London shopping is among the best in the world with something to suit every budget, taste and style. From iconic British brands to international designers, high street brands to eclectic boutiques, the choice is wide as it is long. Below are some destinations and highlights to get you started:
The West End:
Oxford Street is at the heart of the city’s shopping with over 200 million visitors a year and more than 300 shops, it’s always buzzing. It’s one and a half miles end to end and if you want to visit every high street shop in one day, start at the top (Marble Arch tube) and work your way down to the bottom (Tottenham Court Road tube). And on the way, don’t miss Selfridges, recently voted Best Department Store in the World (www.selfridges.com). Most shops open from 10am to 6 or 7pm. Many also open on Sundays from 11am or 12 noon to 6pm with late nights on Thursdays.
Regent Street, said to rival the Champs-Elysées in Paris and Fifth Avenue in New York, it offers 2km (the ‘Mile of Style’) of retail opportunities to explore. Home to Apple, Burberry, J Crew, Hamleys, the world’s best toy shop, and Liberty, one of the last great emporiums for innovative and eclectic design. The magnificent Tudor building, opened its doors in 1875 and features five floors of fashion, beauty, accessories, homewares and antique furniture.
Bond Street (http://www.bondstreet.co.uk/) is the place to be seen in and to shop. Bond Street, formed by New and Old Bond Street, has the best concentration of designer shops in the world, including Donna Karan, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Nicole Fahri, Armani, Versace and Ralph Lauren. English style can be found at Mulberry and Burberry and if diamonds and jewellery is your thing, Cartier, Tiffany and Asprey are among the many very exclusive retailers on this elite and expensive street.
Carnaby Steet, synonymous with 1960’s ‘Swinging London’ (a phrase coined by Time magazine), today boasts cutting edge designer talents and trendy street wear. It’s definitely worth a visit to buy sports, urban street-wear and footwear, and there are a number of fine cosmetics shops and boutiques selling vintage clothes – it’s still one of the most stylish streets in London.
Covent Garden: a mix of cool chains, unique boutiques and a beautiful Apple Store. A visit to Covent Garden is a must, whether you intend to shop, sightsee or soak in the carnival atmosphere. Watch out for mime artists and entertainers – the best one’s draw a crowd. Other options include Neal’s Yard, a quaint and colourful courtyard, and Seven Dials is home to yet more high street stores and an excellent spot for a coffee. (www.monmouthcoffee.co.uk)
Knightsbridge is one of the most attractive areas of central London, with plenty of ways to spend money! Harrods is the most famous of the local shops, a huge tourist attraction with over 300 departments. Or you may prefer Harvey Nichols, a fashionable alternative with eight floors of fashion, beauty and lifestyle collections and the fifth floor dedicated to food and restaurants.
Sloane Street: if you’re looking for designers Sloane Street is the home of Christian Dior, Chanel, Prada, Gucci, Armani, Alberta Ferretti, Nicole Fahri and Katharine Hamnett and some of exquisite specialist lingerie stores, including Rigby & Peller on Hans Road and La Perla on Sloane Street.
King’s Road, another area made famous during the ‘swinging 60’s’ is quieter, and is where famous faces can regularly be seen. For fashion, the King’s Road offers High Street regulars and a number of one-off boutiques and designer stores such as Ben de Lisi, for the ultimate in evening wear, and Philip Treacy, whose millinery work has adorned the heads of the rich and famous.
Westfield: a monster mall a bit further out, but well worth a visit with 265 shops and 50 restaurants all under one roof – you could easily spend a weekend here! The shopping is a mix of high street, British brands and designer boutiques can be found in The Village, the luxury quarter with 40 high fashion labels such as Louis Vuitton, Tiffany and Mulberry. Nearest Tube: Wood Lane Station, Shepherd’s Bush Station (Central), Shepherd’s Bush Market Station (Hammersmith and City Line)