14 Dec 2017

A Taste Of London

A Taste Of London on vickiarcher.com

in partnership with IHG and ShopStyle

When is the best time to visit London?

An Australian girlfriend asked me this question and without thinking, I answered “December”.

She didn’t believe me.

Yes, it is colder and the days shorter and yes, the traffic is crazy busy. It doesn’t matter because London in December is magical. It twinkles with the festive glow like no other city and if holiday spirit is what you enjoy then book the first ticket over. I have lived in London, back and forth for more than seventeen years and it has never once failed to enchant me at this time of the year.

The second and most obvious question is, “where to stay”.  The answer is dependant on many factors but the main one I believe is location. Last weekend I was a guest, in my own city, at the InterContinental London on Park Lane. Number one Park Lane to be exact and as addresses go, they don’t come much better. The views over Green Park and Hyde Park Corner are extraordinary at every hour of the day. I was mesmerised watching London ebb and flow against a backdrop of urban beauty.

A Taste Of London on vickiarcher.com

For a London visit, there is no better location.

The InterContinental London is quietly elegant with everything on hand and wonderful service to make for a memorable stay. I could have stayed indoors and amused myself for days except I knew what was out the door and around the corner.  If I could live right there, like Eloise, I would move in and never leave.

A Taste Of London on vickiarcher.comA Taste Of London on vickiarcher.com

































What is out the door and around the corner?

If there is one area to visit in London in December, it is Piccadilly.

Take a stroll through Green Park and catch a glimpse of Buckingham Palace. Head up Piccadilly and window shop at Bentley & Skinner.  Stock up on Dr Harris & Co pharmacy goodies for your friends and family before saying hello to the doorman at the Burlington Arcade. He is charming and very ready for a chat.


Salvador Dali is showing at the Royal Academy of Arts until mid-January – don’t miss that. Cross over the road and snap the Christmas windows at Fortnum & Mason before entering their traditional heaven. If you haven’t time to make your own Christmas pudding, theirs is the next best.

Right next-door is Hatchards, one of London’s finest bookstores. It’s easy to get lost in there – time disappears. Back up a little and turn left into Piccadilly Arcade, one of the most lovely. Try the black truffle mustard from Maille and stock up on bath salts from Santa Maria Novella but most of all it is the quaint shop fronts in this arcade that are the standout. If you are struggling with what to buy the boys, look no further than Bowring Arundel on the Jermyn Street side of the arcade.

Jermyn Street, with the prettiest street decorations, is to the boys what Bond Street is to the girls. Heaven. We aren’t entirely forgotten and Floris is why. Their Lily of the Valley bath oil is worth crossing continents for.

And then there is Bond Street.

Try the violet and rose creams from Charbonnel et Walker in the Royal Arcade. Gaze upwards at the ceiling in this arcade, it is one of the prettiest. Cartier is entirely gift-wrapped for the holidays and Tiffany &Co is a twinkly playful light extravaganza.

If I wasn’t in the holiday spirit before last weekend, I am now.

A Taste Of London on vickiarcher.comA Taste Of London on vickiarcher.com































A Taste Of London on vickiarcher.com

Late afternoon and it is time for tea. London isn’t London without a Royal Tea in the Wellington Lounge.

Tea is one of the great British customs – think back to Downton Abbey and the Dowager Duchess. Apart from the tea, it is the finger sandwiches, the scones with clotted cream and raspberry jam and the delicate gateaux that make restraint impossible. Not to mention the champagne.

Tea would not be tea without a glass of champagne and London would not be London without tea.

A Taste Of London on vickiarcher.com

For me, One Park Lane feels like the heart of London.

Watching the world go by, high up over the Royal Parks, is not only the perfect introduction for the first time visitor but also a reminder to someone who makes London home, that this vibrant city is something very special.

Let me know when you are coming; I’m ready for you. xv

InterContinental London Park Lane

One Hamilton Place, Park Lane,



+800 1800 1800


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Our French Oasis

Nowhere does Christmas like London, I totally agree, but perhaps I am biased!! Now for Christmas shopping, I would have to include Kensington, Chelsea and Knightsbridge and a trip north to Hampstead and Highgate because I love both areas. Then I would hop on a bus, (better than the tube at this time of year so you can see the lights and decorations at the same time) and head south of the river to Barnes, because I absolutely love it and all the individual boutique shops. But the Intercontinental looks utterly divine!!


London is always a grand idea! Thank you for introducing me to a new hotel, it looks beautiful. If it wasn’t for the fact that our children and grandchildren are in California for the holidays, I’d be tempted to come for Christmas.


Gorgeous story and photos capturing all the things I love too – definitely visiting 2018! The Christmas decorations and “Cartier Red” arcade lighting are divine. We are in the festive and Royal spirit here in USA!


I so want to go again.
My one destination. This just makes my heart ache.
Agghh well one day…


We always went to London and Paris in the Autumn .. but one year we spent a few weeks in the Spring and it had a totally different beauty .. One year we were in Paris in the weeks before Christmas .. my son had been in India for months and we decided to meet him in Paris, then on home to the US.
Living in an apartment with the Eiffel Tower twinkling outside the windows was so unbelievable .. a dream ..
I am lucky .. everything was perfect ..

Marguerite Krenek

Oh you’ve got me quivering with delight. If only I hadn’t just returned to the US from York and Glasgow, last week. London is truly my happy place.

Donna DL

Once again….thank you Vicki for some fabulous tips! I visit annually and will look forward to visiting a few I did not know about. Enjoy a beautiful white Christmas in beautiful old London town!


Thank you Vicki for such a lovely post and pictures! And all the great tips. Sounds like a fabulous plan to spend Christmas week in London! And now we know where to go for it!
It’s many years since we lived there, when my husband was a Cambridge graduate student researching at the British Museum and Public Records Office and I worked at the London Business School for a year. We lived on the smell of an oily rag so there was no money for stays or dinners at such a beautiful hotel. Except once when my husband chose luckily at Royal Ascot and his winnings paid for dinner at the Savoy for our first wedding anniversary. However we did wander all over the areas you’ve suggested. But without money in your pocket or a credit card with high limits (we didn’t have one) it was not quite as enjoyable visiting those lovely shops as it is looking at your pictures now.
I do think though that London has lifted its game since then – these decorations are so beautiful – and chic at the same time. Don’t remember them being quite as glorious – or the hotels as lovely. They were all pretty of course, but more faded glory than glamour back then.
That year in London, quite close to Christmas, we escaped the London traffic for a week and went to Bruges, enjoying the quiet beautiful old city and its canals and carol singers, lace makers, candles and Christmas trees (and wonderful galleries with their luminous paintings) in the subdued low cold light. Not glamorous or luxe – but very beautiful. Then we took the train-ferry-train back to the UK and went direct to Eton where we spent Christmas with old Oz friends in a narrow four storey house belonging to the College. Our Eton friend was a physics master there for a few years. A wonderful old house full of history and warmth and ambience. One of the guests for dinner there was the teacher who went on to become the first antipodean headmaster. Eton and Windsor are always lovely (we stayed with our friends many times) but there was something magical about being there at Christmas, our first in England. Best wishes, Pamela

Jean Rowland

This Londoner has enjoyed your lovely story and I have not heard the expression of ‘living on the smell of an oily rag’ before. Priceless! Vicki has mentioned all my favourite places and I feel an urge to walk along Burlington Arcade!

anita rivera

This is my style:the neutral colors of nature, the sophisticated touch of the city. Lovely.

Lucia Donahower

Hello Vicki
Beautiful! I lived in London in the early eighties and worked in the City for two years, and I agree with you London is truly a wonderful city during the Holidays! Although, I found that most people go to the countryside to be with family. Enjoyed a walk down memory lane with your post!
Happy Holidays to you and yours!
Lucy in California


I wanted to let you know I have taken your advice and booked a stay at the InterContinental London Park Lane in March when we are traveling through London. Thank you for the tip! All the choices can sometimes be overwhelming .


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