dead dolls

23 Best Christmas Party Venues in London

Words: Joanne Gould & Helen Glaberson

Unbelievably, the organised among you are already starting to scratch your heads over where to book for Christmas parties. We know. Well, we’ve had a little think, and this is our list of where we’d like to be for the annual office outing. If we’re going to have to have lunch with Sandra from accounts, it at least has to be a delicious one. Whether you’re a group of purists looking for a traditional turkey dinner or are quite frankly sick of the sight of a Brussels sprout and want a sub-continental take on the season, there’s something for all tastes in this town.

Paradise (by way of Kensal Green)

Opulent eccentricity and glamour is the name of the game at West London favourite The Paradise. If your group is too hefty for the shabby chic dining room, then there are a number of private rooms up for grabs that will seat 14–50 for dining, or larger groups (up to 150) for drinks and nibbles. Use of the conservatory and the PDR allows you to bring your own playlist along — though the venue is noted for frequent live music and prominent DJ sets (expect dancing), so do check what’s on around your visit.

Food wise, burrata with beetroot pumpkin salad, clementine and watercress pesto, or pan-fried sea bream with barley and brussels sprout risotto, roasted tomatoes and saffron turnips are current joys on the menu, so we’re looking forward to seeing the stops they pull out for party season. It will be British, well-sourced and seasonal, in any case.

Paradise, 19 Kilburn Lane, W10 4AE


Santo Remedio

Are you a little bit over turkey and mince pies? For a Mexican take on your Christmas do, we’d head to Santo Remedio. The spanking new SE1 base (it’s the old Magdalen site) is bigger, better and more bookable than the short-lived Shoreditch original, but with the same traditional tacos — and more.

This time there’s a proper Mexican kitchen, complete with a charcoal grill churning out octopus tostadas, barbacoa lamb cutlets and that famous guac with grasshoppers for the brave. There’s space for 90 if you book the place out, and Christmas cheer aplenty thanks to the new bonus mezcal bar downstairs, for some ill-advised 100% agave tequila shots and margaritas santas.

Santo Remedio, 152 Tooley Street, SE1 2TU


Sky Garden

If you have a particularly generous boss or budget, then this year’s private hire Christmas package at Sky Garden’s City Garden Bar is worth considering for groups of 100 or more. The ridiculously beautiful cityscape views come as standard and for £155/head you can enjoy a night-long fully-staffed private hire with sharing bar nibbles, plenty of canapés, a prosecco reception and a night of fine wines. Catering is via Rhubarb (Goodwood, Royal Albert Hall) so expect top-notch classic cooking with a twist. Remember that Sky Garden gets a little chilly up there in winter, so do wrap up.

Sky Garden, 1 Sky Garden Walk, EC3M 8AF


Test Kitchen

Adam Simmonds’ (Le Gavroche, L’Manoir au Quat’Saisons) restaurant is a funny old place. Occupying the ex-Barrafina Frith Street site, the idea is that Simmonds will operate this as a 12-month pop-up (it opened this Spring), essentially using punters as guinea pigs for flavours and dishes to help shape what his proper restaurant will ultimately take the form of in early 2018. Cooking is experimental — and actually critically divisive — but for anyone into food, the fact that the 23-cover restaurant is entirely a chef’s table and available to book out for a very reasonable minimum spend of £1500 should be interesting.

Current menu items include broad beans, morels, onion and pine broth, smoked eel with Granny Smith, veal and parsley, and pork belly with salt baked pineapple, sunflower seeds and turnip, with most (smallish plate) dishes around between £7 and £13. And of course, you can make your merry way through Soho’s drinking establishments post-lunch.

The Test Kitchen, 54 Frith Street, W1D 4SL


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Joe Allen

This Covent Garden theatregoers’ institution has recently relocated 25 metres down the road from its original site after Robert de Niro decided he wanted to open a hotel there, but rest assured the new incarnation is still as true to the New York original as it ever was. The atmosphere continues to be as buzzy and as luvvie as ever and the crowd-pleasing menu of classic Americana remains the same (including the ‘secret’ off-menu cheeseburger). The Christmas menu is available on their website and features starters such as smoked salmon & Cornish crab, followed by a classic roast turkey or Sirloin with all the trimmings and a choice of desserts. Traditional turkey fans aside, you also can’t go wrong with the likes of a lobster roll or glazed baby back ribs to mop up some of those Christmas spirits. We’re hoping the pianist playing show tunes is back this year too.

Joe Allen, 2 Burleigh Street, WC2E 7PX


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Alfred Tennyson

Cubbitt House (who have a number of rather nice pubs, like The Grazing Goat and The Orange) are refurbishing Belgravia’s popular Alfred Tennyson as we speak, giving it a complete facelift inside along with a large outdoor terrace and what they say is a brand new menu concept. The ground floor remains a smart, open-plan drinking and dining space with a distinctly British ‘local’ feel; additionally the second floor Boardroom can be booked for up to 14 people, complete with open fire, or the loft is suitable for up to 30 for drinks and nibbles.

Thanks to the refurb, they’ve got their ducks in a row already and are offering a three-courser for £46, including treats like smoked Chalk stream trout, cucumber, watercress and puffed wild rice, followed by slow cooked beef, smoked swede mash, wild mushroom and raisin mustard jus, and a Valrhona chocolate hazelnut tart with roasted pear and a praline clotted cream — among others.

The Alfred Tennyson, 10 Motcomb Street, SW1X 8LA


Dalloway Terrace

Bloomsbury’s beautiful Dalloway Terrace is pretty enough to have all the bright young things flocking there to Instagram it year-round, but come Christmas it’s set to become all the more spectacular. Their special winter installation will no doubt be a veritable feat of festive floristry and their new afternoon tea from Bake Off’s 2016 winner Candice Brown will be given a seasonal twist too. It’s currently £35pp, or £45 with Perrier-Jouet, comprising sandwiches, scones and sweets like peanut butter and jelly profiteroles, and beetroot cured salmon with cucumber and dill relish on sourdough. We’re still waiting to hear on their general Christmas menus, but they say any special events will be served customised menus, so get booking.

Dalloway Terrace, 16–22 Great Russell Street, WC1B 3NN


Dishoom

Personally, we think it’s worth having your do at Dishoom for the novelty of not having to queue for your black dhal, but it’s also one to consider when you’re faced with one turkey dinner too many — we’d always rather have Bombay café fare than yet another terrine and salmon-fest. Groups of 12 or more booking in will be served the special Christmas feasting menu, which is still TBC, but the current feast offering serves up communal plates of thaals laden with small plates, grills, Ruby Murrays, biryanis and endless freshly baked naan and roti for £21–£27.50pp depending on timings, though of course this is likely to rise for the festive period. We’ll take it.

Dishoom, Shoreditch, King’s Cross, Carnaby Street, and Covent Garden


Dead Dolls House

Over in Islington, the Dead Dolls House is a surefire Christmas party winner in our book. Set over three candlelit floors all befitting a winter wonderland, there are a plethora of privately bookable rooms ranging from 20 capacity dining in the Library, up to 120 for a drinks and canapés reception in the Parlour, or big companies can book the entire house out for 280.

They’re another one who’ve already got their thinking caps on for the Christmas menu, which involves a sharing feast of three starters (pate, heritage beetroot and goats curd, kedgeree) followed by a coal roast chicken or squash, celeriac and taleggio gratin, venison cottage pie, then a fancy choc mousse and all the extras for £50. Not bad, huh? There’s also a bar open every night with DJs playing Motown through to Beyoncé until 4am, which is where you’ll find us.

The Dead Dolls House, 181 Upper Street, N1 1RQ


Cub

Mr Lyan, aka master mixologist Ryan Chetiyawardana of Dandelyan, and his pal Doug McMaster (of Brighton’s Silo) have teamed up to bring us Cub: a drinks-led dining experience in Hoxton — where else? Sustainability is the name of the game, with furniture and décor all making use of recycled materials — think ex-yoghurt pots for tabletops etc. The main concept involves a tasting menu of three extremely complicated drinks, four plates, and extra ‘tastes’ all brought to you by Dr Arielle Johnson (of Noma fame).

This isn’t somewhere to go for a gut-busting Christmas lunch, but with dishes like stone fruit sorbet with eucalyptus and Douglas fir it will certainly make for a memorable afternoon out the office for smallish groups. No word yet on their Christmas offering, but we trust Mr Lyan implicitly to make it a good’un.

Cub, 155 Hoxton Street, N1 6PJ


Bistrotheque

We’ve been to quite a few do’s at Bistrotheque and can attest to the food, vibe and staff, which are always all on point at this Bethnal Green restaurant. Their various PDR arrangements can accommodate 40–130 people depending on your needs and the starkness of the industrial-chic venue means you can easily make it your own. Dishes are seasonal, local where possible and unfussy — think classics like steak tartare, really good roast chicken with confit garlic, and the nicest pannacotta we’ve had for a while. Their brunch involves pop tunes on the piano from their resident player, Xavior, so we hope he’ll be sticking around for the Christmas period. Make sure to have a cocktail or two as they’re a serious business here.

Bistrotheque, 23–27 Wadeson Street, E2 9DR


Bob Bob Ricard

Famously open 365 days a year, we’ve been tempted on more than one occasion to stuff the turkey and book in for caviar, champagne and Russian opulence on Christmas Day. We’ll settle for our office party there instead though, whether its tucked into the cosy booth seating in the Orient Express themed downstairs dining room, or lodged into the Royal Dining Carriage PDR — known as one of the best private rooms in town. You’ll need deep pockets but there’s fun, glamour and Instagram clichés in spades here, and we fail to see how even the most bah-humbug of colleagues couldn’t enjoy themselves with a reservation at Bob Bob Ricard and enough perfectly chilled vodka. Remember to press for champagne (and have the fabulous Kiev).

Bob Bob Ricard, 1 Upper James Street, W1F 9DF


For something a little different… here are the craziest places to plan your Christmas do

Opt out of the standard festive roast at the local pub, and ramp your office Christmas party up a gear. London is a playground, with tons of crazy themed bars and restaurants on offer for your festive frolics! From East London adult ball pits, to a Moroccan-themed Wig Wam bonfire on a rooftop in the city, to a World War II-themed cocktail bar where you need to crack some codes to get a drink, these venues will certainly ease the awkward small talk with Graham from accounts…

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Jimmy’s Lodge

Igloos & fondue

South Bank private dining igloos sent Londoners into an absolute frenzy last year when they launched at Copa Club. So of course they’re back this year — but this time at this Alpine-themed pop up, in a similar Bankside location. It’s headed up by Jimmy Garcia, who is famous for his epic summertime barbecues, and he’s gone all out on a ski chalet-style fondue restaurant, with charcuterie and tasty small plates like mulled wine-cured smoked salmon. You can dine in here, but you’re probably keen to nab a private igloo for the work crew. In addition to the cheese, you can also tuck into street food dishes from the stalls outside, with hot cocktails like buttered rum with a crispy meringue garnish. If all that doesn’t warm you up, the outdoor fire pit sure will.

Christmas package: Available 10th November–31st December. Required minimum spend for igloos £600; restaurant is £40pp.

Jimmy’s Lodge, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX


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Evans & Peel Pharmacy

Cocktail bar hidden inside a 1920’s Pharmacy

Head to this 1920s-style Pharmacy and slip the guy behind the counter a secret password — the shop windows will suddenly go opaque, and you’ll all be passed a mysterious prescription bag and ushered into a hidden back door, leading to a moody little cocktail bar where you and the gang can tuck into prohibition cocktails and grilled sandwiches served in cigar boxes. It’s so dimly lit in here you can bring on those cheeky office party shenanigans, safe in the knowledge that the pics probably won’t come out…

Christmas package: There are no set Christmas menus, but you can hire out the whole place for £3,500 from Tuesday–Thursday and £6,000 Friday- -Saturday, all of which will go towards your food and drink. No hire fees — winning!

Evans & Peel, 42 Devonshire Road, W4 2HD


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Bunga Bunga Covent Garden

Secret Italian-style party bar

Renowned Berlusconi-themed party place Bunga Bunga in Battersea has now set up shop in Central London. Confuse your colleagues as you lead them through the family-style Italian restaurant BungaTINI and out the back into… a meat locker (!). In here, you’ll hunt for the secret door that leads to the crazy party bar below. You’ll get stuck into a sharing feast of pizzas and antipasti, along with a wild and wonderful live show, which on normal evenings includes crazy burlesque shows like Burlesquoni, a crazy performance based on Silvio Berlusconi’s life. But for the festive season, Bunga Bunga are putting on a very special Christmas Variety show. We reckon Keith from IT will love it, but if you think this is all too scandalous for your work crew, you can book a more toned down pizza-making session upstairs instead.

Christmas package: Set menus from £38–58 pp

Bunga Bunga Covent Garden, 167 Drury Lane, WC2B 5PG


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The Bletchley

Crack codes for cocktails in WWII themed bar

The ultimate team-building exercise — get your work crowd to crack codes in a 1940s spy den. Recently turned from pop-up to permanent, the bar is based on the infamous Bletchley Park, where Alan Turing and a clever group of spies broke the Nazi codes and cut World War II down by at least two years. A great one if you’re a history geek crowd, as you get to don a proper military jacket (moustaches optional). Play around on old school cipher machines from the war and input personal info into the device, stuff like your favourite colour and preferential smells. Then, the mixologists out the back will make cocktails based on these preferences.

Christmas package: Sign up to a special drinks package, or, the Bletchley guys have teamed up with The World’s End Market restaurant upstairs so you can get a two- or three-course meal from £42–85pp.

The Bletchley, 459 King’s Road, SW10 0LJ


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Ballie Ballerson

A ball pit for adults

Unleash your childhood nostalgia at this glow-in-the-dark ball pit bar. Here you can frolic around in three different ball pits and pelt that annoying colleague (it’s Graham again, we know) with colourful plastic balls. When you all get tired of jumping around, head to the bar and tuck into old school candy cocktails, made with retro stuff like Dib Dabs and Wham bars.

Ballie Ballerson, 97–113 Curtain Road, EC2A 3BS


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London Cocktail Club

Rowdy party bar

There ain’t no party like a London Cocktail Club party! These guys are renowned around town for their boisterous bashes, so if you want seriously wild Christmas par-tay, this is where it’s going to happen. They’ve got some pretty outrageous cocktails — condom garnish anyone? And a fun gang behind the bar are guaranteed to get even the quietest crowd going (expect rowdy chat, fun tunes and swinging light bulbs a-go-go). City peeps can head to the recently opened venue in Monument, but you can also find LCC in Shoreditch, Covent Garden, Bethnal Green, Angel, Goodge Street and Oxford Circus.

Christmas package: These guys can create a bash specifically tailored to your group, so if you fancy sipping a sharing cocktail from Rudolf’s back or partying with a gang of elves, give LCC a call on 020 7580 1960 and see what they can whip up for you.

London Cocktail Club, 2B Eastcheap, EC3M 1AB; various other locations


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Cotton’s Rum Shack

Christmas with a tropical twist

Ditch the standard tinsel and roast dinner for Caribbean vibes at this new rum shack bar in Vauxhall, with 300 different types of rum and tiki-tastic fun times. Inside it’s all bright sunny colours and tropical decor — a little Caribbean escape from that dreary English winter. We’ve got our eyes on the river-facing outside terrace for the work crowd. Here you can get stuck into boozy punches and feast on exotic dishes like green banana & okra escovitch, fried dumplings and sour sop cheesecake, piña colada reduction, and grilled mango for dessert. Plus you can throw in cheeky extras like steel pans, carnival dancers and reggae DJs. The bar also has venues in Shoreditch, Notting Hill and Camden.

Christmas package: Menus from £25pp

Cotton’s Rum Shack, Unit 12, Flagstaff House, St. George’s Wharf, SW8 2LE; various other locations


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Queen of Hoxton Winter Pop-Up

Sky-high Moroccan-themed party place

Up at the very top of Queen of Hoxton in Shoreditch is one of our favourite rooftop bars, reinventing itself every summer and winter, with a different theme each time. For Christmas 2017, it’s being transformed into a colourful Moroccan Medina. Up here, you’ll be transported to a treasure trove of twinkling lanterns, comfy cushions, beautiful ceramic tiles and extravagant drapes. The bar is also bursting with colours and serving up drinks such as the Kabah coffee martini, served hot and made with Amaro di Angostura, coffee, Tia Maria and cinnamon.

Queen of Hoxton, 1 Curtain Road, London, EC2A 3JX


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East London Liquor Company

Christmas in a gin distillery

One for the gin lovers! Over in Bethnal Green is this 100-year old gin factory, which also has a restaurant for some serious Christmas feasting. Book an epic banquet for the gang, including Mediterranean charcuterie, cheese boards and roasted meats, and it would be rude not to team it all up with a cocktail flight of Martini or Old Fashioned cocktails right? (It’s a bargain £15 extra per person). Then afterwards, go for a tour of the in-house distillery, and choose between the Spirit of Gin Tour and the Whiskey Lovers Tour (they make whiskey and vodka here too).

Christmas package: Dinner (food only) £45pp, and distillery tours from £40pp.

East London Liquor Company, 221 Grove Road, E3 5SN


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ABQ

Christmas Breaking Bad style

Christmas doesn’t get more badass than this — making ‘science’ in the back of an RV van in Bethnal Green. This crazy cocktail bar is Breaking Bad-themed — and it looks and feels just the part. There’s bubbling DIY ‘science experiment’ cocktails and a uniform of yellow jumpsuits. Get ready to mix up some smoky, bubbling potions.

Christmas package: You can hire the whole van, or there’s a special Christmas package from £39pp for drinks, and £55pp for a food and booze menu.

ABQ, 55 Hackney Road, E2 9DY


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Piano Works

Get your dancing shoes on

One of our go-to fun-time places is this live music bar, where the talented band will respond to pretty much any request thrown at them. Write your song of choice on a napkin and slip it to the guy on the stage – now, get ready to shimmy your heart out. They’ve also got a hefty cocktail list serving all the classics, and loads of space for dining before dancing.

Christmas package: They’ve got a very reasonably priced three-course Christmas menu during the week, starting at £25pp for lunch and £35pp for dinner.

Piano Works, 113-0117 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3BX