A New Year’s Eve Stay at the Athenaeum Hotel, Piccadilly

When your other half is summoned to work on New Year’s Eve, do you (a) accept long-time friend’s invitation to join a dinner party on the other side of London (b) accept lovely blogger friend’s suggestion to join more local house party (c) stay home alone in jim jams eating Nutella out of the jar (not something I would ever advocate by the way…) or (d) hop back to Mum and Dad’s for the kind of nostalgic creature comforts only found in the warmth of your favourite childhood surroundings.

New Years Day London
The New Year’s Day Parade, London

Ahead of the final moments of 2015, however, I went with (e), the less obvious choice which essentially involved me tagging along with Pumpkin whilst he headed to work.

Christmas Lights in London

Now before you label me a serious clinger, let me clarify that Pumpkin didn’t technically need to be at work; he simply had to be near it in case his services were required.  If his work ended up being quiet and I was off revelling elsewhere in town, then he would have had to see in the New Year alone (or may well have slept through it).

So, with purely selfless intentions you understand, I sacrificed all the other offers on the table to be by Pumpkin’s side. Needless to say, the prospect of checking into a luxury London hotel for the night had no bearing whatsoever on my decision 😀

London at Christmas

The Athenaeum Hotel, Piccadilly

With that agreed, off we trotted to The Athenaeum Hotel, a luxury boutique property in Piccadilly that conjured up fond memories of our early days together, when, at a mere two hours notice, I took Pumpkin there for an afternoon tea date (his first ever afternoon tea.)

luxury hotels central London

We loved the informal, cosy feel of the lounge, where we felt able to laugh and eat for hours and we were so impressed with the tea that on a significant birthday a couple of years later, we returned with the whole family entourage to relive it all over again.

Athenaeum Hotel Piccadilly London

Many London hotels have notoriously small rooms, which is why I swooned over the fact that this was one large enough to do cartwheels in (shame I could never do them!)

boutique hotels Piccadilly London

Having lived in and around London for nearly all my life, I have very rarely had any need for a hotel in my own city so you can only imagine the high-pitched, excitable squeals that emanated from my corner of the room, as my eyes flitted between the Nespresso machine, the adorable little soldiers encased in a glass cabinet, the lush toiletries and the clean and chic aesthetic of the room.

Athenaeum Hotel London hotel roomsbest luxury boutique hotels London

That’s not to say there weren’t any hiccups, most notably with the fact that one of the bathrobes in the room had a stain on it and it took me an initial phone call and a reminder phone call to get it rectified. I am fairly relaxed when it comes to hotel room expectations but stains do come as a not-so-pleasant surprise in a hotel of this calibre.

bathrobes Athenaeum London

Still, it didn’t take me long to move on from this as I started snooping through the contents of the minibar and eyeing up the room service menu for later. There was always a chance it was going to be a dine in for one kind of night so I thought I’d get my research out of the way nice and early.

minibar Athenaeum

As I flicked through the pillow menu, I peered curiously at some of the pillow options that I’d never even heard of before ultimately deciding that the daylight hours were too precious to while away on such indulgences when there were festivities still waiting to be exhausted.

Festive Fun at Winter Wonderland

With bags dumped, we made a beeline for the nearby Winter Wonderland, a hugely popular Yuletide attraction (frankly too popular at times) swarming with festive families, stomach-turning, spiral roller coasters and clusters of calorific plates.

Winter Wonderland Hyde Park

This year, we needed a jar of passion fruit curd for a recipe and when 3 or 4 big chain supermarkets failed to stock it, we found it in Winter Wonderland of all places so trust me when I say, there are a few real foodie gems lurking amongst the crowds.

Winter Wonderland rides

The key to having a more pleasant and less crowded experience there is to avoid, where possible, visiting at weekends, evenings and school holidays. An hour and a half wasn’t nearly long enough within the confines of this fairytale world but with Pumpkin called out to work for a couple of hours, it was time for me to keep myself occupied for a while. Unfortunately, the skies were adhering to every international stereotype about England being grey and rainy so there was really only one place I had my eye on to seek shelter from the showers…

Festive Food at Fortnum and Mason

Luckily for me, my new home for the night just happened to be walking distance to the world-renowned Fortnum and Mason store, which you might recall from my Posh Nosh Ice Cream post. Just a couple of weeks earlier, I had been waltzing down Fifth Avenue, filled with festive cheer, staring at the Christmasy shop windows and soaking up the Christmas vibes in New York City. At home, however, I tend to take these things for granted so before entering Fortnums, I paused for a moment to admire the effort that had gone into these colourful displays.

Fortnum and Mason shop window display
Fortnum and Mason Window Display

Anyone who has been to this store will know that it is an attraction in its own right and for foodies especially, it is easy to spend an entire afternoon foraging through the goods on offer and succumbing to the temptation to purchase time and again. And whilst some visitors were zooming in on the ornate details of its glittering real Christmas tree, I was predictably drooling over the macaron Christmas tree instead – I know which one I’d rather have any day!

Fortnum and Mason Macarons

As soon as I purchased a whole box of canelés, my waistline knew it was time to make tracks and with the rain winning in the Shikha vs Climate battle, I arrived back to my abode, changed into my (now clean) robe and tucked myself under the duvet with a canelé in one hand and a milky coffee in the other.

Fortnum and Mason staircase

During some hotel stays, it really is the little things that feel the most blissful.

20151231_140834-01.jpegEspa toiletries hotel

I brought my tablet along with the best of intentions to blog away my backlog whilst Pumpkin was busy at work. Unfortunately, I soon got distracted, photographing the room, Instagraming my snaps and before I knew it, Pumpkin called to say he’d be back “home” by 8pm. You know you are winning at New Year’s Eve when home is the Athenaeum!

In any case, I had some fluffy company in the room until his arrival 🙂

Athenaeum teddy bear

We were both delighted that Pumpkin was back at the hotel at a decent hour but with no dinner reservations under our belt, we assumed we’d be sat on a park bench drawing drumsticks out of a KFC bucket. I guess you never know till you try though, since we managed to walk into a branch of Polpo and got seated immediately – at 8.30pm on New Year’s Eve in London with no queue or wait!

New Years Eve Fireworks London
New Year’s Eve Fireworks as seen from Green Park

I will admit that I have never braved being sandwiched in the mayhem of the New Year’s Eve fireworks display in London but just between you and me, there are quite a few areas in London where you can get a more distant view of the higher up fireworks if you want to see some of the highlights minus the crowds. Granted, the views aren’t as good but given that it was only a little stroll away from the Athenaeum, we walked across Green Park towards Buckingham Palace and for the first time ever, I watched some of London’s New Year’s Fireworks in person rather on TV. Apologies for the blurry image – it was the best my clapped out old phone camera (and shivering hands) could manage with gloves on.

The New Year’s Day Parade, London

New Year's Day Parade 2016
New Year’s Day in London

After a very comfortable sleep and luckily with no overnight phone interruptions for Pumpkin, we allowed ourselves a ludicrously lazy lie-in sipping mugs of hot tea in bed and watching holiday TV.

New Years Eve Hotel Stay LondonHotels in Piccadilly Londonluxury 5 star hotels in LondonAthenaeum hotel bathrooms

Our plan was just to make our way home thereafter but as soon as we checked out, we came to face with the preparations for London’s New Year’s Day Parade, which starts on Piccadilly and happened to be setting up just outside our hotel.

Christmas holiday family activities London

After all these years in London, I must admit, I knew absolutely nothing about the parade and intrigue took over, as we witnessed floats and trucks, costume-clad characters and music belting out from loud speakers.

New Years Day in LondonNew Years Parade 2016New Years Day activities London

There is always a myth (and I myself am the first to believe it) that in a city like London, you always need to prepare ahead with bookings and reservations to be able to enjoy an evening or weekend in the city – all the more so during special occasions.

parades in LondonChristmas and New Years in London

And yet, we found ourselves, booked in for a night at the Athenaeum (which we had reserved only two days earlier), dining on crowd-pleasing Venetian fare in the heart of London with no notice whatsoever and observing one of the capital’s most magnificent parades due to nothing other than sheer coincidence.

I guess, sometimes, it pays to be impulsive!

activities for children Christmas and New Year London

Have you ever had an impulsive New Year’s Eve experience?

 

24 thoughts on “A New Year’s Eve Stay at the Athenaeum Hotel, Piccadilly

  1. What a fun read, Shikha! I was smiling the whole time I was reading it. I find it amusing that you as a Londoner had never seen the famous fireworks in person! 😀 Anyway, it does sound like you guys had a pleasant but spontaneous New Year’s Eve. 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 31, 2016 — 2:15 pm

      Oh thanks so much Pooja! So glad you liked the post 🙂 Yes, I’ve never done the proper firework display experience despite more than half my life here. I really just can’t face the prospect of being sandwiched in the crowd in the freezing cold weather for so many hours – ridiculous how lazy you can become about such things in your own time but it was nice to finally see them, even if it was at a bit of a distance!

  2. Wow Shikha, what a treat! And all the more so for being unexpected..

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 31, 2016 — 2:16 pm

      Thanks Aaron! Yes, it ended up being one of the most fun new year’s eves I’ve had, which was weird considering on the 29th, I still had no plans!! And we were really lucky that my hubby didn’t have to go in to work again after 8pm 🙂 Happy New Year!

  3. I need to put this on my New Year traditions list!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 31, 2016 — 2:18 pm

      I think it’ll be a good one as far as New Year’s traditions go! A friend of mine was telling me she read this yesterday and is now googling hotels for tonight! Blog. Work. Done 😀

  4. Such a fab hotel and so conveniently close to Fortnum’s!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 31, 2016 — 2:19 pm

      Loved the hotel Angie! It never ceases to amaze me just how long I can spend in Fortnums gazing around, apparently even when I’m on my own with nothing to buy! And I don’t think I’ve ever managed to walk out of there without buying something tasty to take home!

  5. What a treat girl! :-)))) Wish I could stay there as well.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 31, 2016 — 2:20 pm

      Definitely a lovely treat Agness! Though, London hotel prices pretty much mean it can only ever stay a treat rather than a regular occurrence! 😀

  6. Sometimes the impromptu evenings are the best. Macaron tree for me every time….!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 31, 2016 — 2:21 pm

      I couldn’t believe my luck Suzanne, when we managed to find such a luxe hotel at a decent price, available at 2 days notice and managed to walk into a well known, well loved restaurant with no booking and no queue! Maybe the whole thing about London being busy and restaurants being impossible to get into is all a conspiracy!? 🙂

  7. It’s been a while since I’ve been to that hotel but I bet it’s looking as good this year so I will have to check it out!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 31, 2016 — 2:22 pm

      I haven’t been myself since New Year’s last year so I’d be intrigued to return too now that it’s had its refurbishment Suze.

  8. Oooh it looks like you had a lovely stay at the Athenaeum hotel. I must definitely check out their afternoon tea 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 31, 2016 — 2:23 pm

      We had a lovely time! Their tea has fond memories for me because of the people and occasions I went but there are so many fabulous ones in London that it’s very hard to pick!

  9. Oh wow this looks fantastic – a lovely experience! Love the snow effect too, very cute 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 31, 2016 — 2:24 pm

      Thanks! It was definitely a bit of a treat to see in the New Year like this Becky 🙂

  10. A bit of spontaneity is always good and in this case, it sounds like it worked out just perfectly Shikha! Happy holidays 😀

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 31, 2016 — 2:28 pm

      Happy New Year Priti! And yes, I never used to be a “spontaneity” kind of gal but have definitely relaxed a lot in this respect over the years and have come not just to embrace the idea of it but to see that sometimes, you end up having the most fun this way 🙂

  11. This is such a good way to spend NYE and so surprising that it was so relaxed considering you were in Central London. Although I’m still upset that you didn’t join your lovely blogger friend’s party 😉

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) December 31, 2016 — 2:30 pm

      Hehe, I know right?! I definitely missed a trick not making it to that party that’s for sure 😉 Yep, it was super relaxing and in the few hours that Pumpkin was at work and it was pouring outside, it felt so odd to be tucked under a duvet in a luxury hotel drinking hot chocolate alone and watching telly on what’s typically one of the busiest and most sociable nights of the year!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) January 4, 2017 — 11:36 pm

      It was such a lovely way to start off the New Year Tanja 🙂

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