Gift-buying + deadlines + lack of student loan + repeated social media posts about that annual uni ski trip that you definitely can’t afford = a stressful run up to Christmas. But I’m here to help you out of your seasonal blues. Folks, it’s time to let your winter holiday dreams die for another year and come with us on magical (sleigh) ride across London in search of the capital’s best 2016 alternatives to Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland – because, well, no one needs more photos of that, let’s be honest.
Anyway, because I’m so kind and generous, I’ve been gallivanting around London’s best winter hangouts for you! I spoil you, I know. Without further ado, here are the top picks:
Pergola on the Roof
As I journeyed towards the rooftop of the Television Centre’s multi-storey car park, I felt a mix of intimidation (the bouncers), confusion (the initial urban appearance) and finally, sheer wonder (the Christmas tree, log, lantern, bark chipping lined walkway). After passing the most beautiful – and only – Nordic-inspired smoking area I’ve ever seen in my life, I pulled back a large curtain to find *intense drum roll* Pergola on the Roof!
And what a find it was. Not only is the décor guaranteed to get you some serious Instagram likes, it’s surprisingly well heated and full of yummy food. Alcoholic drinks could be bought for under £6 and 2 ridiculously yummy Korean buns cost us just £8, and yet I still felt like I could have been on Made In Chelsea. Win.
The London Shuffle Club
Resembling an unusually spacious abandoned tube station, The London Shuffle Club stands apart from London’s other warehouse venues in the unique array of activities they offer. As a DJ blasts out the funkiest of hits (think The Weather Girls, Elvis, Andrea True Connection), you can have a shot at shuffle-boarding, grab a drink, sit in chairs just as funky as the music, or play any of the other various games that are scattered around the large open space.
This winter wonderland will teach you just how addictive (and competitive) pushing things on ice with long sticks, and trying to throw bean bags into your opponent’s corn-board, can be. If neither of those options appeal to you (not sure how they couldn’t tbh) you can have a go on their 22ft long Shuffleboard table, which feels like a slightly more sophisticated version of air-hockey.*
*Shuffleboarding after 4+ alcoholic beverages not advised. Injuries and loss of dignity may be incurred.
If this attraction doesn’t count as a winter wonderland, I’m not sure anything will. After being led through a replica of the wardrobe from C. S. Lewis’ work of genius – complete with fur coats, trees and fairy lights – you emerge into a Narnia-esque ‘Winter Night Garden’ cinema room. The venue is filled with beanbags, blankets, a bar, mince pies and staff in suitably Christmassy costumes. This Christmas, the Backyard Cinema is playing classics like Home Alone, Love Actually and The Nightmare Before Christmas, before moving onto their New Year theme.
P.S. You can hire out the Backyard Cinema for private events… just sayin’.
Sliders Rooftop Curling Club
Fancy yourself a winter Olympian? Looking for a seasonal alternative to bowling? (Who isn’t?) If you answered yes to either of these questions, it might be time to book yourself a curling lane at Stratford’s Roof East. Curling is nicknamed ‘chess on ice’ due to the highly strategic nature of the game. But don’t worry, your booking includes an ‘introduction to curling’ to help you and your mates slide with ease(ish) through the icy game. Once you’re done exerting brain power and being all strategic, book yourself a karaoke session in The Love Shack or The Heartbreak Hotel and belt it out with your mates. Tip: if you designate particular song verses to each person, you’ll all have time to sip on the cocktails the drinks service will be delivering to you. 😏
On top of that, curling-struggle-sorrows and curling-success-celebrations can be drowned/had in the indoor bar, or by happy/comfort eating from the hog roast and pulled pork hotdog stall.