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Unmatched shopping, cool hotels, fine restaurants, there are few better Christmas break destinations than London

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Winter Wonderland in London’s Hyde Park

Winter Wonderland in London’s Hyde Park

Winter Wonderland in London’s Hyde Park

A Christmas shopping break in London is the perfect way to kick off the holiday season in style.

The city has just made history for the world’s largest Christmas light switch-on, with one million LED bulbs across the West End lit up.

From the shopping mecca of Oxford Street, Regent Street and South Molton Street, the luxury boutiques of Bond Street and Mayfair to the bright lights of Piccadilly Circus, culture of St James’s and theatreland of Leicester Square, 20 streets across the West End collectively switched on their lights to officially mark the start of the festive season in the capital.

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Christmas lights in St James’s

Christmas lights in St James’s

PA

Christmas lights in St James’s

There is just so much to see and do for the festivities, from the Winter Wonderland attraction in Hyde Park, which includes Christmas markets, the UK’s largest outdoor rink and a giant observation wheel, to Borough Market and Covent Garden Christmas Village.

The perfect base for your pre-Christmas or New Year break would be the NYX Hotel London Holborn. It is just a 10-minute walk from top attractions such as the British Museum and 15 minutes from Covent Garden and Soho. With Holborn underground station just around the corner, the hotel offers great connections across the capital, with the shops of Oxford Street just a couple of stops away.

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Christmas lights on South Molton Street

Christmas lights on South Molton Street

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Christmas lights on South Molton Street

From the minute you walk up to this hotel you know it is out of the ordinary (in a great way), with renowned street artist Dan Kitchener having covered the facade of the building with a colourful and eye-catching display that is part mural, part graffiti. This immediately grabs your attention.

Inside, a collection of abstract and neon art, curated in partnership with Art Loves, adorns the walls and interiors throughout. In a nod to how important music is in this hotel, bespoke wallpaper created from the spines of old vinyls also covers some walls.

Named after the Greek goddess of the night, the NYX Hotel truly comes alive at night. With DJs hitting the decks until 3am on weekends and a carefully curated range of engaging events, no two nights are the same.

Famous for its creative food and cocktails, the cosy and fun 213-bedroom hotel is the perfect spot for a Christmas party with your friends and loved ones.

The rooms are incredibly comfortable and full of character. Options range from cosy Little Star bedrooms perfect for two, to spacious Super Star suites — dubbed the ‘Crash Pads’ — ideal for the ultimate sleepover with two kingsize beds and a small lounge-style area, and Down to Earth rooms with a super-king bed. Each space has elegant furniture and contemporary touches. In our Down to Earth room, I grabbed a siesta after checking in and quickly nodded off in their exclusively designed ‘Dream’ beds, which come with bespoke feather and down duvets.

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STYLISH: One of the rooms at the Nyx Hotel

STYLISH: One of the rooms at the Nyx Hotel

STYLISH: One of the rooms at the Nyx Hotel

I really loved the touches of the room, such as the dramatic oversized artwork and mid-century furniture including leather headboards, teak sideboards and iconic retro Smeg fridges (which are fully stocked). The bathroom also had an excellent rain shower.

After my siesta (I had flown in from abroad on a very early flight, in my defence) I headed down for dinner in the hotel’s hip bar and restaurant. It seems to be a destination for many locals, with office workers in abundance sipping cocktails. For starters, we shared a large platter of succulent pork ribs in a rich bbq sauce with spicy fries and slaw. The moreish ribs were quickly ripped apart and the fries were a surprise hit, with a wonderful mix of spice. The menu is perfect for sharing, with a range of small plates and other platters also available.

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The Nyx's bar

The Nyx's bar

The Nyx's bar

For mains, I enjoyed what I believe is the most delicious and best cut of meat — a ribeye on the bone. It was served with a brown butter bearnaise and fries and tasted as good as it sounds. On the other side of the table, a creole crayfish burger with scorched peppers, green slaw, Bloody Mary ketchup and fries also quickly disappeared. The food was faultless, as were the cocktails. I had been told the hotel was famous for its drinks menu (Instagram appears to be flooded with photos), so in the interests of this review, I put them to the test. Their Dog on Heat was my favourite — East London Vodka with jalapeno syrup, fresh pink grapefruit juice and Grapefruit High Wire IPA.

Serving food up to 2am, grazing options and midnight bites come in the form of ninja buffalo wings, margarita chicken sticks and the “mother of all nacho platters”.

The NYX has so much to keep you occupied, including its dark and sultry Rena Spa, which has consistently been rated as one of the best hotel spas in London.

Dramatic and with black and white tiles, neon signage and bold splashes of artwork, the spa features an expansive indoor 13-metre Greco-Roman swimming pool with retractable floor for private events; a fully equipped gym offering weekly yoga, pilates and personal training classes; a sauna and steam room; and two spacious suites for pampering and rejuvenating treatments.

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RELAXING: The Nyx Hotel’s impressive pool

RELAXING: The Nyx Hotel’s impressive pool

RELAXING: The Nyx Hotel’s impressive pool

For those looking to explore, the NYX Hotel ‘City Lovers’ team has a black book of London’s hidden gems, from stores to secret gardens and everything in between, including access to some of the capital’s best cultural events.

One place I would definitely recommend you check out is one of my favourite nightspot spaces in London — The Ned. A former bank dating back to 1924, the luxury hotel boasts 17 bars and 10 restaurants and channels 1920s and 1930s design.

On my recent visit, I tried out Kaia, The Ned’s Asian-Pacific-inspired restaurant specialising in healthy food, with poke bowls and mains from the grill served over the counter. A feast for the eyes and the stomach, do not pass by their sharing platters. Enjoying a dinner with friends, we shared the Kaiseki (£65) and Ozara (£85) platters.

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The Kaiseki platter at Kaia

The Kaiseki platter at Kaia

The Kaiseki platter at Kaia

There was more than enough food for four of us on these plates. The Kaiseki included Japanese fried chicken, wagyu roll, tempura prawns, spicy Hawaiian chicken, teriyaki salmon and tenderstem broccoli. From the perfectly fried crispy chicken to the broccoli, every dish was a winner. The greens were so good they were quickly devoured, although in fairness everything on the plate was.

The Ozara featured tasty pork dumplings, tempura prawns, asparagus, lamb cutlets, black cod and a wonderful wagyu sirloin. The stars of the show were the wagyu sirloin, with its copious marbling and buttery tenderness, and the black cod in its tarragon miso marinade.

With a live band in the former banking hall, you can dance away all those extra calories or continue the party in one of The Ned’s many bars.

Every time I visit, I enjoy a totally new experience by choosing a different bar or restaurant.

With Christmas party season now under way, you truly are spoilt for choice with things to see and do in London.

  • NYX Hotel London Holborn by Leonardo Hotels. 50-60 Southampton Row, Holborn, London, WC1B 4AR. Tel: 020 7242 1800. For more information or to book a room at the hotel, visit www.nyx-hotels.co.uk  Room rates start £279 inclusive of breakfast based on two people sharing.
  • Kaia at The Ned: www.thened.com/restaurants/kaia

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