London: 5 Best Shopping Areas
London: 5 Best Shopping Areas
London is a shopper's heaven, offering everything from world-famous department stores, to quirky street stalls, to specialist dealerships for virtually every collectible item you can think of. We bring you this guide to five of London's best shopping districts.
Step 1: High Street Shopping: Oxford Street
Stretching from the landmarks of Marble Arch in the West to the Centre Point Tower in the East, Oxford Street is the largest shopping street in Europe. Although many locals can't stand its hectic crowds and traffic, Oxford Street has such a massive range of merchandise that it's definitely the place to come if you want to get all your shopping in one place. At the Eastern end of the street is one of London's best-known luxury department stores, Selfridges, located in an imposing building with a striking Art Deco entrance. Just round the corner from Selfridges is the start of Bond Street, a mecca for high-end, designer clothes, with retail outlets of some of fashion's biggest names. Also just off Oxford Street is the charming St Christopher's Place which, with its outdoor cafes and fountains, provides a welcome relief from the manic crowds. Moving further East along Oxford Street there are several more large flagship department stores, including the popular John Lewis. At the mid-point of Oxford Street, and the junction with Regent Street, is Oxford Circus, which was designed by John Nash in the 19th century and features four distinctive convex buildings on each corner. This is the location of even more large retail stores such as NikeTown, a mecca for sports lovers, and TopShop, which claims to be the world's largest fashion store. At the Eastern end of the street there's a range of electronics stores, cheap souvenir shops and a couple of huge multi-storey record shops. Oxford Street is served by 4 tube stations on 5 tube lines, as well over 20 bus routes. For more information visit www.oxfordstreet.co.uk.
Step 2: Luxury Shopping: Knightsbridge
Situated just a stone's throw from London's Hyde Park, Knightbridge is a byword for upmarket, luxury living – the type of area that is home to chauffeured cars and foreign embassies. It is also home to probably the most famous department store in the world, Harrods (www.harrods.com). The store, which has been trading on its current site since 1849, is one of London's biggest tourist attractions. Harrods is absolutely enormous, filling seven floors and an entire city block. The founder of the store claimed that almost anything could be bought there – from a pin to an elephant. Harrods, which even has a dress code for shoppers, is the epitome of grand ostentation. Also nearby is another world-famous department store, the 8-storey Harvey Nichols (www.harveynichols.com), which is known for its excellent range of designer clothes, and innovative window displays. Leading south from Harvey Nichols is the prestigious Sloane Street, which features outlets of the world's most exclusive designer brands. This is where names like Armani, Chanel and Gucci cater to the rich and famous. Other attractions in the area include some of London's best museums in nearby South Kensington. To get to Knightsbridge by public transport, travel to Knightsbridge station on the Piccadilly line of the London Underground, or use one of the many bus routes that operate in the area.
Step 3: Alternative Shopping: Camden Town
Camden Town is one of North London's most eclectic treasures. It has historically been a cheap area to live with a thriving student community and underground music scene. But in recent years, the area has become one of London's most popular tourist attractions, with its diverse shopping and nightlife. Camden has a vibrant mix of market stalls and shops selling clothes, music, antiques and memorabilia, and is a must for those with an eye for a bargain and an interest in ‘real' London. The market is split into different sections. Camden Market, nearest the tube station, sells a vibrant combination of young designers' fashion, second-hand clothes and music, and fake brands. While it's cheap it's not always good quality. Going North you will reach Camden Lock Market, which has stalls se