Ever wanted to do a special trip to England during the holidays? Here is the itinerary from my past trip in December 2023 as well as some other tips/places to explore during the holiday season. Directly below, is the exact timeline from my most recent trip to England. For more generic tips and places to visit during the holidays, scroll down to the bottom.
Friday 12/8 Fly out (red eye flight) - used TSA precheck and had dinner in the Delta Sky Club
Saturday 12/9 Arrived at Heathrow and picked up our rental car from Hertz (easy shuttle ride)
Drove to Bath (1 hr 45 mins) to start our trip off right! (parking is tricky in Bath so taking the train here is easiest, but car park options near the spa are Avon Street/Green Road/34 Corn St/Kingsmead Square; TIP If you see people walking into the car park, ask them if they are leaving)
HIGHLY RECOMMEND A SPA TRIP THE DAY YOU ARRIVE AFTER FLYING EAST
Bath has the largest/most popular Christmas market in England
After our spa/shopping morning, we drove to Mere to drop off/pick up some presents for family, drove past Stonehenge TIP see the visitor's center for Stonehenge, but after that, get back on the A303 and turn left onto the road as soon as you pass the stones. You can park there and walk right up to the stones from there away from the crowds because the land up to the rope is all public land.
Once we arrived at my family friend's home in Cobham, we relaxed and enjoyed dinner. We were a tad to late to make it to Wisley Glow which we had tickets for.
Sunday 12/10 Had a wonderful breakfast there before getting on the road again. We explored Chilston Park and Eastwell Manor for potential client venue spots before heading to see our next group of family friends in Kent. We were greeted with a beautiful bottle of Laurent Perrier Rose Champagne for pre-drinks before heading to dinner at The Pig at Bridge Place.
Monday 12/11 Another amazing breakfast before driving to pick up some Christmas gifts at Biddendam Vineyards which has the cutest shop with local gifts and foods from Kent. Before returning the car, we explored Windsor where Eton College is located. The journey of returning the car at Hertz to getting in to the city was simple and easy. We took the Hertz shuttle to the airport (any terminal works), and hopped on the Picadilly line to Green Park. The train ride took about 45 minutes, and we were only a 5 minute walk to our hotel in Mayfair. We stayed at the May Fair Hotel which is owned by the Radisson. The hotel is very centrally located which was amazing. It was only a 10 minute walk to the most famous street at Christmas time: Regents Street. Once we dropped our bags off/checked in to our room, we headed to afternoon tea at the Dorchester. The London afternoon tea experience at places like the Ritz, Clarides, Savoy, and the Dorchester will cost you around 135 GBP/pp with champagne. It is not cheap, but it is something to do at least once in your lifetime. After tea, we walked across the street to Hyde Park to check out the Winter Wonderland going on which is a glorified Christmas Fair with rides. We headed back to the room after I realized I bought the Winter Wonderland tickets for the wrong day to get ready for our evening. We went for pre-show drinks at the Ritz in the Rivoli Bar which is a sight to see during the holidays. After a delicious yet expensive cocktail, we headed to the Royal Albert Hall to see the Royal Choir Society preform their annual Christmas concert. From there, we headed over to the Amaro Bar where my bartending friend Juan was working.
Tuesday 12/12 We took the tube over to St. Paul's Cathedral for our 10:15 AM entry time. Nancy explored the cathedral and the crypts while I climbed the over 500 steps up to the top of the dome of the cathedral. The view....unreal. 360 views of London! I had prebooked tickets for us to visit the Sky Garden which was a short walk/tube ride from St. Pauls. (you can order these free tickets 3 weeks in advance at 11 AM London time here) You can grab a drink here, eat, or even getting engaged up here. Quite romantic I'd say. We grabbed lunch from Pret (they have my favorite salad of all time: Chef's Special Chicken Salad), and headed back to Mayfair by train. Before going back to the hotel for a quick break, we explored Regents Street to see Liberty and do some shopping. We walked back to our hotel from there to take a quick break/drop bags off before heading to Harrods to do some more shopping/exploring. After that, we came back to get ready for our final night in London; dinner and a show. We headed over to Ivy Asia Mayfair for an outstanding dinner, and then went to see Wicked!!! We were in the 6th row center stage! THANK YOU NANCY!!!!! To end the night, we had a cocktail in the Painter's Room at Claridges.
Wednesday 12/13 Flew back to Boston - use TimeSlot and No. 1/Centurian Lounges
(For our 9:10 AM flight, I had reserved an uber to pick us up from our hotel in Mayfair at 5:30 AM to bring us to Paddington Station where we took the 5:55 AM Heathrow Express. I reserved a TimeSlot time for 6:15 AM so we didn't have to wait in any lines at TSA)
PLACES TO VISIT IN ENGLAND DURING THE HOLIDAYS
The Cotwolds - Stay at Ellenborough Park
Kent (stay at Chilston Park, The Pig at Bridge Place, Eastwell Manor)
Surrey (Shere-filmed the movie The Holiday here, Cobham)
Stay at South Lodge in Horsham
London- walk the streets of Mayfair and Chelsea, see a Christmas show at Royal Albert Hall, have a festive afternoon tea at the Ritz, go shopping on Regents Street, Fortnum and Mason, Selfridges, Liberty, and Harrods, check out Leadanham and Borough Market
Public transportation is very easy in England. It is best to the train/tube places. To pay on the tube, do NOT get an oyster card. It is best to just tap your phone if you have your wallet on your phone or just tap your credit card.
When flying out of Heathrow if it is termainl 3, make sure to use TimeSlot.
Walk the city of London. There is so much to see and do that you might miss if you were taking the tube.
Do your research ahead of time. Know where to park if driving/know the ways of the road.