From a very young age, I have been to London – one of my favourite capital cities – countless times. Which is why I felt it was time to dedicate a post to a very popular activity prevalent here: shopping. The reason is because I am quite disenchanted with the idea of London, or shopping here, being associated almost exclusively with Oxford Street, whereby the latter has become synonymous with such a vibrant even if somewhat overrated destination.
So unless you are a beginner read on. If you are a bit of the latter, meaning it is your first time in London, then maybe you
should could start with Oxford Street (especially if you are interested in the high street brands /stores spilling into each other, particularly Primark which is massive and regrettably choc-a-block with -sigh- Maltese people).
Now onto more ‘unknown’ shopping spots.
Brent Cross Shopping Centre
My first location is Brent Cross Shopping Centre which can be easily accessed on the Tube (alight at Brent Cross station and follow the signs until you have to cross a bridge into the main road). Brent Cross has existed for quite a while now: it was the first stand-alone shopping mall when it opened in 1976 and my parents were among those who shopped here while they lived in London in the 70s. It boasts over 120 shops and if you’re interested in the fashion department you will find among others: French Connection, H&M, Gap, Levi’s, Marks & Spencer, Miss Selfridge, New Look, Monsoon, Topshop and of course Zara. Every time I visit Brent Cross I prefer to do so on those commonly rainy and chilly days (no surprise) because once you are in the Centre you can shop in a rain-free and warm environment. On a more recent trip, I also remember having had lunch at one of my preferred food joints – Nando’s (though I am also partial to Wagamama, Yo! Sushi and Pizza Express).
Read more info on Brent Cross here
Westfield Shopping Centre
A newer complex is Westfield Shopping Centre which opened in 2008. It can be reached from Sheperd’s Bush Station (Central Line) or Sheperd’s Bush Market Station (on Hammersmith & City). I like Westfield as it is a state-of-the-art Centre that will be celebrating its 5 year anniversary in October 2013. In fact my first visit was in 2009 so it was brand-new, and hopping from one shop to another I couldn’t but admire the actual building, albeit being a tad modern for some people’s taste. More ambitious than Brent Cross, it has a whopping 375 stores under its roof. It would be impossible to mention all, but here is a list of the stores many are likely to be interested in : Aldo (shoes), Burberry, Coach, Debenhams, DKNY, Guess, Jimmy Choo, Kate Spade NY, MAC (makeup), Mango, Michael Kors, Russell & Bromley (shoes), Uniglo, and Zadig & Voltaire. There are too many dining options to list here but if you browse the website it would be enough to make anyone’s mouth water.
Read more info on Westfield here
I can’t vouch whether people who holiday in London pop over to Brent Cross or Westfield (granted, they are less central than other areas) but I am aware that many just fall back on Oxford Street due to it being very central on the Tube. Yet if you are in London next time, and you haven’t already shopped here, consider these roads less taken, which I find to be less busy and more off the beaten track.
And just as I am typing this post it has to be a coincidence that I came across this article with plans to regenerate Brent Cross. It seems Westfield is getting itself a stronger competitor.