Destination London: Shopping in the City
Posted on October 18 2018
The capital cities of the world pride themselves on having the best shopping in their country, but one city stands out from all the others.
London has a uniquely eclectic mix of shopping on offer. Here you can find bijoux boutiques, lavish department stores, and quaint market stalls selling everything from street food to avant garde fashion. Often the buildings they are housed in are as intriguing as the treasures within. You could be buying handmade jewellery in Camden in the morning, looking at Graff diamonds in Harrods at lunchtime, buying exquisite china and linen in Fortnum & Mason, and dining in a chi chi Bistro in Covent Garden all in the same day.
Whether it’s artisan chocolates, niche perfumes, silk lingerie or luxury homeware, London is the city where you can combine the world’s best shopping with some of the oldest and most charming buildings in the world. There’s also the feeling: that the street you’re walking down appeared in a Harry Potter film, or a Richard Curtis film, and you’d probably be right.
Here’s our shopping guide to all the places we love best in London.
The Department Stores
The names are so famous that every Londoner you ask will be able to give you directions. The big four are arguably Fortnum & Mason, Harrods, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols.
Harrods is so big that it will take you breath away the first time you set eyes on it. Taking up what feels like half of Brompton Road, the ornate frontage contains enough rooms to happily get lost in, as well as no fewer than twenty places to eat or drink, including the famous Champagne Bar. From luxury clothing to gourmet delicacies, Harrods has all this and everything in between, including staff who will make you feel like a welcome VIP guest.
Fortnum & Mason
Fortnum & Mason is a favourite with the Royal Family, with its exquisite china and range of teas, home wares, accessories and beauty. Fortnum’s is so much more than the perfect cream tea venue: it’s elaborate arched doorways and grand staircase define its luxurious splendour. Make sure you don’t miss the lavish perfume hall with its Clive Christian display-known as being the most expensive perfume in the world, with a heritage dating back as far as Queen Victoria.
Selfridges claims to be the UK’s first department store. It was the brainchild of colourful American Henry Gordon Selfridge, and was the first purpose built shop in the UK, opening in 1909. Selfridges has the second largest retail space in Britain, beaten only by Harrods. Selfridges has the largest shoe department in the UK, stocking over four thousand styles.
Harvey Nichols, fondly known as Harvey Nicks, is best known to the world as the favourite shopping destination of Eddie and Patsy, in the BBC series Absolutely Fabulous. The story goes that retail doyenne Mary Portas was approached by the BBC, and offered them use of Harvey Nichols stock in exchange for name checks, and a legend was born. Situated in Knightsbridge, Harvey Nichols is a stone’s throw from Harrods and houses luxury brands, lavish window displays and a famous cocktail bar.
Westfield Shepherd’s Bush
The two Westfield malls are the biggest shopping malls in Britain. Westfield Shepherd’s Bush has 372 outlets over five floors and contains big chain stores alongside high-end boutiques such as Jimmy Choo, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Prada.
Westfield Stratford has 350 stores and restaurants over three floors. You can find brands such as Kurt Geiger, Kiehls’ and Calvin Klein alongside MAC and Mulberry.
The Best Shopping Streets
When you think of the streets of London, the names Carnaby Street, Bond Street, Oxford Street, Regent Street and King’s Road spring to mind. With their history of being at the hub of the swinging sixties, and their reputation of being at the fore front of modern retail, these areas are still frequented by bright young things and savvy shoppers alike.
Carnaby was the hub of the swinging sixties, and it still has a quirky character all of its own to this day. Carnaby is technically an area and consists of thirteen streets, including the vast Oxford Street, which contains giant flagship stores and offers many of the biggest branches in the UK.
The King’s Road
The achingly cool King’s Road is the centre of affluent Chelsea life. With its chic boutiques and bistros, this is where many interior designers and luxury furniture ateliers choose to open their flagship showrooms. Don’t forget to check out Chelsea antiques market and the original Vivienne Westwood shop, regarded by many as the birthplace of the punk movement.
A street market known for its antiques and vintage treasures, with the unique Notting Hill buzz and colour. Trawl the markets for fabulous vintage jewellery or unique pieces for the home.
Bond Street is all about luxury and high-end shopping. It’s on Bond Street that you will find Chanel, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Tiffany and Armani to name but a few. Within the neighbourhood you’ll find the legendary world class hotels Claridge’s and The Ritz. Bond Street is luxury and class, and shopping there is an experience not to be missed.
Regent Street stuns with its John Nash architecture and its white regency frontages. Regent Street is home to the famous Liberty, a Tudor replica made from shipping timbers and famous for its world classic fabrics and patterns.
Not strictly a street, more of a secret side lane near Harrods. Inside this opulent arcade with its stunning marble floors, there are small but beautiful shops from perfumers to jewellers. With Victorian architectural flourishes, Burlington stuns all who visit even before they even experience the treasures within.
How about you?
What’s your favourite place to shop in London? Do you have a favourite shopping city? Do let us know. We always love to hear from you