London Grotto Guide (honest reviews)

I’m sick of wasting my money in subpar grottos so I’ve put all of our visits together in one place so you don’t have to…

Fairytale Grotto , Centrale & Whitgift Croydon, 24th Nov – 24th Dec

This is a nice little grotto that’s always been very convenient for us and is our second year we’ve visited. This year they’ve switched up the theme a bit and put a fairytale spin on the outer décor of the grotto (which in all honesty didn’t make sense but the décor was lovely nonetheless). Each of the stories they have included are explained on a poster near the booking area and to pass the time while we were waiting, I got my little one to point out props and I’d do my best to reel the story off from memory. The gifts aren’t that great in fairness – last year was a mini Rudolph board book, this year was a slinky…  If you’re planning in going to this grotto my advice I’d BOOK AHEAD because the queues can be so bloody long! Would I travel far just for the grotto? No, but that being said if you’re local then it’s definitely worth the visit. The grotto is £4.50 per child and if you download the Centrale Plus app there are usually goodies you can collect from the centres information desk. You can find a video of our visit here

Santa's Snowflake Grotto , Westfield London – 29th Nov – 24th Dec

This grotto hasn’t changed much over the years if I’m honest but it’s one of my favourite due to its value for money – only £7.50 per person and for what you get its pretty good. Before you go into the grotto you enjoy a lovely little experience with the elves during which time you get to play a few games, make a Christmas decoration and write a letter to Santa (you can find a video of our experience here ). The grotto itself is always beautifully decorated and the Santa’s have always been lovely (you can find a video of the grotto visit here ). We’ve been visiting this grotto since 2017 and although the location of the grotto has moved from one side of Westfield Shopping Centre to the other there’s now a lovely Christmas market on it’s doorstep too. And, if you don’t fancy hauling the pram around you can hire a ‘Kiddycar’ from the concierge desk. Make sure to book ahead to be guaranteed a slot! My only qualm with this grotto is that every single year the photo always comes out slightly grainy… for such a nice grotto it’s a shame they haven’t invested in a better camera/photographer. The gifts have also been very similar year after year – last years was a Paw Patrol story book, this year a Dumbo sticker book.

Woodcote Green Garden Centre Croydon , 23rd Nov – 24th Dec

In 2018 we visited this grotto and we’re never going back. Although the garden centre itself is lovely (the Christmas decorations were a hell of a lot nicer than the high street ones) and there were even on site reindeer (one was hurt though, its antler was snapped and it was bleeding) the grotto experience felt more like a factory line – you’d walk through a small, Xmassy lit up area to start off the experience and are then directed to one of the random lined up doors with Santa being behind one. On our way to our door one of the side doors opened to reveal another Santa sitting inside which is when I realised there must have been one behind each door. Even more disappointing was that if my son was older and still a believer it could have potentially ruined the illusion of Christmas. Inside, the décor was half-hearted and Santa’s beard was near enough falling off. The overall experience was so crap that I refuse to waste my money on it this year to see if it’s improved… What’s more, it’s a rip off – £12.50 per child and £4 per adult!

Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park 21st Nov – 5th Jan

I saw this grotto in passing and this has to be the best value one provided you’re willing to wait in the extremely long queues! Its free, includes a gift and you’re even welcome to take as many photos/videos as you please (many grottos don’t allow this). Note that its all outdoors though so I wouldn’t chance going when it’s raining. This is one of those ones where you can really make a day out of it in Winter Wonderland – they have a family entrance right next to all of the kids rides and there’s plenty to do!

Father Christmas at the Hall , Royal Albert Hall – 5th Dec – 22nd Dec

This was our first time visiting this grotto and I didn’t actually look at the reviews until after I’d booked ended up going into a panic because the majority of the review were frankly quite awful. It’s described as a walk around event where you encounter magical north pole characters and here some Christmas stories, watch some puppetry and hear some live music. You then, of course, meet the man in red himself. This is the MOST AUTHENTIC looking Santa I’ve seen thus far. It involves a lot of moving about and as I had a lot to say about this experience you can find our review here. Adults are free, over threes are £39.24

Rainforest Café, London

Unfortunately, this grotto isn’t taking place this years as they’re taking a hiatus but here’s our review from last year here

More Grottos Coming Soon…

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