In the pre-Euro days, when the dollar was strong, I would make a weekend escape to London every three months just to shop, cruise the antique markets in search of ancient treasures and return to New York with loads of goodies. I would generally pack an empty suitcase inside my weekender because I knew it would be full. Now, taking extra luggage on a weekend flight is a hassle thanks to increased security and weekend bargain fares between New York and London are but a distant memory. Yet, persevere I must in search of all that London shopping has to offer.
Primark is my new go-to shopping mecca in London. The Oxford Street branch had become so crowded that they opened a much larger store on Tottenham Court Road just over a year ago. It is “stop one” when I hit town. Primark is a discounter’s dream. I rarely walk away with less than two full shopping bags of goodies and never drop more than $100 for the loot. Great thing also – customer service agents complete your VAT form and attach all of your receipts, making refunds a breeze as you head back across the pond via Heathrow or Gatwick Airports. Now, if Primark would just open a shop in The Big Apple.
Westfield London is a standard mall just outside central London. Westfield London offers all the high street shops without the high street crowds. I LOVE it. Crowds may be tolerable on the tube, just barely, but never, never when you have serious shopping to do. As for the tube, take the Hammersmith & City line to the Wood Lane stop and you’ve arrived. The Mall offers Marks & Spencer (which now ships to the U.S. – YEAH!), Debenhams, Next & House of Fraser as the anchor stores, with numerous boutiques, both designer and discount. There is also a food court to die for. I enjoyed a pleasant Mexican lunch and a margarita outdoors on the Southern Terrace at Wahaca to refuel the tired shopper.
You can’t crowd much shopping into a London quickie. I had to forgo a visit to the funky Covent Garden stalls and my favorite antique markets during this London getaway. But rest assured, as Arnold would say “I’ll be back.”
TRAVELER’s TIP: Don’t buy an Oyster card for the tube & buses before you leave the States. It’s no longer a good bargain. I believe the better alternative is to buy a 7-day travel card once you arrive in London. You can get one at any tube stop. However, if you plan to return, then buy the Oyster card in London and you can top it up in town.