So, you're in London. And you want to go shopping. Where should you go?
When you're thinking about shopping in London, chances are you're thinking about Oxford Street, Regent Street, maybe Knightsbridge.
Yeah, sure, if a nervous breakdown is on your shopping list...
These areas are awash with shops, and people... way too crowded for my liking. Shouldn't shopping be a bit more stress-free? And who has time (or energy) to trawl the streets for hours, anyway?
OK, I'm going to tell you a little secret: I often go shopping in London on Monday afternoon, when I have a few hours between leaving Homebase 2 and catching the plane back to Finland. Like most people who are time-poor, I need to be efficient; kill two birds at the same time, so to speak. So, as I have to make my way across London anyway, to either Paddington (for Heathrow Express) or Victoria (for Gatwick Express) to get to the airport, I often have a little pit stop for lunch and some shopping on the way. Of course, this only works if I have either no luggage or just cabin luggage; with a suitcase it's straight to the airport, no fun at all.
Anyway, there are two excellent (high street) shopping areas that pass both my stress-free shopping experience test and quick-and-targeted-shopping spree test: High Street Kensington and Sloane Square. Both are conveniently situated along the Circle Line, i.e the yellow underground line (subway line for my American readers) on the Tube map, and just a few stops away from either Paddington or Victoria stations. But let's take a closer look:
HIGH STREET KENSINGTON
You can find all your high street favourites within this compact area: Gap, H&M, Hobbs, Jigsaw, L.K.Bennett, Reiss, Topshop, American Apparel, Zara, Massimo Dutti, Clarks, Ecco, Geox...
But two shops in particular deserve a mention:
First, the best ever Marks and Spencer is adjacent to the tube station. Why the best ever? It is much less crowded than the Marble Arch store, and has an excellent selection, including the Autograph and Limited lines (and they ususally have my size, too...).
The other shop worth mentioning is T.K.Maxx a bit further away along the street. I have to confess: while I am always in awe of bloggers who find amazing bargains here, this shop doesn't really do it for me... In fact, I hate it almost as much as I hate H&M and for the same reasons: it's messy and disorganised, I can't see how you can find anything there. Well, I guess it takes some effort... OK, I admit: I'm not just a lazy tourist, I'm also a lazy shopper. I take one quick look around a shop to see if anything catches my eye, and if nothing does, I'm out of there. But, I thought, in spite of my personal reservations (or laziness), T.K Maxx is worth mentioning here, given how popular it (or its American counterpart, T.J.Maxx ) is.
And if you get hungry, how about a bite at Whole Foods? Or coffee and cake at the German bakery Kamps at Kensington High Street tube station?
But let's move on. The other excellent shopping area is
Again, you can find the usual (high street) suspects: Zara, Cos, L.K.Bennett, Banana Republic, Jigsaw... but also Whistles, Michael Kors, Club Monaco, Hugo Boss, Mary Quant (in the Duke of York Square shopping centre) etc. And on the other side of the square: J Crew, Kate Spade, Tiffany's, Links of London, and the cashmere heaven Brora.
And don't forget Peter Jones department store. It is essentially the same as John Lewis on Oxford Street, just a little bit smaller and much less crowded. However, this department store is a must for anyone interested in crafts and sewing: there is quite a selection of fabrics and home decoration.
Have fun shopping