Friendsmas (basically Christmas but without embarrassing parents and rubbish presents) has become so popular in the last few years it’s thought that over half of millennials get together in December for a festive feast with pals. Traditionally held in a pokey flat off Clapham High Street (we can only assume), why not treat yourself this year and head out for one of the festive menus available throughout the Christmas period. From restaurants with sprawling banquet tables perfect for big groups to cosy private dining spaces and menus that will appeal to the sprout-opposed, here are our favourite Friendsmas-friendly venues.
The Edition’s Berners Tavern restaurant is just off Oxford Street making it the perfect location for some post or pre-Christmas shopping. The dining room is a feast for the eyes with statement chandeliers and art covering every inch of the walls. Round off your Friendsmas with a Christmas cocktail or two with a pitstop at the infamous Punch Room.
If you and your friends are keen for a good Instagram opp, make your way to Restaurant Ours. The Knightsbridge restaurant has one of the most iconic entrances in the capital – a dramatic white bright corridor perfect for your festive selfie, neon lighting galore and a wall of power pink flowers. With a menu intended to be shared it’s ideal for a group booking – that’s if you don’t mind sharing, of course.
Piccadilly institution, Brasserie Zedel, is the perfect place for a fun night that offers a little more than food. Book in for an early dinner in the restaurant – French fair at seriously reasonable prices – before seeing a show, stand-up or cabaret at the famous Crazy Coqs theatre in the same building.
Where: 20 Sherwood Street, London W1F 7ED, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus (0.1 miles)
The Hackney restaurant is a favourite of the East London fashion set so be quick to book in for a Friendsmas with your closest hipsters. The menu is seasonal and always delicious. If you’re planning a Sunday get-together, the weekend piano brunches are iconic. Resident pianist Xavior accompanies your dishes with some pop hits on the ivories – we’re hoping for some festive tunes too.
Who said you can’t have pizza for Christmas? Keep things casual and book into Shoreditch’s Pizza East. The sprawling banquet tables are ideal for getting the gang together and the delicious pizzas are calling out to be shared. They also offer Pizza Parties in the semi-private space for groups up to 18.
If you’ve ever queued for a table at Dishoom we feel your pain. The Bombay-inspired food is well worth it but take advantage of your friendship group and make the most of the restaurant’s group booking policy – they take reservations of six or more. This Christmas they are offering two festive feasts – non-veg and veg – with delights that include turkey raan with all the trimmings or chole puri – that’s puffed puris with a spiced chickpea curry.
Forget faux igloos and alpine bars (ok, we do love both), nowhere feels more festive for us than Covent Garden. Post mulled wine and carol singers, head to Balthazar for your friends’ Christmas treat. The long tables are great for group bookings and the vibe always feels just the right side of rowdy.
Where: 4-6 Russell Street, Covent Garden, London WC2B 5HZ
Nearest station: Covent Garden (0.2 miles)
We love this Spitalfield’s all-day dining restaurant for its enviable interiors, seemingly endless array of plants and tasty brasserie-style food. This December they’re also putting on dedicated festive menus which include the likes of truffle chickpea cake, celeriac & sprout tops and almond salsa, as well as the ‘roast turkey breast & the usual biz’. For a small group, book one of their banquette seat tables, or if your guest list goes up to 20, why not dine in the secret underground vault? Either way, you’ll be looked after and full at this year’s Friendsmas, before heading into Shoredith to party the night away.
Why not upgrade your Friendsmas with a day out at the O2? Whether you go shopping, watch a Christmas film or start your Christmas shopping early, following it up with a decadent lunch or dinner for the gang at the InterContinental. The five-star hotel has plenty on offer to wet your festive appetite, from special menus at the Peninsula (choose from three or seven courses) or book into the hotel’s Market Brasserie for a three-course menu including scallop ceviche, roast turkey roulade and Bailey’s cheesecake to finish.
If you’re the lucky ones not peeling Brussel sprouts on Christmas Eve, make the most of time before the family arrive and book into Ormer with your pals. The Mayfair restaurant, which sits inside the iconic Flemings hotel, is the place to book if you’re after a sophisticated Friendsmas this year – think fine dining over a get-together at the local pub. Their delicious Christmas Eve dinner includes the likes of a Jersey lobster ravioli (one of their bestsellers), a traditional Norfolk turkey and a show-stopper dessert; milk chocolate rose. Just be ready for round two come the following day.
Where: Flemings Mayfair Hotel, Half Moon Street, London, W1J 7BH, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Green Park (0.2 miles)
If you like to keep things lowkey and cool for your Friendsmas hook-up, head to Hotel Café Royal. Ziggy’s bar is inspired by David Bowie and the rockstars of the ‘60s and ‘70s – rumour has it him and the likes of Jagger and McCartney used to hang out there. The cosy bar offers Instagrammable surroundings that will offer the perfect backdrop for your best Ziggy Stardust impression, killer cocktails and a tasty bar menu including wagu beef in steamed buns, sushi and buttermilk fried poussin.
Drink and dine beneath 116 Pall Mall’s 20ft Christmas tree this Decemebr. Book in midweek for a post-work gathering, whether you’re looking for a casual catchup in the Wine Bar or a decadent dinner in the private dining space.
Where: 116 Pall Mall, Westminster, London, SW1Y 5ED, United Kingdom
Nearest station: London Charing Cross (0.3 miles)
If turkey and all the trimmings isn’t your thing, head to Heddon Street’s Sakagura. Inspired by the izakaya drinking houses of Japan, the casual, fun restaurant is perfect for a friends’ catchup, festive or otherwise. Swap your eggnog for sake (that’s a no brainer) and your pigs in blankets for sushi and yakitori this year.
All we want for Christmas is… to not have to cook. If you’re in the same camp head to The Chesterfield Mayfair where they have a list longer than Father Christmas’ of festive fun. Book in for afternoon tea or a gin tasting experience for a Friendsmas with a twist, or keep it classic with their Festive Package, where you’ll get private use of one of their function rooms – cue raucous renditions of Christmas classics, a sparkling wine reception, three courses, half a bottle of wine per person, tea and coffee, oh, and most importantly… crackers.
Make a day of your Friendsmas and head to the South Bank’s art-filled restaurant, Art Yard inside the Bankside Hotel. The restaurant’s festive menu is priced at a very reasonable £35 per person and includes delights such as burrata with truffle and honey (our favourite), bronze turkey ballotine and coffee crème brûlée. Yum. Post-dinner walk off the calories with a trip to the nearby Tate Modern or one of the Christmas markets along the Southbank.
Where: Bankside Hotel, Autograph Collection, Blackfriars Road, Upper Ground, London, UK
Nearest station: London Blackfriars (0.3 miles)
If your Friendsmas group is getting a bit out of control, consider booking into a private room at fine dining Mayfair restaurant, Indian Accent. The food is excellent, as is the service, with dishes on the festive menu that include partridge musallam, almond korma and tawa scallops, roast pumpkin & curry leaf moilee. If you want to keep things sophisticated consider their canapés menu or go all out and celebrate the day before the big day with their special Christmas Eve menu. The four-course menu, priced at £85 per person, features unique choices such as tandoori bacon prawns with wasabi cream; tawa scallops with roast pumpkin and curry leaf moilee; and roast duck basmati pulao. Where do we book?
The Italians seem to do it best whatever the occasion, so ditch the traditional roast in favour of Mercante’s Mediterranean menu. Stuffed ravioli with Parmesan cream, duck ragout and Amarone wine reduction and Mandarin ricotta torte, sultana rum gel and mandarin sorbet are just two of the dishes on offer. Finish off by heading to the hotel’s bar, Smith & Whistles for after dinner tipples.
Where: Sheraton Grand London Park Lane, Piccadilly, London, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Green Park (0.4 miles)
One of the best steaks you’ll taste in the capital, head to Gillray’s for a meat feast Friendsmas. They have a wealth of cuts on offer from the flat iron to the mega Tomahawk. Veggies, don’t worry there’s a dedicated menu of veg-filled delights too.
Where: Gillray's Steakhouse & Bar, Westminster Bridge Road, London, United Kingdom
Nearest station: London Waterloo (0.3 miles)
If you’ve not got all your Fridays on the lead up until Christmas already booked, be quick and book in a private bash for you and your pals at Searcy’s Iris Bar. On Friday 6th December, Friday 13th December and Friday 30th December (if you’re playing it fashionably late) guests can hire out a section of the exclusive London landmark. With views over the city and cocktails on tap, it’ll be one of the most memorable Friendsmases yet.
Where: 30 St Mary Axe (The Gherkin), Saint Mary Axe, London, United Kingdom
Nearest station: London Fenchurch Street (0.2 miles)
Keep it cosy by hiring out one of Jak’s private rooms for a Christmas menu and canapés. The South Molton Street institution is a Central London favourite which serves up fresh, organic and home-cooked Mediterranean fair. Plus, the cocktails are pretty easy to sink.
Take respite from the Christmas shopping crowds and book into the South Kensington Club. The stunning townhouse’s restaurant is perfect if you want to swap hearty British grub for tasty Mediterranean fair. Make your friendsmas extra magical by eating under the stars on the rooftop terrace – don’t worry it’s heated. The delicious menu includes dishes such as beef carapacio with black truffle, ‘Candele alla Genovese’ – beef and onion pasta served with parmesan fondue and a traditional panettone served with pasticcera cream and chocolate. Yum.
There’s a reason why Brigadiers is one of London’s best-loved Indian restaurants. From the slick interiors to the incredible food and creative cocktails, it’s the ideal place for a festive get-together. Book in for their Christmas menu and tuck into dishes such as Afghani venison skewers, masala bubble and squeak and turkey tikka masala pot pie. Christmas classics never looked (or tasted) so good.