When booking hotel stays in London, visitors to the capital will no doubt be planning some serious retail therapy to indulge in during their break – and that usually means heading down to Oxford and Regents Streets to make the most of the big brands and flagship stores there.
However, there are some excellent shopping opportunities available in other locations that are still close enough to the city centre to visit in the space of a day or even an afternoon.
For a chic and sophisticated shopping experience, it’s definitely worth checking out Bayswater. This is situated on the northern edge of Hyde Park in the City of Westminster and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
It’s just three miles from Charing Cross and easily accessible via the London Underground – the nearest stations are Queensway, Royal Oak and Lancaster Gate if you want to get your Tube map out for a closer inspection.
Bayswater has all the big names and boutiques at which you’d want to give your plastic a workout, but none of the crowds the West End attracts, so this could be the perfect place to browse and pick up gifts, souvenirs and even treats for yourself.
What’s more, Bayswater even has its own team of street ambassadors in pink-trimmed uniforms and classic bowler hats, who are on hand seven days a week to point out attractions, help you seek out stores and generally impress you with their wealth of local knowledge. Why not test them out during your break?
Whiteleys Shopping Centre
If you’re heading to Bayswater, then you can’t possibly miss out on a trip to Whiteleys. This is a Grade II Listed building that boasts the title of being London’s first ever department store and can trace its history back to 1863.
This was the date when a young entrepreneur named William Whitely opened up a drapery and then added to it to create “an immense symposium of the arts and industries of the nation and of the world.
Sadly, this original store was devastated by a fire in 1887, but rebuilding took place and a new Whiteleys was opened in 1912. A further revamp took place in 1989 and today you can find almost anything there, from clothing and stationery to food, a cinema and bowling lanes.
However, it’s still possible to check out some original salvaged features, including the grand staircase, an atrium and the glamorous marble floor, making this so much more than your average shopping trip.
And if you think you already recognise Whiteleys, don’t assume you’ve got deja vu – you probably do, as it has been featured on the small and silver screens numerous times, perhaps most famously in Love Actually.
You can’t beat a boutique for personality and a unique shopping experience – and Bayswater has plenty of little stores to tempt you in and get you opening up your purse.
There’s something to suit all tastes too, so you should definitely be able to find what you’re looking for (and probably plenty of things you’re not as well!), whether it’s for yourself, your home or a gift.
Artisan du Chocolat is the place to go for sweet treats, offering freshly prepared and uniquely flavoured delicacies for you to take home, while Aspace is the place to be if it’s furnishings for children’s rooms you’re after.
Meanwhile, for a pampering treat, head over to Beauty Base which was established way back in 1975 and prides itself on being London’s premier specialist retailer in fragrances and cosmetics, as well as for its excellent customer service.
If you’re a lover of all things vintage, then you won’t want to miss out on Victory Vintage either. It stocks clothes, accessories, home decor pieces and much more and is frequented by stylists on the lookout for something with a little bit of history behind it, as well as trendy hipsters.
There are lots more boutiques on offer in Bayswater – too many to name here, in fact – so check them out for yourself and see what you can discover.
Big name brands
Of course, sometimes you simply want to check out the latest trends and pieces you’ve seen in all the hottest magazines, so big name brands will be the answer – and Bayswater has no shortage of these.
From Karen Millen and Kurt Geiger and Gap and Nine West, you can get kitted out in the newest glad rags and even stock yourself up with a whole new wardrobe if you so desire.
There are other big brands that stock more than clothing too, so there will be plenty to browse around and enjoy.
As you can see, Bayswater has lots to offer in terms of retail options, so why not visit this beautiful area from central London and see what you can spend your money on?