The Christmas lights are on and the crowds are out. But we all know that chalets, lodges, mulled wine and hot toddies are much more appealing than shopping. Here’s where you can enjoy a bit of après ski around London this winter.
As Oxford Street becomes flooded with Christmas shoppers, this rooftop hideaway atop Selfridges is an altogether more relaxing experience. It replaces Q Grill and is run by the same team, but the summer barbecue vibe swaps for wintry dishes such as raclette, suckling pig, fondue and smoked venison. Desserts include eggnog, apple strudel, black forest gateau and a vanilla and blackcurrant rice pudding. All this is served in a candle-lit Alpine chalet, while the roof also houses a wood cabin and a dedicated hot chocolate cocktail bar.
Le Chalet is open from 11am-9pm on Mondays and Tuesdays, 11am-11pm Wednesdays to Saturdays, and midday to 6pm on Sundays. 400 Oxford Street, W1A 1AB.
The Churchill Bar & Terrace
The alfresco terrace at Portman Square hotel The Churchill has been kitted out with fake snow, pine trees, ski paraphernalia and lanterns. Blankets and hot water bottles are on hand to keep visitors warm, but a menu of potent chocolate cocktails from Green & Black will also help in that respect. Try the Notting Hill Delight, named after the chocolate company’s original home on Portobello Road. It includes amaretto, Galliano, whiskey and spices, and is topped with a butterscotch chocolate and coffee foam.
The Churchill Bar & Terrace runs until February 2014. The Churchill, 30 Portman Square, W1H 7BH.
Gaucho Winter Terrace
The Broadgate branch of the Argentine steakhouse group has launched a tree-lined winter terrace that comes complete with sofas, blankets and hot water bottles. There’s also a dedicated hot cocktail list alongside the restaurant’s normal drinks offerings, including a hot chocolate with cognac and a fiery hot toddy made with Glenmorangie whiskey, lemon, honey, orange and cloves.
The Gaucho Winter Terrace is open until the new year. Gaucho, 5 Finsbury Avenue, EC2M 2PG.
City restaurant Coq d'Argent’s high-end and high-up bar is being transformed into an Alpine lodge for the winter months, hoping to lure in the après work crowd with a bit of après ski. The rooftop spot is decked out with vintage ski equipment, fake snow and plenty of woollen blankets. A special menu features a series of takes on the classic croque-monsieur, including the croque-fondu with comté, beaufort and emmental cheeses and shavings of black truffle, and the croque-raclette with smoked ham and ratte potatoes. Other snacks include charcuterie, cheese fondue and tartiflette. The bar has done a deal with Hennessy Cognac, so the tipple features in many of the cocktails (though others are also available), and there’s a number of special serves available ranging from a tenner to more than £200 if that’s your bag.
Lodge d’Argent will run from 18 November until February 2015. Coq d’Argent, 1 Poultry, EC2R 8EJ
Balham has gained its own slice of après-ski thanks to regular pop-up host Jimmy Garcia. A space on Hildreth Street has been transformed into a log-filled ski lodge which serving some very appealing sounding fondues made with Neal’s Yard cheeses, as well as slow-cooked roasts of a Sunday with a particular focus on game. Hot toddies will also be available.
The Lodge will run until 25 January. 9 Hildreth Street, SW12 9RQ.
This multi-storey street food and cocktail fest comes with log fires, a Christmas-themed arts and crafts market and a DJ, as well as private dining chalets. Tuck into pizza from Voodoo Ray’s, burgers from Patty & Bun, jerk from Rum Kitchen, grilled cheese toasties from Morty & Bob’s and steamed buns from YumBun as you sip your way around bars loaded with whiskey cocktails, mulled drinks, ales and porters. Mulled Negronis are a particular must-try.
Night Tales runs from 6pm - midnight every Friday and Saturday in November, and then every Thursday, Friday and Saturday until 20 December. Entry costs £4. 288-299 Old Street, EC1V 9DP.
Soho’s Archer Street bar isn’t holding back on the seasonal schmaltz. The subterranean space — which you may recognise from last year — is decked out with skis, reindeer fur and a log fire, as well as ‘windows’ looking out across the Italian Alps. Cinnamon, cranberry and port syrup feature in the bar’s seasonal cocktails, one of which also comes with a floating glow stick. Perfect for, er, getting you piste...
Piste is open from the afternoon until 1am Monday to Thursday and 2am Fridays and Saturdays. Archer Street Bar, 3-4 Archer Street, W1D 7AP.
Soho Ski And Rum Chalet
Wardour Street’s Latin American bar and restaurant Floridita is modelling itself on the ski resorts of Patagonia this winter, transforming into the Soho Ski And Rum Chalet. Expect ski lift-style seating, logs in place of bar stools and antler chandeliers, while the bar’s heaving selection of rums is accompanied by hot rum cocktails — including a rich hot chocolate laced with the spirit. There will also be South American snacks such as Chilean beef empanadas, pork belly with lime mojo, and chorizo.
Soho Ski And Rum Chalet will run from 18 November until February 2015. Floridita, 100 Wardour Street, W1F 0TN.
The Queen Of Hoxton’s rooftop WigWam is back, and this year its theme is Woodlandia. Autumn leaves, tree trunks and fake toadstools fill the place, with a spot of magic coming from reels of fairy lights. Wintry cocktail creations include hot buttered rum and ginger hot toddies, with a barbecue offering sustenance in the form of jacket potatoes and grilled meats. Read our full write-up.
WigWamBam Woodlandia is open from 4pm Mondays to Saturdays until March. Queen Of Hoxton, 1-5 Curtain Road, EC2A 3JX.
The Winter Cabin
This pop-up at Gordon Ramsay’s York & Albany in Primrose Hill differs from most by not being about skiing at all. Instead, this hunting-lodge cabin has landed in the restaurant’s courtyard, complete with lashings of tartan, tweed and taxidermy. Rum hot chocolate, mulled wine and cider accompany a seasonal cocktail list, while meat-led British dishes include black pudding scotch eggs, venison meatballs and wild boar burgers. Regular live music completes the package, and outdoor heaters ensure the cold is only aesthetic.
The Winter Cabin is open until the end of February 2015. York & Albany, 127-129 Parkway, NW1 7PS.
The Winter Pleasure Garden
The Grand Union team will be hoping that the terrace at its Brixton bar isn’t home to as much scandal as London’s real pleasure gardens. Still, they’re not doing things by halves, drafting in an 80-foot marquee and kitting it out with sofas, heaters, TV screens and the obligatory fairy lights. There will also be a menu of hot toddies and turkey and cranberry burgers.
The Winter Pleasure Garden will launch on 28 November and run until the new year. Grand Union Brixton, 123 Acre Lane, SW2 5UA.
Have we missed anywhere? We’ll be updating this list throughout the season, so please let us know.