If you want to shop, then there’s no better city than London. From high fashion to luxury homewares, you’ll be in shopping heaven. If you’re visiting London and you want to do some serious shopping, but have only a few days to play with, then it makes sense to start with the capital’s great department stores.
The world’s most famous store, Harrods, is in the upmarket Knightsbridge area, as is the top fashion department store Harvey Nichols (they are a five-minute walk from each other), while Selfridges and John Lewis are on Oxford Street. Fenwick on New Bond Street is another good department store, which has great clothing for women and men, while Liberty on Regent Street is known for its iconic Tudor building and wooden galleried interior.
Department stores in London
The top stores are:
- Harrods, This colossus of a department store is a shock to the senses. It has everything under the sun (that said, it doesn’t sell lion cubs anymore), including a truly fabulous food hall, and it will take a morning to get around it. It is synonymous with the ultimate in luxury.
- Harvey Nichols. It is not as large as Harrods, but it is very stylish and stocks the most up-to-the-minute fashions from the world’s best labels. It has a cool restaurant on the fifth floor as well as a foodhall. It is a must-visit for anyone interested in fashion
- Selfridges. Another huge store, full of life and an atmosphere of excitement. Again, put aside a good couple of hours to have a look around. Selfridges is a joy if you love clothes and it has collections from designer names as well as more affordable high street brands. Selfridges’ window displays are always innovative and creative, particularly so at Christmas.
- Fenwick is a mid-sized store, with great fashions that tend to be in the higher price ranges. It’s a good place to find interesting one-off pieces. It has a Carluccio’s restaurant on the lower ground floor which is a nice place to have lunch.
- Liberty, which opened in the late 19th Century in a glorious Tudor building, has been revamped over the past decadeand now stocks luxury fashion brands and beauty products, as well as its famous fabrics and interior products.
- John Lewis on Oxford Street is the company’s flagship store, and British people hold it in high esteem for the good value and service it offers. It is not lavish in the way that Harrods or Selfridges are, rather it stocks everything for the home, as well as fashions. It is not the best place to look for ultra high fashion or couture clothes because the collections play it fairly safe. But it is great for kitchenware, lighting, beauty products and childrenswear.
Shopping For Art in Cork Street
If you love art, then wander down Cork Street in London’s West End, because it’s the home to top galleries, selling contemporary and traditional art. One gallery that holds regular exhibitions is Petleys Fine Art. These galleries can look a bit snooty and intimidating but don’t let that put you off because once inside, you’ll find staff are invariably extremely pleasant.
Burlington Arcade for Jewellery and Watches
At the bottom of Cork Street is the much-loved Burlington Arcade, which is considered an architectural masterpiece. It is home to many fine jewellery and watch stores and is busy without feeling hectic. It opened in 1819 and was the UK’s very first shopping arcade.
Marylebone High Street
This is a wonderful shopping street, with the Conran Shop (modern furniture and lighting) at the top end and plenty of clothes, food, cooking, homewares stores to draw you in as you wander down it, towards Oxford Street. Shops on Marylebone High Street include Emma Bridgewater (pottery), The White Company (great bedlinen), Agnes B (French fashion) and Divertimenti ( cookware and culinary implements). There is also a Patisserie Valerie, which sells surely the most beautiful and most delicious cakes in London.
There are of course plenty of other shopping areas, such as the Fulham Road, the Kings Road, Covent Garden, Tottenham Court Road, Carnaby Street and Soho. Read up about them in a good guide book and see what takes your fancy.