In our family we started off a tradition for the children by a visit to The Harrods Christmas Grotto. It is the perfect way to start the festive season, as well as an opportunity to make special memories that will last forever.
Our first visit was amazing in November 2013 and the children were very excited and each time we have visited since we have been impressed with the organisation and no queues.
In terms of Christmas Grottos this is one the of the best in the UK! The grotto opens beginning of November and runs until Christmas Eve.
The Grotto is located on the Fourth Floor by the Door 10 Escalator, next to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and the Disney Store.
Over the years the Harrods Christmas Grotto has grown in popularity and now it can be very difficult to get a ticket.
Slots come out in September every year for Harrods Rewards Members. We are a Harrods Rewards member and it’s getting increasingly difficult to get a slot if you just want to visit Santa in the standard experience package. If you are not a Harrods member you can apply for free online.
To book the grotto costs just £10 per child, however you get the money back on your Harrods reward card to spend in store (anywhere but the grotto).
Initially for this year we were very disappointed as we failed to be able to book a slot but luckily we did manage to get a ticket.
However if you are lucky it will be an experience that your children will remember forever!
Each year there the Grotto has a dedicated theme and this year was no different. It was like stepping onto the set of a Christmas movie, all of the staff were in character and we were welcomed by Peter and Polly mouse and went through into a room full of activities.
As you walk around the experience there was lots of activities for the girls to take part in which again is what makes this Grotto just that bit special.
Present throwing was first and it was brilliant and the Harrods cast members encourage the children keeping them engrossed in the activities, not that they needed to as they had so much fun here!
This year they had a section with a good list and naughty list machine, where you stand on the machine and it tells you if you are on Santa’s nice list.
Luckily for the girls they were on the nice list but their daddy was on the naughty list as a joke! But my little girl that is was because he has sugar in his tea and kept on talking about this up until Christmas Day!
They also had a giant piano which the girls could run up and down on playing a tune, like the famous movie ‘Big’.
This pre Santa area is a good size and although each booked session was a sell out it did not feel as though there were too many children in the area which is tantamount to the planning and organisation that the Harrods team put into this event.
Father Christmas is located in a perfectly themed room and as the year before there is never any rush whilst speaking to Santa. What makes the Harrods Grotto experience so special is that when booking you give the names of the children to the booking team.
So Santa knows the children’s names before you enter the room and the look on the girls faces was just priceless. This adds to the realism and the wow factor of the grotto.
Santa has a large book with the children’s names and he writes into this book what the children want for Christmas which again I thought was a nice touch. The girls had a good chat with Santa and we were in the room chatting with him for over 10 minutes and at no point did we feel rushed.
After telling Father Christmas what they wanted for Christmas they were given this years present by Santa. This was a little green bag which contained a limited edition giant chocolate button, playing cards, a booklet of games as well as a badge.
It was a really great experience and one that the children still talk about, it is one of the best Grotto’s in the country and one that is highly recommended.
You can take photos along the way but no photos are allowed with Santa, only official photos can be taken. We couldn’t resist as the family photo was a lovely picture, everyone’s eyes open and all looking at the camera.
We do not have many photos of the four of us and the frames are themed with the grotto experience. We did have them up on our fire place until Christmas. It is a nice way to remember the day. We paid £28 for three 10 x 8 photos and we did give to both sets of grandparents which is a nice pre Christmas gift.
After the grotto experience we spent a few hours in Harrods and the Toy Department on the 3rd floor which was one of the best we have visited. It is on a grand scale and there are chances to have your nails painted, glitter tattoos and new toys that were out for Christmas we haven’t seen before.
They had battery powered cars that cost more than an average family car and large stuffed animals that cost thousands but this is Harrods after all. The children’s book section in Harrods was very good with a great range of books, many of which you do not find elsewhere and lots of good ideas for Christmas presents.
We always like to buy a Christmas souvenir for the tree and there are plenty to choose from their excellent Christmas department at Harrods.
Each year the experience seems to be more popular and Harrods definitely seems to be thinking of more ways to make money out of families with the new packages being introduced for 2015, which is a shame.
A great location to stay as a base for a visit to see Santa at Harrods is the Crowne Plaza Kensington (you can read our review here). This hotel is a 15 minute walk and you can stroll past the wonderfully lit up National History Museum. There is an ice rink and carousel for the children to have fun on the journey home. We liked to walk back as you do not get to see much of London when you are underground on the tube.