When the ice rink goes up at Somerset House, you know that Christmas has arrived in London.
London has many an ice rink at this time of year. For the city dwellers, there’s the rink at Canary Wharf (I love the idea of business men spinning around fully suited). The moat at the Tower of London is turned into a rink, there’s a beautiful one outside the Natural History Museum (complete with Christmas tree at its center) and the biggest ice rink belongs to Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland. But Somerset House has always been my favourite.
Somerset House host Fortnum & Mason’s Christmas pop-up SKATE each year in their courtyard and, of course, they have decked it out beautifully. Complete with fairy lights, festive music and an enormous Christmas tree, it’s just tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the Strand, so a crowd tends to form to cheer the skaters on.
Aside from the beautiful rink, what they really get right is the food. Nothing builds an appetite like ice skating, and Fortnum’s hold the best apres-skate in London. The Fortnum’s Lodge smells entirely of mulled wine, and has all kinds of warming treats to enjoy while nursing the inevitable bruises.
As we were there for Tiarnan’s birthday, we celebrated with champagne and chocolate truffles (which were completely delicious), but we looked on with envy at our fellow skaters.
The Chocolossus particuarly caught our eye, Fortnum’s ultimate hot chocolate. Complete with whipped cream, chocolate shavings, the biggest marshmallows I’ve ever seen and a cheeky shot of something alcoholic if you so wish, Starbucks will never be the same again! Many of the other skaters also feasted on fondues, tartiflettes and cheese boards, leaving Tiarnan and I wishing we were up a mountain, strapped into ski boots and fueling for the next piste.
If you visit, be sure to check out Fortnum’s Christmas Arcade – the pop-up version of their Piccadilly Store. In my opinion, nothing can beat the real Fortnum’s at Christmas, with the decorations, luscious red carpets, stands piled high with all kinds of festive goodies and the assistants rushing about in their pillar-box red tailcoats. But the Christmas Arcade comes pretty close. We wandered through the rooms, trying every taster we saw, hinting at possible Christmas presents and admiring the bauble selection.
So if you’re in London, pop along to Somerset House. Even if you don’t brave the ice, cosy up with a Chocolossus and get that last minute Christmas shopping done.