This month Cicilia proposes to you a great selection of Christmas shopping places around the capital.
Christmas is approaching rapidly, and although I’m personally not one of those starting the Christmas countdown 100 days in advance, I do love a good shopping spree. So, if you are on the hunt for particular gifts or are already in the shopping hysteria, here, you’ll find everything you need.
FAMILY PROOF DESTINATION – WESTFIELD WHITE CITY
One of London’s most populated shopping destinations is Westfield – White City mall, with an annual turnover of 8 million people. This famous shopping centre has another smaller branch in Stratford, but I recommend going to the West London one to have a wider choice.
The mall is located in White City and is easily reachable by public transport or car. Bear in mind that it is packed on the weekends, so I suggest going on evening weekdays to avoid hour-long queues. The best feature of this massive 450 shop mall is the variety of brands spanning from fast fashion brands to luxury labels hosted in a dedicated gallery. So, don’t underestimate Westfield’s size and get ready to wear comfy shoes! Download the mall’s app to use the totem strategically placed everywhere in the centre so as not to miss any exciting places. I genuinely believe anything existing is sold in Westfield, so you won’t be disappointed.
I suggest dedicating this shopping spree at least a good four hours and having a look at the food court to grab a snack in between your shopping marathon. There are plenty of options for childrenswear too as well as a dedicated playroom area if your younger ones fancy a little time out. I would not recommend Westfield for toy purchases, though.
There are just a handful of weekends before Christmas, and I would undoubtedly dedicate at least one to Xmas shopping.
A stone thrown away from Westfield White City, there is the famous Portobello Market. If you are a shopping pro, you can probably handle these two trips together; otherwise, just enjoy a Notting Hill tour on a Saturday morning. Indeed, on this day of the week, you can enjoy Portobello Market in full swing as there are all the sections from fashion to antiques. I love heading to this bucolic street and enjoying a mix of fashion and foodie moments in one of the many super Instagrammable coffee shop. On Saturday the market is open from 9am to 7pm, while on Sunday it is closed. So, if you are looking for proper antique treasures like ancient chinoiserie sets, bric-a-brac of any kind, and fashion stalls with a vintage flavour, this is a must place to visit for you.
If you are not from London and want to enjoy a full shopping day, you can opt to visit Portobello Market in the morning and then head to the high street. Just hop on the central line in Notting Hill and get off at Marble Arch to explore Oxford Street. I recommend that classy and posh shoppers visit the never disappointing Bond Street to splash the cash on some fashion extravaganzas.
If you are interested in particular art-related experiences, you can pop to 6 Burlington Garden to check the A.A Murakami Silent Fall exhibition, open until Summer 2022. If this Instagrammable exhibition is not for you, enjoy a good brunch in one of the many eateries in Mayfair before continuing your shopping session.
When I am in Regent Street around Christmas time, I love having a little trip to Hamleys and being a child again. This street houses a considerable number of fashion brands, among them being the Burberry flagship store.
I recommend all the fashion lovers out there to check it out and see what new tech customer experience tools are.
Despite fashion being my main passion, I am often more interested in food-based gifts like luxury hampers around Christmas time. Indeed, it is well-known that gifting a fashion item is risky due to sizing or personal taste while a good Christmas hamper never disappoints.
For this reason, I propose Liberty in Soho and Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly Street. The first one is one of the most stunning niche department stores ever existed.
It dates back to the late 19th century, and it features beautifully engraved and decorated oakwood interiors. Liberty is well-known for its fabric collection, as it was the first London shop importing lavish Indian fabrics. It also hosts an extensive collection of interior design extravaganzas, tableware pieces, and an interesting haberdashery section. Liberty always hosts a Christmas shop on the fourth floor offering the craziest Christmas bobbles and tree decors. Check out the peacock and animal sets. These are for sure very tacky, but it is worth giving it a look just in case you fancy an all-glitter zebra adornment. Finally, check the food market on the ground floor, exceptionally equipped with beautifully packaged chocolate bars.
Foodies should head to Fortnum & Mason, the refined food temple. Here, you will find a large selection of jams, teas, chocolate, alcohol, and much more typical Christmas products. On the second floor, you can find elegant watches and jewellery, and you will also spot cosy winter accessories, predominantly cashmere ones.
If you are in Fortum & Mason for teatime, I would have a little stop at the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon located on the fourth floor; just remember to book a table in advance.
Leaving aside the posh street of the city centre, let us take a look at another very cool area worth a Christmas shopping trip, Brick Lane. The easiest way to reach this vintage paradise is by taking the tube or train and get off at Liverpool Street Station.
Have a lovely stroll in Spitalfields Market, one of the iconic places of East London, and you will find a large number of stalls selling mainly trinkets, particular accessories, and very colourful, almost hippie style garments. The market is open from 10am to 6pm and hosts a large number of food stalls. The market area is surrounded by many shops, both well-known brands and independent ones mixing fashion, plants, and interior design items. This is one of the latest, trendiest retail combinations, and I love shops selling various and highly aesthetic products.
Within a ten-minute walk, you can reach Brick Lane and start your vintage shopping pilgrimage. Get ready to ransack big baskets and infinite long retails full of retro goodies. For Christmas gifts, I would choose accessories like bags, hats, and jewellery. In many places, you cannot exchange items, so getting clothes would be a bit risky. If you want to shop for yourself, definitely look for staple items like jeans, denim jackets or basic sweaters and coats that can be a real bargain if bought in good vintage stores.
On the opposite, look for fashion extravaganzas that can be ridiculously cheap so you will not waste money on something particular and maybe wear just once. If you are a DIY lover or simply like your garments customised, check if there is a big button basket close to the till. Almost all these shops sell spare sets of vintage buttons that are generally very particular or even from luxury brands. My favourite vintage shops in that area are Rokit and Beyond Retro; check them out as they offer a massive collection of vintage items.
Last, but for sure not least, is the iconic combo Harrods and Selfridges. I cannot help having my usual Christmas tour there as these two worldwide known department stores are nothing unexpected for a festive shopping trip.
More than fashion items, I would suggest buying their Christmas decorations as they are very particular and have the limited-edition collections that you can start collecting. At Selfridges, you can use the Elfridges, an in-store personal shopping service that can help you find gifts even for the pickiest of your loved ones. There is also a dedicated gift-wrapping station that makes your shopping experience very festive and creative. Do not forget to check the Selfridges Market, just behind the department store building, open every afternoon during weekdays and from 12pm to 9pm during weekends. Here, you will find a good selection of Selfridges classic Christmas treats. Remember to book your tickets as entrances are limited due to Covid-19.
If you love luxury Christmas products wrapped in sumptuous packages, head to Harrods. The selection of themed interior design items and small gifts is incredible, and even with a few dozen pounds, you will find amazingly wrapped products like candles, small leather goods, chocolate boxes, and much more. If you have to make the classic courtesy gift to, Harrods is the perfect choice to get simple yet highly aesthetic small gifts.
This is just an overview of London’s traditional and creative shopping places that should be on your Christmas shopping tour. My best advice for this Christmas season is for sure to have an excellent festive shopping session. After months of lockdowns and forbidden in-store shopping, we all want to see a bit of the Christmas atmosphere and fully enjoy the most magic moment of the year. In addition, I suggest dedicating a bit of your budget to independent shops like the ones in Brick Lane to help labels highly affected by the pandemic.
You can find all Cicilia’s projects visiting ciciliabrognoli.com