November 27, 2023

Eat, drink and be merry 

From festive afternoon teas to special winter menus – the best way to celebrate the season is to get feasting! Whether it's mince pies and mulled wine or fizz and fireworks to see in 2024, Angelina Villa-Clarke discovers some fun foodie treats to enjoy and some of the best culinary experiences to share with your loved ones this winter.

A cup of cheer 

The Mitre, Hampton Court, Surrey 
On the banks of the river Thames – and once used as an extension to Hampton Court Palace – the Mitre Hotel dates to the 17th century and was originally built to accommodate extra guests visiting King Henry VIII. 

These days, guests can soak up Nicola Harding’s eclectic interiors and crowd-pleasing cuisine by newly-appointed chef Mark Jarvis at 1665 riverside brasserie and The Boathouse bar. This year, the hotel has a complete calendar of seasonal events, including the return of its ice rink and a special Winter Afternoon Tea, available throughout December, featuring Christmassy-themed sandwiches, such as turkey and stuffing, as well as festive patisserie and bubbles on tap. 

From £40 per person,

Sunday, funday

The Star, Witley, Surrey
Here’s the perfect place for a cosy, indulgent feast with friends and family. With its original oak beams and roaring log fires, The Star sets the scene perfectly for their stellar food offerings from co-owners James Lyon Shaw and Jamie Dobbin, who’ve worked at The Berkley,
The Connaught and The Savoy.

This winter, the quintessential village pub offers a special Festive Menu with twists on The Classics. Starters include a white onion soup and woodland mushroom toastie or cured sea trout with Waldorf slaw. There is turkey on offer but mains also include innovative alternatives, such as slow cooked beef shoulder with red onion mash and a truffled celeriac risotto.

£39 per person for three courses,

Go East

The Prince Akatoki, Marylebone, London
Celebrate the season in serene Japanese-style. Inspired by the traditions of Japanese hospitality, the hotel’s ethos is ensconced in promoting mindfulness and tranquillity from the minimalist aesthetic of the interiors to its artful cuisine.

The Japanese Tea Ceremony is a unique take on a traditional afternoon tea. Held by the esteemed Japanese tea master, Keiko Uchida, you learn more about the philosophy and cultural background behind the centuries-old practice, how to prepare and serve a cup of matcha tea and the meaning behind the strict etiquette. The workshop also includes Akashi-Tai Sparkling Sake and a Japanese-inspired cream tea.

£75 per person. Next classes 22nd November, 14th December,

Sweet disposition

Beaverbrook, Leatherhead, Surrey
The former country house belonging to Lord Beaverbrook – the press magnate and confidante of Winston Churchill – comes to life during the holidays. Collaborating with Knoops Chocolate, a British artisan chocolate company, offering its delicious version of hot chocolate for skaters on Beaverbrook’s own ice rink, there’s also a charming ‘sweet shop’ carved out of an Alpine-style cabin, where guests can pick from jars of candy and marshmallows to add to their drinks. There’s also WildKitchen; a new, bespoke culinary experience masterminded by British film-maker Guy Ritchie, centered around open-fire cookery in a state-of-the-art outdoor kitchen. Ideal for groups, the concept will offer a unique festive sharing experience, which sees guests sit under canvas at special heated tables.

The WildKitchen experience is from £125 per person,

The ultimate ending

Shangri-La The Shard, London
See the New Year in with a bang – literally – by watching London’s epic fireworks and tucking into a choice of indulgent dining options at Shangri-La The Shard. Found on floors 34 to 52 of The Shard, architect Renzo Piano’s famous skyscraper, the luxury hotel is elevating New Year’s Eve celebrations with its sumptuous culinary offerings. At TĪNG Restaurant, chefs will conjure up lobster, Japanese A5 Wagyu, and a ‘celebration sphere’ dessert with Jivara milk chocolate. Meanwhile, at GŎNG Bar, on level 52, the night will feature a cabaret event with live performances and plenty of bubbles. Finally, in the Ren Room, there will be a lavish buffet-style meal – featuring sashimi, venison tartare and dark chocolate and raspberry lollipops. It’s the perfect spot to take in London’s skyline, dramatically lit up below you.

Prices start from £420 per person,

Once Upon A Town signature