Now that Christmas displays start appearing in shops around the August Bank Holiday, you have to look for other signs that the festive season is imminent. Baffling perfume adds start appearing on your television (seriously, why is Johnny Depp hanging around with a bunch of wolves? The smell must be awful). Ladbaby take a half-decent song and render it unspeakable. And ice rinks start popping up in the most unlikely places, promising a bumper season for A&E departments everywhere.
Skylight at Tobacco Dock has returned for a second year offering the opportunity for personal injury but with much more besides. This repurposed multi-storey car park may not have the historical cachet of the nearby Tower of London or Somerset House but it boasts the only rooftop ice rink in Europe with views over the City skyline, the Shard and Tower Bridge unmatched by other venues. It is also, with all puns intended, a lot cooler than your average rink.
Set over two levels, both open air, Skylight has a large covered and heated Apres Skate bar near the ice rink with table seating. The upper level has another bar allowing you to look down on the skaters and a series of alpine huts offering greater shelter from the London weather. However, the best respite from the elements can be found in the heated igloos set on both levels. Designed in conjunction with Fentimans these have rugs and blankets for extra warmth and offer table service so you don’t even need to get up to get your refreshments, and you can still see out to enjoy the view.
The food and drink offering is excellent. As well as Skylight’s signature cocktails – the Winter Mule, adding pear liqueur to vodka and topping it up with ginger beer, provided excellent dutch courage before lacing up our skates, there are some seasonal additions and for those who really feel the cold, some winter warmers, including an intriguing mulled gin. There is then a full offering of spirits, a decent wine list and some good beers on tap and in bottle and so all tastes are catered for. The food is equally tempting, with finger foods like nachos and fries for those wanting to snack and bao buns and burgers for anyone wanting something more substantial. The centrepiece of this year’s offering though is the new Raclette station. There is little in the world that cannot be improved by melted cheese and slathering it on a jacket potato will soon sooth away any bumps and bruises incurred on the ice.
Of my skating, the less said the better. I grew up in a town with an ice rink and, while no Torvill or Dean, there was a time I could cheerfully bomb round with a certain amount of abandon. Turns out skating is not like riding a bike and those days are long in the past. That said, after a few laps impersonating a new born giraffe a certain amount of balance was found. The trick is to keep your weight forward and your dignity in a different postcode. However, I got through my session without falling over or having to use a plastic penguin for support and that will remain my personal Bolero. Regardless, it was worth it just to cling to the barriers and admire the cityscape.
Skylight will be open daily throughout December, with DJs on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays creating the ideal Christmas party atmosphere while family packages are available for Sunday afternoons for those with kids in tow. Skating sessions cost £15 but Skylight would make a fantastic seasonal night out even if you didn’t brave the ice.
Bookings can be made here.