These are the most iconic rinks across London – and our top bars just a short stroll away.
SKATE AT SOMERSET HOUSE
There’s a full programme over at Somerset House. Not just content with sending guests round and round, you can also opt in for skating lessons plus they’re also gunning for a more adult crowd with their Skate Lates. There’s DJ sets from Hot Chip's Joe Goddard or DJ Yoda and tickets for this are £17. There’s a bar on site serving up hot Bailey’s cocktails if you’re feeling festive but if you’re looking for something slightly less sweet after whizzing round the rink, these are our favourite three places nearby.
If you really can’t face travelling too far from the rink, there’s a cosy little navy blue bar hidden in one of the many wings of Somerset House. Never too busy and not overpriced – this is a great bar to have up your (woollen) sleeve. They also have a lovely private room – so if you’re in charge of planning your Christmas party – this is a great option for a group over ten. It’s a short cocktail list of just five drinks but they’re crowd pleasers – we give this a thumbs up.
Christopher’s Martini Bar
Art Deco glamour in the middle of Covent Garden – Christopher’s have been stoically doing their thing for years now. So consistent. So glam. The order of the day here is fairly obvious – it’s Martinis, but if you’ve just expended all that energy you definitely deserve one. Or maybe even two. We’re wet with an olive thanks, but there’s sixteen modern twists to choose from if you’re looking for something fancy.
Starving after all that exercise? Let lovely Angela Hartnett help. Café Murano is her Covent Garden outpost and has four seasonal pastas available in two sizes. The drinks list is concise and very Italian – think a whole page of Negronis alongside some spritzes plus a lot of delicious wines by the glass. It’s a cosy restaurant and you’re pretty likely to get a table even as a walk in.
THE ICE RINK AT THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
With a huge Christmas tree in the centre and set against the impressive architecture of The Natural History Museum – this is one of London’s prettiest ice rinks. Not too big, and when we visited, not too crowded either, the 50 minute slot costs £17.05. Whether you channel your inner Jane Torvill and make it round unscathed or you hit the decks to avoid small children – you’ll certainly need a drink either way. Here are some hidden gems to take the edge off.
Apero at the Ampersand Hotel
Exposed brick and industrial lighting is perhaps not what you’d expect in this part of town but the Victoriana arches in the basement of this hotel lend themselves perfectly for a laidback little bar. They take their drinks pretty seriously and have an extensive gin and tonic menu alongside their cocktail list. The lovely staff will welcome you in from the cold. Try the Tiger’s Mouth - calvados, sherry and vermouth stirred down.
Bar 190 at The Gore
Ooh it’s a juxtaposition this one. All heavy mahogany décor with tartan cushions and velvet drapes and then… pictures of The Rolling Stones. There’s method to the madness – this was where the album cover of Beggar’s Banquet was shot and so they’re hanging on to their slice of rock and roll royalty. Maybe there’s something in the water over this side of town but their Gin & Tonic menu is WILD! Nestle down and lose a few hours in here.
If you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary – this is it. The home of the Polish Hearth Club it’s like stepping back in time. Polish art line the walls of this enormous townhouse that backs onto a beautiful square (glorious in the summer). The restaurant is some of the finest Polish food you’ll taste – but this is a booze review so we suggest taking a seat at the bar and ordering a Kavka Vodka martini. Made in a small distillery in Western Poland, Kavka is a blend of rye and wheat spirits, which is infused with apple and plum spirits. Unusual all round.
TOWER OF LONDON ICE RINK
Boldly listed as the most iconic Ice Rink in the UK - there’s certainly something fairly humbling about looking up at the walls of the Tower of London. So much history! So much drama! The rink itself is set down in the moat (where the poppies were) and it’s especially lovely at night when it’s bathed in a soft blue light. If you’ve made the trip down here, you’ll certainly need somewhere good to go afterwards so take the chance to explore a part of London you might not usually head to.
Provisioners at The Dixon
Alright you’ve got to cross the bridge for this one but it’s worth the walk (plus you get the views across the Thames as you go - which is always worth it). The Provisioners is set within The Dixon hotel and is an instagrammers dream of millennial pink chairs, Stendig wall calendars and a retro, skandi-chic vibe that goes across to the drinks list too – fancy a Disco Whiskey – sure - count us in! They also roast their own coffee beans on site so we’d certainly recommend an Espresso Martini if you’re making the journey.
Hidden below The Chamberlain Hotel on Minnories, the bar describes itself as the “City’s Secret Gem” which probably suggests it’s not terribly clandestine but there’s good reason to seek it out. The cocktail list is cleverly inspired by the London Underground with some smart thought processes – these guys have definitely done their homework. Farringdon for example was the home to the first ever green grocer in the UK to sell bananas – the drink therefore includes a banana liqueur – happily paired with Lagavulin 16. Very nice.
Savage Garden at The Double Tree Hilton
You’ve come all the way to Tower Hill to skate – so you may as well revel in the outrageously historic scenery in front of you. Right at the top of the DoubleTree Hilton this crazy, cluttered bar has more going on than you’ll know what to do with BUT it has 360 views across the city and a perfect view of the Tower of London. The drinks list is hilarious and the glassware they’ve found is definitely worth taking pictures of. If you’re looking for a fun night out – this is probably it.