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Shoppers guide to London

Not sure where to start shopping in London? Hereís a handy guide to Londonís shopping areas to get you started.

London is one of the worldís most exciting cities for shopping. Ok, so if youíre just looking for a pair of plain black shoes, itís not the easiest shopping city to navigate. But if youíre prepared to brave the crowds and be patient, then thereís no better place for a bit of retail therapy. But where do you start? Hereís my handy guide to shopping in London to give you a helping hand.

Iconic department stores and shopping streets

Think of shopping in London and itís likely that one name will pop right into your head: Oxford Street. This iconic street is a mecca for shoppers in London and is home to the huge flagship stores of Topshop, Primark and much more. So if high street fashion is your raison de etre, Oxford Street wonít leave you disappointed.

But if youíre looking for designer items, saunter on to Bond Street, right next to Oxford Street. Here, youíll find upmarket boutiques and designer label stores Ė so youíll go from H&M to Hermes in just a few minutes. And while the West End may be better known for its selection of theatres, there are also shops galore. As well as the bars, restaurants and hotels in Covent Garden, the area is home to some great high-end clothes shops.

However, Oxford Street and Covent Garden do have one common problem, and itís not the crowds: itís the weather. If itís raining, walking down the street from shop to shop is more trouble than itís worth. Thatís why when the weatherís bad; I head to one of Londonís iconic department stores. My favourite is Liberty, which is located on Regent Street, also near Oxford Street. Its distinctive Tudor exterior means itís one of the areaís most individual buildings, and a great place to spend an hour or two shopping.

Other popular department stores include Selfridges (also on Oxford Street), Harvey Nichols and of course Harrods in Knightsbridge. And if you want to explore a lot of different shops under one roof, you canít go wrong with the Westfield shopping centre in Shepherds Bush, where youíll also find many a cheap, central London hotel.

Scouring vintage stores and markets

If youíre enthusiastic about the vintage trend thatís sweeping the UK in 2012, make East London your first stop for shopping. Youíll find a vintage shop every 100 yards in Shoreditch and parts of Hackney, especially along Columbia Road and in Brick Lane. Occasionally, a big vintage fair will come to town too Ė a couple of months ago, I went to one in Shoreditch Town Hall that had a fantastic selection of clothes and accessories at reasonable prices.

And no shopping trip to London is complete without a visit to one of its markets, many of which are undergoing a happy revival at the moment. For clothes, my favourite is Petticoat Lane Market, Spitalfields and Broadway Market. But donít miss a walk through Columbia Road flower Market on a Sunday, where youíll find beautiful flowers and plants at good prices.


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