In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Europe’s cities transform beneath canopies of fairy lights, beautifully decorated trees pop up in piazzas and yuletide joy fills the air. Meanwhile, young locals make the most of the season, meeting friends at buzzing restaurants, enjoying festive drinks at hip cocktail bars and seeking out gifts in stylish stores.
To help you get into the holiday spirit, we’ve rounded up a few of the supper spots, bars and shopping districts attracting a younger crowd in London, Rome and Munich.
Festive magic meets chic elegance in Mayfair, London
No young Londoner’s festive calendar is complete without a fabulous cocktail party, and it seems the bars of Mayfair are the place to go. The delightful decor of the terrace at Hush changes with the seasons, so when Christmas comes you can expect a wintery wonderland to enjoy a tipple or two. Meanwhile, the talented bartenders at the elegant Donovan Bar offer a cocktail menu of tantalising flavours hidden behind twinkling lights on Albemarle Street.
The Guinea has sat in the centre of Mayfair since 1952, yet it’s discovered by every new generation for its fantastic Christmas lunches. Think juicy turkey, crispy potatoes and the ever-essential cheese board to finish. Alternatively, for the ultimate indulgence, Michelin-starred Wild Honey presents an opulent six-course journey through the realm of festive French gastronomy. On the 15-minute stroll from Brown’s, look up to see the glittering Christmas lights over Bond Street.
If you’re on the hunt for a pretty party dress or seeking a thoughtful gift for a loved one, consider heading to Marylebone Village, which has become a quiet rendezvous point for young, style-conscious shoppers. Find edgy housewares at The Conran Shop, explore the vibrant gifts at Caroline Gardner, let the Parisian allure of Diptyque perfumes captivate you and discover soft leather goods at Bobbies.
For the complete Mayfair Christmas experience, Brown’s Hotel becomes bedecked in festive decor and sits at the very heart of the borough, making it the perfect place to explore from.
Eat big, shop small in Rome, Italy
Throughout December, many of Rome’s coolest restaurants serve up delectable Christmas menus, and young Romans are making full use of them. They dine by candlelight at Casa Coppelle, where Italian and French flavours collide in a truly unique gastronomic adventure; immerse themselves in the stunning interiors of Jardin de Russie’s for an exceptional festive brunch; and take advantage of the cosy interiors at the authentic Piccolo Arancio. Afterwards, you’ll usually find them enjoying a classy digestif at the Stravinskij Bar.
With a focus on shopping small, the young generations are favouring local and vintage stores for their Christmas shopping. For some of Italy’s most coveted local designers, for example, Via dell’Oca is the place to be. Here you’ll find chic jewellery ateliers, artisanal perfumeries and even a lovely hat workshop by Patrizia Fabri which sells hats for every occasion. Or venture across town to the cobbled Via dei Coronari where one-of-a-kind treasures await in the antique dealers that line the street.
Make merry in Munich, Germany
Nobody does Christmas quite like the Germans so it's no surprise that The Charles Hotel in Munich makes for a wonderful place to stay in December. The Old Botanical Garden sits on its doorstep and lights up around Christmas, while Sophia’s Restaurant and Bar serves up deliciously festive fare and some of the city’s most innovative cocktails.
When it comes to shopping in Munich, the Glockenbachviertel has long been known as the trendiest district in the city. Its unique stores are known to attract talented, young designers who take their newest designs there, meaning shoppers are always bound to find a one-of-a-kind treasure.
And, of course, it's not Christmas in Germany without a browse through a traditional Christmas market. A tradition that started in the 15th century, the festive charm of these markets continues to bring young people back year after year. Find the perfect gift amongst the dozens of artisanal vendors at the Munich Christkindlmarkt at the Marienplatz – and while you’re there, warm the soul with some Gluhwein.
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