The coolest London ski centres
London's indoor ski centres aren't just fun, they're also a great weekend activity for the family - whether or not you're planning on jetting off for a ski season
While many families rejoice at how European skiing options have become more accessible, you don't need to leave the country - or even the city - to get the full benefits that skiing offers.
Not only is skiing a wonderful confidence-boosting activity for kids of all ages, it releases mood-enhancing endorphins and can really improve a child's fitness, strength, balance and coordination.
Plus, it's a lot of fun, no matter where you 'ski': heading off to the 'slopes' for a couple of hours at the weekend sure beats a dreary, sodden day where any hopes of a long family cycle ride or toddler playground sesh are quickly dashed. It's an opportunity to bond as a family, as well as practicing a new skill.
Bonus: most of these venues double up as super-cool party spaces for those looking for out-of-the-box birthday ideas...
If you've been skiing recently, this might interest you even more - as you eagerly await the next ski getaway, these London slopes will help the kids maintain their prowess and retain what they learned in ski school.
Plus, you don't need a chalet to enjoy the best bit of being off-piste afterwards: just head out for one of London's epic and indulgent hot chocolates.
4 Sotheron Place, Michael Road, London,SW6 2EJ, Open Monday-Sunday, 10am-10:30pm
Located next door to the ever-popular birthday party destination, Clip 'N Climb Chelsea, Chel-Ski is the closest thing to Verbier in Central London. The space offers a hi-tech, mat-based slopes experience for skiers and snowboarders of all ages and stages - the speed and angle of the slopes are adjusted based on ability, and instructors have a maximum of three students per session, so it works well for siblings or family groups.
The on-site alpine bar serves up mountain-friendly racelette and fondue, as well as hard and soft drinks, and adult ski lovers can also book in for ski fitness classes - think 'Spin on skis'. Sessions, which include all equipment, start at £34.95 per child. Suitable for ages 5+ (3 and 4 year olds can book in too, but only for 1:1s).
Skieasy at Dukes Meadows
Dukes Meadows Golf, Tennis and Ski, Dan Mason Drive, London, W4 2SH
Lots of the southwest London crew head to Dukes Meadows in Chiswick most weekends - the centre offers indoor and outdoor tennis coaching, golf lessons for all ages (there's also a course) and indoor ski and snowboarding sessions. All classes are 1:1 (unless you specifically want to have a friend or family member with you), and are held on an indoor, constantly rotating ski track which is a bit like a giant treadmill that's easily adjusted for varying ability levels.
Sandown Sports, More Lane, Esher, Surrey KT10 8AN
For those who want the benefits of the great outdoors for their ski training, Sandown Sports, in Esher, has four dry outdoor ski slopes to suit all abilities, as well as junior ski clubs operating from the centre. Kids 4-6 can sign up to 30-minute private lessons, while those 7+ can take hour-long privates or sign up to courses or clubs. Sandown Sports also has fitness facilities including a gym, indoor cycling studio, squash courts, yoga and pilates sessions and spa and treatment facilities.
The Snow Centre
St Albans Hill, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, HP3 9NH
If you;'re a believer that skiing has to involve snow, than an indoor snow dome like Hemel Hempstead's Snow Centre will give you the alpine experience an hour away from London. You'll find ski and snowboarding slopes and lessons for kids from age 4 all the way through experienced skiers keen to practice their mini moguls, freestyle and slalom. The centre has plenty of fun and games, too, like ringo slide sledding and an alpine ski lodge for off-piste treats.
And some other winter-friendly, non-skiing alternatives...
Queens skating rink
17 Queensway, London, W2 4QP
London's year-round indoor skating rink is a welcome destination for those who loved their Somerset House/Natural History Museum skating experiences and want to keep practicing - so that they won't need a penguin skate aid next festive season. The popular rink has skating activities for all ages, from free skating to ice skating and ice hockey lessons, as well as curling and ice karting for adults. There's also an on-site bowling alley.
Vertical Chill London
Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports (& The Snowboard Asylum), 10-12 Southampton Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 7HA
Teens 14 and up can try a thrill-seeking adventure climbing an ice mountain - in the heart of Covent Garden. The Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports shop has a rather unexpected feature: a -5C 8m wall of ice, which you can book onto for an hour session, whether you're a newbie or a pro.