Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

In the Capital Shops; Short Break CHRISTMAS SHOPPING TIME: The West End - Ready for the Festive Season

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

In the Capital Shops; Short Break CHRISTMAS SHOPPING TIME: The West End - Ready for the Festive Season

Article excerpt

IF you love to shop then you must love London - especially at this time of year.

The streets and buildings are adorned with glittering fairy lights and while that winter chill may seem off putting in reality it just adds to the true Christmas shopping experience.

Arriving on a drizzly Sunday afternoon my hotel, The Athenaeum, offered a luxury feel to a grey day.

The five star hotel is situated on London's Piccadilly overlooking Green Park and is just a few minutes walk from the bustling shops and attractions of the West End.

First on the agenda was a visit to Trafalgar Square - transformed by rows of stalls offering food and crafts and a central stage looking like an explosion of colour - where hundreds of people were celebrating the Diwali Festival, the Hindu festival of lights.

But an hour in the drizzle leaves you yearning for somewhere cosy and warm and St Martin in the Fields' Cafe in the Crypt proved the ideal solution. The crypt is a beautiful open space with arched ceilings and plenty of light - the effect is a combination of historic splendour with a contemporary edge.

Let loose in London, Monday meant one thing - time to shop, and the day was divided between the West End, Regent Street and Carnaby.

You could accessorise your whole life with just one visit to the likes of Selfridges or John Lewis. From designer sunglasses to Tiffany jewels and even some exquisite wines and spirits the new Wonder Room at Selfridges promises something for everyone to fall in love with.

At John Lewis the new jewel to its crown is the brand new food hall.

A whistle stop tour of Regent Street included visits to Austin Reed, Habitat and every kid's heaven, Hamleys. My favourite was Godiva, a chocolate shop brimming with indulgent treats.

If you prefer smaller independent stores then Carnaby is the place for you. …

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