London is such a massive place that for tourists coming to the city it can be slightly overwhelming when there are just so many places to see, things to do and places to shop.
London is full of chains and if that is what you are after, people tend to flood to Oxford Street. However, this is one of the busiest streets for shopping in London and can be extremely busy and overwhelming and I have seen hundreds of arguments break out along this street. But the chains don't just live on Oxford Street, granted they have some of the biggest but there are plenty more places to go that aren't quite so busy but still have the same amount of variety.
Below is a shopping guide (from a Londoner who loves to shop) on some of the best shops to shop on, to get away from the hustle and bustle of some of the crazily busy streets such as Oxford Street.
This is an indoor shopping centre in the West of London and it really does have everything you could ever need from a shopping centre. Not only are they full of the usual high street chains, H&M, Topshop, River Island, Zara, Mango etc but they have a huge amount of restaurants and even a 14 screen cinema.
This is the kind of place where if you have a lot to get or search for, you can find it all in one place without having to trek around the whole of London to go to different individual shops. It is also great to take the family as they have something for everyone. Sofas in the main relaxation areas, a crèche for kids and even beauty and hair salons. There is an underground car park that you can park in and best of all; this place is open till 9pm Monday – Tuesday, until 10pm Thursday and Friday, 9pm Saturday and 6pm Sunday.
In my opinion, if you are just going for a few hours, if you have the energy go after work and if you want a whole day out… either go on a sunnyish day early Saturday morning to avoid the crowds (it is open from 9am) or get there at 11am on a Sunday, have a coffee and be there for when the shops open at 12pm. They also have department stores, House of Fraser and Debenhams. What's not to like?
This street doesn't have a huge amount to offer but is perfect if you want to go to a couple of high street chains and avoid all the hustle and bustle of London. Especially on a Sunday, it really is dead. They have a Topshop and a Zara as well as Boots, Marks and Spencer and various smaller chain shops such as Moss Bros.
However they have a brilliant House of Fraser filled with all the high street brands which is a really large store and easy to navigate around. If you go here for a few hours and find you still haven't got everything you need, you can hop on a train to Clapham Junction (8 minutes) where there is a Debenhams, New Look, Space NK and TX Max or walk down to Sloane Square in 20 minutes to the more expensive Hugo Boss, Tiffany's and Peter Jones (John Lewis). Perfect for a more relaxed afternoon of shopping.
Not quite a secret but certainly well hidden, St Christopher's Place offers a welcome respite from the Oxford Street crowds. It doesn't have a huge amount of shops but you feel like you are in Brighton Laines rather than bustling London. There is a Jigsaw, the expensive Mulberry store, L'Occitane and Whistles. If you'd rather peruse the high street in a more relaxed manner, without the risk of bumping into a golf sale sign, then St Christopher's Place is a useful secret to know.
Kensington High Street
Another slightly quieter favourite of mine is Kensington High Street. They have all sorts of high street chains such as Gap, Zara and Urban Outfitters and it is a really nice place to wander at the weekend, especially in the morning before it gets too busy. It is a very long street though and spans over 3 tube stations so make sure you wear comfy shoes.
Just near Sloane Square Station, this road is famous for its high end shops, however, if you go for a wander, there are loads of more affordable high street chains, too, such as Zara, Warehouse and the shoe shop Office and, as mentioned above, Peter Jones (John Lewis) that also sells all sorts of brands.
There are of course the more expensive ones, Links of London, Tiffany's, Smythson and Hugo Boss to name a few, but it really depends what you are looking for. If you want to experience the real middle class London life, have a wander down the Kings Road and stop off at a coffee shop and people watch. It really is fun watching the world go by…as long as you don't get too much shopping bag envy when all the designer carrier bags wander past with their owners.
This one is a little bit busier, being just off of Oxford Street, however, it does have the rather wonderful and old fashioned from the outside but modern on the inside department store; Liberty's. A bit of a Tardis, this store stocks everything from Levi's to Aveda hair products and Nike trainers. Walking down Carnaby Street you discover shops from American Apparel to Jack Wills to a MAC makeup store and Diesel for men and women.
Slightly less high street and going towards the more "indie" / "lower designer" shops, it makes a nice shopping experience if you fancy a wander down this famous street.
I love Covent Garden but it does get rather busy at the weekend, especially in the summer and as long as you know your way around, it can be a lovely experience, so, take a map. Neal Street and Long Acre are the best places to shop in Covent Garden (unless you want the amazing Kurt Geiger which is on James Street, right near the Covent Garden plaza). Long Acre and Neal Street run in a T shape and are filled with shops such as Mango, Office, Benefit Makeup, Marks and Spencer, Levi's, Zara, French Connection and Urban Outfitters… to name a few.
On a nice day, after your shopping is done, it is definitely worth getting some lunch or a drink in the plaza and watching the world go by and resting your tired legs from all that shopping.
If you have any other great tips of places to shop, please do add them below.
I enjoy Greenwich of a Sunday because of its Vintage and Art and Craft Markets.
Most of the shops are open as well and there is plenty of choice as to where to eat and drink. Here you can find something original and different and quite often unique.