The Best Big Christmas Dinner Restaurants in London
The best restaurants for a Christmas get-together with friends, family, and colleagues.
It’s nearly that time of the year. Christmas is coming. Also arriving soon: the heavy duty strategic planning with your partner to ensure the least possible amount of time spent with either family, the unique look of disappointment and disgust from your Secret Santa recipient at work, and the screams from your sibling because you had ‘one job to do’, and that was to bring the parsnips. Which you forgot. But before all that fun, you may have the task of arranging an end-of-year Christmas meal for a bunch of people that you either work with or whom you call ‘friends’. If you're looking for Private Dining Rooms specifically, check out our guides to London’s Best Private Dining Rooms and London's Best Private Dining Experiences For Under £50.
photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch
Royal China Club
Sure the King’s speech is a first and all, but eating an inhuman amount of sesame prawn toast at Royal China is the kind of celebration of monarchy that we can really get behind. This legendary Chinese restaurant on Baker Street has upmarket signature dishes, like their stir-fried prawns and scallops with XO sauce and in the past have had Christmas specials like turkey spring rolls. It’s the perfect spot for groups small, big, and craving a lazy susan.
photo credit: Rob Greig
St. John is sacred ground for performative and genuine offal enthusiasts all over, so it’s fair to say that they know a thing or two about meat. And, at Christmas, their Smithfield dining room is the perfect setting for a boozy festive dinner. More often than not, the menu around this time of year is ‘structured around one central beast or fish’. The beasts (or as we call them, meats) include game, beef, and goose or, if you’re feeling all Lord of the Flies, there’s a whole suckling pig.
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London Shell Co
London’s finest dining experience for canal enthusiasts has Christmas options on both its moving and static boats. Both The Prince Regent (moving) and The Grand Duchess (not moving, in Paddington) have Christmas set menus. Expect to see things like prawns in blankets, caviar paired with a martini, and panettone bread and butter pudding with custard. You can book The Captain's Table at The Grand Duchess for up to eight people, FYI.
Although every day feels like Christmas at Gloria—the chintzy Shoreditch trattoria that feels like the inside of a glittery pizza bauble—their menu is still decidedly Italian. The majority of the food is made for sharing, from burrata and focaccia starters, to their gran carbonara mixed in a pecorino wheel. In the past there have been Christmas specials as well, including a Christmas tree pizza that, we assume, will have edible baubles and hopefully a sparkler as well.
Without doubt one of London’s finest gastropubs, the Canton Arms in Stockwell is the kind of place we’d like to spend the entirety of December. It’s boozy, full of molten Breville-style toasties, and has a fireplace that absolutely insists on ‘one more quick drink’. For Christmas they’ve got a couple of feasting menus available, with a choice of warming classics like pie, dauphinoise, and a totally unnecessary but also necessary cheeseboard.
We’ll look for pretty much any excuse to go and celebrate at Brigadiers, so you should probably make a Christmas lunch yours. This upmarket Indian barbecue spot in The City has everything from a whisky vending machine, a pool room you can abscond to if you happen to hate your colleagues, slick booths you can hide your mango-covered face in, and a private dining area if you’re looking to go all out.
If you’re going to have to listen to your entire family moan about their two-hour trip to London to see you for a Christmas lunch, then you’re going to want, at the very least, some decent turkey. Luckily, this old-school Kensington haunt really knows its meat. It’s the kind of mildly eccentric restaurant that’ll have even your angriest uncle smiling by the time he finishes his cheese and leek tart starter. We’d recommend the roast rump of lamb with rosemary and garlic to really get you in the holiday spirit. By which we mean, to keep your mouth both busy and very happy, while your mum starts her annual game of ‘guess why our child is single’. Perfect.
The Cadogan Arms
A certified fancy pub, this refurbished Chelsea gastropub has “OTT Christmas lunch” written all over it. With a fireplace, grand curtains, and a menu of British classics like prawn cocktail, beef wellington, and a supposedly one person trifle, this is a great place to bring a group when you want to spend a whole afternoon out.
Ciao Bella is a perma-party restaurant for much of London and it’s where you go when you value good times more than anything else. This old-school Italian institution in Bloomsbury knows how to celebrate every day of the week, and it’s no different at Christmas time. The vibe is a happy mix of ‘80s wedding classics (think peeled prawn starters or beef medallions in garlic butter) and straight red sauce, Goodfellas classics.
photo credit: John Carey
Holborn Dining Room
Holborn Dining Room is one for the Christmas traditionalists, the sorts who shake their head and frown intensely when sprouts are mentioned any time prior to December. This place in Holborn is perfect for a big corporate Christmas knees-up, where long tables and gold detailing is essential. You can expect lots of gravy heads and red wine cheeks, as well as an excellent selection of handmade pies from their Pie Room.
photo credit: Giulia Verdinelli
The Camberwell Arms
The Camberwell Arms is the perfect pub for a big festive get-together. It’s comfortable, warm, and the food is downright tasty. If you’re rolling with the whole office, it’s worth noting that you can book out the whole upstairs for 45 people. The Camberwell spot even provides your Christmas crackers and personalised menus. Looking thoughtful has never been easier.
Quality Chop House
You, your grandmother, and every person that has a secret crush on Colin Firth knows that the Christmas season is all about the period drama. And really, Quality Chop House in Clerkenwell is the period drama of London restaurants. A proper old-school British restaurant, their seasonal menu not only features Christmas pudding ice cream with drunken pecan tart, but a whole turkey with sprouts and bacon. Basically, we can’t really think of a better place to go when you want to feel a bit Dickens and celebrate Christmas present with game terrine.