Not only will you have a wide range of stores to choose from you will be surrounded by a brilliant display of Christmas lights, while hot chestnuts are roasted on the sidewalk and carol singers and street musicians vie for your attention – and a small ‘donation’.
Christmas Shopping in London – Oxford Street
Oxford Street began as a Roman road which by-passed London and snaked down to the south-east coast. Today it is London’s busiest shopping street. The largest store is Selfridges which began its life in 1907, built by an American magnate Gordon Selfridge. It was he who coined the catchphrase ‘the customer is always right’. The store has the grandest facade of any in London and a favourite meeting place is ‘under the clock at Selfridges’.
There are numerous restaurants and bars in Selfridges. Wind down after a hard day’s shopping with champagne and oysters at the Oyster Bar, or try modern British cuisine at the Gallery Restaurant where hearty English breakfasts are served.
Christmas Shopping in London on a Budget
Also on Oxford Street is the flagship store of John Lewis, an all-time favourite of Londoners. An old established business known for its large selection of quality household goods, it also sells labels like Dior, Chanel and Gucci. They are famous for their slogan ‘we are never knowingly undersold’. If you prove them wrong they will refund the difference.
Christmas Shopping in London – Regent Street
The word ‘elegant’ is often used when referring to Regent Street. It is long and curving and lined with grand Regency buildings. Its two most famous stores are Liberty & Co and Hamleys. It’s a London tradition to come to Regent Street for the Christmas lights. the best way to see them is from an upstair’s seat of a double-decker bus, preferably at the front.
This custom started in 1949 when only Christmas trees were lit. Since1954, the whole street has been lit up – each year a different design is on show. The lights are switched on in mid-November, usually by a celebrity or a member of the royal family.
Christmas Shopping in London – Liberty was founded in1875, mainly to sell art objects from the Far East and Japan. It is one of the most distinguishable buildings in London, built in the Tudor style of architecture. The timbers used on the facade of the older wing, which fronts onto Great Marlborough Street, (built in 1924) were taken from two British naval ships.
It is possibly London’s most beautiful department store, inside and out. It’s a pleasure to walk through the different sections with their splendid oak-panelled walls and domed ceilings. The antique furniture section is really something to drool over.
For Liberty, the key word is top design and craftsmanship. This is the place for high quality Christmas presents. They also specialize in oriental goods and fine British and imported fabrics. A Liberty print silk scarf is a popular choice for Christmas gifts.
Christmas Shopping in London – Hamley’s first opened its doors in 1760. At this time traffic consisted of horses and carts and it was still fifty years before gaslight was introduced. Since then it has grown into possibly the largest toy shop in the world. If you have children, this is the place to take them. It has just about anything a child could want, packed into seven floors. William Hamley crammed his tiny shop in Holborn with every kind of toy he could get his hands on. It wasn’t until 1881 that William’s grandsons opened the current store in Regent Street.