London’s streets are arguably the most interesting in Europe for trend scouts. The resurgence in “British heritage” fashion brands like Burberry and Mulberry and the wave of creative designers from the London school like Vivienne Westwood, Alexander McQueen, John Galliano, and Philip Treacy bode well for London’s claims to “fashion capital of the world”.
The world does converge on Oxford Street given the melange of languages and skin tones at any given moment! Crowded and overwhelming, but a must see for the revamped Selfridges and the flagship store of cult favorite TopShop.
New Bond Street, Old Bond Street, and Regent Street are home for the most elegant and exclusive stores. Here you will find all the global luxe brands such as Gucci, LV, and the upscale British lines like Asprey and Burberry. Don’t miss the pedestrian friendly Molton Street for its array of small boutiques. Savile Row, the street for bespoke gentlemen’s wear is also nearby in the Mayfair area. For the English Tudor experience don’t miss Libertys just off Regent Street – besides it leads you into Soho.
Knightsbridge, anchored by Harrods and Harvey Nichols, has the widest range of upmarket brands under department store roofs and down Sloane Street where you have stand alone boutiques of almost all the luxury brands. Unexpected pleasures are more likely in and around King’s Road (where you can visit Manolo Blahnik on Church Street!)
The coolest shopping area is around Covent Garden. Leave the old market place to the tourists and head for Monmouth Street for small boutiques and brands. Here you will find Koh Samui with its ensemble of brand labels, Orla Kiely handbags, or Coco de Mer’s sensual lingerie.
And then of course there are the famous markets, Portobello, Spitalfelds and Camden Road. For the fashionista, Spitalfields is a must for the up and coming designers striving to make a break. When you visit Portobello in Notting Hill don’t miss the growing boutique area of designers on Ledbury Road.
With the strong British pound and generally higher prices (other than Japan), London is not a good shopping location for things you can find elsewhere.
Getting around London can be both easy and frustrating. The London Underground is grimy, occasionally smelly, and unreliable – the line or station you want to use always seems to be shut down especially on the weekends! Double decker buses are fun places where you can people watch while getting around though it is faster walking in congested areas like Oxford Street. Taxi drivers in their traditional cabs are very knowledgeable and sometimes humorous and they’ll get you exactly where you want to go. London’s boutique hotels are great if you can afford them, if not plan to spend all your waking time outside your room.