London will, of course, always be synonymous with style, great shopping and cutting-edge, awesome fashion. And throw all those three together – and what do you have? Why, only one of the most revered and essential clothes shopping destinations on Planet Earth. Still, that doesn’t answer the most important question of all – where should you head in the UK capital for some serious fashion-driven retail therapy? Piccadilly London West End, for instance? Well, here’s out top picks…
The West End
The classic retreat for retail therapy in the capital, the West End, of course, offers up the plush thoroughfares of Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street; the gritty-yet-cool side-streets of Soho and the charming cobbled lanes of Covent Garden. Together, they’re jam-packed with indie boutiques, big designer outlets and more high street names than you can shake a stick at. If you’re gaga for Gucci (Regent Street) or swoon at the sight of Swedish shoes (Liberty), it’s all here – and then some.
Traditionally famed for its fab curry houses, sophisticated silk weaving and salt-of-the-earth fruit markets, Spitalfields has since become much more upmarket, even arguably chic, in the retail stakes. Since the 1990s, home-grown and UK-centric art talent like Gilbert and George and Tracey Emin have called it home, which makes its burgeoning reputation for eclectic vintage clobber shopping (Absolute Vintage and Beyond Retro) feel fitting, as does the presence of oh-so many independent designers on Brick Lane – in addition to all those one-off finds you’ll come across at the charismatic old Spitalfields Market.
Just like the aforementioned West End shopping district, the irresistibly upmarket Marylebone is also a perfect shopping option should you have chosen for yourself a stay at one of the hotels near Piccadilly Circus London. In contrast to the bustling West End, though, he streets here are calm and quit, the cheese (yes, cheese) shops are delightful and the affluence of the shoppers flitting about is, well, fascinating – especially if you’re from far afield. That said, it’s retail spot that’s hugely popular with the French (residents in London, that is), with all its designer homeware stores like the Conran Shop, tailored basics at Margaret Howell and contemporary jewellery at Cox & Power.
Again, very easy to get to from any hotels near West End, this most iconic of London shopping districts is an essential pilgrimage for any serious retail therapy seeker. You’ll find all the big, exclusive names here – from Cartier to Christian Louboutin – as well as the utterly legendary British department stores that seem to have been around since the world began (well, at least the shopping world) – Harrods and Harvey Nichols, that us. The place to head for high-end designer shopping still, Knightsbridge is as much about the affluent/ aspirational experience as it is actually buying something.
Finally, the new kid on the block. Once intimately associated with the BBC (until recently, the iconic media corporation had its HQ located here), today the Shepherd’s Bush area is most identified with high-quality mall shopping, thanks to the presence – since the year 2008 – of the extraordinarily vast mall that’s Westfield London at White City. It features as many as 400 separate shops and restaurants (running the gamut, in fact; there’s an Urban Outfitters, a huge M&S, a Burberry store and even a De Beers outlet). Moreover, once you’re done shopping you can catch a flick here too courtesy of its cinema – that is, unless exhausted from your retail excursions, you snooze all the way through it!