The best attractions on London’s River Thames
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London is a shopper’s paradise, catering for every taste and style. From big-name emporiums, such as Harrods, Fortnum & Mason and Liberty, which not only offer a slice of heaven to shopaholics but have become sightseeing attractions in their own right, to the hidden boutiques and independent start-ups and the dozens of markets where you can bag a bargain, London has it all.
Oxford Street’s most famous store is no doubt the legendary Selfridges, which began life in 1909 and is spread over nine floors and offering 10 acres of shopping space. As well as the flagship shops of other British department stores including Debenhams and John Lewis, Oxford Street also offers some of the best choice in terms of high street fashion; Topshop’s flagship store is here, as are not one but two Primark stores and then there’s the four-floor NikeTown for that sports luxe attire.
The world-famous Camden Market attracts more than 100,000 visitors every weekend and is one of the city’s top attractions. This market is actually a collection of six small markets within the area so make sure you leave time to visit them all!
The Portobello Road Market, in Notting Hill, is another of London’s market institutions, while other markets include the historical Old Spitalfields Market dating back to 1638, Petticoat Lane Market, the food-lovers’ Borough Market and the posh Dover Street Market in Mayfair.
Another of London’s famous shopping districts is Regent Street, which provides an altogether elegant shopping experience thanks to its Grade 2-listed buildings designed by famed architect John Nash. It’s also home to some of the city’s oldest stores including Hamleys and the magnificent mock-Tudor building which houses Liberty. Dating back to 1664, when Charles II authorised Henry Jermyn, the Earl of St Albans, to develop an area close to St James’s Palace, Jermyn Street, which sits just off Regent Street, has a world-renowned reputation as the centre for gentlemen’s fashion, especially bespoke shirts. However, renowned worldwide for its tailoring, Savile Row is the place to go if you require a hand-made suit crafted the old-fashioned way.
A few streets away, Bond Street, which boasts one of the biggest and best concentrations of designer shops in the world, is the place to be seen if you are any kind of serious fashionista. Names include Donna Karan, Versace and Ralph Lauren to name just a few and you’ll also find British designers Mulberry and Burberry. New Bond Street is home to Sotheby’s – the world’s oldest auction house – while those with a love of diamonds will also be spoilt for choice here, thanks to branches of Cartier, Tiffany & Co and Asprey, all within a short stroll of each other.
87-135 Brompton Rd, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL
A luxury shopping destination for more than 160 years, Harrods is renowned for exclusive collections and excellent service – 15 million people walk through its doors every year. The seven-floor, 4.5 acres store contains a labyrinth of 330 departments dedicated to the finest products in food, fashion, homeware and technology. The luxury womenswear department has 17 boutiques dedicated to top international brands, including Valentino, Prada and Dior, while Salon du Parfums houses the finest fragrances, some exclusive to Harrods. For an unforgettable experience, don’t forget to make a pit stop at the famous Harrods Food Halls – almost an entire floor dedicated to high-end foodstuffs from across the globe. The experience is more like visiting a museum than shopping and there are also free hands-on master classes in some of the halls. Visit website
Royal Exchange, Cornhill, London EC3V 3LR
The Royal Exchange is a luxury destination in the heart of the City, offering an unrivalled collection of boutique shopping and dining within one of London’s most iconic and historic buildings. Home to the world’s leading luxury brands, The Royal Exchange continues to provide the City’s most luxurious shopping experience, distinguished fine dining and unrivalled glamorous ambience to its discerning clientele. Visit website
Camden Lock Pl, Camden Town, London NW1 8AF
The world-famous Camden high street market attracts more than 100,000 visitors every weekend and is one of the city’s top attractions. This market is actually a collection of six small markets within the area: the Electric Ballroom Market, selling vintage and funky gear; the Inverness Street Market, selling fruit and veg, bargain clothing and souvenirs; Buck Street Market, specialising in alternative clothing; the Camden Canal Market with its small shops selling fashion accessories and gifts; Camden Lock Market, famous for its crafts and the Camden Stables Market, where shopkeepers sell clothes and accessories. Visit website
Ariel Way, Shepherd’s Bush, London W12 7GF
Westfield London, which was built on a 45-acre brownfield site in White City in 2008 as a pioneering shopping and leisure destination within which to shop, eat, and socialise. In its first three weeks of opening, the centre welcomed over two million visitors and is now established as a celebrated architectural and commercial success for London. A decade later and it appears the attraction is no less popular as it has just undergone a massive expansion project, which has added another 740,000 square feet to this already mind-bogglingly big retail space. You’ll find Debenhams, Next, Marks and Spencer, House of Fraser, Waitrose and around 300 premium and high street retailers from more than 15 different countries, alongside luxury designer boutiques. When all that shopping has built up enough of an appetite to stop for a spot of lunch or dinner, head to the Southern Terrace, where a bustling cluster of restaurants creates a pedestrianised street of dining, or The Balcony, where open cooking brings drama to the collection of counters preparing fresh food fast and to order. Visit website
188-196 Regent St, Soho, London W1B 5BT
Established in 1760, Hamleys is London’s oldest toy shop and is one of the largest toy stores in the world. The legendary store is a fantastic experience for kids of all ages featuring seven floors brimming with the latest crazes, computer games, traditional teddies and specialist collector areas. Visit website
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