Here’s the situation: there are 21 days (or three weeks if you prefer) ‘til Christmas day, and you’re stumped for gift ideas, but you’re still feeling a desire to get him or her something really special. Well, whether it’s an experience in Bermondsey or the Black Forest, and with gifts for anyone from wine connoisseurs to aspiring cricket legends, we just might have something you’re looking for.
1. Craft your own brand of beer
With the craft beer craze on steady feet, the art of creating a good beer from scratch is flourishing in basements and microbreweries around the UK. We wanted to make sure your gift could make someone be a part of it, so we’ve got a little something that allows one to put together their very own personal line of beer. From the initial tastings right down to the bottling of 1,600 beers, no part of the process happens without the maker’s say. Read more.
2. The ultimate winter warmer
Finding a place to sample some drams in London for an afternoon is surprisingly difficult, seeing as only a handful of locations can provide a meaningful enough experience. Cesar’s bar at The Capital Hotel is the pick of the bunch and a rare find, as is his whisky selection. The silky notes of the Balvenie 1972, for instance, are coveted by even the most experienced aficionados, as only 150 bottles of the liquid have ever been produced. Read more.
3. Invite UK’s best chocolatier over
William Curley, also known as the ‘master of chocolate’, has won not one, not two, but five Best Chocolatier awards for his contribution to British chocolate making. Invite this master of chocolate into your own home to teach you a thing or two about the art of the chocolate before getting your hands dirty with the sweet stuff.
4. Glitzy fine dining
Despite its Michelin star quality food, Hakkasan is better known for its multimillion-pound interiors, party-like atmospheres and outlandish cocktails. If Elton John ever decided to pioneer his own culinary franchise, this might be what it’d look like. Read more.
5. Culinary masterclass at Raymond Blanc’s cookery school
Raymond Blanc OBE is a man who needs little introduction, but his cookery school might. Located in a beautiful manor house in Oxfordshire, the cookery school hones the talents of both budding chefs and dinner party hosts. Notable chefs trained here include Heston Blumenthal, Marco Pierre White, and the aforementioned William Curley. Read more.
6. Kew Gardens tour
You might encounter some trouble exploring the full 300 acres of Kew’s extensive collection of living plants, botanical gardens, and woodland, but Kew has some fascinating horticulture to intrigue even the most unenthusiastic gardener. The gardens are particularly magical at this time of the year after the sun has set, but we’ll leave the finer details as a surprise. Read more.
7. Couple’s massage at Sense Spa
London might not be short on spas at which to thoroughly relax. Afterall, it is one of the busiest (and probably most stressful) cities on the planet. The thing about Sense Spa is that everything, even details such as the intensity of the lighting, receives utmost attention to maximise comfort. Given its location in Holborn, it is not a spa where one has to wade through a throng of people, which, for may other spas, impedes the calming benefits one would hope to gain. Read more.
8. Dining in a surprising culinary hotspot
The only thing more beautiful than Germany’s Black Forest is Germany’s Black Forest in winter – the snow-roofed towns and villages dotted around the land especially. Amazingly, one region, despite its population of less than 15,000 locals, is home to two restaurants with three Michelin stars, which puts it on par with London. Here’s the chance to dine in this secluded culinary paradise in the Black Forest. Read more.
9. Ganton golf break
Yorkshire’s historic golf course is ranked as one of Europe’s top 30 fairways, and possesses a reputation that extends around the world, making it one of the must-visit destinations for any experienced golfer. Remarkably, Ganton is one of three courses to have hosted all three of the prestigious Ryder, Walker and Curtis cups. Read more.
10. Professional cricket lesson at Lord’s
A popular gift this Christmas, this hour-long experience utilises Hawk-Eye technology to improve a player’s batting and bowling skills, and at nowhere other than Lord’s – the home of cricket. We have trouble thinking of a location better suited to refining a young cricketer’s ability. Read more.
11. Horse-drawn carriage tour of London
As any queen will tell you, there’s something a bit regal about seeing London’s signts from an open-top carriage. Pop open a bottle of Veuve Clicquot (arguably our favourite bubbly) and take in the likes of Westminister, the Royal Parks, and Trafalgar Square while onlookers produce thier cameras to capture you waving at your subjects. Did I say subjects? I meant fellow human beings. Read more.
12. Beer pairing at the Michelin starred Alyn Williams
Deemed a ‘temple of gastronomy’ by the Guardian, Alyn William’s culinary establishment has only been running for three years, and it already has its first Michelin star. The highlight of the restaurant is its profound ability to satisfy any and every beer lover. Vegetarians aren’t forgotten either. Read more.
13. One night stay at a tech-lover’s paradise
As deemed by CN Traveller, Ecclestone Square Hotel has the virtue of being not just London’s, but Europe’s most high-tech hotel. With touch-sensitive keypads, a digital concierge, docking stations, 3D TVs and SmartGlass showers, you name a gadget and Ecclestone Square has probably got it. Read more.
14. Master the art of photography in London
Everybody is aware of the cultural and historical honeypot that is London. Trouble is, few know how to adequately capture its timeless charm, which is why this brief getaway to England’s capital is supplemented with just what an aspiring photographer could do with – a three hour lesson conducted by an award-winning expert. Read more.
15. Take a Ferrari for a spin in Monte Carlo
The Monaco Grand Prix has been an event circled in every sporting calendar since 1929. The circuit is narrow, fast and, as a result, rather challenging, which makes it a track even the most experienced drivers fail to relish. With the chance of tackling Monte Carlo in a Ferrari 458 Spider, which rockets to 62mph in just over 3 seconds, petrolheads should be drooling.
16. Private dining with Berry Bros. & Rudd
Berry Bros. & Rudd hold a legendary status in the wine world. The company is the only one to have as many as eight Masters of Wine among its ranks, and has accumulated well over 300 years of experience since its inception in 1698. With a party of up to ten, one is able to dine with, and sample exquisite wine owned by, these venerable merchants. Read more.
17. Two nights in Glenapp castle
The opportunity to stay in a castle for two nights doesn’t often come along. With Michelin star dining, elegantly designed rooms, and plenty of the great outdoors to explore right on Glenapp’s doorstep, nothing is done by the halves at this Scottish castle. Read more.
18. Immortalise memories in print with LifeBook
LifeBook is a venture espoused from a man’s desire to capture his father’s memories before he passed away. Utilising the skill of professional interviewers and writers, it now offers a means by which people can author their life stories to ensure they remain in the family’s personal annals of history. The finished book is often a heart-warming product of catharsis just as much as it is an everlasting part of one’s own legacy. Read more.
19. Private couple’s spa suite at the Four Seasons
You may have heard of the term ‘once in a lifetime’ before, but when a hotel dedicates its Spa Suite – a glorious glass walled treatment space taking up the entirety of the 10th floor – to two people, and two people only, you know you’re in for the sort of pampering you’re not likely to experience again. Read more.
20. Create your own blend of tea with London’s Tea-Lady
Henrietta Lovell is known quite simply as ‘London’s Tea-Lady’, and the company which she is a part of prides themselves in collecting nothing but the best teas from around the world. Henrietta changes the way you think about how we conventionally drink our tea – including the various problems with the British teabag – and uses a blend of her knowledge and the chosen person’s preferences to create a whole new brand of their own signature tea. Read more.
21. Gentleman’s wet shave and haircut
Sometimes there’s very little excuse for looking a little unkempt, particularly when attending the lunch table come Christmas day. If you know of a man that needs a wet shave and trim of the hair before he pecks his grandmother’s cheek, then you’ve probably found the right gift. Read more.