Instead of mingling with the masses, get off the tourist trail and soak up London’s most unique Christmas gift experiences
For the shopaholic: the private shopping afternoon
For the woman who revels in shopping and style, trusted British multi-brand boutique Matches Fashion’s dedicated private shopping destination No.23, is the ideal chic shopping destination for an afternoon of retail bliss. Book her an appointment at this elegant townhouse in Marylebone (alone, with friends or as a couple) and following a style packed consultation, the team of super shoppers will present her with wardrobe wishes galore from their seriously lust-worthy collection of top designers and international brands. www.matchesfashion.com
For the wine conoisseur: make it a very merry Christmas
The Three Wine Men
Ahead of the ubiquitous Christmas merry making marathon, it is a good idea to stock up your wine cellar, and cheap plonk is not the answer. Instead make some educated purchases for a refined Christmas drinking extravaganza, with the help of three expert wine purveyors, Oz Clarke, Olly Smith and Tim Atkin AW, aka the Three Wine Men. On Friday 4th and Saturday 5th December they will be hosting a very special Christmas wine tasting event behind Westminster Abbey and as well as hundreds of wines to taste (there are also beers and artisan foods) you can also partake in master classes to perfect your skills at pairing port with chocolate and matching your cheese to your wine. Cheers and bon appetit! www.threewinemen.co.uk
For the romantic: movies under the stars
If the endless repeats of Only Fools and Horses are getting you down, wrap up warm and take someone special to cuddle up to at The Berkley hotel’s rooftop Health Club & Spa, which has been transformed into a winter-wonderland cinema. Cozy up under Moncler blankets and get your festive fix with Miracle on 34th Street or Polar Express on the big screen. You can make an evening of it, and either pig out on mince pies and hot chocolate (£65pp) or get utterly merry with wine and canapés (£85pp). The view over Hyde Park is also pretty impressive and sure to work wonders in the romance department. www.the-berkeley.co.uk
Shake up a classic Parisian gift or culinary festive offering, and give a Christmas gift with a bespoke twist...
For the one who has everything: make it personal
The French are purveyors of personalization and nothing says you care more than a bespoke and truly personal gift. For the epitome of personalized bags, a monogrammed Goyard tote will be received with open arms and a very tight grip. The monogram tradition in France uses the initials of the owner, and at Goyard they are hand painted onto your chosen bag in a range of designs, fonts and colours (www.goyard.com). For those on a stricter budget, the Burberry Scarf Bar is another personalized gift option, where once again you can personalise a scarf (www.burberry.com), or for the beauty guru, how about creating unique toiletries at Huygens (www.huygens.fr). Here you can customize bath, body and hair products, by choosing an essential oil blend and a neutral formula to personalise it with.
For the foodie: perfect your culinary skills
L'Atelier Guy Martin, lesgourmands2-0.com
From one/two hour cooking classes at L’Atelier Guy Martin, near the Champs- Élysées, with tips and treats from the all star chef has two Michelin stars under his belt, (www.atelierguymartin.com), to a half-day spent scouring the Paris markets for ingredients and then cooking up a four-course lunch at Paule Callait’s Marais kitchen with Promenades Gourmandes (www.promenadesgourmandes.com), a cooking class in Paris is a novel alternative to dinner in this gastronomic capital.
Luxury is second nature in Dubai, so treat yourself and your number one to the best of the best...
For the luxe seeker: 7-star swimming
Burj Al Arab Hotel
It doesn’t get more luxe than Dubai’s Burj Al Arab hotel, and even if you aren’t bedding down for the night, you can still indulge in 7-star pampering pleasure with their Romantic Moonlight Swim experience. The action takes place 150m up at the hotel’s Talise Spa, where you begin with a couple’s massage before taking the plunge into the private infinity pool complete with rose petals and serious selfie-inducing views. Oh, and as a souvenir to open on Christmas Day itself, you are also given a Burj signature white-chequered bathrobe. www.jumeirah.com
For the adventurer: carol singing in the desert
Carols and camping are not two words you hear together very often. But if you happen to be in Dubai on 18th December and can cajole your other half into a journey to the desert (near Bab Al Shams Desert Resort) for an evening of carol singing in the dunes, you will be on track for a festive experience unlike any other. Christmas Carols in the Desert begins at 4pm, the BBQ is lit, carols are then sung around the fire at 6.30pm and the official revelry comes to an end with hot chocolate, coffee and sky lantern launching at 9pm. Toasting marshmallows, devouring your body weight in BBQ food and pitching up your tent for a night under the stars, are all optional but highly advised. www.facebook.com/events