Disgustingly warm. You will be horribly sweaty getting off. Not a place you want to be hungover, especially not at rush hour. A lot of pushing shoving and impatience. You’ve gotta be quick. Not ideal with a heavy case and carry on bag as most stations don’t have lifts. A tip is to never run for the tube if you’re not alone as one of you may not make it and risk standing on the platform like a pleb as the tube pulls away( it’s never happened to me but it’s a fear I have!).
Primark Marble Arch.
My God, that place is literally Hell on Earth! Don’t get me wrong you can find things there that you can’t get at home which is amazing but I truly feel for the people who work there, it must be horribly frustrating. Last time I saw one of the staff members sweeping hundreds of hangers up that customers hastily discarded in their bargain shopping fervour, only for a woman to walk straight through the pile with her roll along shopping basket, pulling hangers along with her. I tutted loudly but she didn’t even bat an eyelid! The staff member didn’t flinch either, I guess that’s what they’re up against daily. Did I mention the heat, it’s like a SAUNA!
Primark aside, I do love Oxford Street for Selfridges and Topshop, and for these two alone. Otherwise it is a commercial nightmare. Forever busy, I’ve hardly ever seen the footpaths close to empty. AVOID Oxford Circus tube station at ALL COSTS at the weekend. You will neither get in or get out, also avoid the crossroads at Regent Street on a Saturday coming up to Christmas. This is just a no go zone! You’ve been warned. Then there’s the traffic, its 24hours, trust me I’ve been there, stuck on a night bus in the early hours trying to get home! I try to go to Topshop early morning if I can, because it’s a must, that place is UNREAL! I love the accessories floor and the fact that there is a Hershesons down stairs for a quick blow dry and style. I could go to London solely for a trip to Topshop Oxford Street!
Having began my luxury fashion career there, Harvey Nichols will always hold a special place in my heart but it’s also a way to shop the top designers without the vastness of Harrods and the manic-ness of Selfridges. Set over 5 floors but easy to navigate, each floor loops back to the escalator to guide you up to the next level. I adore the shoe floor, compact yet still holds the best brands such as Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo and Sophia Webster.
Liberty is the most beautiful department store I’ve ever seen. The Tudor style exterior isn’t just for show at it continues all the way through the interior. Feel the floor boards creak as you wander among the fabulous collections. Don’t leave without visiting the iconic scarf hall, a marvel at Christmas time and don’t forget to look up!
Bond Street is a must! For one thing, it’s where Victoria Secret is and it’s also jam packed with high end brands such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Cartier to name but a few and world renowned contemporary brands like DKNY and Michael Kors. Of course most of us can barely afford to step in the doors of such establishments but defiantly a must see! Stroll around the corner to Dover street and you’ll find Victoria Beckham, Acne and Alexander Mc Queen and hot spot club Mahiki!
Hyde Park and Regents Park.
When you need to get away from all the hustle and bustle, take a stroll around two of London’s Icon parks. Hyde park houses Kensington Palace and Kensington Gardens where the main man himself, the Peter Pan statue, is situated. If you fancy something a bit more leisurely you can always rent a bike, free for the first half an hour, then £2 for the next 24 hours. If cycling isn’t your thing you could always rent a paddle boat and cruise around the Serpentine. Just north of Oxford street, past Baker Street, the home of Sherlock Holmes (there’s even a museum dedicated to him) is Regent’s Park. I prefer this park and I can’t put my finger on why exactly. This park too has boats but of the rowing kind and are great fun as long as you can get in sync with you’re rowing partner! If you venture further into Regents Park you will find to London Zoo and the Zoological Society of London.
A little tip when going to Camden is to get off the tube (the northern line, to be precise) at Chalk Farm. You bypass the crowds at Camden tube station and the most of the madness of Camden High Street. This way brings you directly to Camden Lock Market, a much better alternative to plain old Camden Market. Situated on the banks of Regents Canal, you are spoiled for choice! Food stalls galore, jewellery, hats, clothes and vintage attire are piled high. As you weave your way through the labyrinth of stalls you’re bound to find something that catches your eye and even if you don’t, pay a visit to the Stables Market and no trip is complete without a gawp around Cyber Dog for all you hardcore ravers, just don’t take pictures inside, it’s seriously frowned upon! Camden is a Mecca for punks and alternative individuals. Tattoo and Peircing shops litter the high street, it’s actually where I got my second tattoo. Another thing you can’t miss are the sculptures outside a lot of the shop fronts, from Doc Martins to Converse and Hunter Wellies.
Night on the Town.
Stay away from Central. The clubs are the tackiest places in the world. If you’re really desperate and find yourself wandering about Soho looking for a good spot, then O’Neills in China Town is your best bet but otherwise stick to wine bars or themed bars where you can have a bop but not have to worry about being chatted up the second your mate has gone to the bathroom. My favourite place in the whole of London is the bar at Sushi Samba in the Sales Force Tower, formerly Heron Tower in Bishopsgate. It’s a little bit pricey but the views alone make it SO worth it. Admittedly I hated the lift journey up (it’s a glass lift), I love views but I hate heights and my ears popped on the way up! I could sit for hours staring out across London, such a fabulous sight and a glass of wine in hand doesn’t hurt either. Another spot I’m dying to try is Kelly Brooke’s bar Steam and Rye. I’ve heard nothing but good things so that’s a definite the next time I’m in London along with Kanaloa near Chancery Lane. I’m a sucker for a good theme and some funky tunes so this place is going on the list too! If you’re in a more laid back mood but still in search of a good night out I have no complaints about going out in Camden, however my only downside is that places close faaaaaaaar too early for my liking, I think we were the last people kicked out of the Hawley Arms at 12.30 on a Friday night (whatever happened to Rock n Roll?) and so we continued the night over in the Ice Warf only to be kicked out of there a half an hour later.
Some good Eats.
Where to begin. First of all, for those of you who’ve never tried a Krispy Kreme Donut, I recommend this be your first port of call when you get to London. They are just Devine! Secondly if you like breakfast and you like having it at any given time of the day you’ll love The Breakfast Club. Not only do they serve Bacon, eggs and pancakes (and amazing pancakes they are too) but they serve an assortment of delicious food including heaps of cheesy gooey nachos (so good) and yummy halloumi wraps for the veggies among us. A little tip while you’re there; ask to ‘see the Mayor’. Another of my fav spots for grub is the Italian chain restaurant Bella Italia, I can’t get enough of their Spaghetti Bollognese and have never had a bad experience in any of their venues. They’re not hard to find, they’ll be dotted all around central London. If burgers are your thing look no further than Shake Shack in Covent Garden, the que was way too long last time I was there and I had a plane to catch. Their burgers look so mouth wateringly delicious and the fries are the shape of the moment, crinkle cut, never the less I’m so excited to hit it up! Another great spot I’ve been to is DF Mexico near Brick Lane, set up like Nandos, you look at the menu go up and place your order and it’s then brought to you. The food is unlike any other Mexican I’ve had before, even the Magaritas were delicious!