With 2.6 million people booked to travel with British Airways to London over the festive and new year period, the airline asked its crew to share some of their favourite London hot spots in a festive themed video. British Airways crew member Mark Rainbow gives his expert take on some of the best things to do in London this winter.
With the arrival of December London has transformed into a winter wonderland. With the glow of the capital's eateries, tourists flying in to join the hustle and bustle of the shopping scene and the lashings of festive decorations draped across the capital.
As British Airways crew we get to experience a lot of cities around the world. Over years of flying we find some of the best places to eat, drink and be entertained. For me London can be one of the most romantic cities in the world.
When London has that magical mix of festive lights, crisp blue winter skies and warm inviting restaurants there is simply no better place.
My perfect winter day is a great mix between the world famous locations and some hidden gems. My hidden London is filled with Winter Picnics and hot chocolate or shopping in the backstreets of Primrose Hill and Islington, topped off with ice skating at the Natural History Museum. I still love some of the better-known places. There is afternoon tea at the Langham, the magic of Hamleys toyshop and indulging in some holiday shopping in Fortnum and Mason.
The Winter Picnic
Londoners absolutely love a summer picnic in a beautiful park or by a cool river, with sandwiches, champagne and strawberries aplenty, but a winter picnic is my secret to a perfect day. The best place in London for a winter picnic is Primrose Hill.
It gives an absolutely amazing view of the London skyline and is dotted with the same lampposts you would see in Sherlock Holmes. It might sound a bit like a Jamie Oliver recipe but all you need is some warm clothes, a blanket each, a Hamper stuffed full of winter goodies, and a big flask or rich warm hot chocolate.
For me winter in London is all about finding your inner child and indulging in little luxuries. Hamleys and Fortnum & Mason are perfect for that. Hamleys is like stepping into Santa’s very own workshop. It's crammed full of entertainers, colour and toys. There is something for everyone and even if you're not buying it's still definitely worth a visit.
Fortnum and Mason is a different world, for me it is luxury defined. The store has some amazing bars, restaurants and of course shopping. My favourite part of the store is their ice cream parlour; it’s never too cold for an ice cream from there.
They do the best Christmas ice cream sundae ever! It's Christmas pudding; chocolate and vanilla ice creams topped with toasted nibbed almonds, orange sultanas, F&M cognac butter and whipped cream. And to top that all off its served with a mini mince pie.
Ice Skating at the Natural History
One of my fondest childhood memories was visiting the Natural History Museum. As a child I was fascinated by dinosaurs and the fact I could go and see something millions of years old. In the last few years there have been winter ice skating rinks popping up all over London, and one of the capital's best ice skating rinks is set in the grounds of the museum.
The surrounding trees are dotted with fairy lights, and the museum itself is beautifully lit. As the museum is located in picturesque Kensington there is plenty to do afterwards.
There is so much more to explore in my favourite city, and I am guessing my perfect day will have a few extra locations in 2013.
See more of Mark's favourite corners: