1 | The Jaunty Newcomer: Coin Laundry (above)
Open as of yesterday, Coin Laundry is a retro dream. We mean it: you will walk into a genuinely surreal land where Snowball cocktails, prawn cocktail, chicken kievs and summer pudding are the height of sophistication. Otherwise known as the Seventies. But it’s actually a really delicious and satisfying world to inhabit, with bacon popcorn, rabbit balti pie and oodles of cauliflower cheese also there to tempt you.
There’s a vintage pinball machine and plenty of board games to keep you entertained in this two-floored establishment, so whilst it might not do much good for the waistline, it is most certainly good for the soul.
70 Exmouth Market, London, EC1R 4QP; coinlaundry.co.uk
2 | The Festive Film Fest: Merry Movies at The Hoxton
As the festive spirit kicks in, lolling back with a good film is about as energetic as you might want to get. And that’s fine. Because the Hoxton hotels (both in Holborn and Shoreditch) are hosting Christmassy screenings for the rest of the month and we’re rather taken with the Home Alone option this Saturday afternoon. If you can't quite stomach Love Actually, then how about The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Grinch, Elf, or the classic White Christmas? You have options.
On arrival, you’ll be handed either a mulled cider or Spice Kringle (Prosecco, spiced pear, and vanilla) to settle down with, plus brandy butter or mince pie flavoured popcorn. These hotels are super cool yet fuss free, and you’ll be perfectly placed for a bite to eat afterwards if you want to make more of an outing of it.
199 – 206 High Holborn, London, WC1V 7BD
81 Great Eastern Street, London, EC2A 3HU
3 | The Restaurant You Ought To Know About: Baltic
Baltic is unassumingly burrowed away from the bustle of Southwark proper, and the restaurant serves precisely the sort of food its name would suggest along with plenty of vodka. Those that already know it are diehard loyalists and the rest of us, well… You walk into a thin and buzzy bar area, leading through to a surprisingly huge, high-ceilinged refectory that, despite the stark white walls, is lit with a warmly welcoming glow and hums with excitable diners.
The menu is a feast of punchy tastes, with incredibly hearty blinis a must to start (alongside a smooth shot of the aforementioned spirit, of course). To follow, choose from schnitzel, choucroute, dumplings, lamb with aubergine and yoghurt, beef brisket with fresh horseradish, and so on. Every element on the plate beams with flavour but, whilst it will all definitely perk up your taste buds, you are not assaulted with vinegariness or tang – thank goodness. The service is as warm as the atmosphere and you will leave in a happy haze.
74 Blackfriars Road, London, SE1 8HA; balticrestaurant.co.uk
4 | The Flamboyant Winter Pop-Up: Victorian Circus at The Gun
The Gun is already a pub for your list – located on the water at the Docklands opposite the O2, it does excellent food with prime riverside views. This winter, it has teamed up with Hendrick’s gin (yes, the cucumber one – extra points for you) to create a Victorian circus-themed pop up which might tickle your fancy.
Inside the extravagant big top are plenty of gin-based cocktails and warming toddies, including Mr Micawber’s Hot Gin Punch. You’ll also find popcorn and candy floss machines, taxidermy animals and vintage carnival games. Food includes mini burgers and scotch eggs.
27 Coldharbour, London, E14 9NS; thegundocklands.com