15 Dec The Best Hotel in London for a Christmas Staycation
Up until now I’d never had a “Staycation” but it’s certainly become a trend for people who lead busy lives and just want to relax without going too far away from home. Which makes sense; why spend half your weekend in airports or on trains when you enjoy a little R&R within your home city or country?
This week I was invited to try out Hotelgift – a gift card that can be redeemed for stays at 110,000 hotels in 170 countries worldwide. I don’t know about you but I’ve always found Christmas shopping a bit stressful, so I think it’s a great idea to buy a hotel gift card for friends and relatives, particularly if you know they love to travel. And even if they’re not the travelling types, a gift card like this can be used for a weekend break or some pampering time away from everyday life.
I decided to use mine to book a hotel in London to experience my very first staycation and it was honestly just what I needed after a stressful few weeks. It was nice to not have to travel too far but also have the feeling of being on holiday in my own city.
I chose The Gore Hotel in Kensington because it seemed right up my alley – small and luxurious with a boutique feel. This hotel is honestly the best hotel in London for Christmas – it’s right by The Natural History Museum’s winter ice rink and just a 10 minute walk from Kensington Gardens, which look absolutely beautiful decked out in Christmas decorations. I can’t speak more highly of The Gore – it’s absolutely stunning and the rooms make you feel like royalty!
Upon showing me to my room the hotel receptionist said “Yours is the biggest door on the whole floor!” and there’s a reason for that…the room was enormous. Not long ago I went to Windsor Castle and I couldn’t help but feel like I’d walked into one of the castle’s bedrooms, complete with oil paintings, chandelier and a bed that was so high I practically needed a ladder just to get into it. My Mum called me Victoria Elizabeth at birth as she wanted to give me a regal name, so at this moment, I imagined myself not as “Victoria” but “Queen Victoria”. Clearly it was my destiny! The room had everything you could possibly need, including large wardrobes, dressing gowns, a TV, mini bar, tea and coffee making facilities and even a complimentary smart phone for use during my stay!
I don’t often say this but the bathroom was the biggest highlight, mainly because of the throne toilet! It was the most amazing toilet I have ever seen and definitely fit for a queen. I loved the wooden pillar and arched ceiling, plus the bath tub was huge.
Upon arriving back at the hotel after an afternoon of sightseeing, I couldn’t help but notice the sounds of music and laughter coming from inside the bar. Clearly it was a Christmas party as everyone inside was wearing those colourful paper hats that you get inside Christmas crackers! Bar 190 is best known as the location for the launch and photoshoot for The Rolling Stones’ 1968 album Beggars Banquet, so the oil paintings that adorn the walls pay tribute to this. I loved the wood panelling and the tartan fabrics – it definitely has a rock ‘n’ roll vibe.
While I don’t drink alcohol anymore (I just can’t handle the hangovers!), if you like your cocktails then you’ll pleased to know they have an extensive cocktail list and you can also order a flight of 3 Taittinger tasters and 3 canapes for £25 per person.
The Hotel’s Restaurant, 190 Queen’s Gate, has a menu by Michelin-starred chef Daniel Galmiche, which features interpretations of great British classics with a contemporary touch and exquisite French flair. The restaurant also serves a Christmas set menu (£35 for 3 courses or £30 for 2) but I opted for their beetroot salad and plaice with cabbage from the normal a la carte menu. I have to say the food was brilliant, although the portions could have been a tad bigger as I demolished everything in under a few minutes – it was that good!
Kensington is a fantastic area to stay in and there is just so much to do there at Christmas time. I had never been inside the Natural History Museum before so I decided to take a peek inside as entry is completely free. Outside the museum there’s an ice rink and the whole setting is absolutely magical – just covered in fairy lights! The museum itself is a phenomenal work of architecture housing all sorts of preserved animals, skeletons and previous jewels. The centrepiece is of course the skeleton of a Blue Whale, which is suspended above the ceiling and makes for some great Instagram photos.
I also made the short walk to Hyde Park and Kensington Palace, which is decorated with fairy lights and Christmas trees. If you follow the royals (especially Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s engagement) then you’ll know that they live in an apartment called Nottingham Cottage, which is inside the grounds of the palace. You can walk around the gardens for free or pay to go inside the palace, plus there’s a cafe on site should you fancy a hot toddy to warm yourself up. There is really no place like London at Christmas.
If you’re stuck for ideas for presents this Christmas, I’m a strong believer in buying experiences as opposed to gifts that you’re not quite sure your loved ones will like. Giving the gift of a hotel stay takes the pressure out of Christmas shopping and it’s a great idea for travel-lovers. Hotelgift allows the receiver of the gift card to book a range of hotels, from independent and boutique hotels, to established chains such as Holiday Inn and Marriott.
Hotelgift offers three options
- A customisable, digital gift card that can be designed online and emailed to the recipient, or printed for hand delivery.
- A luxury printed gift card, that allows you to include personal handwritten messages to friends, family or loved ones.
- Or for a message with more impact, you can record and send a video greeting alongside your ecard.
Hotelgift is celebrating its UK launch with a special offer on any purchases made in time for Christmas delivery this year. From Friday 1 December, you can choose the luxury gift card option for free – a saving of a saving of £6.95!
Shipping for the physical gift card takes 2-4 working days. Christmas orders must be submitted by 3pm, Monday 18th December to ensure delivery ahead of Christmas Day.
You can buy hotel gift vouchers for your loved ones here: www.hotelgift.com
This post was brought to you in collaboration with Hotelgift, however opinions here are my own.