Designer trees and board-game butlers: Christmas in London’s poshest hotels

It’s a popular family ritual across the world – settling the children down and reading them ’Twas the Night Before Christmas as the excitement builds for the big day. But if you’re super wealthy you can choose to have a professional read it for you as part of a minimum £3,000 festive break at a …

‘An example of human goodness’: how child abuse claims shredded George Bell’s reputation

When the Church of England issued a statement in October 2015 expressing “deep sorrow” over the sexual abuse of a child by one of its most revered 20th-century figures, it caused shockwaves. Many of those who admired and respected George Bell, who was bishop of Chichester from 1929 until his death in 1958, simply could …

Jonny Bairstow transformed from the butt of Ashes jokes into a series centurion | Ali Martin

From being the butt of the jokes in Brisbane to slamming his head against his helmet three times in celebration, Jonny Bairstow’s hundred on the second day at the Waca was not just his finest Ashes moment to date but a touch of catharsis for England’s wicketkeeper. Every century has meaning for Bairstow. The look …

Belleville review – James Norton and Imogen Poots gleam amid Paris gloom

Americans in Paris have inspired countless novelists, from Henry James to Ernest Hemingway. They also gave Gershwin the idea for a great musical and feature in popular movies such as Charade. Yet I’ve rarely seen a more rootless pair of expatriates than the young couple at the centre of Amy Herzog’s play first seen at …

How to eat: pork pie

For many of us, Christmas Day breakfast is a strictly traditional affair. It starts at 7am, riffling through selection boxes with a glass of sherry, prosecco or a 7% IPA, which, due to a growing queasiness, means you then forget to eat until 10am, when – by then panicking that you need to be at …

Skopje smog and homeless and hungry: Friday’s top photos

Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters confront each other in Jerusalem’s Old City Photograph: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images Rohingya refugees wait for food at the Balukhali refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar Photograph: Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters German Chancellor Angela Merkel and France’s President Emmanuel Macron arrive to address a joint press conference at the end of a European …

Mike Pence’s Holy Land visit in disarray after Jerusalem recognition

The lights are already illuminated on Bethlehem’s huge Christmas tree in Manger Square. Nearby, at the narrow entrance to the Church of the Nativity, holiday pilgrims queue daily for their chance to descend into the cramped subterranean shrine said to be the birthplace of Jesus. One person, however, who will not be entering the church, …