My first festive weekend in London with ibis Hotels

In 2017, for the first time ever, I visited London at Christmastime.

That’s right – despite visiting London approximately 39482972 times in my life, I’d never actually been there during the festive season. That is, not until I spent an amazing weekend indulging in plenty of gastronomic goodness, free flowing bubbly and tonnes of festive frivolities, all courtesy of ibis hotels.

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1. The Hotel

Our weekend was spent in the ibis London City – Shoreditch, and it’s safe to say it certainly didn’t disappoint.

Positioned perfectly for exploring some of London’s most captivating attractions, the ibis London City – Shoreditch was just a short stumble away from the Aldgate East station, making it very easy to head into whichever parts of London we liked.

After being pleasantly greeted by one of the members of staff waiting in the reception, we were soon checked in (all done on an iPad, may I add… no queuing at a desk required!), dumped our bags, and got ready to explore the hotel.

The reception boasted modern and stylish decor with a quirky spin, all inspired by the surrounding areas. The rooms are currently undergoing renovation floor by floor to match the contemporary reception area, and each room is the proud owner of an ibis Sweet Bed™… And yes. I slept very sweetly.

I was even lucky enough to be shown the panoramic views from the rooftop, where the staff grow vegetables, fruit and herbs for the restaurant. A special touch which I adored!


2. Fogg’s Bistro

I have failed to mention thus far that the night before my journey to London was also the night of my work Christmas night out, so naturally, I was pretty hanging. And obviously this meant some lunch was extremely welcome.

Thank God for Fogg’s Bistro, the hotel’s restaurant.

Sat against full length windows perfect for watching the world go by, Fogg’s Bistro was a bright, colourful and stylish area just past the reception. We settled down and sipped on a couple of cocktails as we pondered over the yummy menu.

I opted for a four cheese pizza and chips whilst my friend Sarah decided on a good ol’ fish and chips. We threw in a side of crispy chicken wings for good measure, too. Y’know, just in case…

The food arrived promptly and was utterly delicious. Unfortunately, I couldn’t squeeze it all in, and the thought of the leftover chicken wings and that last slice of pizza fills me with sadness because it was so scrumptious… I’d kill for them right now. 🍕

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the cocktails were nice and strong. 😏


3. Christmas Markets

After filling our tummies and sipping the last of our cocktails, we wrapped up and headed out into the cold to make our way to the beautiful Southbank Wintertime Markets.

There’s always something so magical about the combination of all of your senses at a Christmas market – the cosy fairy lights overhead, the enticing smells wafting up your nose, the cheery hustle and bustle of the crowds, and the merry atmosphere in the air.

And the Southbank Winter Markets were no exception.

With endless festive stalls and stunning views of the river, it was the perfect place to amble along as darkness started to fall upon London.

A Rekorderlig Cider Lodge soon caught our eye (obviously!), and with classic or mulled choices of all the flavours imaginable, my friend and I were spoilt for choice. And, of course, we were happy to get stuck into sampling them over pretty fire pits as we watched the world go by around us for a little while.

Before we knew it, it was time to take scenic walk back to the station ready for a big night!


4. Christmess at the Imaginarium

The night saw us dolling ourselves up (whilst sipping on champagne to get us in the mood, of course!) and jumping in a taxi to make our way to an event we were pretty much clueless about, other than the few (very promising!) things we’d read on the internet.

We stepped into the Imaginarium and were greeted with quaint, vintage decor and quirky, colourful stalls, all looked after by equally quaint and colourful staff. A handsome elf soon headed our in our direction and whisked us away upstairs for the main event – a Christmas feast like no other. He promised us he’d get us dancing on tables by the end of the night. We weren’t 100% convinced, but how wrong we were…

I could spout a million words and showcase a million pictures, and I still wouldn’t be able to do this magnificent, immersive event an ounce of justice.

We were seated at long communal tables, and after meeting the eccentric cast and having St. Nick make his entrance across our tables, we were soon throwing back fireball whiskey shots in unison to kick off the first part of the night, before being presented with a delectable twelve dish meal, with cajun roasted turkey as the main star.

After filling our tummies with a little bit of everything on offer, our plates were swiftly cleared and then the party well and truly started. Inhibitions were out of the window, and both guests and hosts were soon twerking, slut dropping and catwalking along the tables, all with a backing of live jazz music.

With every single person full of energy and excitement, the night took one final turn as we were led into a small dark room (under a limbo stick and with a smack on the bum!) to finish the night with nothing but dancing, music and drinks galore.

It was an incredible night that I would love to experience all over again.


5. Hangover Cure, AKA Breakfast

Needless to say, after all of the sparkling glasses of prosecco, the elaborate floral cocktails and those fiery whiskey shots, we were in desperate need of a quick hangover cure.

And what cures a hangover better than a good old brekkie in the morning? Luckily, ibis had us covered!

It was a self service system and they had everything from the classic bowls of cereal, to an Instagrammer’s favourite of avocado on toast, to the good ol’ hearty full English… complete with chorizo! Naturally, the full English called my name that morning, and I washed it down nicely with a strong coffee and some fresh orange juice.

And there’s a 99.9% chance I went back to the counter for round two…

After sitting and letting our tasty breakfast settle, it was time for us to head back up to our room, freshen up, shove the last of our belongings in our suitcases and check out. Which we really didn’t want to do, by the way!

Checking out was super quick and easy peasy, and the staff were more than happy to stow our luggage somewhere safe whilst we used the last of our time for one final London adventure.


6. The View from the Shard

Whilst we didn’t have a lot of time to spare before having to head off to catch our train home, we were determined to head up The Shard – something neither my friend nor I had ever done – before heading back up North.

A four minute tube ride from Aldgate East followed by a brisk five minute walk got us straight there, and having pre-booked our tickets online, we were shown straight through to the lifts by the extremely friendly staff. Seriously, everyone was beyond lovely in there!

A couple of lift rides and corridors later, and we found ourselves overlooking London like we’d never seen it before. Stepping out on to the viewing platform was quite the thrill – panoramic views of London made even more magical by the Christmas decor throughout the area.

Walking around the perimeter of the viewing platform allowed for even more magnificent views, and we were able to spot a number of the famous landmarks, along with an almost bird’s eye view of an adorable ice rink, with tiny ice skaters floating over the smooth white ice.

Unfortunately, we didn’t make our ascent on the clearest of days, but the view impressed nonetheless… it just means I’ll have to make my return on a bright summer’s day, right? 😉

After that, it was time to make our way back to the station and head home, complete with new memories and big smiles in tow. It was a magical weekend full of festive frivolities and I cannot wait to keep an eye out for Christmess at the Imaginarium again next year!

Have you spent a Christmas weekend in London before? What do you think of Christmess at the Imaginarium?
*My travel costs and stay in London, along with Christmess at the Imaginarium and some food and drink, were provided courtesy of ibis hotels, but all views are my own.

  • I always have a good stay at the Ibis! They are really good value and always look so nice too, sounds like you had a great time in London over the break! x

  • Asha Carlos

    Looks like you had the most amazing weekend ever! Your photos are so lovely and I am wishing I was there.

  • Rebecca

    I love London, I haven’t been for so long, your post is making me want to plan a trip there! That food at the restaurant looked like perfect hangover food too!!

  • I have visited London 2 years ago for the Christmas Markets but I found it too crowded. It looks like your visit was different than mine. The Imaginarium looks absolutely fabulous!

  • Wow, this hotel looks amazing! I am actually staying in an Ibis tomorrow, a styles one so hopefully it’s as good as this one. I love the decor in the hotel in your pictures and bring on the big breakfast (not a real breakfast unless you go up multiple times!) x

  • So glad that you finally got to experience Christmas in London, I have been meaning to hit up the capital to visit Winter Wonderland for several years now, but I’ve never quite made it! However, after seeing this gorgeous hotel and all of the lovely food that you were tucking into over the course of your stay, I really must make an effort to make it to London in 2018! Thank you for sharing your trip!

    Abbey x

  • This looks like an amazing visit in every aspect. I especially love how modern the Ibis looks and I’m salivating over those food pics. I must make it back to London soon.

  • Linda Hobbis

    Wow – you had an amazing time. Your room in the Ibis looked really comfortable and that bed looked huge! Seeing the view from the Shard is on my list of things to do the next time I am in London – hopefully before next Christmas.

  • Wow that sounds like the perfect festive weekend! As I’m only 20 minutes from London by train I never think to stay in the city centre x

  • Bex Smith

    It sounds like the most magical experience! I’ve been to London at Christmas time but never stayed overnight as I live so close – I think I might have to next Christmas though so I can enjoy some evening festivities without worrying about how to get home, haha!

  • Jenna E Morley

    Ah it looks like you had an amazing festive weekend. I love London at Christmas 🙂

  • Melanie

    Looks like you had a lovely time in London. So much festive fun. I like the look of those cocktails and the food looks scrummy x

  • Kate Williams

    What a great location! You were very brave to go up The Shard the morning after the night before though, I think I would feel a bit queasy at the height on a normal day!

  • Dino’s Beauty Diary

    Wow your photography is absolutely stunning! I’ve been to London numerous times, but never around Christmas. I’ll have to give it a go, and at least now I have a good idea of where to stay! 🙂 xo

  • Looks like you had a really good time over Christmas! I went to winter wonderland too! Your photography is gorgeous!

  • I love the look of the Ibis, definitely the kind of hotel we’d love to stay in.

  • Joanna

    I really love your photos it looks like u had such a magical time and got to see and do quite a bit. I’ve never visited London before at Christmas time however I do want to one day visit winter wonderland.

  • Angela Milnes

    The christmas markets sound great. I went to the South Bank in august and imagine it would have been fantastic over the Christmas period.

  • Super Busy Mum

    The hotel looks great! We have an Ibis hotel here in Belfast and I have to be honest, we’ve never stayed in it! But this one looks gorgeous.

  • London looks amazing at Christmas time, I’d love to go mainly for the Christmas markets x

  • I have not yet been to London but is definitely on my list. Your post may have moved it up a few spots.

  • Wow What a break you had! I have stayed in the IBIS in the Docklands which looks identical to this one, and is such great value. I love London and find Christmas is an excellent time to stay as there is just so much going on! I can’t wait until my next visit x

  • Baby Isabella

    Really smart decor for an Ibis! Love the striking colours and plush furnishings x look like a fab trip x

  • London at Christmas is the best – I’m so happy you got to experience it 😀 That ibis hotel looks like it’s in a really great location, I love Shoreditch myself 🙂

  • Crystal Gareau

    Looks like such a great time. The hotel looks great. Fab photos.

  • What a great festive weekend. I travel from Vienna to London very often and we always have loads of fun. Back in London over Easter.

  • FussFreeJen

    What a wonderful experience and exactly the right time of year to go, all those exciting themes and things to do. The food looks and sounds amazing. So glad you made it up The Shard, I think it is a must do these days if you visit The Big Smoke.

  • Kara

    I have not stayed in an IBIS before but it looks gorgeous and i will definitely look into them for next time we vsiit Lonson

  • I’ve never done a Christmas weekend in London either. We hope to do a visit to Pudding Lane (the 6yo is learning about it) in February and hope to incorporate a trip to the View from the Shard too.

  • Amy Deverson

    Wow what a fantastic experience. It looks like you had so much fun! I haven’t stayed at an Ibis before but the hotel looks fab. I need to visit London soon! x

  • Laura Dove

    Oh how gorgeous! I love London but Ive never been there at Christmas, I really want to! It looks so pretty at this time of year and I really want to go to winter wonderland!

  • London is magical in the festive season and that hotel looks beautiful! x

  • Healthy & Psyched

    Sounds like you had a good time and managed to pack in seeing lots of different things. I think the hotel looks lovely. Shoreditch is a good area to stay.

  • Lauretta

    Wow! That hangover cure breakfast is just wow with that avocado on toast. What a great holiday you got!

  • A festive weekend in the best city in the world sounds like so much fun!

  • lisa prince

    oh wow the hotel looks great , comfortable and the food tasty

  • Hannah Latoya Bond

    The hotel looks great. London at Christmas is always really fun

  • I stayed in an Ibis Budget hotel in Zandaam when I went to Amsterdam for New Years a few years ago, and it wasn’t nearly as funky as this! I love all the decor! Sounds like you had a cracking weekend down here x

  • Oh wow the hotels looks amazing and cosy too! Ive always wanted to visit london during the festive period

  • Alison Rost

    My goodness, hun. I’m so glad for you to have had a getaway to London over the holiday. Everything about it is as Christmas should be. Good vibes, great food, twinkly lights, friendship, a warm bed to sleep in, and a Santa sighting or two. x

  • It looks like you had the perfect weekend in London getting in the festive spirit! The hotel looks lovely and in a great location for doing some sightseeing.

  • Sarah Ann

    I love the look of this hotel. I’m planning a trip to London with my sister soon and this hotel looks ideal, I think she’d really like it.

  • Laura Dove

    Wow what an amazing hotel! I love the dash of red there, it looks super modern! I love London, it looks like an amazing break!

  • Wow, your photos really capture the essence of every spot you visited. I would love to visit the Southbank Market someday.

  • What a brilliant weekend and what a cool hotel. I love visiting London during the festive season and this hotel is properly on my radar for the next one. Lovely.

  • Jemma @ Celery and Cupcakes

    What a wonderful hotel and festive trip! Looks like you have made lots of fantastic new memories!

  • oh my this place looks and sounds amazing I would love to visit for sure I would love to go at such a great time