Knightsbridge locations and also my Instagrammable bars, cafes and restaurants post for places to stop for food on the way – I’ll note which ones are close in each itinerary.
So that you know what to expect, I’ve also made a note of which decorations are current and which are from previous years. I also still need to fill the blanks on the locations which haven’t been decorated yet (it is only November after all!) and some that I haven’t managed to visit yet.
Covent Garden and Mayfair Christmas locations
Start point: Embankment station for the The Savoy Hotel
End point: Carnaby Street for Oxford Circus station
Instagrammable restaurants on the route: Kaspar’s at the Savoy, Bob Bob Ricard, Amazonico, Sexy Fish, Beast, Brasserie of Light, Clos Maggiore, Park Chinois
Walking distance: 5km / 3 miles
Walking time: Around an hour but with stops to take photos or visit shops then leave between 2 and 3 hours, more if you stop to eat
You can walk this route in either direction, either by starting at Oxford Circus station (Central, Bakerloo and Victoria lines) and working your way south, or starting at the Savoy (Embankment or Temple stations are closest) and walking north. This is the general route (not all destinations are marked) – for all destinations see the map above.
The Savoy Hotel
The Savoy is beautiful at Christmas. It also has a lovely cosy feel (probably because the common spaces are a bit smaller than some of its peers).
There are always great decorations in the lobby and more as you walk through into the Thames Foyer. Kaspar’s at the Savoy is one of my favourite restaurants and a great place to start your day with some champagne and caviar!
Fortnum & Mason
This is one of my quintessential London Christmas stops. My husband and I never had a Christmas together until last year due to his parents living overseas so we always had ‘fake Christmas’ in mid December and I always came to F&M to buy a few small gifts on that day and to see the decorations
Make sure you explore inside and out as the whole store is transformed into a Christmas wonderland.
Covent Garden Market
There are loads of Christmas displays in and around Covent Garden Market so make sure you take your time and look around – you might even find some new places of your own!
There’s always a big centrepiece Christmas tree outside the market but head inside for more photos in the apple market. Approaching from the north you’ll find other displays as well as decorated benches for some cool photos. Leaving the market via King Street you’ll pass Floral Court and the alleyway to St Paul’s Church, which also make great photo opportunities.
It’s not usually the most attractive tree, but it’s a lovely tradition, so stop by the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree on your way from Covent Garden to St James’. It’s been given to the people of Britain given every year since 1942 by Norway as a mark of gratitude for Britain’s support during the Second World War. You can read more about it on Wikipedia.
Berry Bros. & Rudd
Another staple for my ‘fake Christmas’ is a trip to Berry Brothers to pick up my Christmas wine. This is Britain’s oldest wine and spirits merchant and one of the country’s oldest family-run businesses. It was founded in 1698 at 3 St James Street and their headquarters are still in the same building. Sadly you can no longer visit the old shop as they opened a new shop just around the corner on Pall Mall, but the front of the old building looks like something straight out of A Christmas Carol so it’s still worth visiting, and you can pick up a bottle of Christmas wine around the corner.
Home to Mayfair’s jewellery shops, Burlington Arcade is beautifully decorated at Christmas and the gold-covered Laduree shop there is also something to behold.
28 Old Bond Street
The Royal Arcade at 28 Old Bond Street is a small shopping arcade off of Old Bond Street and is festooned with baubles and wreaths.
Tiffany & Co.
Even without decorations Tiffany is a smart Georgian building but at Christmas it’s extra sparkly.
Cartier stores globally pull out all the stops for Christmas, and their flagship on Old Bond Street is no different. There’s an iconic London phone box opposite so you can get some fabulous photos with the red box in the foreground of the red decorations.
26 Dover Street
A rather random stop on the tour, but this otherwise unremarkably townhouse is currently decorated with Christmas trees and garlands.
Unless you know the right people, you won’t be able to get inside (which is probably a whole Instagram post on its own) but Annabel’s always put on a mind blowing Christmas display outside their Berkley Square residence. I’ve never managed to get a glimpse, hopefully 2020 is my year!
Every year Claridges invites a fashion designer to design their Christmas decorations. Last year’s were designed by Louboutin. Even if you don’t go inside, there are always lovely Christmas decorations and wreaths around the building.
You’ll cross Oxford Street on your way from Claridges to St Christopher’s Place. Oxford Street hosts London’s ‘main’ Christmas lights each year and they’re always spectacular, not least due to their scale.
St Christopher’s Place
Just off of Oxford Street and next to Selfridges, you’ll find the slightly quirky Christmas lights of St Christopher’s Place.
A tiny alleyway in Mayfair leads to Hush (super Instagrammable cafe) and Mews of Mayfair but the alley itself is decorated with flowers and Christmas lights.
Not a freebie, you’ll need to have a reservation for a drink or dinner, but it is so, so worth it. Besides the epic Insta-worthy interior, Sketch goes all out for Christmas – my photos are from 2018 when there was snow swirling in the lobby!
These are always some of my favourite lights. For many years now they’re featured ghostly angels flying over the street, which I think look spectacular.
One of London’s iconic shopping streets, its Christmas decorations never disappoint and look even cooler against the colourful buildings.
Knightsbridge Christmas locations
It’s worth combining these with my Chelsea Instagram walk (here) to make it worth your while.
Another iconic London Christmas scene is the Harrods building lit up with lights. Go inside for more decorations and dramatic interiors.
With an adorable display with each new season, Peggy Porschen is an Instagram staple, and Christmas is no different. There are branches in Belgravia and Chelsea.
The City of London Christmas locations
There aren’t quite so many festive spots inside the Square Mile, but there are a few particularly Instagram-worthy places to note. If you want to make a day of it, there are lots of other interesting spots to visit in the City, which I covered in this post.
Start point: Liverpool Street station for Spitalfields Market
End point: The Royal Exchange for Bank station
Instagrammable restaurants on the route: Duck and Waffle, 14 Hills, Bob Bob Cite, Sky Garden, Sushi Samba
Walking distance: 1.5km / 1 mile
Walking time: Around 20 minutes to walk it but leave an hour to take photos and more if you want to visit anywhere else in the City (see my post on that here) or stop to eat.
A great stop for all kinds of food and a spot of Christmas shopping, there are also decorations for some nice festive photos.
There has been a market at Leadenhall since the 14th century, although the current building is clearly much younger (1881)! Every year a huge Christmas tree is erected in the centre and the rest of the market is decorated with lights and garlands.
The Royal Exchange
Just up the road from Leadenhall Market you’ll find the Royal Exchange (currently closed in Lockdown 2.0) which typically has it’s own Christmas trees outside as well as decorations inside. The building itself is extremely Instagrammable even without the Christmas decorations and features a Fortnum & Mason champagne bar in the centre.
Duck & Waffle
You’ll have to book a table to eat here so it’s not a freebie Instagram location, but they do some very cool Christmas decorations and, coupled with the view, makes it a great Christmas Insta location!
St Pancras International
The station is always well-decorated and this year is no exception, with Elan Cafe setting up a huge pink, carousel style Christmas tree.