We recently talked about breaking away from the tourist pack by vacationing in Europe during the fall and winter. Well, I think it’s time to look at opportunities to visit some of my favorite cities at one of my favorite times of the year – the Christmas season. And in Europe, Christmas truly is not just a day but a season. Events and lights begin by mid-November and run into the first week of January. So start considering a once-in-a-lifetime experience now by seeing the season’s sights in the West End - my favorite part of London.
For many of us, one of the joys of Christmas is buying gifts for others and there’s no better place in he world for shopping than London’s West End. And shopping during the Christmas season brings the added bonus of marveling at the great lights and decorations the retailers put on display, especially along Oxford Street, Bond Street and Regent Street. Stroll along each of these streets and you’ll be amazed at the small shops nd boutiques that await you. And, of course, there are large department stores if that’s your preference.
If you’re looking for reasonable prices in London, there really aren’t any! But for an endless line of terrific stores of all types don’t miss Oxford Street. The ¾ mile walk from Regent Street to Marble Arch will give you more lights, decorations and shopping opportunities than you could hope for. And for a great department store experience (from affordable to designer and from tea to food) don’t miss Selfridges near the Marble Arch.
But if you’re looking for high end shopping and dining opportunities (or just plain window shopping) Bond Streetis the best spot. Take the ½ mile stroll from Oxford Street down to Piccadilly Road and you’ll be in a boutique heaven clad in Christmas lights and window decorations. But close to Oxford you’ll also find Fenwick, a smaller department store without the crazy crowds you’ll find in the larger variety throughout the city.
And when you arrive at Piccadilly Road you’ll be just across the street from the unique small department store Fortnum & Mason. This is one of my favorite spots in London, especially with their fantastic Christmas decorations. In addition to the shopping delights, you’ll also find an incredible selection of packaged and loose teas, a wonderful food court and a relaxing tea room.
Finally, if you have time to slip in some shopping for men’s clothing and grooming products, the street just behind Fortnum & Mason is the best opportunity in London. Since Victorian days, Jermyn Street has served the fashion needs from royalty to the well-heeled businessman. It’s a relaxing low-key street that deserves a visit.