If you’re after a shopping blitz, and want to go to as many different stores as possible, your best bet is to go to one of the following streets. There will be a wide variety of stores, such as clothing, shoes, entertainment shops, kids’ stores and so on.
Quite understandably, these streets get very busy, especially so on the weekend. So if manic shopping isn’t really your thing – stay away! (Or at least try a weekeday morning.)
N.B. Stores in England are generally open every day of the week. On weekdays and Saturday, shops will open at 9am/10am and stay open until about 6pm or 7pm – with the exception of Thursday, which is considered a late night shopping day, when places may stay open til 8pm or 9pm. On Sundays, shops are open from about midday to 5pm.
Kensington High Street
Underground: High Street Kensington
The Underground station is more or less halfway along the the street, so you’ll need to turn left or right and wander down, before heading back up the other side. I’d say the majority of shops are right of the station, so decide whether you’d prefer hitting the heavy stuff first, or working your way up to that. You’ll find fashion stores such as Warehouse, Zara, H&M, Gap, Next, Monsoon, Jigsaw, Reiss, Miss Sixty, Topshop and Uniqlo; shoe shops Dune, Clarks, Russell & Bromley and Kurt Geiger; books at Waterstones; general cool stuff at Urban Outfitters; and about a billion mobile phone stores.
There’s also a very good Marks & Spencer, which is beginning to sell just about anything these days (food, underwear, furniture, clothing and pretty much everything else).
The UK’s only Whole Foods (so far) opened to much fanfare in 2007 in the Barkers building. Much of the initial hysteria about it has calmed down, and they do sell good quality food…if quite pricey.
For other supermarkets, Kensington High Street also has a Waitrose and a Tesco.
Unusually, there’s also a small section of the High Street that has a cluster of skiing and outdoors shops (Blacks, Snow & Rock, Mountain Warehouse) so if you’re after any of these items, Kensington High Street is quite a good place to go if you’re after a browse – as so many are in one place!
Underground: Sloane Square
Sloane Square Underground station is situated at one end of King’s Road, so it provides a perfect start for your shopping trek.
King’s Road has very similar (some of the same!) stores as Kensington High Street. It does, however, have a few more unique boutiques, and a lot more cafes and pubs dotted along it – perfect for pacing yourself and enjoying a nice coffee, meal or cold beer along the way. The road itself is also considerably narrower, so you can easily zip across it should something on the other side take your fancy.
Some of stores that King’s Road has are: fashion – Oasis, French Connection, Calvin Klein; shoes – Dune; furniture – Habitat, Heals.
On Sloane Square you’ll find the very tradionally English department store, Peter Jones, which is a definite recommendation.
Underground: Knightsbridge or Sloane Square
Sloane Street stretches from Knightsbridge to Sloane Square, and the former tends to be a better starting point. (Department stores Harrods and Harvey Nichols are also right there.)
Now, Sloane Street isn’t at all your typical high street – unless you never dress in anything that’s worth less than a few thousand pounds. Put it this way, the stores here are very fancy indeed. You’ll find Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Giorgio Armani, Jimmy Choo, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana, Bulgari and Chanel to name but a few.
It’s still well worth a walk down to window shop, if nothing else!