Hamper: the very word is magical, brimming with posibilty; from Billy Bunter or the Famous Five to the royal family, hampers evoke all the best sorts of excess. And if a traditional British Christmas is about one thing then it’s excess (Justin Welby may have a thing or two to say about this, granted). So here’s a selection of our favourite Christmas Hampers, the pinacle of all things good encased in wicker.
What: A Hamper For Everyone
Why: Selfridges’ has a whole host of hampers, whatever you like they have it. Cheese and wine your thing? They’ve got the hamper for you. Want to gorge on chocolate? You’ll want the Chocolate Perfection hamper. Like port and stilton specifically? Not a problem. You get the idea, they have hampers for everyone. We have our eye on the Christmas Traditions Hamper – it’s packed with cheeses, wines, breads, olives, balsamic vinegars, chutneys, mustards, chocolates and nuts. Guaranteed to be our favourite present to unwrap and unpack this year.
Where: 400 Oxford Street, Marylebone, W1A 1AB
What: Claridge's First Hamper
Why: A first from Claridge’s, having never done a hamper before, this year they’ve come up with a creation that’s propelled them into the forefront of hamperage with a classic handmade willow basket concealing all manner of Claridge’s treats, like the hotel’s own vanilla shortbread biscuits, raspberry and rose jam (guests will remember it as it’s served on scones in the foyer), to a time-honoured Dundee cake steeped in Scotch Whisky. Everything, from their ‘ultimate’ olives, served with a chilled bottle of Sancerre, is there. In the larger hampers there’s even the distinctive Fornasetti candles that flicker nightly in the lobby, a set of Claridge’s bone china mugs and a signature Claridge’s teddy bear in full bellboy uniform. If you’ve ever stayed at Claridges then this hamper is the perfect way to relive memories, and if you’ve not then it’s an ideal intro to one London’s finest hotels.
Where: Claridge's, Brook Street, Mayfair, W1K 4HR
Villandry St James's
Piccadilly Circus (0.3 miles)
What: Includes Admission To A French Chateau
Why: To Villandry, where the St James’ and Marylebone restaurants have come together to produce a stunning selection of hampers that mean however far away from Villandry you are you can feel like you’re back at your home-from-home with a selection of classic ingredients. Set at three price points, £85, £150 and £250 the hampers contain all the mince pies, wine and treats you’d expect. The more expensive hampers pack in Champagne and splash out for The Fitzrovia and receive complimentary admission for two to the beautiful walled gardens at Château de Villandry in the Loire Valley, France.
Where: 12 Waterloo Place, London, SW1Y 4AU
Green Park (0.4 miles)
What: A Taste Of Ireland
Why: Corrigans in Mayfair is always a treat, with excellent cooking and more than a whiff of Richard Corrigan’s native Ireland; and of course the same is true of a Corrigan’s hamper, teaming with a pork pie, shortbread, a Virginia Park Lodge Christmas Pudding, a loaf of Irish soda, wine chosen by Corrigan and, for good measure, a Richard Corrigan signed Christmas recipe card.
Where: 28 Upper Grosvenor Street, Mayfair, London, W1K 7EH
Mount Street Deli
What: Gifts from Mount Street
Why: Mount Street Deli are offering various hampers and gift boxes with a selection of sweet and savoury options including traditional pannetone, mince pies from The Ivy and House of Edinburgh Shortbread treats.
Where: 100 Mount St, Mayfair, W1K 2TG
Fortnum & Mason
What: The Home Of Hampers
Why: If there was ever a ‘ground zero’, an epicentre, even a birthplace for ‘the hamper’ then Fortnum & Mason would hold the accolade. Fortnum & Mason are simply the ultimate in hampers and as such they deserve their place in the sun, but they also earn it, with their wide selection of hampers ranging from a £15 vegetarian ‘hamperling’ to a full-blown £6,000 Imperial Hamper containg, if you were wondering, everything from truffles to Christmas hams to caviar via 40 year-old Tawny Port.
Where: 181 Piccadilly
What: Knightsbridge's Finest
Why: Harrod’s started out in the hamper trade in 1894 and have been a dominant force ever since. The undisputed kings of Knightsbridge are also a dominant player on the hamper scene. Their range stretches from their ‘Champagne and Truffles’ offering to The Harrodian and The Ultimate priced at £2,500 and £5,000 accordingly. But at every level Harrod’s Hampers can’t fail to please, and the best value options are often at the lower end of the pricing scale (the £175 Daylesford Hamper comes with Gloucestershire ham, smoked salmon, spiced nuts, mustard and organic wine all presented in their traditional wicker basket and (not to be outdone) a cool bag).
Where: 87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, SW1X 7XL
What: Italian Christmas at Pastifico
Why: Pastifico is located next door to Cafe Murano in Covent Garden and is the pasta factory, deli and wine shop that keeps their integral neighbout going. They also keep the capital’s appetite for hampers going, with their range of festive hampers made up of quality Italian products from a range of regions including Piedmont, Sicily and Veneto, and featuring oils, spices, pasta and rice as well as wine from Pastificio’s extensive selection.
Where: St James's and Covent Garden