Pass the SHOPPING IN LONDON: SURVIVAL GUIDE to your shopaholic friends or relatives to avoid nightmare shopping trip to London. Must read before you go, reading the blog article will take you minutes and you can save loads of your time when in London.
As a foreigner living in London for several years, I would like to share the places I found in London with some dos and don’ts. Read the SHOPPING IN LONDON: SURVIVAL GUIDE to avoid shopping nightmare and spend quality time in London.
This blog article is written by foreigner living in London for foreigners planning to visit London.
If you are Brit or even Londoner and still keep reading- you are very welcome to share a comment with your recommendations.
What to avoid when shopping in London
Let’s start with what to avoid- the iconic shopper nightmare Oxford street. Due to condense proximity of major brand flagmanship stores, it might seem a natural and easy choice to go with. You don’t need to plan anything ahead – just go there and buy what you see. What will be the result? You will be tired, exhausted, with empty valet wondering why on earth you have bought all this stuff. If you still go there – target the particular store and get off shortly after.
Oxford street offers 1,5 miles of 90 shops. There are all top high-street brands such as Topshop, Gap, River Island, Primark, X and the UK’s iconic department stores, including Selfridges, John Lewis & Partners, Debenhams, House of Fraser and Marks & Spencer.
The full online Oxford Street shop map you can find here. It is much quicker and cheaper to browse it through online.
However, one of the stores I regularly visit on Oxford Street is Lush. They recently closed the small stores scattered across London and opened the grand store on Oxford street. You can get there fresh face masks, scrubs, bath bombs and other products to keep you fresh and fragrant during your stay in London. There is nothing better than a fragrant bobble bath after a shopping day.
The smart way of shopping in London
You know what you are looking for, if not the items itself then the brand or you keep in mind the person you are buying for or perhaps you just want a shopping experience in London? Something unique you cannot get elsewhere?
Spend some hours on internet research and plan the trip to London to balance your time. There is much more to see than just shopping.
Advantages of Amazon smart shopping
If you are a foreigner visiting London from abroad, take advantage of www.amazon.co.uk with many high street brands there along with deals and discounts. You don’t need to have UK address to shop on amazon.co.uk – just enter the postcode of your hotel and select the nearby Amazon Locker places (LINK HERE). It’s easy – simply add an Amazon Locker to your Amazon address book and select the location as the shipping address during checkout. Once a package is ready for pickup, you will receive an e-mail with a unique 6 digit code that they’ll use to remove the package from the designated slot. The locker door will open automatically when you enter the code.
The amazon prime option will get you many items for the next day delivery. Check the delivery time anyway as you do not want the purchase to arrive after you left. The time saved on shopping can be spent on seeing London landmarks and historical places.
Grand iconic places
Shopping in London survival guide: Harrods
Founded as a family shop in East London in 1824, the Knightsbridge department store Harrods has grown into a brand recognised all over the world. Harrods has been sold by its owner Mohammed Al Fayed to the Qatari royal family for £1.5bn. in 2010. To get there take Piccadilly line to Knightsbridge stop.
Harrods is recognized for its celebrity-endorsed sale and even without an intention to buy anything it is nice to walk through all halls and embrace the huge selection of luxury products. And who knows – perhaps there is a sale …
Before visiting Harrods you can download the app available for both Android and Apple products. Don’t forget to check out the bars and restaurants, there are 19 of them! Reservations recommended.
Shopping in London survival guide: Selfridges
Selfridges, also known as Selfridges & Co., is a chain of high-end department stores in the United Kingdom . The biggest store is on the Oxford Street but there is not much uniqueness in the assortment if you are a tourist. With almost everything on selfridges.com available for International Delivery, you can receive your order to 130 countries or regions around the world.
Shopping in London survival guide: Harvey Nichols
The other store that is considered luxury chic is Harvey Nichols, down the road from Harrods. Strong on beauty products and gourmet food, it is definitely a lot smaller than Selfridges and tiny compared to Harrods so much easy to get around. Mostly preferred by locals to avoid the crowds in the places above.
The streets to stroll
Stroll along the Regent street connecting Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Street for the high street brands like Apple, Superdry, Timberland, Zara and Zara home, Hobbs, Reiss. For the full shop list click here.
The high end luxury brands can be found on New Bound street which has the most expensive retail rent in the world. It is home for the brands like Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Tiffany & Co, Burberry etc.
New Bound street is parallel street with Regent street, so take one of them up from Piccadilly Circus to Oxford street and another on the way back and you are done with shopping.
Take a break from luxury end shopping by embracing quirkiness of Camden Town. You can spend hours there strolling along the boots and enjoying the street food in the Camden Market located next to Camden locks. There are many alternative shops selling vintage closes, antiques and replicas. You can find there goth style, steampunk stuff, carnival, burlesque accessories and much more. Although the place also attracts 100.000 visitors every weekend, it is definitely worth visiting.
When it’s time to eat, head towards Covent Garden.
Covent Garden is a world-class shopping and dining destination attracting food-lovers and fashionistas alike.
Buzzing with the excitement of the opera and Theatreland, the area boasts some of the best shopping destinations in London’s West End. From Apple to Tom Ford, Mulberry to Paul Smith and Petersham Nurseries to Benjamin Pollock’s Toy Shop, the area offers a unique blend of global and independent brands, curated to satisfy every shopping need.Whether it’s breakfast or brunch, pre-theatre dining or burgers alfresco, Covent Garden is a foodie’s paradise, filled with a diverse array of gastronomic options to suit all tastebuds, from morning to night. This content has been supplied by Covent Garden London
Brand discount store TK Maxx
TK Maxx is the best kept secret because nobody ever admits they shop there. Unique Pieces Of Branded & Designer Products Up To 60% Less. The same concept as T J Maxx stores in USA.
Google the one most closely to your location. The assortment can vary in each shop and some of them might have “golden label” corner for the most exclusive stuff.
Getting around in London
Take tube during the peak hours or Uber for comfort. When ordering Uber – know where you are and pick an easy drive, stop location. Do not make Uber wait – the driver will call you and won’t be very happy. You can also schedule Uber for the next day if you wish so.
Where to stay in London
My advice- don’t go for the local charm, you can get small rooms, sinks with two taps with no mixer and single beds where a grown up person cannot turn around. Go for international mid range chains. As a frequent traveler I can recommend two collections of brands IHG and Hilton. Download the apps and check the price directly.
You cannot get more central than booking Indigo hotel on Leicester square.
For the upscale hotels check Marriott brand: St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London and London Marriott Hotel County Hall.
My favorite is Rosewood London luxury hotel in Edwardian mansion .
Check out their Scarfes bar with live jazz every evening even if you do not stay there.
On the budget option I can recommend Premier inn with their quality beds. Choose the ones that are newly build or recently renovated. I would not recommend Travel Lodge unless you have no other choice.
If you hate air conditioner, check upfront if the windows can be opened. Call hotel if information is not available on the webpage.
Don’t dress too warm for the inside shopping and stay hydrated!
London offers so much more than shopping, be smart, be wise, stay safe and enjoy!