‘Tis the season: Festive experiences to book now in London

With brighter days ahead, it feels like this season is defined less by presents, and more by presence. When OpenTable asked diners how they’d like to spend the festive season, 62% planned to dine out up to five times and 37% hoped to celebrate Christmas Day in a restaurant. Nearly a third were interested in doing something different, like a wine tasting or a special festive menu.

In other words: ’tis the season of experiences. OpenTable can help diners discover and book special events at top restaurants across the UK and Ireland, from chef’s tables and afternoon tea to themed dinners with live entertainment.

If you live in London or planning to visit, we’ve rounded up 20 of the most festive experiences to book now. To discover unique restaurant experiences near you, visit your local experiences hub and be sure to check local public health guidelines about COVID-19.

Festive menus at top restaurants

Savoy Grill – Overseen by Gordon Ramsay, the Savoy Grill offers refined British and French cuisine in one of London’s most elegant dining rooms. The Savoy Hotel is always dressed to impress for Christmas and its iconic restaurant is the ideal place to celebrate with family and friends. The festive prix fixe menu (two courses £49, 3 for £55) includes classic dishes like chicken liver parfait and red wine braised beef feather blade. Book now.

St Pancras Brasserie – With vintage-inspired lighting and old station clocks on the walls, this glamorous brasserie will whisk you back to the golden age of travel. Throughout December, diners can enjoy a seasonal 3-course menu for £37, with a glass of sparkling wine for £41 or Champagne for £47. After mains like roast turkey or beef cheek with red wine sauce, there’s chocolate tart, British cheeses, or Christmas pudding. Book now.

Aubaine – After hitting the shops on Marylebone High Street, head to this chic French eatery for a well-deserved lunch or early supper. Start with smoked salmon or warming white onion soup, followed by stone bass, corn fed chicken, or the indulgent porcini and truffle tortelloni. The festive menu – two courses for £35 or 3 for £42 – is also available at their restaurants in Mayfair, Brompton Cross, Notting Hill, and Selfridges. Book now.

Gaucho – Round up your favourite people for ‘Friendsmas’ at Gaucho – a three-course feast with a glass of fizz on arrival and a games pack to keep you entertained between courses. The menu (£45pp) includes Argentinean-inspired dishes like steak, ceviche, and swordfish causita, plus turkey and Christmas pudding for the traditionalists. Any group that rolls a double six on the dice will enjoy their meal on the house! Book now.

Afternoon tea at five-star hotels

TING at The Shard – TING’s Alpine afternoon tea is the perfect way to celebrate the festive season whilst enjoying panoramic views of the city skyline. After Champagne and dainty sandwiches, you’ll enjoy freshly baked scones and Austrian-inspired pastries like sachertorte and Black Forest gâteau. Book now.

The Orchid Lounge at Pan Pacific LondonExecutive pastry chef Cherish Finden has created a traditional festive tea and a Singapore-inspired Kopi Tiam version with dim sum, curry puffs, and matcha scones. Guests can choose from a selection of Rare Tea Company teas with help from the dedicated Tea Connoisseur. Book now.

The Palace Lounge at The Rubens Hotel – Splash out on the Winter Wonderland tea with bottomless mulled wine in the Palace Lounge overlooking Buckingham Palace. There’s a Prince and Princess version for under 12s – little foodies will love the Rudolph cupcake and white chocolate snow choux. Book now.

The Crystal Moon Lounge at Corinthia London – After a stroll around the Southbank Winter Market, cross the river for afternoon tea in the elegant surroundings of the Corinthia London. Seated beneath the Baccarat crystal chandelier, guests can enjoy seasonal treats like roast turkey and stuffing sandwiches, spiced pear mousse, and chestnut-cassis tartlets. Book now.

Festive dishes and drinks

Aqua Shard – If you’re visiting Aqua Shard this winter, why not start your meal with their Centre Stage cocktail? It’s a warming blend of mulled gin, caramel, and fermented apples, topped up with Champagne – perfect for chilly evenings. For dessert, there’s a chocolate bauble filled with candied fruit parfait and kirsch chocolate sauce. It’s accompanied by an edible gold paint brush – a nod to the restaurant’s beautiful Christmas tree which is made up of hundreds of gold paint brushes. Book now.

Jinjuu – Swap traditional turkey for Jinjuu’s whole fried chicken and kimchi pigs in blankets. The modern Korean restaurant’s Christmas Feast also includes crispy prawn pops, bulgogi beef tacos, and an indulgent dessert platter to share. Book now.

Haugen – Over in Stratford, this Alpine-inspired restaurant is going all out with special set menus, winter cocktails, and a fabulous fondue brunch. Every Saturday and Sunday, you can share an indulgent Swiss cheese fondue and sip prosecco while DJ Tom Diesel supplies the party vibes. Once you’ve had your fill of cheese, head out to the terrace for a festive photoshoot amongst Christmas trees, sleighs, and twinkling lights. Book now.

The Ivy Market Grill – Escape the crowds and treat yourself to a sparkling Little Helper cocktail or an Irish hot chocolate at this glitzy Covent Garden brasserie. ‘Tis the season to indulge, so you’ll find luxurious dishes like lobster and prawn cocktail, goose shepherd’s pie, and turbot Meunière on the menu. Book now.

Dine out on Christmas Day

Galvin Bar & Grill – Leave the cooking to the experts this Christmas and savour a three-course lunch curated by head chef Adam Gray. Start with a glass of English sparkling wine, followed by seasonal dishes like ham hock and chicken terrine, winter squash pithivier, or roast turkey with all the trimmings. It wouldn’t be Christmas without a sweet treat, so save room for Christmas pudding with warm brandy custard. (£185pp). Book now.

The NoMad Restaurant – With its lush foliage and soaring glass ceiling, this West End restaurant feels airy and relaxed. It opened earlier this year and immediately impressed food critics and diners alike with its slick service and first-class food. On Christmas Day, they’re serving a three-course lunch for £195pp, with mains including cod yellow curry and their famous roast chicken. Book now.

May Fair Kitchen – As you might expect from a restaurant in one of London’s most exclusive neighbourhoods, May Fair Kitchen is serving a luxurious five-course lunch on Christmas Day. After starters like lobster and king prawns with parmesan crème, guests can choose from Dover sole, garlic and sage roast chicken, or beef Wellington with red wine sauce. (£125pp). Book now.

Whitcomb’s – At The Londoner Hotel on Leicester Square, Whitcomb’s is offering a five-course menu that gives festive French classics a contemporary twist. Who needs turkey when you could have duck à l’orange, filet mignon with truffle jus, or turbot with braised fennel and beurre blanc? (£175pp, including a glass of fizz). Book now.

Something a little different

Winter Cabins at The Berkeley – Bringing après-ski chic to Knightsbridge, The Berkeley Hotel has five chalet-style winter cabins that can be booked for festive gatherings. After a glass of Champagne or a Winter Julep, you can enjoy Alpine-inspired treats like rösti, raclette, and veal schnitzel. Diners with a sweet tooth should save room for flambéed baked Alaska or chocolate croquembouche. Book now.

Coqbull – Discover Soho’s best kept secret: a sheltered rooftop terrace decked out with frosted greenery, flickering candles, and cosy blankets. Their Christmas menu (£35pp) ticks all the comfort food boxes with rotisserie chicken, bacon bull burgers, and ‘hot coq’ wings with blue cheese dip. Book now.

German Gymnasium – Inspired by traditional Christmas markets, German Gymnasium’s heated terrace is the perfect place to cosy up this winter. Surrounded by fairy lights, baubles, and giant nutcrackers, you can sip limited edition cocktails like the Black Forest Punsch while you tuck into currywurst, schnitzel, and warm apple strudel. Book now.

1751 – Round up some fellow gin-thusiasts for bottomless brunch at this distillery bar and kitchen near London Bridge. For £40pp, you’ll enjoy Mimosas on arrival, two brunch dishes accompanied by bottomless prosecco or gin and tonics, and a limited edition ‘Winter Spice’ gin miniature to take home. Book now.

Visit the experiences hub to discover unique menus and events at restaurants near you.

Photo Credit: Justin De Souza for The Berkeley.