London is sheer paradise for the shopaholic with many expats unable to wait until they can stroll the pavements of Oxford Street or Regent Street, laden with shopping bags, or browse the stalls at Camden Lock Market looking for that special gift. Then there are the shopping centres. From graceful listed buildings and revamped social housing projects to modern architectural masterpieces, every London shopping centre has its own unique design, feel and range of outlets. Here are eight of the best:
Duke of York
If you want to know what a slice of pure Chelsea feels like, then a trip to the Duke of York shopping centre is a must. Situated on Kings Road between the classic columns of the Saatchi gallery and the glass curtain-walled Peter Jones store, the Duke offers a chic open air shopping and eating centre which gently buzzes in the summer months. Stores to visit include All Saints, Zara, Liz Earle, Rtista, Hoss, Joseph, Bada, Cos and Oska, and notable inclusions are Richard Ward (Princess Kate’s salon), Mary Quant cosmetics and Taschen art and photography books. There are six eateries, including Comptoir Libenais, Partridges and the Gelateria and Patisserie Valerie. There is also a weekly farmers’ market on a Saturday.
Boxpark Shoreditch in the East End is something truly unique, a pop-up shopping centre where the units are reconditioned shipping containers. It (literally) sprang up in 2011 as the brainchild of Boxfresh labels Roger Wade, with Hammerson and Ballymore in charge of development. Wade sees similar projects as having the potential to save the High Street, and Boxpark itself is part of a scheme that will see over 2 000 homes built in the Bethnal Green area. The Boxpark brand, with its distinctive black and white chevrons, also has an online store and mobile app to give shoppers multiple ways to interact. On site, shoppers can take a break from their hobby to enjoy salad, soup or stew at Chop’d.
In 1976 Brent Cross, in North West London, became the first enclosed shopping centre in the UK, but it was expected to be a failure by many, with the concept of the shopping centre having not yet caught on. Since then, Brent Cross has been completely redeveloped and now contains a mixture of over a hundred high street department stores, including John Lewis and M&S, and specialist outlets such as Havaianas and the Apple and Amazon Locker shops. Other shops include Accessorize, All Saints, Banana Republic, Hugo Boss, CK, Hobbs, Levis, Lush, Reiss, Zara, TopMan, TopShop, Victoria’s Secret and even an Arsenal Shop for dedicated Gunners fans. For those shoppers with a car, the free parking is a welcome advantage.
Charming Edwardian-style Whiteley’s was built at the turn of the century and cuts an impressive sight to this day with its marble floors, fancy staircase and glass atrium. It reopened in 1989 after eight years of closure and has emerged stronger than ever, occupying over 300,000 square feet and dominating Queensway. Inside, the sense of anachronism is strong with an eight-screen Odeon sitting in the place of the former theatre along with an All-Star Lanes bowling alley. Over 70 shops have been packed in including Dune, E&A Moda, H&M, Joy, JD Sports and Muskaan Beauty.
There are plenty of places to grab a bite to eat too, including a Yo! Sushi, Pizza Express and Costa Coffee. Whiteley’s was once owned, in the 1920s, by the Selfridge family.
One New Change
One of the more striking architectural designs, the 2010-built One New Change shopping centre was a first UK project for acclaimed Pritzker Prize winning designer Jean Nouvel. Nouvel has made the most of its location near St Paul’s Cathedral with well-placed viewing platforms for the city bankers to enjoy as they take a quick break away from the crowds. The site covers an area the size of twelve football pitches and contains numerous fashion outlets including Banana Republic, All Saints and H&M. The Luna cinema is situated up on the 6th floor and there are no fewer than two celebrity restaurants: Gordon Ramsey’s Bread Street Kitchen and Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa. There is also a Wahaca and Nando’s among others.
Set in Bloomsbury, famed for its garden squares and the nearby British Museum, stands a dazzling white £24 million reconstruction of a concrete 60s retail/affordable housing project designed by Patrick Hodgkinson. The facelift has led to a renewed popularity for the shopping centre, which had fallen into decline through the 80s and 90s, with the eateries now teeming with activity in the summer months. The Brunswick boasts its own art-house cinema, the Renoir, while stores include the likes of Benetton, Hobbs, Joy, Itsu, Space NK, New Look and possibly the best second-hand bookshop in London, Skoob Books. Diners are spoilt for choice with everything from a Yo! Sushi, Nando’s, Strada and Crussh to Apostrophe and Carluccio’s restaurants under one roof.
Not to be confused with the Westfield Stratford, the Westfield London was Europe’s largest shopping centre when it was built, in 2008 and bills itself as the ‘home of shopping in London’. The £1.6 billion outlet was constructed on the site of the 1908 Olympic Games and contains over 270 shops and 50 eateries. There are plenty of designer brands represented in the Westfield London, including Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, Burberry, Gucci, CK, Versace, Hugo Boss and Ted Baker. The usual shopping centre chain restaurants are in evidence (Apostrophe, Carluccio’s etc.) as well as Jamie’s Italian, a relaxing, family friendly restaurant set up by Jamie Oliver and mentor Gennaro Contaldo . For entertainment there is a Vue Cinema on site.
The impressive gateway to the 2012 Olympic Village, the 1.9 million square foot Westfield Stratford cost £1.45 billion to build and contains over 300 units and 70 eateries between the department stores of John Lewis at one end and M&S at the other. One of the largest digital only cinemas in Europe, a 17-screen Vue Cinema add to the wow factor. There are also three hotels on site: the four star Holiday Inn, the Premier Inn and the Staybridge Suites. Westfield Stratford doesn’t have the same big fashion names as the London centre, but All Saints, Zara, CK, Lacoste and Tommy Hilfiger are all represented. Dining of every preference is offered, with many outlets overlooking the Olympic village.