For tasting menus, vegans, themes and more
Tasked with organising this year’s Christmas party? Catching up with much-missed friends and bringing together all the family?
One of the most brilliant spots in London is Paddington Central thanks to its spacious and welcoming restaurants including the rooftop chalets and snow-covered firs of Pergola’s special Deck the Halls pop-up, Smith’s Bar & Grill’s festive menus and Vagabond’s tasting nights. Close to the West End and Hyde Park, it’s also the perfect spot for people meeting up from around the city and beyond.
Whether you’re after a traditional roast with all the trimmings, a private karaoke party, a floating restaurant, wine tastings, Christmas-themed winter wonderlands, family friendly sitdown meals, festive cocktails with late-night dancing and music or vegan banquets, Paddington Central has something to make 2021 really special. Find your perfect party right here.
Best for a winter wonderland experience under the stars with Santa: Pergola
For companies who want to book the entire space for an incredible event or for Christmas work nights out or family catch-ups during the day, Pergola’s Christmas miracle of a winter wonderland (named Deck the Halls) is the perfect place to go. With huge sharing tables, tucked-away chalets and a huge rooftop overlooking London, the team pride themselves on incredible nights out with music, dancing, excellent food and drinks. Serving up blankets, twinkling fairy lights, cheesy fondue, snow-dusted pine trees, mulled wine and hot apple cider, you won’t be able to fight the festive spirit. They’ll also be hosting gospel choir singalongs, winter brunches and special visits from Santa himself.
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Reviews say: “Amazing spot for drinks and good food, overlooking paddington area, with a rooftop bar amongst other cool spots. Great music and even better atmosphere.” Google Reviews
Best for themed parties and private rooms: Huckster
Boldly stating: “Christmas is our thing”, Huckster is at your command. Turning their 80s Manhattan style bar into a winter wonderland filled with fairy lights and greenery, you can explore different rooms while making the most of their impressive sound systems with dancing and DJ. Featuring Chinatown, Rubell’s, an outdoor Sun Terrace, The High Line, a Secret Room and Subway East, it’s an adventure of entertainment, good food, excellent drinks and fun. You can choose between champagne receptions, buffets, a cocktail masterclass, photo booths, magicians, barbecue, fancy dress and a cabaret. You can also hire photographers and videographers to mark the occasion, karaoke and special awards ceremonies. This is the ultimate Christmas party destination.
Reviews say: “Loved the 90s RnB brunch at Huckster, bottomless rum punch, a GREAT DJ and a two-course meal. The staff were very friendly and super attentive which helped us make the most of bottomless! Will definitely be back to try another one of the brunches.” Google Reviews
Best for sushi, cocktails and fusion feasts: Ayllu
Available to pre-order from 15th November, Ayllu is the thinking alternative to the more traditional turkey and spuds thanks to their incredible tasting menus (starting from £40pp-£75) which feature nigiri chef selection of sushi, fish croquettes and slow-cooked short beef rib. Snacks, ceviche, bao buns, 36-hours cooked pork belly and baked baby chicken marinated with pachamanca sauce, roast carrots and mixed potatoes ensures that the food is the thing with something for every taste.
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Reviews say: “Absolutely love the food, vibe and decor at Ayllu. I had dinner and drinks here on the weekend where they had a DJ which really livened the ambiance.” Square Meal
Best for authentic Chinese food in a beautiful setting: Pearl Liang
With a gorgeous cocktail bar and menus that range from the Jade menu (£35 a head featuring fried ribs and aromatic crisp ducks to the traditional 10-course Chinese wedding menu £568 per table), Pearl Liang is an inspired restaurant for Christmas and office parties. Whether you want to book in the main restaurant or organise private dining for up to 50 people, don’t forget to order the dim sum which they’re famous for.
Reviews say: “I celebrated my birthday with family and friends, service was extremely personable with great attention to detail. Food was tasty and the entire group all thoroughly enjoyed themselves! I would definitely recommend!! Cocktails were superb!” The Fork
Best for Aussie vibes floating on the Regent’s Canal: Darcie & May Green
The Pop Art barge Darcie & May Green is the way to bring Aussie vibes to the festive season. Sample menus (from £29.50pp) include free range turkey, pigs in blankets, crispy crushed potatoes, winter greens, roasted root vegetables, gravy; grilled salmon, Jerusalem artichoke crisp, lemon hollandaise, crispy crushed potatoes, winter greens and nut roast, crispy crushed potatoes, winter greens, roasted root vegetables and gravy. Desserts are all about sticky toffee pudding and butterscotch caramel sauce (heck yes). With cocktails, Prosecco and craft beers on tap, this will add instant sunshine to the staff party.
Book Darcie & May Green
Reviews say: “We held our summer party at Darcie & May Green in August and had the best time ever! We hired the full venue and the team made the most amazing sharing cocktails which were served on the deck as we arrived. Thanks for making our first party out of lockdown so memorable.” Design My Night
Best for cruises and elegant dining: London Shell Co
With two destinations (the sailing Prince Regent and the moored Grand Duchess), the London Shell Co serves up the finest British seafood paired with thoughtful wines. Offering up private cruises and a Captain’s Table for up to eight at £65pp (perfect for smaller work teams). Foodwise the menu changes with the seasons but oysters, monkfish and smoked salmon crowd plates of delight with Jersey royals and aioli and selection of desserts making it a truly special place to dine.
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Reviews says: “This is hands down one of the best things I have done in London (and now done twice). The tasting menu is out of this world, I couldn’t believe how good the wine pairings were, the experience is so unique and magical travelling along the canal, and the staff really make it. Shout out to Oliver for being such a friendly and entertaining host.” Google Reviews
Best for Lebanese feasts: Massis
Bringing a rainbow of delicious flavours, ingredients and colour to your plate, Massis’ Lebanese food is the perfect way to enjoy a meal with your team and colleagues in the middle of winter. With cocktails (from Old Fashioneds and Aperol Spritz to Champagne Pimm’s), beers, sparkling wines and more rubbing up with plates of Lamb Sambousek, Fattoush Salad, grilled meat, veg, halloumi and seafood, this is the place to just relax and enjoy good food in good company with a huge selection for vegans and vegetarians.
Reviews say: “Most amazing authentic Lebanese restaurant with the best vegan moussaka. They have gluten free , veggie, vegan and meat options so literally something for everyone. Food and service exceptional.” Open Table
Best for a huge space and brilliant food: Smith’s Bar and Grill
With Happy Hour on Mondays and Wednesdays (4pm-7pm) where you can buy one cocktail and receive another on the house, Smith’s Bar & Grill is always the perfect pitstop and it really comes into its own over party season thanks to brilliant staff and huge spaces including the Lounge and lower level Club Room with an outdoor space nestled right next to the canal. Their Christmas menu is all about crowd pleasers including Sunday roasts, fish and chips, burgers, mushroom parcels (roasted chestnuts, mushrooms and field mushrooms wrapped in filo pastry served with truffle gravy, roasted potatoes, tender stem broccoli and maple syrup carrots with a homemade Yorkshire pudding). As a token of appreciation for NHS heroes, they’re offering 50% off food for up to tables of six (just mention when booking).
Book Smith’s Bar and Grill
Reviews say: “Smith’s Bar & Grill is a hidden gem burrowed in the heart of Paddington Basin & Little Venice. Experience modern British & European cuisine complemented by classically styled cocktails in this spacious, naturally lit venue, boasting a gorgeous year-round terrace that overlooks the picturesque Grand Union Canal.” The Handbook
Best for the choice of cocktail classes, sitdown feasts or stand-up party food: The Union
The Union is always a brilliant spot for group nights out with something for everyone and plenty of space to relax, talk and dance. They’ve got a huge choice of festive menus, party food and drinks packages with an emphasis on creating your own bespoke night. Choices include cocktail-making classes, a proper three-course Christmas lunch including canapes and puddings for £32pp and party food from £15pp with burger sliders and Nutella doughnuts. Mariah will be mandatory.
Reviews say: “We had a company event here and it went swimmingly. Reena, Events Manager, and Helen, the Bar Manager, were fantastic and accommodating, as were all the staff. The food was delicious and we were never without a drink thanks to the very friendly bar staff.” Google Reviews
Best for wine tasting together: Vagabond
With “hundreds of wines to explore by the glass, our 'pour your own' beer and cocktail walls and automated bubbles machines”, Vagabond host Christmas parties like no other. With platters of cheese, cured meats and veggie selections (Mac n Chini, Vegan Sausage Roll with Orange and Cranberry Dip, Skin on Fries, Mini Vegan Sausages Arancini, Flatbread Pizza) alongside delicious bottles of wine, jugs of beer and the all-important try-by-the-glass (which is covered by pre-paid cards), Vagabond is set to be one of the essential venues for Christmas 2021.
Reviews say: “Such an amazing wine bar with staff who are knowledgeable, enthusiastic and all-round great hosts. They take the time to take you through the choices and really try to match you with a wine you'll love.” Google Reviews
Best for a relaxed team lunch or dinner: wagamama
With warming noodles and delicious rainbow curries, the long sharing tables of wagamama Paddington are the perfect spot to have an excellent lunch or dinner before heading onto a bar over the party season. Serving up special non-gluten and vegan menus, they’re also really mindful of allergies making it the perfect solution for big parties.
Reviews say: “Amazing service, the host Amber made us feel very welcomed and safe to be in the restaurant. Had patience when I didn’t have a booking and organised our stay in a quick and swift manner. Just would like to say that she was brilliant and thanks for helping me and friends out on a busy Saturday evening.”
Best for friends and family parties: Zizzi
Available from 30th November-31st December, the Zizzi menu is vegan, non-gluten and veggie friendly with the brilliant Merry Moments Menu (three courses of pizza, sides and puddings for £22.95) also helping to support the Mental Health Foundation this Christmas. Always friendly (for all ages), Zizzi is the inspired place for a relaxed and fun Christmas dinner.
Reviews say: “Been a regular customer here. Great food, big portions and very nice cocktails. Staff is always super friendly and their manager is very attentive to what you may need.”