London Blog

A shopa-phobe’s guide to London

I like to think of myself as a fairly discerning sort of chap. The kind of person who prefers bijou delis to supermarkets, dusty book shops to the high street behemoths and edgy cafes to StarPretEatNeroBucks. However, as I get older I’m less inclined to do what I’m supposed to do and more inclined to do what I want to do. That’s why I now spend a lot of time in London’s malls. You might not think London is a mall kind of place but the covered shopping centres are fantastic.

The biggest and best is certainly Westfield in Shepherds Bush. It’s amazing. Not only does it have the usual staple stores, but also a few neat one-offs. There is seating everywhere, not like Oxford Street where you can’t sit down unless you’re paying for the privilege. No, I’m talking proper big comfy chairs where dads can sit while their family fill their proverbial boots. What’s more its got probably the best cinema in London, massive, shiny new and with thermo-nuclear sound. Westfield is really easy to get to being on the central line a few stops down from oxford circus. It’s quite good if you’re driving too. Plenty of space and there’s a cool number plate reader so you can see on a screen exactly where you parked you’re car. You might even get a nice man on a golf buggy to drop you off. In September 2011 another Westfield opened on the other side of London in Stratford near the Olympic village. The idea is basically the same apart from the stores being a bit less fancy.

The other great mall in London sits beneath Canary Wharf. There are loads of shops here and its surprisingly good for clothes shopping for men. In fact as a 30-year old male, id probably be better of in Canary Wharf than Westfield if I needed a new jumper. The cinema is slightly separate from the main mall, near to the big restaurants to the north but pretty good once you’re there. Canary Wharf is fantastic if you live or work there but few people would go there if they lived to the west, unfairly methinks.

I think the worst place for shopping is Oxford Street. I’m not trying to be deliberately contrary but it’s so, so busy. The pavements are very narrow considering how many people shop there and it’s particularly bad now they’re doing work on the Elizabeth Line (formerly known as Crossrail).

March 12, 2012 rentonomy London Living