• November 24, 2015

    Feel festive, stay warm

    If you’re less of a fan of outdoor ice rinks and more into all things warm and cosy, we hear you. So we found a couple of nice, warm alternatives that will have you feeling just as festive…

    Bowl at All Star Lanes

    Grab your friends, family or colleagues and have a Christmas treat that’s guaranteed to be warm, fun and snow-free. And before you argue that you ‘don’t bowl’, All Star Lanes is bowling with a difference – think canapes, sliders, cocktails and a side of karaoke thrown in for good measure!

    You can also have your own party planner, book for groups of up to 500 and choose the venue closest to you (there’s four in London and one in Manchester). Bowling doesn’t sound so bad now does it? I speak from experience when I say your colleagues will love you forever if you make this the work’s Christmas party this year!

    Dine at Pennethorne’s, Somerset House (courtesy of Virgin Experience Days)

    Somerset House is as gorgeous outside as it is in, but for relaxed evening nibbles, Pennethorne’s is perfect. The cocktail list may be limited but there’s one (if not two) for everyone. We tried the Primrose Daquiri, Strawberry Cheesecake and Lady Killer and each one was everything you’d want in a cocktail – light, strong and pretty (I’m looking at you, Lady Killer).

    The servers are attentive but not overly so; once they’d bought out our sharing platter and checked we were happy with it, they left us to dive in. And dive in we did. There’s mushrooms on toast, duck liver pâté on thick bread, blue cheese, air dried ham, hake escabeche all in generous portions. In fact, there was even a tad too much pâté and blue cheese. Our server told us her favourite was the mushrooms on toast and I wholeheartedly agreed. The mushrooms were chunky and plentiful, the bread was thick and toasted and the sprinkle of Parmesan set my cheese-lovers heart racing.

    Pennethorne’s itself is a nice little anomaly. It’s not an on-trend pop-up, you can pronounce the name of everything you’re eating and it has none of the pretentiousness London restaurants are prone to. What it does have, however, is the sophistication that so many places claim to have but actually fail to execute.

    If you like your bread thick, your cocktails light and your ambiance old school sophistication, then this for you.

    Shop at the biggest centre you can find!

    Even if you normally hate shopping, even if you have children in tow, nothing says get ready for Christmas and stay warm better than a shopping centre. If you’re in the North, head to Meadow Hall. (I went here during the festive period when I was about 11 before seeing Disney on Ice and I actually think I’d have happily forgone the show just to stay and admire the decorations – sorry Mum!); if you’re anywhere else, just head to your nearest shopping centre and get swept up in the excitement of mulled wine, huge decorative reindeer and hopefully the odd freebie (Hotel Chocolat, we’re coming!).

    Stephanie Bolton

    @StephanieBolton

    Image: Virgin Experience Days, Pennethorne’s

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