Skate at Somerset House

in a nutshell

This is one of London’s original Christmas ice rinks and it still remains a firm favourite with locals, largely because of its gorgeous and historic setting, but also because you get a good-quality skating experience here. Unlike some other rinks, you get a full hour on the ice, and you can store your bag securely so you can fall over without worrying about losing or breaking your valuables. Add to this a range of rinkside seasonal foodie treats, and it’s a recipe for festive London cheer.

about the market

This year, Somerset House has teamed up with upmarket favourites Fortnum & Mason to offer posh nosh at Fortnum's Lodge – think Welsh Rarebit, warming cheese fondue, or the intriguely named Chocolossus Hot Chocolate – as well as festive cocktails come the evening. If you’re making a date of it, you could even book a treat such as Skate, Wine & Fondue for Two for £70 (plus booking fees) for two people, including skate hire.

If your budget won’t run to that, there’s the Alpine-style Skate Lounge run by Tom’s Kitchen, which offers seasonal drinks with a front-row view of the skating, as well as a range of cafés and restaurants in Somerset House itself.

You can even do a bit of post-skating Christmas shopping at Fortnum’s Christmas arcade, a rink-side pop-up shop offering fine food, gifts and decorations, as well as Fortnum’s famous hampers.

things to do around somerset house

The location of Somerset House can’t really be bettered - right on your doorstep, you’ve got the hustle and bustle of Covent Garden with its shops, cafes and pubs (and the odd street performer), where if you can beat the crowds, you’ll feel you’ve slipped back in time a bit.

If you’re saving the pennies, you can’t do better than a visit to one of Britain’s finest institutions, the National Gallery - or its often-overlooked sister, the National Portrait Gallery. It’s easy to while away an hour or two here out of the cold, and you’ll be left wondering why you don’t come more often.

Also nearby is the London Coliseum, home of the English National Opera and where the English National Ballet will this year again be performing The Nutcracker as their Christmas special. Tickets for this spellbinding, Christmassy show aren’t as expensive as you might think, starting at just £14, and walking up the stairs at this gorgeously grand venue will make you feel like a million dollars.

Or, for something completely different, why not immerse yourself in the Faulty Towers Dining Experience – a hilarious interactive combination of a 1970s-style three-course meal and a live comedy performance, inspired by the cult series (Thursdays – Sundays only).

With so much to see and do in central London, why not make a weekend of it? Find great hotels near Charing Cross or discover more exciting activities in London.