It’s hard to ignore the fact that one of London’s biggest draws for visitors is the world-renowned shopping opportunities it offers, so why bother trying to ignore it – why not wallow in it and base a weekend-break in the UK capital around an entire shopping trip? Doubtful you can really do such a thing? Don’t be; here’s how to enjoy a three-day London retail experience…
Pop down Oxford Street on Friday
Just over a mile long and boasting more than 300 retail outlets, Oxford Street is quite simply the UK’s premier high-street – in fact, it rivals Paris’s Champs-Élysées and Berlin’s Ku’damm as the most famous and most visited shopping avenue in all of Europe. Oxford Street then boasts a vibrant, varied blend of retail options, along with mouth-watering eateries and cafés (especially down its side-streets) and an intriguing history for those interested in unearthing it.
Located slap-bang in the centre of the city, right in the heart of the entertainment and retail hub that’s the West End, it’s brimming with everything from luxury department stories like Selfridges and John Lewis to globally-recognised brand-name outlets like Nike and Gap, as well as UK high-street favourites like Top Shop and the Disney Store to bargain souvenir shops (you know, the sort that everyone loves to hate!).
And, if the hustle-bustle gets a little too much, then why not head to St. Christopher’s Place for lunch? Full of restaurants, bars and cafés – and a fair few intriguing and irresistible boutiques – it offers a complementary change of pace to the vibrancy and colour of Oxford Street that’s just moments away; thus, far from forcing you to travel around London for post-shopping cocktails and dinner.
Stroll up Islington’s Upper Street on Saturday
North London’s answer to the legendary swanky elegance of Chelsea’s Kings Road is Upper Street – although, really it’s only just a step outside of Central London, so very easy to get to from West End hotels like Park Grand London Paddington or Paddington Suites London. It’s the celebrated avenue that sweeps up from Pentonville Road and the Angel Tube station in the south to the Highbury Corner junction in the north and it’s lined with stylish and unique fashion boutiques, restaurants serving up delicious dishes in all sorts of cuisines, a plethora of classic pubs and cool, hip bars along the way.
Moreover, in among all the aforementioned boutiques you’ll come across the likes of twentytwentyone, a homeware specialist that stocks Spectacular lampshades and retro furniture, while you must check out The Sampler wine merchant, where you can make a choice between a staggering 1,500 wines from across the world – and try any of the 80 types physically on sale in the store. What to do when the shutters come down on the shops, though? Well, now’s the time to indulge your taste buds – try the sumptuous cuisine at Chinese Laundry (famed for its fabulously kitsch décor) or Oldroyd’s European-style small plates. And why not follow up dinner with drinks at the bold Slim Jim’s Liquor Store or with a slice or art-house film-viewing at the charming Screen on the Green cinema?
Savour The City’s One New Change on Sunday
Finally, whether you like it or not, your weekend in the Smoke will get around to Sunday – but that’s no reason to be sad, let alone to stop shopping! Indeed, it’s the day to head to The City and discover the sleek, modern, glass-and-steel enclosed retail haven that’s One New Change. In spite of its undeniable 21st Century feel, it’s actually located on one of London’s oldest shopping spots – the Cheapside area around St. Paul’s Cathedral was a hub of poultry, dairy and bread market stalls and much of the capital’s early history.
Nowadays, though, you’ll find in this shining shopping centre many fine high-street retailers, as well as the barbecue restaurant and butcher that’s Barbecoa, a venture run by celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Adam Perry Lang. And, as you’re in the area for it, why not take a break from all the retail by having a look around St. Paul’s or the also nearby Museum of London? Why not, indeed!