IT’S not too late to get your Christmas shopping in, and to browse some special seasonal markets – I don’t mean here, but in London!
Britain’s Brexit worries haven’t quite brought about the favourable currency rates many shoppers and tourists have been hoping for, but it’s still pretty possible to get the Christmas parity going with Sterling, as there are definitely bargains to bag ‘next door’ for any shoppers visiting the bustling city.
Just as here in Dublin, London retailers are welcoming throngs of shoppers through the doors at present, with upmarket shopping hub Regent Street proving as crowded as Grafton Street on any Christmas Eve during my recent visit there.
From the iconic street to all of London’s main shopping areas, retailers have definitely pulled out all the stops to entice people through the doors this December, with many of the biggest High Street retailers who’ve been spooked by Brexit uncertainties doing their best to try and compensate with a bumper Christmas.
However, for those looking to take a lighter approach to shopping, while still staying in the festive spirit, there are lots of Christmas markets to be explored, too – markets which are easier on the pocket, but none the poorer for it.
Two of the most popular Christmas markets are also among the easiest to reach, with the park at bustling Leicester Square transformed into a winter wonderland, while a much larger market can be found along Embankment, with rows of chalet-style wooden huts presenting presents for all tastes and budgets, and set within easy reach of the London Eye.
Such markets offer more than enough Christmas-themed gifts – as well as global cuisines and seasonal food – to sate any appetite, providing a more budget-friendly way to pick up a cute, cool or quirky Christmas gift to remember your London visit.
All that shopping and browsing can prove tiring work, so why not give those aching feet a rest with a visit to The Savoy hotel, a stroll away from Trafalgar Square? Swap the mulled wine for an actual wine, tea or other refreshment in a landmark setting.
Unlike similar ‘six-star’ hotels and watering holes, The Savoy is perfectly accommodating to ‘walk-ins’, and while drinks at its American Bar are pricey (your wine will set you back at least about £10 or £12, for example), you’ll be made to feel just as welcome as any of the hotel’s well-heeled guests.
If you’ve had a busy time taking in the Christmas shopping, or meandering the markets, there should be enough time to take in the sights. Culture vultures should wing it to Tate modern, and its massive Switch House extension that finally opened a few months ago.
The imposing structure will give you a great way to have a break and brush up on modern art developments, while less highbrow ‘attractions’ at the gallery include peering into the luxury apartment buildings alongside, and the goldfish therein.
Ultimately, whether looking to visit England’s bustling capital as a simple weekend getaway or a pre-Christmas shopping treat, you’ll find plenty to keep you going, whether that’s from shop to shop or attraction to attraction.
Either way, season’s greetings, and happy shopping!