Of all the cities in the world you might choose to visit, it’s only fair to say that shopping-wise, there really is nowhere quite like London. With its famed West End havens for retail heaven – and one or two eclectic districts that are a mere hop, skip and a jump away from them – the UK capital offers an unbeatable blend of diversity and high-quality. From the cute boutiques of the tourist-trap that’s Covent Garden to the enormous 21st-Century shopping mall in Shepherds Bush courtesy of Westfield and the alt-culture quirkiness of Camden to the marvellously reliable luxury of Mayfair, a London shopping spree’ll truly have it all.
And, should you settle on San Domenico House hotel Chelsea as your accommodation of choice, here’s some of the retail district highlights you simply can’t afford to miss…
Pretty much the first thoroughfare in the city that anyone thinks of when it comes to shopping in London, Oxford Street is 1.2 miles of high-street retail goodness; packed to the rafters with up to 300 different outlets at any time; among them flagship UK stores for brands like Nike, Next, New Look, HMV and, of course, the world-renowned department stores that are Selfridges, John Lewis, House of Fraser and Debenhams.
Running south from Oxford Circus to Piccadilly Circus (therefore, located roughly halfway along Oxford Street) is this traditionally ornate and high-quality shopping thoroughfare. Its mock-Georgian fronted buildings are home to designer-fashion-selling and luxury-brand-vending stores such as Burberry, Aquascutum, the Apple Store and the much adored Hamleys toy shop.
Again, running south from Oxford Street (the two streets meet at Bond Street Tube station), Bond Street is all about the elegance; somewhere to be seen – and window-shop – as much as to actually physically shop. Here then you’ll come across Mayfair’s finest boutiques, including the London outlets for major luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co.
Running parallel with Regent Street (at least for a short way), Carnaby Street will be forever associated with the West End’s mod fashion outlets of the Swinging Sixties. Nowadays, it’s the centre for fashion boutiques that focus on elegant yet cutting-edge and often flamboyantly stylish wares – and, as such, blends seamlessly into the sophisticated-yet-edgy Soho, the small district that it borders to the east.
Like Carnaby Street, Savile Row is famed the world over for its specialty fashion outlets; however where it differs – indeed, from every other shopping district in the capital – is that its boutiques tend to exclusively cater to those after traditional men’s bespoke tailoring, via the likes of oh-so established names like Gieves & Hawkes, Huntsman & Sons and Ozwalk Boatang.
Head due south-west of the West End and you’ll hit the salubrious and much admired areas of Chelsea (or, of course, should you be staying at one of the 5 star hotels in Chelsea, you’ll already be there!). Here then you’ll inevitably find your way strolling along the King’s Road. But why should you? Well, back in the Swinging Sixties again, this über-elegant thoroughfare was (sort of) West London’s equivalent to Carnaby Street, featuring a plethora of equally as playfully colourful fashion boutiques (such as the unforgettably monikered Granny Takes a Trip); then, come the ’70s, the boutiques moved on to punk-cum-S&M-inspired fashion (not least Vivienne Westwood’s own effort). Today, the boutiques are all about chic, designer labels, as well as high-quality antiques and the chance for visitors to sample the area’s irresistible fine-dining- and coffee-culture.