Snowstorms have brought European travel to a screeching halt.
So if you’re stuck in London, shop!
Suzy Gershman shares her latest finds from across the pond.
London has been so cold and snowy that it’s difficult to shop ’til you drop—outdoors it’s too cold and indoors it’s too hot.
The news here, of course, is the royal wedding for April which comes about one year (plus) before the Olympics, so hotels that were in works are rushing to be ready for the big event.
OLD & NEW HOTELS
Almost every hotel in town has been or will be renovated before the Olympic Games; some are basking in new style already. We booked into The Athenaeum, Piccadilly, which has been totally renovated and now features a lot of contemporary British art, a freebie mini-bar (except for booze) and their infamous sticky toffee pudding. This is a cozy modern hotel with a great location and a low-key showbiz crowd. They also have apartment suites around the corner, but we wanted all the luxuries of that free minibar.
The Corinthia is the new grande dame in town—it’s an old hotel that became part of Winston’s Churchill’s War Office/Defense Department that is just now being returned to hotel glory. Located one block from Trafalgar Square and two blocks from the newly re-opened Savoy Hotel, the Corinthia enjoys water views of the River Thames and an enviable location for theater and/or shopping. It is also walking distance to Westminster Abbey and will open in early April, for those who are crossing The Pond for the royal wedding. There are two restaurants coming onboard; the hotel will feature one of the few courtyards in London.
Not so far away, but more within The City (Westminster—the Financial District), InterContinental Hotels will open its next London hotel.
THE NEW HARRODS
Although Harrods was sold and some locals complain that prices, especially in the Food Halls, have gone way up, I couldn’t find anything to criticize. It seemed to be business as usual, to me.
The addition of a Laduree tea room straight from Paris is welcome, but there is another Laduree on Piccadilly in the Burlington Arcade.
Learn more about the famed Laduree in these articles:
Laduree makes the best macaroons in the world, so it will be interesting to see if the London community gives up scones in favor of the French choice.
TESCO TO GO
Speaking of scones, I went to the supermarket Tesco for a little grocery shopping and bought a scone mix. Unfortunately, it is illegal to bring back the clotted cream to go with it. I did bring some aged cheese (cheeses aged more than 60 days are legal) and declared them to the customs official on return to the U.S.
“Oh” she said, “we’re not worried about cheese!” Really? Does that mean clotted cream could be OK?
HIGH STREET SECRETS
Shopping on Oxford and Regent Streets, especially around Oxford Circus, was a zoo (not a circus). I have no idea where all these people came from, but they take the fun out of shopping.
The best secret I discovered was Ken (Kensington) High Street, with most of the same stores and no crowds. The Marks & Spencer here was better than the Marble Arch flagship, as was the branch of COS.
Better yet, there is a new branch of TK Maxx here. TK Maxx is the UK version of T.J. Maxx; I have no idea why they had to modify their name. The store is three floors filled with major names in clothes, beauty and even gourmet foodstuffs. Although many of the brands might be well-known by Americans, the upmarket choices were mind-boggling. There were also scads of small gift items and stocking stuffers in the under £10 price range for those who are still going to London for holiday shopping.
With low winter airfares and a down jacket or coat as well as boots, anyone can have a wonderful time shopping London … and can beat the wedding crowds too.
Look Right for Kisses,
By Suzy Gershman for PeterGreenberg.com. Suzy Gershman’s Born to Shop California Wine Country by Suzy Gershman & Sarah Lahey is now available on Amazon.com and in book stores near you!
Related links on PeterGreenberg.com:
- Shopping section
- Luxury Travel section
- London Shopping Guide: Portobello Road, London Malls & Beyond
- Bargain Shopping In Europe: Oxford, England
- Suzy Gershman’s Postcard From Paddington: London’s Best-Kept Secret?
- Finding Good Travel Deals In Pricey London
- Suzy Gershman’s Paris Guide: Luxury Travel, Hotels & Shopping
- Suzy Gershman’s Postcard From Paris
- Suzy Gershman’s Postcard From Monaco
- Off The Brochure(sm) Travel Guide: London, England