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Ice and a slice of Alpine magic in London by Maggie O'Sullivan

Posted in DESTINATIONS By Maggie O' Sullivan

There’s nothing like a pre-Christmas trip to the mountains for getting in the festive spirit. But there’s no need to get on a plane: in London, the mountains come to you. Here are five of the Capital’s best Alpine experiences.

Ice shots in Soho 

I can’t imagine why anyone would visit the Soho’s ICEBAR (above) in summer, but it’s a great way to spend 40 minutes (which is all the time you’re allowed) at this time of year  Everything in the bar is made from ice imported from a frozen river in Northern Sweden and the design changes annually. This year the theme is ‘rock’ which gives it more than a whiff of an Austrian après-ski bar. Don’t worry if you feel the cold: they give you a thermal cape with hood and gloves to wear, and after your 40 minutes are up, you can thaw out in the nice warm cocktail bar and restaurant nextdoor. London on ice

London’s growing band of pop-up ice rinks open this week. The rinks are inevitably fairly small and crowded at peak times (the rigid plastic rental boots are also far from comfortable), but there’s no denying that they’re in fabulous locations, from Tower Bridge and Somerset House (above) to Hampton Court and the Natural History Museum. There’s even one at Bluebird restaurant in Chelsea this year. The one I like best is at Hampton Court, right in front of Henry VIII’s red-brick palace. The rink, which is at its most magical after dark, opens on Friday and tickets cost from £11.50. Tartiflette in the City

For the second year, Coq d’Argent will be transforming its bar and terraces into a sophisticated ski chalet, with vintage props and faux-fur blankets draped about the place. The restaurant promises warming cocktails and holiday favourites such as tartiflette, venison burger and chestnut macaroons until the end of February.Cheese fondue in South London 

Last winter London pop-up king Jimmy Garcia opened an après-ski restaurant in Balham called Le Lodge. In cosy chalet-style surroundings, it served up hearty game, cheese fondues and hot cocktails and proved so popular it quickly became a sell out. This year The Lodge has slalomed a mile or so up the road to Clapham North, and promises more of the same Alpine fun. Tables are likely to be in great demand so best advice is to book now or miss out.Skiing in Chiswick

Cheese fondue in Clapham and iced vodka in Soho are all very well and good, but to really earn your après-ski you need to hit the slopes first. Housed in a surprisingly small space, Skiplex is a revolving ski simulator that mimics a grooomed, continuous piste. Simply put, as you prepare to move forwards, the slope moves backwards and depending on how you angle your skis, you can either snowplough gently down to the bottom or maintain your position by 'skiing'. Once you get over the strange feeling of apparently skiing hard but not getting anywhere, it’s great fun and beginners can get a real feel for the sport before their first slope-side lesson. At the moment there are only three Skiplex facilities in the country (Chiswick, Reading and Basingstoke) but they’re well worth seeking out.

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