On the corner of an upmarket London street between Chelsea and Victoria is a house with a magical room. Inside sits a jolly old man surrounded by presents and a large fir tree. Father Christmas is his name and he’s waiting to meet you.
We visited Santa’s London residence in Belgravia this December. As we entered his new home, we were greeted by a row of small trees covered in snow, a post box which read ‘North Pole Mail’ and an elaborate gingerbread house, carefully moved out of little fingers’ reach.
In our journey to see Santa we stepped through a curtain and into a sensory experience, pressing buttons to project snowflakes on the walls and the northern lights shone in the darkened corridor.
Standing behind the curtain at the other end was an elf called Tinsel. She welcomed us into a large living room with a fireplace and huge Christmas tree.
Dressed in a impressive red suit complete with a red velvet cape, Santa was sat in leather chair. His long crinkly beard brushed against his round belly and a pair of kind eyes glimpsed out behind round wire glasses. He greeted us and spoke to Mrs T making her feel at ease (although I think she was a little star stuck).
We sat down on the floor to hear him read a story. The classic festive tale, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas was expertly read by Santa.
Mrs T sat mesmorised and unusually quiet as he engaged her with the story. Asking her to point out characters and count reindeers and snowmen, she obliged and listened intently. Even Cheeky sat still for a few minutes to listen (which at 18 months is fairly rare)!
After the story Father Christmas asked Mrs T what she would like for Christmas.
“A skateboard,” she replied.
I think Santa was as surprised as me. Indeed, a skateboard had not been on her original wish list. Perhaps that’s why Santa asked her to promise him she wore a helmet and protective gear – if she receives it for Christmas.
For now, it was a luxury gingerbread man for her and Cheeky – courtesy of the bakery Peggy Porschen next door. We also got a photograph of us all together. It was emailed to me from Father Christmas himself!
Santa reminded Mrs T to leave a carrot out for Rudolph and a mince pie for himself. After enquiring whether we had a chimney, he was relieved to hear we do but don’t use the fireplace.
I got one more picture of the girls and Father Christmas. Cheeky didn’t mind sitting on Santa’s knee. She is only 18-month-old but she already knows he’s a special person – who you don’t want to get on the wrong side of.
We returned to the cold, Christmassy streets of Belgravia feeling all the better for having some magic injected into our afternoon. Our visit didn’t feel rushed and we got a good chunk of time with Santa where we had the opportunity to ask him questions and interact – a feature you don’t always get. When I asked Mrs T what she liked best, she didn’t say the gingerbread man. No. It was the story!
The Belgavia experience was certainly the poshest santa’s ‘grotto’ I’ve ever been to before. At just £5 it isn’t going to break the bank either. It is sponsored by Grosvenor Britain & Ireland which is donating all proceeds from tickets to national charity Beanstalk. It provides one-to-one literary support to children who struggle with reading and confidence. Another good reason to visit.
How to see Father Christmas in Belgravia
Father Christmas will be at his Belgravia residence from 9 – 20 December. Tickets can be booked online. It’s £5 per child (plus booking fee) with free admission for accompanying adults.
Opening times: Mon-Fri: 3.30pm – 6.30pm, Sat-Sun: 10am-4pm
Address: 141 Ebury Street, Belgravia, SW1W 9QW
Each session last 30 minutes. Book in advance.
Nearest tube stations: Victoria and Sloane Square
Have you been to see Santa this year with your children? How do you think this compares?
*We were treated to a press preview of the experience. All opinions are, as ever, my own.