24 Hours to Shop in London

9 Apr
I’ve travelled all of Europe and London is by far my favourite shopping destination. And my god did I do a lot of it in the years I lived there. This post is intended as a ‘London Shopping 101‘ guide as well as an itinerary for those of you who have perhaps (mistakingly) made London a “24 hour stop” instead of a week-long adventure (which it truly deserves). 

OXFORD STREET – it’s long but you can definitely walk the length of it and spend hours there. You can find an online map/guide here. The list is literally endless and take your time to explore the side streets. Make sure you pay a visit to Selfridges (especially lower ground level.. it’s like a vintage dungeon of treasures).

REGENT STREET – I think.. one of the most beautiful shopping streets in the world (the way it curves). There is the infamous Hamleys toy store (its HUGE), Ferrari shop, and a gorgeous perfumery Penhaligon’s Boutique with signature scents and vintage bottles. Banana Republic, Armani Exchange, Aquascutum and many other well known brands live here  too. Make sure you ‘get lost in the side streets of Regent. They’re gorgeous.

CARNABY STREET –It’s off Regent street and a like mini village lost in time. Cottage like shop fronts and beautiful cafes and bars adorn the narrow streets. Click here for a guide to Carnaby Street. While you are here, be sure to go to Liberty– a beautiful department store set in an old Tudor building. It’s on the expensive side, but it’s a pleasure to walk through it with waves of inspiration. I love the fabrics and home wares section upstairs and the perfumes, and the scarves and the fashion jewellery. OK, I love it all.

NEW BOND STREET- BYO Sugar Daddy… it’s actually the most expensive retail area in the world. I indulged in a new Francescia Biasia bag each season – beautiful handcrafted Italian leather, wild silk lining with a label that isn’t “in your face”. Pronovias, Dolce & Gabbana, Diesel, Prada.. you name it, you will find in on New Bond.

COVENT GARDEN/SOHO- The perfect Sunday hangout: chill out cafes, tapas bars, awesome boutique stores and my favourite restaurant in London (and one of the cheapest). Italian is their first language (so I got treated like royalty naturally hehe) and the pizza is better than most versions you will find in Italy. Trust me ! At Rossopomodoro, everything on the menu is phenomenal. I especially love their slow food approach and use of D.O.C. ingredients. I know this is sacrilage but I don’t like cheese on my pizza…(if you are the same, or lactose intolerant) try the Marinara pizza (no sea creatures here).. just pomodoro, basilico, extra virgin olive oil and garlic. Heaven. And only 5 quid. While you’re in the ‘Garden’… go to the new age shop and have your  Chinese Birth Chart drawn up for month by month predictions and guidance for the coming year (mine was spot on). A very good wizard friend of mine suggested it. Go!

KNIGHTSBRIDGE – Any self-respecting shop-a-holic must make at least one trip here in their lifetime. Designer label mecca.

Harrods (you have to see it even if you can barely afford a handkerchief). Only got 15 minutes? Head straight for the International Designer Shoe collection and just weep. Go to the Food Halls and buy some Turkish Delight. If it’s Easter or Christmas, visit the events ‘cave’.

Harvey Nichols – some of the most creative shop front designs you will ever see in your life. Complete with a mini Louboutin boutique and floors of everything you could ever want, I like Harvey Nichs because there is a good ‘street wear’ section as well as $$$ designer lines.

While your in Knightsbridge, have a peak at where the billionaires live … the prestigious One Hyde Park luxury development. Next door is the famous Mandarin hotel, a favourite with the Royal family and A-List celebs. If all that shopping has got you hot and bothered, escape to the Serpentine cafe for a pizza or sharing platter and a Campari to regather your thoughts.

Before you leave, go for a strut down Sloane Street... (right to the end). You will master the “oh the sun is so glarey and I am so famous with my big oversized bag” look in no time. You’ll see women pounding the pavement in their Juicy Couture velour tracksuits teamed with Louboutins and a Chihuahua. When you get to the end (towards Sloane Square) take a left and have a drink at the bar on the corner. You’ve “arrived”.

NOTTING HILL – Just get there and explore. You won’t need directions to Portobello road.. just follow the crowd from the station on a Saturday. Take time to wander through the streets of NH and absorb your surroundings. The terraces are picture-perfect and sometimes you can even peer inside to see amazing interiors. It’s constantly reinventing itself and you will be delighted when you just ‘stumble upon’ something wonderful. To sample some exquisite Mediterranean food, go to  Ottolenghi a favourite local haunt.. tiny but wonderful.

Only have 2 hours to shop?

Head to Westfield London in Shepherd’s Bush. For Aussies who equate Westfield with an ordinary/mainstream shopping experience… think again. This Westfield has Tiffany’s, Miu Miu, Dior, LV and a Champagne bar outside the designer label stores so you can brag about your purchase or try and erase the amount you spent from your memory.

MARKETS

Portobello Road on a Saturday (it is crowded) but there is stall after stall after stall. If you walk right to the end you see some quirky independent vintage stall owners for fashion and random pieces. Time it so you get there around 10 .. Linger around the stores then eat street food for lunch.

Spitafields Market – Great for antique treasures and quirky objects and clothes, and surrounding with vintage boutiques and even a fairy shop. Check the day you’re going to ensure the markets are running.

Camden Markets – Disclaimer: You will see the weirdest people on earth here but it’s so cool you’ll want to get a piercing or a tattoo before you leave. Set among the canals, there are hundreds of stall you can ogle over. Make sure you check out the Camden Stables Market.

For an memorable ‘Jamie Oliver’ enthusiastic food experience head to Borough Markets for wholesale fruit and veggies as well as lots of organic international food stalls.

After writing this post, I remember a whole of list of things I missed out!

Please add your favourites by commenting on this post and don’t forget to hit the ‘Like’ button, if you do!
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